Diving the Bay Island of Guanaja, Honduras (Part 1 - Packing)

A 6 minute read, Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 In Scuba
Tags scuba, travel, tips

This is part 1 in a series on scuba travel and our trip to Honduras.

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In January my wife and I took our first real scuba diving vacation with our dive shop, The Playground Dive Shop, to the island of Guanaja, Honduras where we stayed and dived with the Villa on Dunbar Rock. We were excited about have a week dedicated getting some good bottom time. Having just been introduced to scuba less than 1 year earlier we had only logged a total of 20 dives, 4 of those dives were the ocean in Hawaii and the other 16 where all lake dives, and most of them were check-out dives for our Open Water, Advanced and a few specialty certifications. This trip promised to nearly double our total number of dives and at least quadruple our ocean dives.

For only the second time in our 15 years of marriage we were headed to an international destination (the other time being our honeymoon in Jamaica). We had our passports in hand and our dive shop owner leading the way. We were nervous about all the traveling and unsure what awaited us in the deep, but the excitement of the adventure was palpable.

As newbie divers, and especially new dive travelers, I wanted to share with others our experiences traveling, diving, and doing underwater photography and video. This was information I had trouble gathering when I was preparing for our trip, and I hope others will find it useful preparing for their trip.

This is part 1 in a series on scuba travel and our trip to Honduras.

Before the trip - Packing

Packing, that’s the first thing I want to talk about. We had a lot of gear to take with us on this trip. We both had clothing, toiletries and other standard stuff along with our combined scuba gear and, of course, I had my photography gear. Now, I’ve traveled with my camera quite a bit, but when you plan to take it underwater with you a whole new set of luggage becomes necessary. And I literally mean, a whole new set of luggage. I ended up with a large pelican case all padded to protect my new investments in underwater housings and lighting. (I’ll talk more about checking vs. carry-on a little later)

Travel Tip:

Get a small travel luggage scale to take with you. If you have a lot of stuff or plan to come back with souvenirs it is a lifesaver when repacking your multiple bags of luggage and is reassuring that you will not have any surprises at the luggage check counter.

What we discovered worked well for the two of us was a total of 5 bags of luggage and 2 "personal items." We had 3 checked bags of luggage, we each had a carry-on bag of “essential” items, and the option to have a purse, backpack, laptop bag or similar item. Packing each piece of luggage was planned out before we even started to make sure we had everything we needed, when we needed it, and backup plans for lost or delayed luggage.

In our carry-on bags each of us took an extra set of clothing and all the things we didn’t want to get to our destination without, like medications, laptop and electronics, camera and lens, dive computers, regulators, masks and snorkels. The clothing in this bag served as both emergency clothing and as something we could change into during a layover since we were going from winter in Missouri to sunny beaches in Honduras.

Things to remember:

These items can be important, even if none of them are normally a problem.

  • Sudafed
  • Afrin
  • Seasick medication
  • medication for digestion
  • Allergy medication
  • Aloe Vera
  • Sunscreen

In our main checked luggage bag we had our toiletries, clothing and misc. odds and ends. It was nice heading to warm weather were all we needed was shorts, t-shirts and swim wear. We had laundry service where we were staying so to reduce our baggage we only took 3 days clothing swim wear and had everything wash every couple days. It worked out really well. The nice part about only taking a few days worth of clothes was all the space we had in our luggage for misc odds and ends and any souvenirs we decided to bring home.

Then we had 1 large ScubaPro Porter Bag with all our non-essential dive gear like our wetsuits, BCDs, fins, booties and other things we can rent if it gets lost or delayed in delivery. We also packed some of our dive related liquids in this bag, like our ear beer and sun screen. I really like the Porter Bag for a few reasons. First, it is light enough that it only adds a few pounds to our already heavy dive gear, important in keeping under our 50 lb. limit. Second, it still has wheels on the bottom and is pretty easy to pull around the airport and to and from your transportation and lodging. Third, it is all soft and foldable, so once all your gear is out of it you can collapse it down and throw it in the hotel closet until you are ready to pack up and leave. Even though it is soft and foldable, it has pockets on the side where you can put your fins and give it a little more rigid structure while in use, providing extra protection to your other gear.

All these bags were followed up with my Pelican case full of my underwater camera equipment. I went with the foam insert and cutout impressions for all my gear to fit. It works really nice, but I’m tempted to get one of their pocket or divider based systems to either replace the foam entirely or to make a hybrid foam and pocket setup, where my port lens can be projected by foam, but everything else can be placed a little more flexibly in the pockets.

Boy am I glad they have those luggage carts at the airports, they saved a lot of headaches getting all these bags from one part of the airport to the other. With both of us we could just handle moving the 5 bags (two pull bags each and a backpack) by hand, but it was slow and awkward.

Next time I’ll cover some concerns to traveling photographers with all that expensive underwater photography gear.

If you are interested in my photos or videos from the trip take a look at Flickr and YouTube.

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