Family Scuba Diving Guide
A dive vacation is a wonderful way to relax with your family. Underwater, you can feel the tension ofeveryday life melt away. Diving can bring several generations together, as children and adults alike tendto become lost in wonder when they see, for example, a hawksbill turtle swimming past, or a hurricaneof barracudas - two sites that are common in Sipadan, where I do most of my diving. Plus, there isno sibling rivalry or bickering underwater! Dive vacations, though, do take some planning. Below is achecklist of items you'll want to think about now in order to avoid a hassle during your vacation - whenyou'd rather be relaxing.
Preparation Before You Leave
- Make whatever reservations and obtain whatever permits are necessary. In a place likeSipadan, which is a glorious place to dive, you will have to plan in advance or you won't make itonto the island at all - to protect the environment, only a limited number of dives are allowedhere daily. If you can, find a travel planner who is experienced in planning scuba vacations
- Find out as much as you can about your destination. If you are traveling internationally, findout the best season to travel to your destination, and check with the State Department aboutpassports, visas, and travel advisories.
- Consider the issue of whether to bring your own gear or rent gear once you get there. You'llwant to consider what other items you expect to bring along, bearing in mind that airlines arecharging fees for excess or overweight luggage. My advice is to plan to rent most of your gear,but be sure to bring along a mask, fins, and snorkel for each member of the family who will bediving - those items are more personal, and you should really have your own.
- Even if you are an experienced diver, remember that diving with kids is another ball game. Makesure that the site you are going to is appropriate for beginners.
- Find out what amenities are available to divers at the hotel or resort where you plan to stay. Ifyou plan to bring your own gear, are there secure gear lockers in which to store it?
- Find out what amenities are available for family members who don't dive. You may want tofind a resort that offers childcare for children who are too young to dive. If you have older familymembers who will not be diving, plan your vacation in a spot where there are many interestingthings to do and explore on land, or in a place that caters to snorkelers and swimmers as well asto scuba divers.
- Check your insurance plan. Does it cover dive accidents? Or accidents that occur while you aretraveling? If not, you may want to consider purchasing insurance for your trip (try Travel Guard,DiveAssure, or ask your insurance carrier for a recommendation).
- If at all possible, take some time before you leave to dive at home with your family. Take acertification course together if you possibly can. While some people prefer to become certifiedon vacation, at a time when they can relax and really focus on diving, I strongly recommenddoing your certification ahead of time. That way, you can spend your vacation focusing on theincredible place that you are visiting. Children must be at least 15 to become fully certified, butteenagers between the ages of 12 and 14 can be certified as Junior Open-Water divers, whichmeans that they may dive as long as they have a certified adult along.If, on the other hand, you and your family are not certified divers, you will need to find a diveoutfit that specializes in taking noncertified divers on dives - such as PADI Discover Scuba orNAUI Try Scuba Dives. While you are doing your certification dives, talk to local divers about their travel experiences.You'll find that other divers can be a goldmine of information.
Things to Remember After You Arrive
- Remember to follow all the safety tips that you learned in your dive certification course(Be aware, check your air; when in doubt, just get out; etc.). Don't get so excited about yourvacation that you neglect your own safety.
- If possible, bring along an underwater camera on your dives - for obvious reasons. I suspectthis is one trip you'll want to remember.
Enjoy your vacation!
Jacob Mojiwat is passionate about the ocean and water sports. Currently he is sharing the wonders of diving in malaysia with others. His website, asiadivingvacation.com has comprehensive information about Asian dive locations such as Sipadan Island and the area dive resorts to help diving enthusiasts plan unparalleled scuba diving vacations.
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