I’m in the water so much you’d be surprised at my big secret: I’m actually a chicken $hit and refuse to surf.
On water trips, my carry-on consists mostly of water wear and gear. The shorts I bring are dual purpose and dry quickly so I can hop into the car without drenching my seat and transition to the next activity.
I remember planning for my trip to Puerto Princesa and El Nido. Since this was my first major water excursion, I wanted to get everything right. Except I didn’t. And I overpacked and bought things I thought I might need but didn’t even use.
Over the years, I’ve refined my list of must-haves so much that I actually use everything I bring with me.
Below, my top 5 must-have items for water trips!
I don’t think I’ve been to any beach destination without bringing my trusty snorkel gear.
A lot of rental spots, especially ones AT the site, offer the cheapest snorkel sets.
These sets tend to have:
- Straps that are harder to adjust
- Lower quality skirts that won’t provide a nice watertight seal around your face
- Scratched lens from wear and tear
- A tube that’s open at the top, so if it’s a little rocky or you turn a certain way, water will enter the tube
- Gross factor… because hundreds of other tourists have used it
It wasn’t until I went on a snorkel trip with a private company that I experienced just how much more fun snorkeling can be when I wasn’t distracted by mouthfuls of salt water or water seeping through the top of my mask.
The snorkel brand they used was Cressi, and I came home from that trip and immediately purchased a set.
Click on the image below to get yours!
- Completely submersible dry snorkel. Their dry top eliminates water entry even when completely submerged.
- If water does enter the tube, you can forcefully blow it out through the purge valve, which is at the bottom of the mouthpiece.
- The silicone skirt is soft enough to easily adapt to the shape of your face.
- Great field-of-view
I’m uncertain on sizing for smaller and younger children, but Aydan was 10 when he started using the same one I got. No issues with leaking or sizing.
Regardless of whether you’re a strong swimmer, the difference between using and not using fins is as clear as whether the Tesla Roadster or Ford Fusion is the faster car.
I care about mobility and covering as much “ground” to see as many things as possible, and these fins help me to accomplish just that.
I was too lazy to take my fins on and off while kayaking through El Nido’s islands 🙂
The adjustable heel strap was a major selling point for me, and I’ve used them with and without water shoes and water socks. I also loaned them to my best friend, whose feet are a couple sizes bigger than mine on her Hawaii trip.
I’m a size 7 and ordered SMMD.
Click on the image below to grab yours!
Easily one of the most overlooked items, a dry bag is an absolute must for me.
We were taking an early evening dip in Playa Del Carmen and left our hotel key and sandals on the beach. As a group of 5 teens walked by, one of them stopped, bent over, and picked through our belongings. By this point, husband was already waddling his way back towards shore. As the thief put on one of our sandals, they spotted Tony hurriedly making his way toward them, and they took off at a sprint. Tony chased them down but they scattered like the roaches they were.
The stolen item was Tony’s USA-made Sea Vees sandals that I picked up from 6PM.com. Sadly, it was the final item and discontinued. They were the only sandals Tony actually found comfortable, too.
Anyway, lesson learned. We always take our goods with us in the water now.
I took this Unigear with me in and out of the water all throughout Philippine, Mexican, and Hawaiian waters.
The bag is sturdy and has held up extremely well. As long as you use it properly, water will not enter the bag.
Below, the bag modeling for me at Batos Spring Resort in San Pablo, Philippines.
20L is more than enough space to store a couple of towels, a change of clothes for three (think: shirt, shorts, underwear; nothing big or bulky), keys, wallet, camera batteries and accessories, sunglasses, and so on. If in the market for another dry bag, I would definitely consider and most likely purchase a bag with a side window to conveniently find items.
The dry bag attached to the kayak. Taken at Kailua Beach, Hawaii.
WATERPROOF CASE BAG
I avoided these for a while since I use a waterproof camera but have found them really handy for storing other water-sensitive items, such as car keys and batteries.
I tried it a couple of times with my phone, and the picture quality came out decent.
The case bag’s primary use is to store my cell phone, and it serves as extra insurance on top of the dry bag insurance. The dry bag has never sprung a leak, but I’m paranoid about my expensive electronics like that, so I feel a bit better with extra insurance.
Consider this your cheapest camera insurance, and prevent your $300+ investment from slipping to the ocean bottom. Having your camera screwed into its tripod or using a standard wrist strap may not be enough. One tumble or bump in the water can be enough to lose your camera for good. Nordic Flash’s puffy wrist straps are easy to see and serve as a buoy.