It’s a fantasy we all share: Picture yourself so far our in the big blue that no land is visible anywhere, and all there is to do is dive, eat, dive, relax, dive, unwind and, oh yeah, dive. To complete the figment: Envision a crew that anticipates your every need and meets it before you can say the magic word. It’s not a hallucination — it’s the live-aboard life. Here are boats plying the waters of the Cayman Islands, Belize, the Maldives, Indonesia and the Great Barrier Reef to help you start making that dive dream a reality.
And whether you have a diving vacation planned or are just curious, here are some tips about what to bring and what to leave at home to have the best diving trip possible.
» Pack two dive wetsuits, so you’ll always have one that can hang up and dry.
» Research what water temperatures and conditions you might encounter, or check with the dive operator, and choose thermal protection to take accordingly.
» Use soft-sided bags when packing for easier stowing in your cabin. You won’t need much clothing either. Being in and out of water all day, you only need a few pairs of shorts and t-shirts in your the wardrobe.
» Think about bringing a long-sleeve shirt or a light jacket. After days of diving, your core temperature is always going to be lower.
» Take a simple pair of flip-flops. You probably won’t need much footwear, unless you’re planning for a wilderness hike. Many scuba divers go barefoot during the day and just wear footie socks at night.
» Carry some good self-rescue additions with you, like a marker float and compact reel, especially if you will be scuba diving from smaller boats instead of a moored mother ship.
» Save weight and space in your dive gear bag by settling for smaller, high-intensity LED lights.
» Avoid bringing spare parts and redundant dive equipment, like chargers and extra batteries. You don’t want to over pack and pay excess baggage fees. Chances are live-aboards can provide loaners and spares anyway.
» Be prepared for medical emergencies and bring a copy of prescriptions, if you have any, for resupply. It should also save time going through customs.
» Leave the entertainment behind, unless you can’t part with your iPod. Dive boats usually have a good collection of books and DVDs. But most likely you’ll spend your surface intervals napping or reliving your scuba diving adventures with fellow passengers.
Scroll down to our "Related Articles" section to read about five boats that embody the live-aboard lifestyle at its best.