Many people think that family activity holidays and scuba diving don’t mix well. That’s completely wrong! Most divers are naturally adventurous people with naturally adventurous families and/or partners.
So whether you want to take everyone on a family adventure vacation, and still dive; or, better still now the kids are older, plan a family diving holiday; or, take a non-diving partner on holiday to a place with some of the best dive spots … we have options for you.
Firstly, here you can read a few tips on the subterfugious art of converting a non-diver into one of us via a well-planned dive holiday.
Secondly, you can plan to get your kids trained to scuba dive as part of the family adventure holiday, so that they can come scuba diving with you. Though PADI will train a 10 year old to dive in many jurisdictions, 12 is a more sensible age to grasp the concepts and deal with the weight of the gear. Note too, that if you’d like to dive as a buddy pair with your newly qualified 12 year old, some dive centres may insist that you are certified to Rescue Diver (or equivalent), depending on the depth of the dive. Check in with the dive centre first as to what their specific procedures and rules may be – it will largely depend on your child. Either way, watching your child experience scuba for the first time is something you’ll dine off for a while.
Thirdly, you can ‘kiss and go’ – applies to kids, and grown-ups too! It’s only fair that everyone gets their holiday: unlike the kids, you don’t want to spent 4 hours straight in the pool, they don’t want a two hour spa treatment, but you do want to get a couple of dives in. So that’s fair enough then!
Fiji is an obvious first choice, as most resorts already have excellent ‘kids clubs’ and family friendly activities, particularly the Mamanucas and the Coral Coast Resorts with access to Sigatoka. Even if the resort doesn’t have their own dive centre, they’ll be serviced by one.
A cruise around the Fiji islands with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji is another wonderful option for families. The on-board kids club has a great program for kids of all ages, and each day a new port offers a wide range of day trips and diving opportunities. The bonus for divers is that you’ll visit Fiji’s more remote dive sites such as Makogai and Taveuni (think Great White Wall and Rainbow Reef) in a family friendly environment.
Cook Islands too offers no end of activities for kids of all ages, all within a short drive (you can drive around the main island in about 45 minutes!) And with three dive centres spaced around the island, they can drop you at one and pick you up later. The Big Fish Dive Centre in particular is a great place to go if you want to dive as a family. The lagoon across the road is just 6m deep and referred to as the Fish Bowl. It’s a guaranteed hit for a first time diver of any age.
More and more dive resorts are starting to cater for families, including not surprisingly, the luxury options such as Vomo and Wakatobi. Perhaps more surprisingly, family friendly dive resorts are popping up in more adventurous destinations, including the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Uepi Island Resort in the Solomon Island’s Western Provinces has access to some of the world’s best easy diving. Pristine coral reefs and friendly reef sharks are as close as the resort’s own jetty and there plenty of land-based activities and safe swimming in the lagoon for kids.
Tawali Dive Resort, in Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay region is also a great choice for families. The resort is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, which are simply teeming with life, with little to no current so kids can easily snorkel the top of the reef while you dive down below.
Family adventure travel does not necessarily mean overseas. An obvious place to take kids for their introduction to the wonderful undersea world is the Great Barrier Reef. They will happily snorkel whilst you dive the best diving sites nearby. For a longer stay, plan a family/diving trip to one the Reef’s islands such as Heron, Fitzroy or Lady Elliot Island or the Whitsundays which have bespoke kids’ clubs like ‘Aqua Rangers’ and other methods of getting kids excited about what’s below the waves.