What to pack for a liveaboard dive vacation

Last Updated on August 16, 2017 by Christine Kaaloa

Liveaboard Essentials, liveaboard packing list, packing tips for a liveaboard

Packing for a liveaboard dive vacation


If you’re doing  a liveaboard in Thailand (or anywhere for that matter), you’ll probably wonder what to pack for a liveaboard dive boat vacation?  What essentials should you bring?

What is a liveaboard vacation? (Summary)

Firstly, a liveaboard is an experience where you’re living aboard a boat that will take you diving or snorkeling. It’s the chance to meet other diving and snorkeling geeks, do a dive certification and just get really cool dives in because your boat will take you to special locations where you see wonderful marine life and terrain. Some spots require longer journeys that day trips can’t cover.  Read more here.

What does the liveaboard vacation cover?

Packing for a liveaboard dive vacation can be relatively simple in that they generally cover meals, water, snacks, basic necessities of a hotel stay, like a towel, shower toiletries and bed linens.  You will only need enough cash for snacks and alchoholic beverages, which is not covered. Footwear isn’t a problem as you probably won’t be allowed to wear shoes or anything that scuffs the boat.

 The liveaboard will not have a store or pharmacy. Bring anything you need in feminine products or medications. If you’re seasick, bring motion sickness tablets. Although your boat captain may have some to provide, it is not a given.

Watch What’s in my backpack for a Liveaboard

Packing for a Liveaboard Vacation |Liveaboard essentials.

 Packing for a liveaboard  vacation?

My packing for a liveaboard dive vacation to the Similan Islands is for a 3 day/ 3 night liveaboard stay, although it will not vary much for a slightly longer term. This list of dive essentials will be helpful for your next scuba diving vacation.


Staying on a liveaboard, I didn’t want to bring the entire contents of my luggage. Even if it was a carry-on luggage sized. You can leave your luggage either, with your hotel or the dive company. I left my luggage with the dive company.

A day pack sized backpack

Seeing as you’ll spend most of your time in your bathing suit, you can pack minimally. All your items essentially can fit a day pack backpack.



Two swimsuits

At the bare minimum, you want to take two swimsuits (see my summer essentials list).  Unless you don’t mind wearing a wet suit everyday.  Clothes take almost one full day to dry, if you are in a humid environment. I forgot my bikini bottoms so I bought swim shorts at one of the Thai beachwear vendors, near the beach. The great thing about Thailand is that it has a lot of beachwear vendors selling everything from swimsuits, dry bags, snorkel gear and more.  You might even start your shopping in advance in Bangkok on Khao San Road.


A bra is optional. I almost always use my bathing suit tops as bras.  However, sometimes, it’s nice to have something fresh and dry to board and leave the boat.

Three pairs of underwear

Unless you want your underwear to wave in the wind with everyone else’s swim gear and towels, I suggest bringing the amount of underwear for the term of your stay. I brought my ExOfficio Give-n-Go bikini briefs underwear. They wick away sweat and are super quick drying. There’s a small waffle-like fabric. Some folks like that and some don’t.ir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=a8f0d9b7a7b1875ee3e27c5ec3813f20& cb=1472890357915

 A skirt or light sundress

Essentially, you’ll be living in your swimsuit for most of the day, and jumping in and out of clothes in between dives. Having clothing articles which you can easily slip-on and slip off is helpful.

Two t-shirt or tank tops

In a way, it’s optional but I packed two tops so that I’d have something boarding and exiting the boat, something to walk around in at night and occasionally, something to sleep in.

A long-sleeved shirt

If you’re the type to get cold in the evenings,  bring a long-sleeved shirt or light jacket.

Flip flops

You’ll be asked to remove all footwear before boarding the boat, so footwear isn’t required for anything other than  getting to the boat.  I always take my Havianas flip flopsir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=a4c1f439bb01270a2453823960bda6cc& cb=1472528853108 on every trip, for just such a time.

Eagle Creek packing cubes

I love my Eagle Creek packing cubesir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=43a2dd6008c5dbf517b8ea8574f2da5f& cb=1472537861233; it really helped organize my clothes, rather than tossing them into one jumbled heap. It also helped condense my pack; most of the items above could be organized and rolled in one cube!

travel accessories, electronics for travel, travel gadgetsir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=kia&linkId=895fe8da347bfeaf1e33fce791bdd461& cb=1502836859038Havianas slim flip flopstravel accessories, electronics for travel, travel gadgetsir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=kia&linkId=8f7793c57ca52629d874e9cfbba6daa3& cb=1502836828994Eagle Creek Packing Cubes 
Ex Officio GivenGo Bikini

ir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=kia&linkId=0b27ebaff9c2ecdf1126e815a0f54e05& cb=1502836807590 Ex Officio GivenGo Bikini


(Eco friendly) Sunscreen 

Unless it’s an environmentally friendly sunscreen, I’d only put on sunscreen when you’re on the boat.  One of my new favorite eco-friendly sunscreens at home in Hawaii is Hang Ten sunscreenir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=a9b277c5839168a61be363f3a5501e88& cb=1472526305242. However, being in Thailand it’s easy to run through sunscreen and they’re always available at 7 Eleven and Super 8 Stores.

Facial moisturizer

Between sea salt and sun, your skin can get dry pretty easily. I always take my facial moisturizer to keep my skin from feeling stripped.

Sarong and/or towel

You can use sarongs as a bath towel, scarf or skirt and it dries quickly.



Sun Hat or Baseball Cap

I always take a cap of some type with me when I go out into the sun. Anything that keeps me from being prone to sun cancer, I use.

Ear plugs

If you’re a light sleeper, bring ear plugs. The boat’s engine can make a lot of noise, especially in the morning.


Sunglasses are a given. I  love my Hawaiian Lensesir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=d4b68306bc397ad7be4fbe19a3f4f287& cb=1472530151542. They’re a combo deal– part sunglass and part reading glasses.

Dive  items


Dive log book & Scuba diving card

Dive log book & Scuba diving card are essentials for any dive trip. You’ll want your log book to log your dives and get them signed and stamped by the dive company you go with.

Motion sickness pills

If you’re prone to motion sickness on boats, remember to bring your own supply of motion sickness pills. Often your boat or captain may carry motion sickness pills so if you forget, you’ll have a backup option. You can easily buy them at 7 Eleven for 20 baht.

Dry bag

Dry bags are waterproof bags and they keep items dry, especially if you’re taking them near water. I usually like to put my camera in here to protect it. A 10L waterproof dry bagir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=e929f615ae62a643fddcc5e2b3aca65a& cb=1472889859179 was perfect for me; it’s like a simplified day pack. I could hold a towel, my Canon 70D DSLRir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=7ea077d91b31e19399ee3671ce145f22& cb=1472529910364 and Canon G7X Mark II ir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=846d776af501742b3cb431b8b99af84f& cb=1502836346476vlogging camera  and a little more. There are both, smaller and larger sizes.  The 5L dry bag is the size of a clutch and perfect for one camera and a towel; meanwhile the 20 L is more the size of a backpacker’s day pack and rather large.

Dive Mask & Dive Computer

Avid divers might prefer to bring their own dive mask and dive computer.   By bringing your own dive mask, you don’t have to rely on the dive company and possibly equipment which was handled by several tourists.

Rash guard shirt

A rash guard offers another protective coat between you and the changing temperature of the ocean.

Dive booties

Some dive companies offer this with their equipment; some don’t. The booties help protect you against the abrasion of your plastic fin footwear. In my case, I went diving beforehand and my fins weren’t sized to my foot well, so it rubbed against it when I’d kick. By the end of my day, I rubbed my skin into a blister.

Hawaiian lenses reading glassesir?source=bk&t=grrrltraveler 20&bm id=default&l=kia&linkId=0ec3ddd34e3bc98e5006173ee1e06264& cb=1502836523129
Hawaiian lenses reading glasses

waterproof bags, dry bags
10 L Waterproof dry bags
Roxy rashguard

Roxy JR rashguard


Liveaboard Essentials, liveaboard packing list, packing tips for a liveaboard

what to pack for a liveaboard dive boat

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