Few family vacations offer the promise of connections between children and parents like dive vacations do.
“A scuba diving vacation forever changes the way you see the world – both above and below the surface,” said Jennifer Small, public relations manager with FTA Member PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) Worldwide. “By sharing this unique experience with one another, families grow together, deepen bonds and create memories that will be shared for a lifetime.”
PADI has been introducing new divers to the sport for 50 years, and has more than 6,600 dive centers and resorts and 137,000 professional members in 186 countries today.
“It’s often difficult to find activities that everyone in the family can do together – and all enjoy,” Small said. “Scuba is a rare activity where you can put an expert and a beginner side-by-side, and they can both have a fantastic time, regardless of age, abilities and level of experience. By discovering this shared passion, families find a common connection that will spark conversation, motivate them to put down their devices, inspire future travels and, ultimately, bring them closer together.”
PADI youth (ages 10-19) certifications have increased more than 200% over the past five years, and nearly half of all youth who learned to dive last year earned their PADI certification while traveling, Small said.
Margo Peyton, owner and founder of Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures, and a PADI instructor, noted how being underwater requires new forms of communication that enhance relationships.
“Some families make up their own sign language and kids become more tuned in to being good buddies watching their depth, time and air consumption, for themselves and their parents,” Peyton said. “The best part of diving as a family is every member becomes very present. There is no texting, no cell phones and no talking. They just spend time together exploring and experiencing the underwater world.”
Platforms and suppliers support travel advisors
Kids Sea Camp, an FTA member, offers travel agent Fams, Peyton said. “I spend a great deal of time on the phone with agents, teaching them about diving and how to sell dive travel.”
PADI, which issues 1 million certifications each year, introduced the global PADI Travel™ platform in January 2018, offering travel advisors and divers the ability to easily and conveniently research more than 300 dive destinations.
The PADI platform offers information like ideal travel dates, top dive locations and sites, what divers can expect to see (and when specific marine life encounters are likely), recommended diver experience and training, as well as vetted “Liveaboard” operators – small boats purposely built for diving experiences.
(Many PADI Resorts and Liveaboards offer agent commissions for booking dive trips, though commission levels vary by operation).
Peyton also reminds travel specialists and families that there are a variety of programs to introduce families to diving, including “SASY snorkeling,” with scuba gear for kids ages 5-7.
PADI’s Seal Team program is a more extensive pool program for kids eight and older that covers basic scuba diving skills while incorporating fun activities like taking underwater photos, practicing buoyancy and learning environmental awareness.
PADI’s Junior Open Water Diver course is similar to the adult certification program and prepares kids ten or older to become full-fledged divers when they turn fifteen. Junior Open Water students complete the same skills as adult open water students (with some depth limitations) and utilize the same study materials.
Diving can be a lifelong adventure
Peyton has one family, led by the grandparents, that has traveled around the world with her for nearly 14 years, from Bonaire, to Palau to Roatan. “They truly enjoy being underwater together as a family, diving World War 1 shipwrecks, snorkeling. They want to be learning and doing things that require them to disconnect from their everyday virtual worlds and reconnect to each other,” Peyton said.
One child is heading into her freshman college year, Peyton said, and wants to become a dive master. “I’m super impressed with how scuba diving has changed their lives and bonded them together like no other sport.”
Small’s favorite testimonial comes from a friend and colleague, Adrianne Miller, rescue diver and marketing manager for PADI Americas. “Adrianne has made hundreds of dives in some of the best dive destinations around the globe, both for work and for fun (luckily for us they are most often one in the same),” Small said.
Miller’s son just reached diving age last year and they took their first family dive vacation with Kids Sea Camp. Miller said:
“On our last family vacation, my husband and I had the best week of diving. We saw beautiful coral, tons of fish and experienced amazing drift and wreck dives – but nothing was as memorable as being able to dive with our son for the first time. It was easily the best dive ever! Seeing your little one perform all the skills it takes to dive – and doing then well – makes you so proud. You get so excited when they swim up to a sea anemone and point it out to you like they just discovered a historic relic. Their eyes get so big with every new discovery (no matter how ordinary it may have seemed to you before) and you can see they just beam with excitement. Diving truly is a great equalizer for family fun. No matter what the skill set of the parent or the child, it’s something you can all do together.”
For more information about family dive vacations, click on one or more of these links:
Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *