Kids as young as 8 can learn scuba, though they must be at least 10 to become certified. Through PADI’s “Bubblemaker” classes, kids 8 and older can learn how to use scuba equipment and breathe underwater in shallow environments, such as a pool. When they turn 10, they can be certified as Junior Open Water Divers; a PADI certified adult must accompany them, and they will be limited to a depth of 40 feet. At age 12, the depth restriction is removed.
If you or your children feel they’re not ready yet, snorkeling is a good alternative; they can join the fun and literally get their feet wet for scuba diving.
If you’ve got young explorers at home who dream of swimming alongside Nemo or meeting a sea turtle up close, your next vacation may be the right time to introduce them to snorkeling and scuba diving. The Playground Dive Shop can help you meet this ever growing need.
Kids will love Stingray City by Grand Cayman Island, where they can pet and swim with stingrays in shallow waters, as well as snorkel. Folklore has it that kissing a stingray gets you seven years of good luck. Other shallow dives in the area ideal for Junior Open Water Divers include the underwater USS Kittiwake, a sunken Navy submarine rescue ship that is best known for its recovery of the Challenger space shuttle debris. Out of the water, families can search for blue iguanas, try stand-up paddleboarding, embark on an authentic pirate ship cruise and more.
This Caribbean island, known for shore diving (from the beach, rather than from a boat) is a popular spot for divers year-round and has outstanding programs for kids. The Buddy Dive Resort, which has a Buddy Rangers program for kids 5-10. The class combines snorkeling and scuba diving by teaching kids how to snorkel using scuba equipment. Kids 8-10 can join the PADI Seal Team to master a variety of “aqua missions,” like diving a pretend wreck or practicing a search and rescue operation using real scuba gear.
Bonaire is ideal for novice divers, as there are no strong currents, no big seas and short boat rides to dive sites. There are also many
family-friendly activities like kayaking the mangroves, exploring small caves and children’s kiteboarding.
At the Vomo Island Resort on a 255-acre private island in Fiji, kids 10 and older can practice scuba in an enclosed area up to 40 feet deep as part of the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course. When kids aren’t underwater or hanging out at their beachfront villa, the resort offers plenty of activities to capture their attention, including kayaking, fish feeding, hiking, volleyball, tennis and golf. They can also head to the specially designed Kids Village with its media room, play areas and craft tables.
At the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji, started by the son of legendary diver Jacques Cousteau, teens can participate in dives with adults while also enjoying teen-specific activities, including snorkeling a site called “shark alley,” coral planting, volleyball, lessons in Fijian and spearfishing with local teens in the nearby village. For the younger set, the resort offers PADI’s Bubblemaker program and SASSY, a dive that combines snorkeling and scuba.