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Can children learn to dive?

Ko Tao is attracting more families each year and I would think that most parents, divers or not, might be surprised by what’s on offer diving wise for their little mermaids.

Little Mermaid
Little Mermaid

 

Clearly your children can enjoy snorkeling with you; there are plenty of little masks, snorkels, fins and rash vests available for purchase which will make for more comfortable splish-splashing. If they are true water babies though it might be fun to try some diving and they can do this from just 8 years old. At this age they can make a very shallow dive to a maximum depth of 2m. If you are divers yourself this can be a great introduction to what their parents do and they will certainly feel all grown up. It’s an awesome experience and one they will remember for years to come.  There’s also a full range of swimming pool based dives that this age group can enjoy too. The can learn the basic skills of diving in a shallow pool and progress to using a simple camera in the pool and many other exciting activities.

See the fishies!
See the fishies!

Once children turn 10 yrs old they are allowed to do most things that adults can with a few exceptions.  Clearly you do know your children best so you do need to think about what would be best for them, what they would enjoy now and what would be best left a few years. If they just want to give it a go then a simple experience dive might be the best option, shallow, safe but still getting in the water, having a go and experiencing reef life up close.  Don’t forget, if you are not divers, you can go along too an experience this together. Children get so much pleasure out of seeing the different brightly coloured fish and the excitement is contagious.  Again, great fun for the whole family, just be aware that your children’s ability might just show you up!

Family Time
Family Time

The full open water course is available to them too. The only limit here is that they are initially only certified to a maximum depth of 12m. Once they turn 12 years this automatically extends to 18m, the same as an adult. They don’t need to do anything, its automatic. Sometimes we find that 3 and half days and the theory sessions involved are too much for some children. It is supposed to be fun; they are on holiday and not at school. Luckily then there is a shorter course which is called scuba diver. This is just 2 days and to put it simply is half the open water course. This will get them diving, they will have a licence but be limited to 12m to dive with a dive professional. However as they aren’t allowed to dive deeper anyway until they are older and are always going to be diving with a professional, we think this is the perfect option for children.  It leaves the more complicated theory until later. They can top this up to the full course, later anywhere in the world.

Enjoy the ocean
Enjoy the ocean

Whatever you choose the underwater world can be really fun. Children get so much pleasure out of seeing the different brightly coloured fish and the excitement is contagious. As instructors, children have the awesome ability to really remind us why we love diving.  Most dive centres can offer courses for children and apart from the usual advise about how to choose a dive centre, it’s wise to check on a few more points too.  Being comfortable is key to diving so do check that the centre does have small equipment, small tanks and regulators with shorter hoses too. Ask about the centres experience with children diving too and gauge weather the centre is a family orientated place or caters more to the younger crowd.

Scuuuuba

Don’t forget all the time children are diving and learning about diving they are understanding science outside of the school environment. They will gain a great appreciation for marine life and the ocean and an understanding of the environment too.  In some cases children gain a huge confidence boost, can you imagine going back to school after a holiday and telling your friends you went scuba diving with sharks, how cool is that? One thing is for sure, diving as a family virtually guarantees family holidays for years to come.
 

You can read more detail about all water based activities for children including swimming lessons here too.
 

This article was written for and first published on Travelfish.org. It is reproduced here with kind permission !

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