Preparing for your first scuba liveaboard

On a scuba liveaboard, you eat, sleep and dive for a week without ever touching land. They’re the perfect way to do a lot of scuba diving with ease and comfort. If you’re planning your first liveboard trip, we share some tips for preparing for your scuba liveaboard.


Once you board the yacht, everything gets unpacked. So try to pack using soft-sided luggage that can get folded up and tucked away. Hard luggage takes up valuable space in small cabins.

Scuba gear laid out for packing for a scuba liveaboard trip
Scuba gear laid out for packing for a scuba liveaboard trip

Scuba gear

Your scuba gear will be 90% of what you pack for the trip.

Pack expensive, fragile and personal items in your carry-on luggage. This should include your dive computer, regulator and mask.

Your wetsuit, BCD and fins can go into a checked bag. Wrap your wetsuit around the gear to act as padding. If this bag gets lost or delayed, you can almost always rent at your destination.

Scuba gear set up on a liveaboard
Scuba gear set up on a liveaboard

The best part of a scuba liveboard is that you only set up your gear once at the beginning of the trip. Your BCD stays on your cylinder the entire trip, and the boat staff fill the cylinders at your bench between dives. At the end of the trip, you’ll break down your gear and give everything a really good rinse. Especially inside your BCD to remove any accumulated salt. Give everything another good soaking at home (consider soaking all your gear in your tub overnight).


Don’t overthink clothing. You don’t need much.

A bathing suit or two is essential. You’ll wear this diving. And honestly, you’ll just stay in your bathing suit most of the time. All liveaboards have nice sun decks where you’ll hang out most of the time.

You’ll throw on a shirt for modesty while eating and lounging indoors, but you can comfortably re-wear this for several days. You’ll also want a pair of shorts. If you’re careful, you can probably use one pair for the entire trip; bring 2 if you want to be cautious.


Shoes are not worn on the ship. Wear comfortable shoes for your flight, but keep in mind you’ll pack these away once on the liveaboard. You don’t need sandals or Crocs. If you have a land excursion planned, you should consider wearing your travel instead of packing more footwear.

Identifying gear

You’ll be surprised how many other divers have that same gear as you. It’s easy for people to accidentally grab or pack the wrong gear. Use some scuba gear paint to write your name on your gear.

The same goes if you’re bringing photography or video equipment that you’ll keep on the photography table. Use masking tape to mark your name on equipment like battery chargers, charging cables, etc.

Scuba diver at the surface with a deployed delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB)
Deploying a DSMB during our safety stop to alert the boat of our location.

Log books

Bring your log book. It’s best to log dives when they’re fresh in your mind, so you can record all the great things you saw on each dive.

Most liveaboards will record the list of dive sites you visited. They will often have a stamp you can use to validate your dive logs.

Sea sickness

Sea sickness is a real concern for those prone to this, and on trips with choppy ocean crossings. Whether or not you’re used to getting sea sick, it’s worth packing some Gravol or scopolamine patches. If you’re using the patch, bring some waterproof medical tape to help secure it in place while diving.

You should also control your eating and drinking ahead of larger ocean crossings. This isn’t easy once you see the delicious food they serve, but it’s never comfortable being stuffed as the boat starts rocking.

If you are prone to motion sickness, try to get a cabin in a lower deck, near the centre of the boat, where movement is minimized. Movement in front and upper cabins is more exaggerated.

On-board expenses

If you were paying attention when booking your sailing, you’ll have noticed a list of fees that must be paid aboard the boat. Honestly, it’s rather annoying, but there are logistical reasons behind this. Double-check the fees owing, such as park fees, nitrox fees and fuel surcharges. It’s also worth confirming if these can be paid with a credit card, or if cash is required (and which currency). Tips are always extra.

Any other tips for preparing for a scuba liveaboard? Share your tips in the comments below.

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