World's Best Dives: Best Places for Kids and Teens | Sport Diver

World's Best Dives: Best Places for Kids and Teens

Want to introduce your kids to diving but unsure where to start? We’ve created the ultimate guide — for kids ages 14 to 19 — to encourage those you love most to become your best dive buddies.

Grand Cayman

grand cayman

Grand Cayman

Family Dive Adventures

For two weeks in spring and one in summer, Kids Sea Camp — a tour organization specializing in weeklong international scuba trips for families — takes on Grand Cayman, staying at Cobalt Coast all-inclusive resort on the island’s northwest tip. The location remains a favorite for unlimited shore diving, underwater conditions that regularly include 150 feet of visibility, trips to the Kittiwake for ages 8 and older, and visits to Stingray City for ages 5 and older. One of KSC president Margo Peyton’s favorite shore dives is Lighthouse Point, where Divetech — scuba operation for Cobalt Coast — operates a satellite location that offers scooter rentals. Topside, kids can explore the Cayman Turtle Farm, Black Pearl Skate and Surf Park, and Seven Mile Beach, plus take advantage of arts and crafts, beach bonfires, and pizza-and-movie nights. Go Now: Family Dive Adventures

Monterey, California

california

Monterey, California

Randy Wilder/ Monterey Bay Aquarium

From mid-June to early September, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a 90-minute experience for kids ages 8 to 13. They’ll don surface-scuba gear, and fin alongside sea otters, monkey-faced eels, sheep crabs, giant green anemones, and sea stars. It’s a Pacific Ocean experience but without the rough entry, currents and other limiting factors, thanks to a rock wall separating the Great Tide Pool — a permanent, open-air exhibit — from the greater body of water. montereybayaquarium.org

Key Largo, Florida

florida

Key Largo, Florida

Doug Perrine

With most dive sites falling within 25 to 45 feet, a host of other water sports and quiet evenings thanks to a lack of night life, this island in the upper Florida Keys is a hot spot for families. “That’s pretty much all we get,” says Dan Dawson, owner of local operator Horizon Divers. Especially in spring and summer, his team is accustomed to accommodating moms and dads who dive and kids who either snorkel or take a Discover Scuba course. Everyone is on the boat together, so come suppertime, at a spot like Lorelei Cabana Bar, where guests nestle on rocking- chair-style picnic tables, family members can take turns telling the same tall-fish tale. horizondivers.com

Bonaire

bonaire

Bonaire

Jennifer O'Neil

At Buddy Dive Resort on Bonaire, you only need to be 5 years old to get hooked on the ocean. Year-round, the scuba-minded resort offers, by request, two five-day programs for kids. With its Buddy Rangers Kids Club, swimmers ages 5 and up can try supplied air snorkeling for youth, aka SASY. “It’s basically a floating BC jacket that can’t go underwater,” says scuba instructor Tina Wall. Kids ages 8 to 10 can join the PADI Seal Team, which includes fish identification and snorkeling skills. With both programs, Wall has seen drastic changes in kids’ attitudes toward water. She says, “Kids who are totally afraid of the ocean are jumping off the dock by the end of the week.” buddydive.com

Fiji

fiji

Fiji

Broadreach

As an international education coordinator for Broadreach summer programs, Tom Simmons designed the itinerary for the three-week Fiji Advanced Scuba program for teens ages 14 to 17. “I get excited every day reading trip updates of what they saw,” he says. Students log 30 dives off Kadavu, Savusavu and Taveuni at sites like the Great Astrolabe Reef and Grand Central Station, where they commonly encounter mantas. Occasionally they’ll see whales: After spotting a humpback, the group jumped in to snorkel, catching a view just as it dove deeper. gobroadreach.com

Grenadines

grenadines

Grenadines

Jason Buchheim

With a focus on sea turtle biology and coral conservation, Odyssey Expeditions is doing its part to interest youths age 14 to 19 in the sciences. Not to mention the classroom: The three-week program has students living aboard 46-foot catamarans that sail from St. Lucia to Grenada — an experience that exposes them to three countries and four island chains. On the schedule are experiences ranging from shipwreck and drift diving to volunteering at the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on the island of Bequia in the Grenadines. What’s not on the schedule: spontaneous encounters with pods of 50 to 100 spinner dolphins, as often happens on longer sails. odysseyexpeditions.com

Yap, Micronesia

yap

Yap, Micronesia

Family Dive Adventures

Yes, Manta Ray Bay Resort offers PADI Seal Team and SASY experiences, but that’s just the beginning. During the Kids Sea Camp program, Bill Acker, founder of on-site scuba operator Yap Divers, takes kids on snorkel trips with dolphins. He’ll also show newbies a 30-foot site where they can observe 3-foot juvenile blacktip and whitetip sharks, while their parents cruise over the wall to deeper depths. Perhaps best of all, the manta experience has a maximum depth of 30 feet, so kids ages 10 and older can obtain their manta distinctive specialty course. For some kids, this site is where they complete their final certification dive, sometimes with 10 mantas overhead. Go Now: Family Dive Adventures

British Virgin Islands

british virgin islands

British Virgin Islands

Sport Diver

ActionQuest and Sail Caribbean summer sailing-and-scuba programs both began and still operate in the bare-boating capital of the Caribbean. From May to August, teens who have completed grades seven through 12 are grouped by school year aboard sailboats they helm, anchoring at spots throughout the island chain where they learn to scuba dive, tie knots, and much more. ActionQuest includes lessons in water sports including wakeboarding, waterskiing and windsurfing; Sail Caribbean offers wakeboarding, stand-up paddle boarding and tubing. Both programs also include evening talks, focusing on topics such as personal goal-setting, leadership and teamwork. sailcaribbean.com, actionquest.com

Oahu, Hawaii

hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii

Kyle Burnett

With flat seas, a lack of current, visibility stretching from 60 to 100 feet, and water temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Oahu offers a beginner-friendly experience for divers of any age looking to encounter whitetip sharks, monk seals and green sea turtles. Especially come spring, Dive Oahu caters to at least 10 families a week on its afternoon boat trips, which visit back-to- back shallow sites. The shop’s three boats operate out of two harbors: Kewalo Basin and Ala Wai. From either, dive sites — such as the Waikiki Turtles and USS Nashua — are no more than 2 miles away, making for boat rides so quick that nobody has time to ask, “Are we there yet?” diveoahu.com