Many of us are backpackers. We prefer our packs over the dreaded luggage trolleys (ever tried to drag that thing up a beach?!) and hop on rickety buses or rickshaws without hesitation. We’ve slept in many shared dorms in dodgy guesthouses. We are instantly recognizable by our fisherman’s pants, jumble of friendship bracelets and Lonely Planet in hand (author is guilty on all three charges).
Within the large community of Southeast Asia backpackers there’s a smaller subgroup: The Divepacker.
What is a Divepacker?
Simply stated, a Divepacker is a backpacker who dives, but that’s not all there is to it. A Divepacker is not simply a backpacker who decided on a whim to sign up for an Open Water course whily partying in Koh Tao and then never dives again, but someone who makes diving an integral part of their travels. But, as opposed to a ‘regular’ dive tourist, they still move from destination to destination, much like a backpacker does. And, similar to backpackers, divepackers are often on a lower budget.
How to identify a Divepacker…
A divepacker is closely related to the backpacker, and might not be distinguishable from them on first sight. But upon closer inspection, you will notice that the Bintang or Fullmoon Party tanktops are replaced by a random divecenter shirt and that there might be a pair of fins strapped to their backpacks. Those damn things never fit inside, do they?
The real confirmation that you’re dealing with a divepacker, is when they open their backpacks. Instead of crumpled unwashed clothes, or besides crumpled unwashed clothes, you’ll find an assortment of divegear. At the very minimum a mask, snorkel and fins, but bonuspoints if they also manage to fit a BCD and regulator inside. Upon closer inspection, you notice that the clothes mostly consist of (board)shorts and rashguards, and that between the bangles on their wrist hides an obnoxiously big watch which is actually a dive computer.
…and where to find them
You can find divepackers anywhere, although your best bet is obviously somewhere close to sea. Sure, they might add a jungle- or volcanohike to their trip and visit a temple or two, but most of their time will be spend around beaches, on islands or on boats. You’re very likely to cross paths with them if you visit the Thai islands (both east- and westcoast). Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands are a popular stop too, as well as several Indonesian Islands such as Gili Trawangan and, of course, Bali.
That being said, of course divepackers too like to venture off the beaten path, so don’t be surprised if you bump into them in some remote corner of Indonesia, on a beach in Cambodia or a faraway island in the Philippines.