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What to pack when you join a diving program

Article by Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah

Posted: November 25, 2022

7 min read

Diving internships or volunteer programs are an exciting way to gain dive qualifications, learn more about marine conservation, and explore dive-related career paths. A marine conservation expedition will encourage you to grow physically and mentally. Your first challenge – packing all the right gear. 

Here’s what you need to pack when you join a dive program with GVI. 

Scuba-diving equipment

On your program, GVI will provide cylinders, buoyancy control devices (BCDs), regulators, submersible pressure gauges, weights, torches, and surface marker buoys. 

You will need to bring everything else, from your own wetsuit or rashguard to a dive slate. If you’re passionate about diving, this is a good chance to invest in quality equipment that will carry you through years of underwater adventures. 

Wetsuit

Mandatory (unless you wear a rashguard and shorts instead)

Neoprene wetsuits insulate you against the cold while you’re in the water. They can also help to protect you from cuts, scrapes, stings, and sunburn. 

GVI’s dive locations in Mexico, Fiji, and Seychelles all have water temperatures between 26 °C to 32°C. This means you can dive wearing only a rashguard and shorts. However, if you know you tend to get cold, we recommend a 3-5mm wetsuit, especially in winter. 

Rashguard

Mandatory (unless wearing a wetsuit instead)

Rashguards protect your skin from the sun and any stinging creatures, and give you a light layer of warmth. They are comfortable, versatile, and quick drying. 

If you are travelling in the winter season or get cold easily, opt for a wetsuit instead. 

Shorts

Shorts whilst diving

Mandatory (unless wearing a wetsuit)

Neoprene shorts provide extra protection and warmth. They can be worn with a rashguard in place of a wetsuit. 

Fins 

2 pairs of snorkling fins

Mandatory

Whether you call them flippers, fins, scuba fins, or diving fins, having a pair of these on your feet will help you control your movement in the water and increase your speed. They are essential for moving around confidently and efficiently underwater. 

Mask 

Mandatory

A mask is necessary to see underwater. Tempered glass and a durable silicone mask skirt are valuable features, as are adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable fit. 

Snorkel 

Snorkling tube

Mandatory

A snorkel, sometimes called a dive snorkel, is necessary to conserve air in your tanks before or after you dive. 

Delayed surface marker buoy 

Delayed surface marker buoy

Mandatory

A delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) – also called a decompression buoy or deco buoy – rolls up and attaches to your BCD. You launch a DSMB before you surface to signal your location. 

Finger reel

Mandatory


Finger reels are a safety line with a wide variety of uses. They can be used in combination with DSMBs to mark your location, help to keep you in contact with surface support, or guide you back to a starting point if you’re exploring a cave or wreck.

Dive watch

A black diving watch

Mandatory (unless you’re using a dive computer instead)


A dive watch helps you keep track of time spent underwater. Dive watches need to be water and corrosion proof, and shock resistant. Choose one with a depth rating of at least 100 metres, and that can be read in dark conditions. 

Dive computer

Mandatory (unless you’re using a dive watch instead) 

A dive computer, sometimes called a personal decompression computer, helps to record, monitor, and display the details of your dive. For example, you can track your depth, dive time, and monitor previous dive information. This allows you to accurately track your no decompression limits and measure how long you can stay at certain depths underwater. 

Dive slate 

diving scale recording on white board

Mandatory

A dive slate is a waterproof erasable sheet or board used to record or share information underwater.

Pocket mask

Participant practicing the use of a pocket mask

Optional

Also called a resuscitation mask, a pocket mask is used for giving mouth to mouth to divers who have stopped breathing. They help to deliver a higher concentration of oxygen and can prevent the rescuer from accidentally ingesting water. 

Compass

Mandatory for Divemaster

Optional for other programs

A scuba compass or a diving compass is useful for navigating above the water, on the surface, and at depth. It needs to be waterproof. 

Dive knife 

Yellow and black diving knife

Optional

A dive knife is a generic tool that comes in handy if you need to cut through tangled fishing line or tap on your buddy’s tank to get their attention. A dive knife is usually stainless steel and comes with a sheath that can be strapped to the inside of your wrist or onto your BCD. 

Line cutter

Black line cutters

Optional

A line cutter is a cheaper alternative to a dive knife but it can be used for the same tasks, like cutting through fishing line or tapping on your buddy’s tank.

 

What to pack for diving programs in Fiji, Mexico, and Seychelles

GVI offers different levels of dive programs in three stunning locations – Fiji, Mexico, and Seychelles

You might need different equipment depending on your chosen location and program, whether that’s a marine conservation internship or volunteering option. Tick off these checklists to make sure you have all the right gear.

 

Open Water

GVI’s Open Water dive programs take place in Mexico and Fiji. You’ll need: 

  • A rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Dive watch 
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB)

 

Advanced Open Water and GVI Speciality 

In Mexico you’ll need: 

  • A rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Dive watch or dive computer (a dive computer is required for interns)
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and reel

In Fiji and Seychelles you’ll need: 

  • A rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Dive computer
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and reel
  • Compass
  • Slate (A4 preferred)
  • Pencils

 

Rescue Diver

In Mexico and Fiji you’ll need:

  • Rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Dive computer is optional but recommended, alternatively a dive watch is required
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and reel
  • Pocket mask

In Seychelles you’ll need:

  • Rash guard or wetsuit.
  • Fins
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Dive computer is optional but recommended, alternatively a dive watch is required
  • Compass
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and reel
  • Slate (A4 preferred)
  • Pencils

 

Divemaster

Mexico gear list:

  • A rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Dive watch or dive computer (dive computer is optional, but required for Interns)
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and reel
  • Compass
  • Dive slate
  • Optional: A dive knife or tool, for use on placement.

Fiji and Seychelles gear list: 

  • Rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Dive computer
  • Compass
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and reel
  • Slate (A4 preferred)
  • Pencils

 

Open Water Scuba Instructor and Master Scuba Diver Trainer programs

Both the OWSI and MSDI programs take place in Mexico only and require the same gear: 

  • A rash guard or wetsuit
  • Fins
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Dive computer
  • Delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and finger reel
  • Compass
  • Dive slate
  • Optional: A dive knife or tool, for use on placement. 

 

Have any questions about how to prepare for your diving program? Feel free to get in touch. 

Article by Petrina Darrah

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at petrinadarrah.com.
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