Free divers will know the buddy system and its 'one up, one down' philosophy. But do they also know that it has been borrowed and modified for travelling parents who don't want to miss out on deep sea action. With one parent diving down into the peaceful deep blue, the other stays on land on child-minding duty, before swapping roles during the surface interval. If you're one such parent that has been missing the relaxing sight of your regular buddy on the reef, we've got a solution: dive destinations with childcare. With a plethora of options for different ages, you and your partner/buddy will be able to relax in the knowledge that your little ones are being taken care of expertly as you head under the waves. Here are five of the best dive destinations with childcare.
Fiji's palm-fringed islands may involve a long flight, but for those with children old enough for epic journeys - or those who don't mind the twelve hour loop of 'are we nearly there yet?' - they are the best option for multigenerational dive holidays. Across the Fijian archipelago, world-class diving is never far away. Thanks to its wide range of hotels offering excellent kids' clubs and bespoke nanny services, you'll actually be able to enjoy it. The islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni are great options for hotels and diving, where you can enjoy shore dives and single-tank boat trips while the young ones embark on educational beach walks, games and water slides.
If we're going to suggest any dive destination, it's going to be New Providence Island, home to the Bahamian capital city of Nassau. Home to stylish yet family-friendly resorts, many of which come with excellent kids clubs and activities, you'll feel safe leaving them in the hands of their expert entertainers as you dive down to impressive reefs and swim beside groupers and snappers. Another reason we love the Bahamas (and have rightfully crowned it as one of the top dive destinations with childcare) is because of its number of beginner dive sites, meaning tweens and teens can accompany you on dives to the James Bond film-set wrecks of the Tears of Allah and the Vulcan Bomber. If diving is not on the cards yet, no fear. Instead of diving underwater, they can delve into the region's rich history of piracy, becoming pirates of the Caribbean for the day.
Few people doubt Indonesia's world-class diving, and while not all of the vast country's dive areas are suitable for younger travellers, there are some very good dive destinations with childcare and a plethora of child-friendly activities. Bali, which sits in the south-west corner of the Coral Triangle, boasts an array of spectacular dive sites alongside many western comforts. Bali's myriad resorts and hotels include many with kids' clubs and childminding services, and thanks to the large ex-pat community, there are also many baby-sitting services that operate independently from resorts. Bali's east and north coasts are especially good for families with younger children, as many of the dives are either shore dives or single-tank boat trips, which allow you to disappear for a mere hour or so for a peaceful dive before returning for more family time. Bali's busier areas are also full of familiar food options, and there are western cinemas and water parks to enjoy as a family on non-dive days.
The myriad Maldivian atolls and islands also offer a superb setting for a family holiday, especially if you have budding water babies in tow. The Indian Ocean is famed for its manta ray and whale shark encounters below the waves, while landside, its luxury living and impossibly white sands are a huge draw for honeymooners. With an increasing number of resorts flinging open their doors, hotels have started to cater to different types of travellers, including families. From children's swimming pools with water slides to arts and crafts rooms, there are a whole host of varied children's activities to keep the little ones busy while you slip off for a dive on the nearby reefs, and with shallow lagoons surrounding the small islets, budding water babies can enjoy a snorkel with turtles or just splash about in the shallows under supervision.
If your children are not old enough for long haul flights yet, the Mediterranean island of Gozo is a great option. There are several hotels with children's clubs and a whole host of shore dives that mean you'll be able to keep mornings or afternoons free for beach family time. Gozo's rugged coastline will more than entertain young ones too. From day trips to the Blue Lagoon to mornings paddling in the Inland Sea and exploring its plethora of caves and tunnels, you'll be spoilt for choice on where to go first. If its creature comforts you're after, this European dive destination with childcare will more than fit the bill with its easy food options, supermarkets and relative short journey time from the UK.