Now that you have decided to do some scuba diving in warm water, it is time to start getting together all of the things that you will need. It can take as long as ten weeks to get a passport, so start getting ready now.
You are going to a foreign country and you will need proof of citizenship. You will have to show your proof when you leave the U.S., when you get to your destination, and when you return to the U.S. A passport is the best proof but a certified birth record is often acceptable. A photocopy of a birth certificate will not do. Most countries require an original certificate that has a stamp or seal on it. If you are not sure if your documents are acceptable, check with U.S. Customs well before your departure date.
Most dive destinations do not have any required immunizations. It is a good idea to have current tetanus and typhoid immunizations, however. You can check with a local public health organization to see what is recommended for your destination.
Your dive package includes tanks, backpacks (if needed), weights, and weight belts. You are responsible for providing all of the other diving gear that you will need. Most dive destinations have some rentals and a small selection of equipment for sale, but it is best to go completely equipped. If you do not own your own gear, rent or borrow what you need and try out everything in a swimming pool before you go. Mark your name on everything and bring a mesh gear bag to carry your equipment.
The water temperature at your dive destination will be in the high 70's to low 80's. This is quite warm, but if you stay in the water long enough, you will chill down. It is a good idea to bring a warm water wetsuit. It will protect you from scrapes and scratches on the coral as well as keep you warm. An eighth-inch jumpsuit is ideal, but a shorty suit, wetsuit top, or a farmer-john bottom will all work. Even leotards or jeans and T-shirt will help.
Plan to take everything you need. Don't count on finding anything for sale at your destination. You will not find that little odd-sized battery your camera needs or some wetting solution for your contact lenses. Start going through the checklist that follows now so you will have everything by the time you get on the airplane.
If you are taking a lot of expensive camera gear, or new ear like a regulator or dive watch, register them with U.S. Customs before you leave. That will make returning to the U.S. a breeze.
Pack your belonging in two cases to check and bring along a carry-on for personal items. You will have to pay extra to check more than two bags. Pack some of your essentials in your carry-on bag in case your checked bags take an extra day or two to catch up with you. Attach a good sturdy tag with your name, address, and telephone number to each of your bags, including the carry-on. You should consider buying travel insurance that covers accidents, baggage and personal possessions, and trip cancellation. Your home-owners policy may already cover your baggage.
Most people pack more clothes than they need. You will be in swim suits, or T-shirts and shorts, most of the time. Pack the essentials first (dive gear, swim suit, some light weight clothing, and toilet articles) and then fill in the empty spaces with the stuff you think you might need.
Tools and spare parts
Sandals (light shoes) that can get wet
Comfortable light-weight clothing
Sweats for warming up after dives
One warm set of clothes for cool evenings
Wind breaker for boat rides
Sun hat or sunshade
|Proof of citizenship|
Money - preferably in traveler's checks
Sunscreen - take lots
Ear drops to prevent swimmer's ear
A mild decongestant
Camera and film
Medications - Any prescription drugs in original containers
Do not even consider bringing recreational drugs
Don't wait until the last minute to get everything together. Double check everything before you leave for the airport. If you forget your passport or your birth certificate, you won't be able to get on the plane. If you forget a lot of your diving gear, you may not be able to dive. If you take the time to prepare, you will guarantee that you will have a great trip.