POIPU, Kauai If your clients want to add some depth to their family
vacation this summer, Seasport Divers may be just what they’re
looking for. The South Kauai company is helping clients plunge
headfirst into scuba programs, with enticements for all
While the minimum age for open-water diving certification is 10
years old, Seasport is promoting splashy programs catering to
children as young as five.
“We have families that we have grown up with,” said Marvin
Otsuji, owner of Seasport Divers, who launched the company in 1985.
“Over the years the parents, then the kids, have enrolled in
classes ranging from Discover Scuba to Diver Master.
“We recently had a family choose our operation over any other
due to the diversity of our diving program,” Otsuji continued.
“They had three kids taking our introductory programs, one who was
finishing up the open-water certification and one signed up for a
video specialty class. The rest of the group, who were certified
divers, booked 12 days of diving. The entire family has already
booked advanced courses for 2005.”
For nearly nine years, the Poipu-based company has been offering
programs allowing young visitors to test the waters of scuba
diving. Its SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) pool program
outfits children 5 and older with a buoyant scuba-like tank.
Participants swim on the surface of the water and breathe through a
regulator, so they can’t inhale water. Wearing fins, masks and wet
suits, the wee ones play with water toys while getting into the
swim of diving. The one-hour pool programs take place at the
Embassy Suites Kauai and cost $30 per child.
The next step is Seasport’s SASY Sea Dives, allowing children
ages 5 and up to take what they’ve learned in the pool and apply it
to the ocean at safe snorkel sites along the South Shore. The
one-hour sessions cost $85 per child.
For eight- and nine-year-olds, the firm features the one-hour
Bubblemakers program. Kids learn scuba diving in a shallow pool
under the watchful eyes of qualified dive staff ($30). After the
pool session, kids can try Ocean Bubblemakers, with one-hour dives
in seawater up to six feet deep ($85).
Once they’re 10 years old or more, non-certified divers can try
the Discover Scuba program, starting with a free introductory pool
class followed by an ocean dive at Whaler’s Cove (from $100). Or,
they can join the rest of the clan on afternoon boat charters
($135). The destination is Sheraton Caverns, where ancient lava
tubes create fascinating underwater shapes and Hawaiian sea
turtles, moray eels, frog fish, lion fish and even the occasional
white tip reef shark roam.
When the whole family has become certified, they can experience
an intergenerational immersion at Koloa Landing. One of Kauai’s
best-loved shore-dive sites, its waters are populated by turtles,
eels and giant schools of fish ($75 one-tank, $90 for two tank).
For $105 per person, certified divers can go out on two-tank
morning or afternoon charters on board the Anela Kai (Sea Angel),
Otsuji’s 48-foot vessel. While the boat is certified for 42
passengers and 30 divers, Seasport limits diver capacity to 18 so
clients are comfortable, not crowded.
“I think the Anela Kai is the best-equipped vessel in the
state,” said Otsuji, noting that it has two boarding ladders, a
large swim step, two hot-water showers, a camera table, television,
stereo, washer/dryer, air compressor, bathroom, carpeted deck and
10-person observation deck.
Seasport also has a 30-foot catamaran with bathroom, freshwater
shower, swim step and boarding ladders.
“I am working on acquiring another outstanding diving vessel
that will go into operation next year,” Otsuji said.
For the ultimate family outing, Seasport Divers runs charters to
the waters off the neighboring island of Niihau, during the
normally calm summer months. The dive sites, 20 miles and 2½ hours
away, are considered some of the best in Hawaii, teeming with such
marine life as dolphins, butterfly fish, angel fish, spotted eagle
rays, monk seals, octopus, lobster, tiger cowries and turtles.
The Niihau adventure runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes
three dives, breakfast, lunch and snacks ($275 per diver).