The Ultimate Dive Trip Packing List

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Enjoy exploring new depths with comfortable swimsuits, fitted flippers, reef-safe sunscreen, and more.

<p>Travel + Leisure / Kristin Kempa</p>

Travel + Leisure / Kristin Kempa

Whether you’re a lifelong scuba diver or interested in becoming certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), knowing what to bring for a dive trip is key for an enjoyable and stress-free day in the water. From reef-safe sunscreen to fitted fins, the proper gear can help keep you safe both in and out of the water.

“It’s all about having the right gear for you,” Julie Andersen, Global Director for PADI Worldwide and a diver for over 20 years says. “Redundancy isn't a bad word when diving — you should always have back up equipment to avoid dangerous situations.”

Items like regulators and dive computers may seem like investment pieces, but they can be true life savers when you’re 130 feet underwater. On a recent trip, my dive partner ran out of oxygen faster than the rest of our group, so our dive master sent us back to the surface while she continued with everyone else. Without our own dive computer, we would have had a harder time gauging the length of our safety stop before resurfacing. Having your own equipment not only guarantees a safer dive, but it will also keep you comfortable and able to fully enjoy the underwater experience.

Packing Checklist for a Dive Trip

Here is everything you need to bring when you’re packing for a dive trip. Whether going for a liveaboard experience or single-dive adventure, this is the clothing, safety products, and gear you should be sure to pack — and some items you may want to leave behind.

Clothing and Shoes


Technical Gear

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Packing light is absolutely essential as there’s minimal space on the boat and you’ll also be sharing that with a number of other people. For a day of diving, your bathing suit is the most important item of clothing to consider. “The recommended bathing suit materials would be spandex or polyester,” Eleonora Greggio, a PADI Open Water Diver and Social Media Manager of Reef Oasis Dive Club in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, says. “This is because they help protect the most sensitive parts of the body with the wetsuit on: the neck, armpits, and behind the knees. These materials can reduce friction and further protect from UV rays.”

Let’s be honest, when heading out on a dive trip, you don’t need to bring a lot more clothing with you than that — keep your post-dive outfit back in your hotel where it will stay safe and dry. Divers should only bring extra layers that provide sun protection and warmth as needed.

Best Swimsuit for Women: Carve Designs Lucie Compression Shorts

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While diving, you’ll most likely wear a wetsuit to keep you warm and protected, so just about any swimsuit will work as your bottom layer. However, I love the extra warmth and comfort provided by these compression shorts. Paired with Carve Designs’ Sanitas Compression Top, this suit won’t shift around beneath your wetsuit, which minimizes uncomfortable bunching and increases your maneuverability. In warmer waters, or during shallower dives, you could even wear this compression suit and skip the wetsuit altogether, saving you packing space.

Price at time of publish: $62

Best Swimsuit for Men: Bonobos Throwback Swim Trunks

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While they aren’t compression shorts, these swim trunks won’t add an uncomfortably bulky layer beneath your wetsuit. You can choose between a five- or seven-inch inseam to get the perfect length that can easily slip right underneath your outer layer. They also come in a dozen colors and patterns, so you can enjoy a pop of fun while lounging on the boat.

Price at time of publish: $89

Best Rashguard for Women: Athleta Point Break Rashguard

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“Rash guards are a go-to item for divers in all scenarios, from sun protection on the surface to a dive skin underwater,” Andersen says. This Athleta rashguard is rated UPF 50+ for extra protection both in and out of the water. It’s also made of recycled H2ECO swim fabric that can stretch over your swimsuit for a perfect sleek outer layer. You could even wear this in the water for extra warmth or as a wetsuit alternative during warm-water dives.

Price at time of publish: $85

Related:The Best Sun-protective Clothing for Women of 2023

Best Rashguard for Men: O’Neill Hyperfreak Rashguard

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This water-resistant neoprene rashguard feels just like a wetsuit, but with the comfort of a stretchy tee. You can wear this shirt both in and out of the water as its quick-dry material won't leave you cold and wet. The UPF 50+ rashguard also protects you from UV rays, so you can enjoy a full day out on the boat without worrying about harmful aftereffects.

Price at time of publish: $100

Best Cover-up: prAna Mantra Bay Tunic

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“When you’re diving in cooler to cold conditions, or diving continuously over several days in a row, staying warm and dry on your surface interval is a must,” Andersen says. While some divers may prefer separate bottoms and tops, I like to pack light, so this long tunic is a great cover-up for those long dive days. The three-quarter sleeves and mid-thigh length gives the perfect amount of protection and warmth and it’s stylish enough that you can even wear it off the boat to head to the nearest restaurant.

Price at time of publish: $79

Best Cover-up for Men: Chubbies Sun Hoodie

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While you can wear this UPF 50+ sun hoodie both in and out of the water, it’s still loose enough that you can wear it as a warming outer layer on top of your rash guard if needed. The moisture-wicking fabric dries quickly to make sure you aren’t staying chilly after a dive. It also includes a hood and thumb-holes so you can get warm and comfortable enough to wear this cover-up long after you leave the water.

Price at time of publish: $65

Best Waterproof Shoes for Women: Chaco Women's Z/Cloud X2

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Buy at

Let’s be honest, on dive trips, shoes are among the last things we’re thinking about as you almost never wear them on the boat. However, a good waterproof shoe is a must on longer dive trips to keep you safe from slipping on deck. The Chaco Z/Cloud sandals have a rubber outsole that will give you the traction you need on the boat and on land. This pair is particularly comfortable as they have a single, open-toe strap, so you don’t have to wiggle your big toe into an uncomfortable strap as they get wet.

Price at time of publish: $100

Best Waterproof Shoes for Men: Keen Solr Sandals

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For those looking for a bit more protection than an average sandal, these Keen Solr Sandals are the perfect next-level water shoe. They offer a closed-toe front for maximum protection, but have strapped sides so water instantly drains out. The Aquagrip rubber soles with slits in the tread also add traction that can prevent you from slipping on wet surfaces.

Price at time of publish: $130

In addition to dressing appropriately for your dive trip, it can be great to have some personal items to enhance your experience. An underwater camera is great for capturing your dive while sunglasses and a sun hat make sure you’re staying protected as you travel between dive sights. “Sunscreen is also incredibly important after you dive or when you are exposed to strong sun rays,” Greggio says. “For fair-skinned people we would recommend at least a 50+ sunscreen protection and a cap for hot days to further protect yourself from the sun.” To make sure everything you take with you is safe from water, consider carrying all of your items in a handy dry bag, so you don’t have to rely on boat storage areas.

Best Dry Bag: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag

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Buy at

On your dive trip, the crew will likely take all of your belongings to store in a dry area of the boat, but it’s great to have a dry bag of your own for extra protection. Sea to Summit’s Big River Dry Bag has 20 liters of capacity, perfect for storing all of your daily essentials. Its 420-denier nylon is also reinforced with a TPU film that prevents the bag from tearing and offers an additional waterproof layer.

Price at time of publish: $55 for 20 liters

Best Underwater Camera: SeaLife Underwater Smartphone Scuba Case

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Instead of learning to use an underwater camera, Andersen recommends bringing the camera you already know best — your phone. “[Once] you have gotten comfortable underwater, and you’ve earned your PADI Advanced Open Water certification, you won’t want to go anywhere without a way to capture all of the incredible moments underwater,” she says. “Rather than learn a new device, I love taking my iPhone underwater, which is why I am very excited about a new option, the Sea Life SportDiver SmartPhone housing that I now take out for every aquatic adventure.”

This case is compact, easy to travel with, and compatible with most Android phones and iPhones generation 7 and up. It’s also waterproof to 130 feet, which is the perfect depth for recreational dives.

Price at time of publish: $349

Best Sunglasses: Rheos Anhingas Floating Polarized Sunglasses

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These polarized, unisex sunglasses are the perfect addition to your boating pack. Not only do they offer 100 percent UV protection, they’re also made with comfort grip nose pads that help prevent the frames from slipping (even if you’re lathered up with sunscreen.) With blue or green lenses to choose from, you and your dive partner can mix and match.

Price at time of publish: $65

Related:The 13 Best Sunglasses for Travel of 2023

Best Hat: Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Hat

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Buy at

It can be easy to suffer from sunburn during dive trips. We’re often so focused on getting in the water, we forget about the hours we’re sure to spend on top of the boat, perhaps fully exposed to the sun if you’re with a larger group or on a smaller vessel. This unisex sun hat is easy to pack and provides shade to your face and neck while the mesh interior wicks sweat away. The convenient drawcord will also prevent the hat from blowing away — an absolute must.

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Quick-dry Towel: Sea to Summit Airlite Towel

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“From boat days to beach days, divers are always in need of a travel towel,” Andersen says. This quick-dry towel is cozy enough you’ll want to use it when you first come out of the water, but it won’t stay wet for the rest of the day. While the towel is 47 inches long, it folds up into a palm-size ball that slips into its own carrying case, so you don’t waste space in your dry bag.

Price at time of publish: $22

Best Reef-safe Sunscreen: Reef Repair Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50

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Buy at

In addition to a good sun hat and rash guard to protect from the sun, divers obviously need to pack plenty of sunscreen. “It's important to keep your skin protected from the sun, but use products that are reef-safe and don’t damage the underwater environments you’re exploring,” Andersen says. This creamy, water-resistant formula by Reef Repair was specifically created for the diving industry to protect oceans from harmful chemicals. It also comes in perfect travel-sized bottles that you can bring along wherever you go.

Price at time of publish: $18

Best Deep Conditioner: Raw Sugar Mighty Hair Cream Leave-in Conditioner

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When you’re enjoying multiple oceanic dives, whether all in one day or over the span of a week, your hair can really start to dry out and tangle. “For extra protection, work a generous amount of biodegradable leave-in conditioner into your locks,” Andersen says. “The conditioner acts as a barrier to salt water absorption and makes hair easier to detangle post-dive.” Just like with sunscreen, you’ll want to utilize a reef-safe option like Raw Sugar’s Mighty Hair Cream, which is also vegan and cruelty-free.

Price at time of publish: $7

Best Motion Sickness Remedy: Dramamine All Day Less Drowsy Motion Sickness Relief

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Buy at

Even the most seasoned divers can get seasick on occasion. The saltwater mists that can get into my system when rocking on smaller boats can definitely leave me green, especially first thing in the morning. Adding a pack of Dramamine to your dive kit is an absolute must if you run any risk of feeling nauseated on the boat. You don’t want to let an upset stomach ruin your day of diving, and just one pill lasts up to 24 hours, so you should be protected for the long day at sea.

Price at time of publish: $5

Best Water Bottle: Ocean Bottle Recycled Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottle

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While many dive trips will provide plenty of snacks and water for your full day of activities, it never hurts to bring your own to ensure you’re staying hydrated. “Water is essential before and after the dive,” Greggio says. “It is incredibly important to drink sufficient water before diving so be sure to bring a water bottle with you. Remember that diving is considered a sport, and as such, you will probably feel incredibly hungry and thirsty when you finish which is why water and a snack are great.”

Price at time of publish: $55

Depending on which dive shop you’re using, most technical gear will be offered or even included in the cost of your dive trip. However, for frequent divers, or those who want to guarantee their gear is in tip-top shape, investing in certain pieces can be a great idea. And I don’t say investing lightly — most dive gear can be quite expensive, so only those who plan to dive for years to come should worry about collecting their own technical gear. “A mask and a wetsuit could be the best investment for a regular diver,” Greggio says. “This is because it is the most personal and can be different from person to person depending on diving necessities or face types. The type of mask also depends on the type of activity you will be doing underwater.” Purchasing your own items from wetsuits to regulators can be a great way to have a more comfortable, and more hygienic, dive experience.

Best Regulator: Scubapro MK25 EVO/S620 Ti Dive Regulator System

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A regulator is an investment piece for sure, but one that can be extremely beneficial to frequent divers. “Owning your own regulator allows you to have peace of mind that you are the only one who has breathed from it,” Andersen says. “[As a] bonus, you also don’t have to worry about adjusting the settings every time you dive. A regulator is a great investment that, with the proper maintenance, will be with your literal life support system for decades. I always recommend investing in this piece of gear thinking about the future of your diving as well, considering how you’ll dive, where, and how frequently.”

Price at time of publish: $1,159

Best Dive Computer: Garmin Descent Mk2S

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“Hands down, if you invest in one piece of dive equipment, choose a dive computer,” Andersen says. “Not only is it the most important piece of safety gear that a diver should have on them at all times, but the additional features of dive computers literally also makes them smart devices underwater.” This model has up to 30 hours of battery life and will log all of your dive details for you, including your heart rate and depth, to keep you safe throughout your dives.

Price at time of publish: $1,020

Best Mask: Cressi F One Frameless Scuba Snorkel Mask

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While divers are trained to be able to clear our masks, and you can always pack items to help prevent your mask from fogging up, Andersen highlights the importance of a high-quality mask as your first step to ensuring a clear dive. “A high-quality, low-profile mask with soft silicon is a favorite among most divers,” she says. Masks like the Cressi F One fold flat for easy packing and are made with tempered glass that shouldn’t cause fogging. The quick-adjust buckles are also helpful and can even be adjusted underwater.

Price at time of publish: $55

Best Wetsuit for Women: Scubapro Everflex Steamer Wetsuit

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Buy at

Sure, you can rent a wetsuit for any dive trip, but investing in your own guarantees you get a perfect fit that only you will enjoy. “Personally, I’d put buying a wetsuit a close second to a computer, as being comfortable and keeping your body temperature regulated is the number one factor in my dive’s enjoyment factor,” Andersen says. “I love to stay below the surface as long as possible, so having a wetsuit that fits well and keeps me cozy is absolutely key.” This suit comes in XXS-4XL in both long and short sizes, so divers can truly invest in their ideal suit that will last for years.

Price at time of publish: $499

Best Wetsuit for Men: IST Full Wetsuit

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Buy at

This IST Full Wetsuit comes in men’s and women’s options with inclusive sizing and even different thickness for an optimal fit. “If your suit is too tight, you’ll be incredibly uncomfortable, and if it’s too loose, you can get cold quickly,” Andersen says. “And honestly, I also prefer to know that I’m the only person that’s been in my suit. Simply slipping into a suit that is your own will help you get in the water faster, know the correct amount of weights that you need, and be better able to enjoy your dive.” This suit is also just one pound (depending on the size), so it won’t take up too much space in your packed luggage.

Price at time of publish: $275

Related:The 19 Best Swimsuit Brands of 2023

Best Dive Hood: Scubapro Everflex Bibbed Hood

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Buy at

The best way to keep your hair from getting snarled when scuba diving is to invest in a beanie cap or hood,” Andersen says. “Headbands, head scarves, and buffs usually aren’t enough to keep flyaways from escaping underwater, especially if you have bangs. A scuba beanie or hood secures your mane and prevents stray strands from getting in your face or wrapped around your equipment.” Scubapro’s Bibbed Hood comes are ideal for any diver and come in sizes ranging from XS-2XL.

Price at time of publish: $95

Best Fins: Oceanic Viper 2 Oh Fin

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Buy at

Having a correctly-sized pair of fins can also make or break your diving experience. No one wants to lose a flipper as they jump into the water or resurface with painful blisters. To guarantee you always swim with the best pair for you, divers should consider personal flippers like this Oceanic Viper set that features an adjustable foot strap and streamlined foot pocket for the most comfortable fit.

Price at time of publish: $95

Frequently Asked Questions

What's included on a dive trip?

What’s included in your dive trip will depend on what your dive center offers and how many dives are planned. While most excursions include the cost of renting necessary equipment, other dive centers will charge extra for gear like wetsuits and masks. Often, the cost of a dive trip will include any park entry fees and even meals throughout the trip, so be sure to check with your particular dive shop to find out just what is included for your trip. Remember, whatever the cost, you should always budget for tipping your boat crew and divemaster.

Can you do a dive trip right after certification?

If you want to go scuba diving, you should first become PADI-certified to ensure your safety. During your certification course, you’ll learn essential skills starting in a contained pool. Before you can complete your certification, you will also need to complete four open water dives. These dives can be anywhere your dive shop offers, so many choose to become certified on longer vacations to get the most out of the experience.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Taylor Fox is a Travel + Leisure writer and earned her Open Water PADI certification in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is an avid traveler who has enjoyed dive trips in Fiji, Belize, Costa Rica, and more. She has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over five years. For this packing list, she spoke to Global Director for PADI Worldwide, Julie Andersen and Eleonora Greggio, PADI Open Water Diver and Social Media Manager of Reef Oasis Dive Club in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Related:The Ultimate Costa Rica Packing List

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