A diving holiday with a toddler, is that even possible? It certainly isn’t a very obvious choice. But during our 10-month trip around South East Asia we discovered it’s actually very doable. We’ll tell you which dive destinations we’ve visited and give you tips on how to select the best dive spots that are fun for the whole family. Even with a toddler you can visit world-class dive sites!
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Mau and I both learned how to dive in 2001. I got certified in Australia on the Great Barrier Reef, he stayed on Koh Tao for a while and became a PADI Rescue Diver. We didn’t know each other back then. But ever since we met each other in 2002, we’ve been dive buddies on 99% of our dives. We’ve visited many fabulous dive locations, like SeaVentures refurbished oil rig in Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo, did a wonderful live aboard at the Similans in Thailand and a trip to Bunaken Island in Indonesia. We also have our own holiday house in Dahab, Egypt, a fabulous place for shore diving.
Travel changes when you have kids
Lots of things change when you travel with kids. As far as diving was concerned there were two major changes. One was that we couldn’t dive together anymore. And the other was that with all our son’s things taking up about half of our baggage space, taking two complete sets of dive equipment was out of the question. So we just packed our dive watch computers, as they take up minimal space.
Taking your own snorkel set for kids is a good idea. Finding a good kids snorkel mask that fits well can be a challenge while on holiday. Check out our detailed buying guide for best kids snorkel gear. It tells you why you need child-sized snorkel gear, what to consider when you want to by a kids snorkel set and how to select the best set for your kids.
Taking turns diving
We felt it was important that one of us stayed with our little one at all times. So we searched for diving locations where the one diving didn’t spend all day on a boat. That’s fun when it’s just the two of you, but not when your partner and child stay on shore. Taking our little one on board wasn’t an option for us just yet. He was too young and most boats we went on offered little to no shade. So we looked for dive destinations where there was great diving, but also enough to do on shore to keep our little man occupied during the day.
Family diving holiday tips
To make your diving holiday a fun experience, both for the person diving and for the kids, this is what you need to consider:
- Find a dive destination where the dive spots aren’t too far from shore or where there’s shore diving. It’s ideal if you can do two dives in the morning and be back on shore in the early afternoon.
- Find a dive destination where there’s plenty to do outside of diving, so that both the parent staying behind and the kids don’t get bored.
- Look for accommodation with a pool or close to a beach suitable for swimming with kids. We didn’t need much more to keep our son entertained.
- If your kids are a bit older and able to swim well, then it’s a great idea to find a location that offers snorkelling from the beach. Make sure to bring snorkel gear for kids
- If you want the chance to go diving together, try to find a dive centre or a hotel that offers babysitting services.
Dive locations that we’ve visited
During our 10-month trip with our toddler we’ve naturally done less diving than we would have done if it had been just the two of us. But we’ve visited some fantastic dive destinations nonetheless.
- Dahab, Egypte
- Amed/Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia
- Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia
- Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
- Manado/Bunaken, Sulawesi, Indonesia
- Alona Beach, Bohol, Philippines
- Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
- Dauin, Negros Oriental, Philippines
The USAT Liberty at Tulamben (Bali, Indonesia) was absolutely amazing. Bunaken (Sulawesi, Indonesia) is one of the world’s best diving destinations for beautiful wall dives. Moalboal regularly stars in diving magazines and the Dauin coast (Negros Oriental, Philippines) is very well known because of its awesome macro life.
Suitabledive destinations with kids?
Of all the dive locations we’ve been, Dahab (Egypt), Nusa Lembongan (Bali) and Moalboal (Cebu, Philippines) are most suitable for a family diving trip. Liquid Dumaguete Dive Resort in Dauin on Negros Oriental in the Philippines is also a wonderful place to spend a few days. On Bunaken we stayed at Happy Gecko Dive Resort, a wonderful place. In front of the tiny 5-bungalow resort you can swim and snorkel at high tide and explore the mangroves during low tide. Lovely Dutch owner Willeke offered, without us even inquiring about it, to babysit our little boy so we could go diving together. He was immediately at ease with her and her two kids, so we gladly accepted the offer. It was wonderful to dive together again!
Sinai Sun Villa, Dahab, Egypt
Lovely 2-bedroom holiday house in the old part of Dahab, 3 minutes walk from the sea. Check latest price on AirBnb >>
Liquid Dumaguete Dive Resort, Dauin, Philippines
Professional dive resort with bungalows in a nicely landscaped garden with a great pool. Check latest price on Booking.com >>
Happy Gecko Dive Resort, Bunaken, Indonesia
Basic but lovely and friendly all-inclusive resort with 6 wooden bungalows with sea view. Check latest price on Booking.com >>
Taos House, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
Bungalow style accommodation in a lush garden with a nice swimming pool. Check latest price on Booking.com >>
Our verdict about diving holidays with kids
Traveling with kids is very different from traveling as a couple or traveling solo. It’s a challenge, but a lot of fun. This also goes for diving holidays with kids. You will make less dives than you did before, but even though we were traveling with our little world traveler, we still did some wonderful dives. There are a lot of great dive destinations that are suitable for non-diving family members as well and offer plenty of activities for kids. Of course we’re hoping that our little man can and wants to dive when he grows up. As soon as he can swim we’re going to teach him how to snorkel and when he’s eight years old he can do the PADI Bubblemaker course in the swimming pool.
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