Tips for first time liveaboard divers

August 03, 2015

Tips for first time liveaboard divers

No diving holiday is as satisfying as a liveaboard  holiday and I can certainly speak from experience, having been on several liveaboards for over 15 years. 

If you’re a novice diver there are just a few things worth considering, other than that just do it - you’ll love it.

1. Research the diving season well & manage your expectation

It’s a no-brainer…no place in the world stays the same through all seasons. External temperature, amount of sunshine, sea conditions and most importantly what kind of sea life you're expecting to dive with all vary with seasons. Some liveaboard companies will say that the "so and so area can be dived year round", meaning that conditions are okay year round, but that doesn't mean you'll always see the same sea creatures and that it will not rain. Do your research through forums, speak to other divers (we never lie, do we?!) and manage your expectations. Look at "captains logs" but take them with a pinch of salt (they want every trip to sound amazing). 

If you do your research and manage your expectations, you'll never, ever have a bad dive.

Of course disappointment is possible. I dived Cocos Island twice in winter and in summer and didn't get to see the much fabled, massive schools of hammerhead. Apparently the water temperature that particular month wasn't quite right and they were not at Alcyone, the best spot to see them in Cocos. Then the Moon played tricks on us and the hammerheads changed their habits. Nature only reveals itself when conditions are right, no sight is ever certain and that is the beauty and mystery of it all. I was disappointed for a second...until a whale shark appeared and literally took my breath away. Again, there's no such thing as a bad dive. 

2. Choose dive sites that suit your experience

Again, do your research well. If you're not comfortable in strong current, there's no point in choosing a location where drift diving is the norm. Unfortunately a lot of liveaboards seem to cater only to experienced divers but you can start with some easy ones. Start with a 4 days trip, rather than a full week long trip. Don't be afraid to ask and don't worry about being a novice diver. We've all been there.

3. Take it easy

Hardcore divers stumble out of bed at 6.30 in the morning to hit the water 30 minutes later. They might easily do 4 to even 5 dives a day, especially in warm waters and calm, current free easy locations. You don't have to do that! Competition and peer pressure is not a good thing, listen to your body. If you feel tired or a bit nervous, rest and enjoy the boat. A liveaboard is a holiday.

4. Mind what you eat

The food on liveaboards can be absolutely spectacular. Sometimes it's spectacular in quality but on almost every boat it's certainly spectacular in quantity. Watch out for food that gives you "wind", especially if it's Mexican day or pizza day. To dive with excess air in your stomach is very uncomfortable and can make you consume more air. If you're diving in the Red Sea watch out for salads and uncooked dishes. For some reason tummy bugs love Egypt too and it's damned easy to end up with an upset stomach. On the other hand if you're diving anywhere in the tropics you're likely to be served lovely fresh fruit, gorge on that and you'll feel amazing every day. You might also have that scrumptious cooked breakfast with bacon and sausage after your first morning dive and not before. As your stomach wakes up and starts registering the load you might be at 40 metres...not pleasant! Some liveaboards will give you the flexibility to choose at what time you want your breakfast.

3. Pack lightly but pack enough...

The art of packing is only mastered with time & practice and each one of us has different needs. On a liveaboard you'll share confined spaces with a number of people, so make sure you don't end up in a grabby T-shirt on your last day. 

Guys, tank tops might be comfortable if it's hot but we're not really sure they look great. Girls, bring one nice "piece" in case you need to look your absolute best. If you like to wear lightweight summer dresses, bring a couple. They can be a very useful cover up and you'll always feel and look nice. Our little diver dress is just perfect, you can view it hereSometimes you might feel a bit chilly even in hot climates, simply because of air conditioning. Have a couple hoodie type tops, one lightweight and one slightly heavier, to cover any need. Merino wool is an excellent choice of material (lightweight, thermoregulating, anti microbial, quick dry) as is fleece (lightweight, warm, soft and very quick dry). 

A small, 10 litres dry bag (like the one we gift with our orders, you can see it here) is a useful object to have on board. You can treat it as "grab bag", to store those valuables that need to be kept dry and to quickly grab it in case of an emergency. 

Now go ahead and book that holiday!

Happy diving,