Scuba Diving Packing List: What to Take on a Dive Boat

I started scuba diving around four years ago and completed my Open Water in Koh Tao, Thailand, like many others. So far I have dived around Asia extensively in Thailand and Indonesia but also in the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan so this scuba diving packing list is advice meant for diving in tropical waters. For me, scuba diving is an addiction and the more I do it, the more I want to do. A few people have asked me about what to take diving, so I thought I’d make a useful scuba packing list of what I take on a dive boat. Below are useful items that I always use for diving and pack in my dry bag. Many of these useful dive items I wish I had known about in the beginning of my diving career!

What to take on a dive boat:

1. Gopro. There are many other similar video cameras for diving but the Gopro is still a popular, small and useful item for diving. It took me too long to get mine and I missed out on some great footage of diving with turtles in the Gili islands in Indonesia.
Scuba Diving Tip: When learning to do your Open Water or Advanced qualification and doing other dive courses you are, generally speaking, not permitted to use cameras. Compare prices for GoPro HERO4 BLACK and Gopro Hero 5 on Amazon here.

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Turtles and Stunning Coral in Komodo National Park

2. A red filter for the GoPro. It took me a long time until I cottoned on to this as before I received my red filter (thanks Dad!) all my photos and videos were so blue and not showing the real beauty of the coral. You lose red colour the deeper you dive. See which red filter fits your underwater camera here. 

what to take on a dive boat
How my photos looked before I bought a red filter!

3. Gopro selfie stick, a recent purchase that allows me to get closer to animals or corals without disturbing them with my bubbles or presence. Buy a similar one like this Selfie Stick GoPro Hero on Amazon.

what to take on a dive boat
Getting up close to some fish

 

4. Bikini or swimwear. I personally prefer to wear a bikini under my wetsuit as it is easier when you need to go to the toilet on the dive boat.

Scuba Diving Tip: I usually wear a bikini with straps so that I won’t flash anyone while peeling off my wetsuit but I also make sure it doesn’t have any ties near my neck that might irritate me when my wetsuit is zipped all the way up.

what to take on a dive boat
In my happy place

5. Rash vest, if you are a wimp like me and get cold even when diving in warm waters that average 29C/84F degree sea water then consider a rash vest to wear underneath your wetsuit.
Scuba Diving Tip: When diving in countries like Thailand and Malaysia, most dive centres only provide short wet suits and even might charge extra for a long wetsuit which I am not prepared to pay. Browse brand name rash vests here

Scuba Diving Tip: choose a rash vest with a zip all the way up the middle – makes it so much easier taking it on and off!

what to take on a dive boat

6. Tiger balm/ decongestant – you cannot equalise with a cold or blocked nose so these are useful for keeping your sinuses open. I have used Actifed as a very strong decongestant which always helps me equalise but you shouldn’t use it for diving consecutive days. There is also a risk of reverse block so use with caution. Buy your tiger balm and nasal sprays on Amazon or wait until you arrive in Asia as they are equally cheap here.

7. Socks! – you might not look like the coolest diver out there but if you’re wearing fins without booties for days on end then socks will stop them from rubbing (and protect my nail varnish!)

8. Dry bag – forever a fan of these. Keep your stuff dry when climbing on and off boats, from ocean spray and monsoon weather. Buy yours here for a reasonable price.

what to take on a dive boat
Dry Bag – it goes everywhere with me from dive boats to hiking National Parks

9. Spare contact lenses – if like me you need to wear contacts to actually see the fish then make sure you take a spare pair with you. I find that clearing your mask underwater particularly stings when wearing contacts and changing them between two dives can help. I use daily contacts for diving.

Scuba Diving Tip: only soft contacts can be used for diving.

10. A hoody – maybe just for people who feel the cold but multiple dives lower your body temperature so at the end of the diving day I’m often feeling the cold.

11. Suncream – I know we shouldn’t be wearing suncream to protect the reefs but I am still about protecting my skin from damage and I usually top up in between dives. I figured climate change will probably destroy the reefs more than my suncream – but maybe that’s just me being selfish.

12. GoPro extensions – something to make your gopro float that doesn’t include air. I’m still looking for a GoPro floating selfie stick so if anyone knows where I can buy one then let me know please. I used to have one of these orange devices that float but you it means you cannot see the screen on my GoPro Hero 4. Buy a floating GoPro device here.

13. Your log book – recently I’ve made sure I write in my log book in between dives – especially when doing three dives a day, to help me remember and write about the moment.

14. A sarong – I never bother with heavy beach towels nowadays and I prefer to travel with lightweight, quick drying sarongs instead. I might not always head straight home after a dive and I don’t want to be carrying around a wet, heavy towel to the bar for post diving beers. I love a turtle themed one like this one 

Read more here for the best dives sites in Thailand

Looking for more packing advice? Here are my backpacking essentials that I never travel without

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything from Amazon I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Wildlife In Thailand: See Wild Animals in Thailand’s Jungles, Oceans and Islands

Want to know where and how to see wild animals in Thailand? One of the reasons that I am still so in love with living in Thailand is the nature and wildlife. From jungles and forests to oceans and mountains to beaches, Thailand has it all and you can see so many interesting and unusual animals in Thailand. If, like me, you are an animal lover then read on about the best ways and places to see wild animals such as elephants, dolphins, whales, turtles, sharks, whale sharks, monkeys and more. I have recommended the best places to see wild animals in their natural environment.

See Wild Elephants in Thailand’s jungles and National Parks

I think Khao Yao National Park is one of the best places to encounter wild elephants. They are amazing creatures and despite all the sanctuaries in Thailand, the jungle is where they truly belong and to have the opportunity to see them in the wild is incredible. Khao Yai is about 2 hours from Bangkok by minivan (approx. 180 baht). I strongly recommend Greenleaf Tours as I thought they were fantastic and they have very knowledgeable guides and will even pick you up from Pak Chong, the town where the minivans from Bangkok arrive. Alternatively, if you feel confident renting scooters then rent them from Pak Chong and ride around 15 minutes until you get into the park.

Foreign Visitor National Park fee = 400 baht. Seeing wild elephants = priceless.

Thailand Travel Tip: For getting to Khao Yai National Park, take a minivan to Pak Chong from Bangkok Ekkamai Bus Station

Thailand Wildlife Fact: Elephants are seen as Thailand’s sacred animal. However, many elephants who are forced to work in elephant camps in Thailand are subject to cruelty and animal abuse. Read here for my recommendations on ethical elephant sanctuaries.

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Elephant Spotting in Khao Yai National Park
Wild Animals in Thailand: Snorkel or Dive with Turtles around Thai islands

Seeing turtles when snorkelling or diving is definitely possible and you can have a good chance in some areas of Thailand. The island of Koh Tao is named after turtles although I have seen more when scuba diving around Koh Chang, Koh Phi Phi and around the Similan islands. All turtles I have seen here are hawksbill turtles and are a smaller version of their cousins that I’ve seen in Indonesia but well worth a turtle spotting dive.

For getting to the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui): book your transport here.

For travelling to Koh Phi Phi, book flights or a night bus to Krabi and then a ferry. You can book in advance using this website.

Koh Phi Phi Travel Tip: allow more time as the ferry has often taken longer than 2 hours for me.

diving with turtles in Thailand
Diving with turtles in Thailand
Wild Animals in Thailand: Diving with Whale Sharks

The whale shark is the biggest fish in the ocean and are one reason why divers come to Thailand. They are generally spotted around Chumpon Pinnacle near Koh Tao and occasionally around Koh Phangan. Richelieu Rock, above the Similan islands is the dive site where I was lucky enough to see my first one and most divers will tell you this is the best dive site for whale shark spotting. Rainy season around Koh Tao and Koh Phangan sometimes brings more in and a few were spotted around June-July of this year (unfortunately not by me!)

Diving Thailand Tip: For dive trips to Richelieu Rock and the Similan islands, take a night bus to Khao Lak and book your diving in centres there. It can get busy so consider contacting a dive centre in advance to ensure your place.

For more about diving in Thailand, read this post

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Diving with a whale shark at Richelieu Rock, Thailand
Venomous Animals in Thailand: Monitor Lizards

These enormous monitor lizards can be found all over Thailand and even in Bangkok. They can grow up to a couple of metres. We regularly see them in Bangkok’s parks and have a good look when crossing over any canal as you can often see them swimming (and not what I thought was a crocodile on first glance!). They eat small birds and can climb trees. Despite many locals nonchalant attitude towards these massive lizards, they are actually extremely dangerous and their bite can be fatal to humans so approach with caution. Head to Lumpini Park in Bangkok for a good chance of spotting them.

Thailand Wild Animal Fact: The nickname for a monitor lizard is an extremely rude swear word in Thai

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Monitor Lizard among canons in Bangkok
Wild Animals in Thailand: Monkeys

Thailand has a variety of different species of monkey. Macaques are probably the most common monkey that you can see on the mainland and also on some of the islands. They live in huge families so often where this is one, there are lots more. I love seeing them in Khao Yai National Park as they are still a respectful distance away from humans, whereas places like Lopburi you can see them but they can be aggressive and often steal items from visitors.  I also heard some good advice once which was not to smile at monkeys – they see the act of baring your teeth as a threat.

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Macaques in Khao Yai National Park

Dusky Langur Monkeys – These monkeys are fairly rare but can be seen in various places around Thailand. I have personally seen them in Khao Sok National Park, Railay beach and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.

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Dusky Langur at the beach

Thailand Animal Abuse: Be aware that monkeys should be in the wild and never pay for a photo with a ‘pet’ monkey as monkeys are treated as a tourist attraction. They often have their teeth removed, are wearing nappies and on chains. Read here for more things to avoid doing in Thailand

Wild Gibbons in Thailand

These are one of my favourite animals to spot and to hear in Thailand. You can often hear their distinct voices but catching a glimpse of these tree-top dwellers is more difficult. You can often hear gibbons calling to each other at dawn and dusk. After watching a documentary on them I discovered that when they mate for life, their mating calls develop and become more complex and have a wider range as years go by. I’ve spotted these in a few different national parks around the country such as in Khao Yai National Park and Khao Sok National Park.

Book your Khao Sok bus tickets here, discounts available for multiple bookings and tickets.

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Zoomed in photo of a Gibbon in Khao Yai National Park
Wild Animals in Thailand: Spot Wild Dolphins in the Sea

Dolphins will always remain an amazing animal to me, no matter how many times I go dolphin spotting and I love seeing them when I am not even expecting to. I was told that on boat trips to Koh Similan, dolphins were spotted on average twice a week during dry season (October-May). I have recently been to Nakhon SI Thammarat to go pink dolphin watching which was an incredible experience, read about how and where to see pink dolphins in Thailand here.

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Pink(ish) dolphins in Nakhon Si Thammart province
Wild Animals in Thailand: Go Whale Watching in Thailand

During the months of August-November, huge Bryde whales migrate to Thailand to feast on anchovies in the Gulf of Thailand. I went last year and was lucky enough to see around 5 whales including a mother and calf and they even swam around our boat while we were having lunch. I did the day trip from Bangkok with Wild Encounters who were very professional, extremely knowledgeable and answered all of my many questions about whales.

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Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance
Dive and Snorkel with Sharks around Thailand

If you are a shark lover then definitely consider a shark watching trip either diving or snorkelling. I have seen sharks around Koh Phi Phi and diving the Ao Nang islands near Krabi. I’ve spotted black tip reef sharks, bamboo sharks and once I was lucky enough to see a 3 metre leopard shark while diving in Koh Phi Phi. Thailand doesn’t have any dangerous sharks and some people think you have more chance of seeing them snorkelling than diving as the bubbles can scare them away. Some dive centres like the Adventure Club on Koh Phi Phi have a specific shark watching trip that I plan to try out in the future.

How to Travel to Koh Phi Phi and Krabi – book your transport here

wild animals thailand
When the shark is way too fast for you!

Travelling Thailand? Don’t forget these useful items!

    1. Gopro – essential for documenting all your adventures and underwater trips. Buy your GoPro HERO5 Black from Amazon here
    2.  Gopro Red Filter for diving – unless you want all your photos to come out extremely blue. Buy a GoPro Blue Water Filter (HERO5 Black) (GoPro Official Accessory) from Amazon
    3. A completely waterproof Dry Bag (Blue, 5l) to keep all of your things dry when jumping on and off boats, or getting caught in sudden downpours in the jungle.

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Disclaimer: some links are affiliate links. If you purchase a ticket or item I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Pink Dolphins in Thailand: Where and How to See Wild Pink Dolphins

Once I had heard a student mention about wild pink dolphins in Thailand, I put it to the top of my Thailand bucket list and made it my mission to seek these pink dolphins out. One of the things that continues to amaze me, even after three years of living in Thailand, is both the range of species and wildlife that lives here and also how quiet and untouched by tourism some areas still are. If you are looking for the real unseen Thailand without the built up hotels and crowds of tourists, then consider a visit to Nakhon Si Thammarat province. There is so much more that I want to explore here, so watch this space. I spent a weekend down in Khanom with the aim of seeing the pink dolphins and they did not disappoint!

Check out this post for more about wild animals in Thailand, where and how you can see elephants, whales, whale sharks, turtles and more

 

pink dolphins in Thailand
The moment when two pretty big dolphins approached our boat!
How and Where to see Pink Dolphins

I recommend staying at Bansonmanee Guesthouse. The woman who ran the place was a foreigner and extremely helpful with all our requests. We had a basic and reasonably priced bungalow (around 600 baht) and we could walk down a small green path and we were on 4 empty km of Nadan beach. I believe that on Saturday and Sunday there would be more open but we were travelling on weekdays and there were about 2 restaurants open for food on the whole beach…not much choice but definitely not touristy either.

 

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Follow me to the empty beach!
Pink Dolphin Tours and Boat Trips

For the pink dolphin trip, I recommend booking through your hotel. If you are lucky or in a group, there is a full day trip costing around 1000 that includes dolphin spotting, waterfalls and some small island exploring and lunch. It was so quiet that this tour did not have enough people to run, so my friend and I paid  700 baht each for a morning pink dolphin spotting boat trip. Turns out no-one else was on the boat so we ended up on a private long tail boat. Remember a tip goes a long way in Thailand and it is always appreciated (even though people may not show it at first!).

 

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A blowhole and a fin…
The Pink Dolphins

In all honestly, the dolphins did not look SUPER pink, though I have seen some pinker dolphins in photos. Not that much is known about these pink dolphins who are a sub-species of white Chinese dolphins. It is thought there are around 2000 in the wild and around 150 in Thailand – though I’m never sure where people get their numbers from!

I was lucky enough to spot around 8 pink dolphins in two separate places off shore. The only other boats to be seen were longtail fishing boats, and compared with other dolphin trips I have taken in places like Indonesia and the Philippines, it felt really good to a) be the only people there and b) not be ‘chasing’ the dolphins. The dolphins were much bigger than dolphins I had seen before and at one point even came really close to the boat. We could hear them making noises through the blowholes and at one point even heard them ‘squeak’ to each other. We also spotted a baby pink dolphin. It’s magic moments like this that make me fall in love with Thailand a little bit more.

Want to see wild pink dolphins for yourself?

Useful Advice for Seeing Pink Dolphins

Stay: At Bansonmanee Guesthouse which has cute bungalows right on Nadan Beach or look for alternatives here on Agoda.

Getting there: I did the ‘fly and ride’ service with Nok Air from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat airport which then includes a transfer minivan to Khanom itself.  (Thanks to Emily for this usefuk information!) It’s a sleepy spread out village with a small amount of accommodation and mostly advertises pink dolphin watching.

If you prefer trains or buses then book your tickets using this website here: the more tickets you buy, the better discounts you get!

Don’t miss: these strange looking ‘pancake’ rocks

pink dolphins thailand
Well named ‘pancake’ rocks

 

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Best Untouched Beaches on Islands in Thailand

With so many beaches in Thailand it makes it very challenging to decide which are the best ones. There are beautiful islands around Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket and the Gulf of Thailand too. However, for me there are a few untouched Thai islands where the sand is white, the water clear, lots of greenery around and not too crowded. I have in no way been to all of the beaches in Thailand but having visited over 13 inhabited islands and many more deserted ones, these are a round-up of 5 beaches which I think are the best quiet beaches in Thailand.

For the all my island summaries read this post to help you decide which island to visit…

Book your trains, buses and ferries here…discounts available for multiple tickets and trips!
Kantiang Bay, Koh Lanta

This is definitely one of the prettiest beaches in Thailand. It has a huge area of white sand, you can see your feet when standing in the sea and the jungle comes down to meet the sand meaning no big built up buildings or roads in the way. It is incredibly calm and when I was there in April time the beach had about five people on it. Koh Lanta is much less touristy that some other islands and in off-peak season there are barely any people  around. You can book a ferry using this website, and get discounts for more than one ticket.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: Stay at this amazing accommodation, a slight walk up the hill but well worth it for the views of Kantiang Bay. It also has an infinity pool, spacious rooms with windows from ceiling to floor and a cheeky group of visiting monkeys!

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Views of Kantiang Bay
Main Beach, Koh Kradan

This is one of the best secluded beaches. It’s a tiny island which has limited accommodation and is mostly a National Park. Most island hopping trips around the area of Koh Lanta stop here for a visit or lunch break. The main beach is stunning; white sand and crystal clear waters and the decent coral around offers some snorkelling potential here too.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: To avoid the day tripper crowds, consider staying at a resort on the island

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Island Hopping to Koh Kradan
Beaches on Koh Similan

The Similan Islands are some of the most beautiful islands I have ever visited in Thailand. They are extremely old and have smooth shaped rock formations as they used to be submerged underwater as coral reefs. While the snorkelling/diving here is not what it once was it is still worth a visit and the beaches are breath-taking. They have very white sand and transparent water and also some great viewpoints for photos.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: My best advice to avoid the day crowds is to camp overnight through the National Park service here.

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Quiet beaches – Koh Similan
Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe

Another winner for the white sand and clear waters, head to Koh Lipe for one of Thailand’s most stunning islands. Unfortunately Lipe does have a battle with litter but the locals work hard to keep Sunrise Beach clear of litter to keep it the paradise beach it should be.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: In the evening, walk round to the very aptly named Sunset Beach for some of the best sunsets that I’ve seen in Thailand

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Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe
Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is always the island I keep going back to. Mainly for the Full Moon Party but it has so much more to offer as well. One of my favourite beaches on this island it is only accessible by boat and so it is much quieter than other beaches around Koh Phangan. It has a few places for lunch time eating and it’s in a pretty white sand bay. Head here to avoid the crowds, especially around Full Moon time when the island fills up.

Best Quiet Beach Tip: Get a group together to make the longtail boat ride cheaper

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Beaches on Koh Phangan

Where are your favourite beaches in Thailand?  Future contenders are Koh Phayam, Koh Maak, Koh Kut…watch this space!

Top 5 Beach Essentials
  1. Sarong – ditch the heavy beach towel, I find I carry half the beach home with them and buy a quick-drying sarong that does the job just as fast. I love brightly coloured ones like this Amazon one Ayliss Sarong if you’re looking for gifts for travellers or wait until you are out here and head to a market
  2. Dry Bag – Keep your belongings safe from the sea, especially handy when getting it and off boats. Buy yours from Amazon hereDry Bag (Green, 5L)
  3. GoPro – so useful for all your holiday footage. I love the Gopro Hero 4 as you can take it diving down to depths of 40metres GoPro HERO4 BLACK

For the all my island summaries read this post to help you decide which island to visit..

50 Things To Do in Bangkok, Thailand

A Chiang Mai local recently said to me ‘but yeah, there’s not much to do in Bangkok..’. Now while I agree that Chiang Mai has lots of adventure activities it left me feeling slightly indignant about Bangkok, my home for the last 3 years.

So I’ve decided to make an epic list of 50 things to do in Bangkok that will never leave you feeling bored in this crazy Thai capital:

For a slimmed down version, read my must do and must see activities in Bangkok here

  1. Visit Bangkok’s temples

  2. Jim Thompson’s House Museum

  3. Drink at a skybar

  4. Party on Khao San Road

  5. Watch a Muay Thai match

  6. Do yoga

  7. Go to Thailand’s oldest cinema – Scala in Siam

  8. Eat street food

  9. Go wake-boarding

  10. Enjoy local nightlife at Bangkok’s clubs

  11. Go to  a Pilates lesson

  12. Go swimming

  13. Try a  Muay Thai boxing class

  14. Have a chocolate buffet afternoon

  15. Rent a bicycle and cycle around a park

  16. Have afternoon tea at a posh hotel

  17. Go to a ladies night for free flow prosecco

  18. Visit a cat café

  19. Go rollerskating

  20. Take a cycling tour

  21. Visit a butterfly house

  22. Go market shopping

  23. Volunteer

  24. Go to a theme park – Dream world

  25. Have lunch by the river

  26. Sing karaoke

  27. Spot monitor lizards in Lumpini park

  28. Explore Chinatown

  29. Cross the river to cycle around Bang Krachao

  30. Visit the flower market

  31. Go to an art gallery

  32. Visit the science museum

  33. Go iceskating

  34. Take a cooking class

  35. Take photos from a viewpoint – the Golden Mount temple

  36. Go on a river boat

  37. Visit a floating market – mostly food and souvenirs

  38. Snack at the Unicorn Café

  39. Go on Bangkok’s wheel at Asiatique

  40. Get a manicure or pedicure

  41. Relax with a massage – Thai or other

  42. Try SUP or knee boarding

  43. Paint your own picture at Paintbar

  44. Go surfing at Flow House

  45. Spend the day at a water park – I love Jungle water park in the North of Bangkok

  46. Party on a boat

  47. Eat cheap at a food court

  48. Watch a show – Siam Niramit

  49. Shop at a night market

  50. Take a salsa class at La Rueda, Asok

If you’re pressed for time and just want the ‘don’t miss’ activities check out my top things to do in Bangkok

If you have longer and feel the need to get out of Bangkok, read my post on exploring around Bangkok for day trips and weekend getaways

Moving on from Bangkok? Book your trains, buses and ferries here! Discounts available for multiple trips and tickets…



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