Top 5 best family dive adventures with younger divers ages 4-16
MARGO PEYTON’S: Top 5 best family dive adventures with young children, plus many more.
1. Bonaire: This island is at the top of my kid-friendly list because of many of the condo properties such as Buddy Dive, Capt Don’s and Bel Mar. They are perfect for larger families as they offer 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas. Buddy Dive, in particular, offers the Buddy Dive Academy, with PADI programs such as SASY for kids age 5-7, PADI Seal Team for kids age 8 & 9, and Jr. Open Water, Jr. Advanced and even Jr. Rescue.
Their staff is well trained with oodles of experience with kids. Not to mention Bonaire is one of the calmest, clearest easiest places to dive in the world. Parents and their certified youngsters can jump right off Buddy Dive’s dock, and enjoy a nice easy dive. Since kids age 10 and 11 have a 40-foot max depth, it’s often hard to find places where the sandy bottom does all the work at 40 ft.
Here parents can relax and enjoy their kids diving with tarpon, turtles, schools of colorful tropical fish and of course the coral nursery trees. Bonaire also has lots to do topside for families, including one of my favorites, Blow Karting on the world’s largest salt track! Bonaire caters to every level of diver and is one of our more affordable programs.
2. Roatan: The Bay islands continue to be one of the dive world’s hidden treasures. The marine park has blossomed, and since its inception, there has been a huge comeback of turtles, large schools of fish, grouper, and lobster. There are so many shallow sites and beautiful beaches to explore. My two favorite properties for families are Turquoise Bay Beach Resort and Mayan Princess, both all-inclusive, owned and operated by local families. The staffs are super kid friendly at both resorts and dive operations, with Mayan Divers and Subway Divers offering lots of smaller tanks and kids gear. Turquoise Bay offers free horseback riding every day and has just completed a total resort renovation.
With beautiful over water cabanas and a private lagoon to snorkel or paddle board, it’s perfect for families that want peace & tranquility. Mayan Princess offers 1 and 2 bedroom oceanfront villas with full Kitchens. The dive sites are 5 – 10 minutes away, and boats are large and spacious. Both locations offer excellent in-ocean training areas for Seal Team & SASY. All Inclusive resorts are an easy way to budget your trip, and get the most for your money!
3. St. Lucia: I just love bringing families to this island. It’s world famous for honeymooners, but now that the honeymooners have children, they can return to celebrate with the whole family. Some of the best diving is below the famous Pitons, and there are some great wrecks for teen divers to explore. It’s crazy cool to dive some of those volcanic formations and pinnacles under the sea. Kids especially love Superman’s Flight, one of the best drift dives on the island. Anse Chastanet is perfect for both diving and non-diving families. They offer paddle boarding, kayaking, sunrise and sunset yoga, volcano hiking, jungle biking and of course scuba diving.
Did I mention chocolate tasting and farm to table culinary classes with cupcake decorating? How about live music and jazzy sunset cruises? And if that’s not enough, every May and June you may be lucky enough to catch the sea turtles nesting on the Anse Mamin Beach. I have also been fortunate to catch the sea turtles’ hatch in late July and August. We had 98 baby turtles to release 2 years ago and it was amazing! During the Kids Sea Camp weeks at Anse Chastanet, kids can learn to dive, do SASY or Seal Team, and explore the protected marine sanctuary.
American, Delta, and United Airlines all offer daily non-stop flights from the US, making it one of the easier places to get to.There are 1 and 2 bedroom Piton view rooms, as well as beach level rooms for families. Dive St. Lucia is very family friendly. All dives are guided and their ratio for kids is 1 instructor or Dive Master to every 2 kids. It does not get any safer than diving with Dive St. Lucia.
4. Palau: Yes, I know it seems a long way to go, but Palau is definitely a Wow! Kids love JellyFish Lake; it’s the only time they don’t have to be afraid because the jellyfish don’t sting. It’s a rare opportunity to see the 8th wonder of the world! Palau is also one of the few places in the world where kids can safely learn about and dive with sharks, manta rays and other big marine life. Many of the dive sites are in shallow water, easy for all to enjoy. Sam’s Tours has the dive team to take PADI Seal divers to Ulong Channel and Jr. Open Water kids can dive in 30 ft. of water to see the giant mantas. Families can enjoy giant clams and mandarin fish just off Sam’s Tours’ dock any day around 4PM. Kids can learn all about the Palau Shark Sanctuary and take the Palau Pledge. The Palau Royal Resort is located right across the street and is perfect for families. It has a huge saltwater lagoon, as well as a large sandy beach. Palau is full of culture and history, and ask anyone that’s been there, it is well worth the extra flying time!
5. Fiji: To me, Fiji is all about family. It is all about love and children, music and dance, food and friendship. It’s a place where culture becomes an integral part of the trip. Kids have so many opportunities to interact with the local villages and local children. It’s a very humbling experience and for sure an education vacation. I believe there is one resort that stands out for Luxury 5-star service and diving, and that is Jean Michel Cousteau’s resort. The name kinda says it all. 1 and 2 bedroom villas are perfect for families, with the Point Bure for families of 5. There is shore diving and spectacular reef and shark dives. JMC has a full-service kid friendly dive team. They can cater to any diet and are special needs friendly as well. I have had great experiences at Castaway Island and Beqa Lagoon as well, but I would for sure say JMC is absolute perfection for kids.
I know you only asked for 5, but since kids and diving are my life, I’m going to give you a few bits more. For liveaboards and kids, you can’t beat the Rocio Del Mar Team in the Sea of Cortez and Socorro. They are like papas in the water with kids and families and really have an outstanding safety record. We do a full boat charter to make sure it’s all about the kids. Dancing with sea lions and giant manta is an amazing liveaboard experience for kids and parents alike.
The Philippines is also high up on my list with Sea Explorers, and I would just tell you that taking kids to dive with Whale Sharks in Oslob, turtles at Apo island, and experiencing the largest to the smallest of marine animals on one trip, is truly life-changing.Pura Vida Homes is perfect for families. We sell out for Kids Sea Camp every year. Traveling in a private guided group is the way to go here, with an experienced dive team including Margo, Tom, and Bigs.
I did not talk about the beautiful Cayman Islands, where my own son was born and my kids learned to dive, because everyone knows how awesome they are. They’re easy to get to, lots to do and a great choice for so many reasons.
All of the above are featured Kids Sea Camp destinations. That does not mean that’s all there is out there, it just means those are the ones I feel are best suited for our younger divers, SASY and Seals.
Taking your kids on dive adventures around the world is giving them a living classroom to learn in. It’s giving them a global view of the world and all its possibilities. It’s taking their dreams and making them a reality, a priceless family bonding adventure.
I have contributed to over 7,000 youth certifications and taken over 350 families a year diving.We have a perfect safety record, with zero accidents. Please join our Kids Sea Camp family at one of these locations this year. Cherish the opportunity to dive with your kids while they are still young. It’s one of the most beautiful forever memories you can give them.