This time of year, when most of the northern hemisphere is blanketed in snow, ice, and the unforgiving chill of winter, is when tropical dive vacations are looking their best. Fronds of palm trees swaying in the warm breeze, pink cotton clouds at sunset, powdery white sand beaches, and bathwater warm seas — what’s not to like?! Although many people are content with renting their dive gear on location as opposed to bringing their own, the simple conditions of warm water diving make it possible to have and bring a few pieces of your own gear. Here are just a few items that we think are essential to bring on any tropical diving vacation.
It is actually possible in some waters to wear nothing more than a bathing suit, but one important fact to bear in mind is that your body loses heat in water up to 26 times faster than in air of the same temperature. The water may feel incredibly warm, certainly much warmer than you’re probably used to in your own state or country, but protecting your core from losing your precious body heat is paramount. Retaining heat is just one part of protecting your body on a dive; it’s also important to protect your skin from abrasions and incidental contact with marine life and natural structures like coral and rocks. Just a few millimeters of neoprene could actually save you from injuries that are hard to anticipate when visiting a tropical paradise. Shorty wetsuits are generally inexpensive and won’t take up much space in your luggage, so if you like tropical diving, invest in one you can travel with. At the very least, get yourself a skin if you have some kind of aversion to shorty wetsuits.
Protecting your body from the intense power of the sun is every bit as important — if not more so — as protecting it underwater. Whether you choose a powerful sunblock, clothing, or both combined, you will be doing yourself one of the best favors that could ever be done by outfitting yourself with adequate sun protection. The sun’s rays are many times more powerful when reflected by water, and it won’t take long at all for you to be inflicted with a painful, and possibly harmful sunburn. If you’re going the sunscreen route, it would be best to choose a brand that is biodegradable and eco-friendly, as there are many substances in traditional sunscreens that can cause chemical damage to corals and other marine life. We suggest that you wear sunblock even if you will be wearing clothing to protect your skin, which should always include something to cover your head as well as other parts of your body. One bad sunburn will impress this upon you forever!
Whether you consider yourself a green-horned amateur or a seasoned pro, you should at least attempt to capture the beauty of the tropical underwater world while you have the chance. There is a wide variety of underwater cameras on the market today that will suit any experience level; you can even get housings for your iPhone complete with apps that will record stunning underwater footage at the touch of a button! Besides, tropical dive vacations certainly don’t happen every day, so what do you have to lose by snapping a photo or two that will last at least your entire lifetime?