Scuba for kids ?


CAM with dive gear just before check-out dive.

SCUBA stands for “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”. You may think of it as primarily an adult activity, but there are programs available to learn how to use scuba equipment for children as young as eight years old. Dive shacks are like mushrooms around most beach resorts worldwide. If the ocean in that area is dive-able, it seems like some enterprising soul will open a shack to rent equipment, provide facilities for trained divers, offer classes for new divers and lead dive excursions.

Research the available outlets and facilities at your destination before you visit. If you are planning to try out diving with your tween or teen, call ahead to verify that classes or an instructor are available. Most dive shops require that you show a valid c-card (certification card) before they will rent equipment to you. So, before you can dive, you must have some form of certification. 

There are five main scuba diving instruction organizations:

  • PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors (Worldwide)
  • SSI: Scuba Schools International (North America and South East Asia)
  • NAUI: National Association of Underwater Instructors (North America)
  • BSAC: British Sub Aqua Club (U.K. and Europe)
  • CMAS: Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques (Europe)

All of these diving instruction organizations teach similar material and techniques. They each maintain their own training standards and certification requirements, but certification from one agency is generally accepted by the other agencies. PADI is the largest agency and has a presence at most dive destinations worldwide. PADI also offers courses for children.   

On the dive boat
Heading out for first open-water dive.

In many, many beach towns and resorts worldwide, short, introductory courses in scuba diving will be offered by one or more of these agencies. The course tends to be one or two days learning how to use the equipment in a pool or shallow beach area. At the end, the instructor will do some simple tests to make sure you are competent to dive in deeper waters and then you will be able to participate in a longer dive. The dive will be limited in time and depth and you will not be a fully certified “open water diver”. For children 10 and older, this kind of course is a great introduction to scuba diving. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to try out the sport.

If you want to be able to dive for longer and at more depth, you can either plan to spend the first 3-5 days of your vacation completing a full certification course, or complete the coursework prior to your vacation and do your “water work” when you get there. Most of the dive certification agencies support this approach by providing course material online or on DVD for study prior to your vacation. For parents who want to dive, PADI offers two different discovery courses for 8-10 year olds: Bubblemaker and Seal Team. The courses are pool-based, introducing your child to scuba equipment and letting them try it out for themselves, with some fun & games thrown in. They will not be able to participate in any open water diving after these courses, but it’s still a fun way to learn about what Mom and Dad are doing in a hands-on way.


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About wandermom

". . .life is short and the world is wide" - Simon Raven I'm not sure I've ever consciously planned a trip based on this sentiment, but it definitely influences my subconscious! I've been traveling as frequently and widely as possible since I finished school. And I love it. I love the research, the planning, the fervent packing and the curiosity of exploring somewhere I've never been before. My husband & I are both Irish - as in born-in-Ireland. But we live in Seattle. We have two boys: wild, boisterous, regular boys. So, since becoming a Mom, I've been a WanderMom. Given our slightly-unusual family situation, routine "visits-to-Grandma" are international trips requiring passports, 10hr-flights and (oh joy!) airport transfers. I have rants, raves and opinions about how, where & why to travel with kids (start them as young as you can, I say!). I hope to learn even more by researching topics which other wandermoms may be interested in reading about on this blog. Passports, pacifiers, diapers and gameboys at the ready - off we go! Contact Info: Email Michelle: michelle (at) murphnduff (dot) org

One thought on “Scuba for kids ?

  1. Ashley

    This is a great post about scuba diving for kids! I’m certified, but not until I was 22, but my husband certified as a kid and used to scuba dive with his parents. I plan on getting my kid certified when she’s old enough. I really like your blog!!

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