Scuba and other water activities are a growing trend with families. // © 2016 iStock
Wrapped up in our human condition is a powerful desire to push boundaries. Sometimes that means plunging into places that the body isn’t necessarily designed for — like the underwater world. Fortunately, our fascination with marinescapes and the colorful, multiform creatures that occupy them has built an entire industry of specialized scuba tools and products designed to maximize their appreciation.
Families are now, more than ever, discovering how powerful these underwater experiences can be when enjoyed together — even (perhaps especially!) for children. As a result, water activities are something that every adventure-minded travel facilitator should keep in mind.
Something for Everyone
“Any kind of travel is an education in new adventures for kids, but when you take that and add to it the underwater world, you enrich the imagination of not only kids, but adults, too,” said Margo Peyton, president and founder of Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures, two businesses focused on inspiring children and their families to learn about and explore what lies beneath the waves.
Peyton has dedicated her life to bringing families together through unique educational scuba vacations hosted in off-the-beaten-path locations around the world. The mix of dive destinations takes into account a family’s variety of ages, abilities and comfort levels, as well as the requirements kids must pass in order to be certified, something now available to children as young as 10. (Younger children can — and usually do — also take part, but the dive training counts as familiarization and delight, not as official certification.)
At one end of the challenge spectrum is the Caribbean island of Bonaire, where Kids Sea Camp has been hosted since 1997 at Buddy Dive Resort. Easily accessible, close-to-shore reefs are found in usually clear and calm waters (perfect for young learners) off the island’s west coast, although the entire ring of submarine sites is protected as Bonaire National Marine Park.
For families with a more adventurous streak, there’s Beqa Lagoon Resort in Fiji. Here, parents watch their children find neutral buoyancy in waters teeming with up to nine different species of sharks, including bull and tiger sharks. Despite their ominous names, these magnificent creatures pose no threat to humans in this controlled environment.
“Just don’t watch ‘Jaws’ on the flight there,” joked Rainer Jenss, founder and president of the Family Travel Association (FTA).
Inspiration for All
“The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) sees the value of families experiencing the underwater world together and how diving can inspire and strengthen family dynamics,” said Adrianne Miller, marketing manager for PADI Americas, part of PADI, the world’s leading scuba diver training organization.
The FTA agrees and believes that everyone should give scuba a good long look, ideally through the lens of a mask and snorkel.
“If I were a family therapist, I would recommend scuba diving to each and every family as practice in creating peace, relaxing, having fun and doing something joyous together,” Peyton said.