Family adventure holidays are so much better underwater. Prying children away from their iPhones can sometimes resemble a military operation and diving is the perfect way to entice them into disconnecting from their virtual worlds, instead immersing them in the captivating blue of the underwater world. And thanks to the PADI Bubblemaker course, children as young as eight can blow bubbles underwater. However, diving holidays are different for children. Just like planning trips with a diver and non-diver, family dive holidays require more logistics than your average sojourn. Whether you're introducing your children to diving or are a family of advanced divers, read on to learn how to plan the perfect family dive holiday.
Travelling to Your Destination
Before you even don your dive gear, you need to reach the destination. Abiding by the old adage that 'it's not the destination, but the journey that matters,' long-haul flights might be out of the question for families with a younger brood. Luckily, there are some marvellous family dive holiday spots close to the UK. Gozo, a four-hour flight from London, is a great choice for families looking to introduce their young'uns to diving. Neighbouring Malta, Gozo boasts calm, clear water with an incredible array of sites, from wrecks and caverns to the Blue Hole, accessible from the shore.
The Azores' volcanic islands, flung roughly 1,000 miles from mainland Portugal, packs wild adventures both above and below the waves. While these remote islands might not interest little ones, older teens will ditch their phones in no time to hike volcanos, kayak in crater lakes and dive with manta rays.
Travelling to Long-Haul Destinations
Families keen to venture outside of Europe, fear not. There is a wealth of family-friendly destinations with direct flights from the UK. If you feel the Caribbean calling, laid-back Grenada ticks all the boxes. With direct flights from the UK, a slew of excellent family-friendly hotels and tropical, shallow sites (including the world's first underwater sculpture park), it's the perfect place for beginner divers.
For wildlife lovers, South Africa is a direct 11-hour flight from London and offers the ultimate 'safari and beach' combo. Tick the Big Five off your bucket list during a safari in malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve and help with the conservation of rhinos, before heading to Benguerra, a private island paradise off Mozambique. The island has its own fully equipped dive centre, so children can become PADI qualified while spotting dolphins, reef sharks, turtles and eagle rays along the Two Mile Reef.
Consider Different Diving Skill Levels
Planning a family dive holiday that caters to every experience level is key to keeping the whole tribe happy. While water temperature, visibility and marine life fall at the top of the list, you might also want to choose a destination that offers both shallow shore dives and more advanced diving. Both French Polynesia and the Maldives offer shallow, calm diving in turquoise lagoons, as well as deep drift dives in the channels separating the atolls.
Choosing Family-Friendly Accommodation
Finding family friendly accommodation with excellent diving to boot might seem like a needle in a haystack. Luckily, we know the best family-friendly dwellings for all ages and interests. For families with children (or adults) looking to learn to dive, the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh in Egypt has one of the best house reefs in the world. Both adults and children alike can dive with huge clouds of colourful reef fish, turtles, rays and seahorses straight from the resort's jetty.
If you're a family of advanced divers, Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives has a heady mix of calm, shallow sites and adrenaline-fuelled drift dives with plenty of pelagic action, such as whale sharks and manta rays. If you're travelling with little ones, Fiji's Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is home to the award-winning Bula Kids' Club. Parents can dive Fiji's kaleidoscopic soft coral reefs guilt-free, as children are immersed into the local Fijian culture.