Want to take entire family on your next dive trip, but want to make sure the nondiving members are as entertained as you will be? Here are our best tips.
1. Select the right resort. Gather information from videos, tour books, tourism boards, family travel experts, dive travel specialists and advertising. Select a resort with activities geared to your child's age group. Make sure to get the type of room which fits families best - two bedrooms or one bedroom with pullout sofa. Look for resorts with a microwave and refrigerator in the room; a full kitchen is even better.
2. Select the right destination. Check on the variety of other watersports, eco-tours, children's entertainment, kid's food, other topside activities and the safety of the destination.
3. Get your kids excited. Rent books and videos, make a list of attractions that they want to see and profile resort activities they will be doing. Show them the location on map. Read a book on the local history. Listen to a CD of the region's music. Make a local dish for dinner one night.
4. Pack smart. Roll up each day's clothes with socks and underwear so you know you have complete outfits. Bring extra socks, sunscreen, hats, bug repellent, Chapstick, anti-bacterial wipes and a good first-aid kit. Bring two swimsuits so one can dry while the other is being worn.
5. Prepare for the plane ride. Bring toys, books and puzzles for the child to play with on the plane. Bring snacks — pretzels, carrots, raisins and cereal bars all travel well. For younger kids, make sure to bring a ''sippy'' cup with lid. If your kids are old enough, chewing gum is a good bet to help ward off pressure-induced earaches.
6. Get your kids acclimated. Explore the resort and meet the staff. Get their recommendations on local restaurants and attractions. Make a family plan of activities. Think about renting a car and exploring the area. It's an ideal way to meet the locals and have some great experiences outside of the resort.
7. Plan at least one snorkel excursion. Many dive operations offer snorkel-only trips or permit snorkelers on the dive boat when going to shallow reefs. If your resort has a snorkeling beach, make time every day to enjoy this activity with nondiving family members.