Here’s a surprisingly little-known fact: kids as young as 10 can become certified open-water divers.
Concerned about what that means? Here’s an expert thought: “I would recommend scuba diving to each and every family as practice in creating peace, relaxing, having fun and doing something joyous together,” says Margo Peyton, founder of Kids Sea Camp, which inspires children and their families to explore beneath the waves.
And here’s a tip for parents worried about strong currents, cold water, low visibility, long boat rides or other factors that might impact young divers: the southern Caribbean island of Bonaire is a perfect place for family scuba adventures.
Bonaire is an uncrowded and peaceful Dutch island 50 miles north of Venezuela. Well below the hurricane belt, Bonaire boasts 365 days of sunny skies – but also tempering tropical trade winds – outstanding windsurfing and snorkeling, and arguably the world’s best shore diving.
Diving is Bonaire‘s economic backbone. Most of its 86 dive sites are within 100 feet of shore on the 24-mile leeward (west) coast, assuring calm, clear and warm (family-friendly!) waters. Short boat rides and easy land access drop into shallow terraces and sloping walls, with scattered coral heads teeming with life.
A top diving destination in the world, Bonaire works to conserve its precious natural resource. Since 1979, all water users pay – currently US$25 – to enter Bonaire National Marine Park, which protects the surrounding ocean and its underwater inhabitants.
Bonaire is a fantastically safe place for families to dive and learn about marine biology and conservation. Numerous resorts and qualified dive operators are alert to the needs of all ages, including Buddy Dive Resort, which annually hosts Peyton’s award-winning Kids Sea Camp.