Holiday highlight for kids: PADI Bubblemaker

child scuba diving

Our first trip in over 3 years was to Dahab, Egypt. No surprise there right? Of course, our holiday house needed quite a bit of maintenance and in our last week, we were hit with the pharao’s curse (aka diarrhea). So we didn’t have much time to explore and dive but we did manage to squeeze in two PADI Bubblemaker dives for our little world traveler. After finding out the minimum age for this kids scuba program is 8+ of course, he wanted to go scuba diving. Just like mom and dad. Find out what it was like! 

Our little world traveler loves snorkeling and has been doing it since he was 4. While in Dahab he got to use his kids’ snorkel set every day. Since we both love diving and talk about it often, he’s always wanted to try it. And now he has and loved it too! Diving adds a whole new dimension to the already amazing underwater experience. 

What is the PADI Bubblemaker Program?

PADI encourages young kids to engage in water-based activities. They’ve done a lot of research on this topic. Not only is it important for kids to spend more active time outdoors, but it also helps with building social and family connections and decreases the risk of drowning. The PADI Bubblemaker program introduces kids to the wonderful world of scuba diving. They learn how to breathe through a regulator and clear water from their mask. The maximum depth for this dive, that’s often done in a pool or shallow confined open water, is 2 meters (or 6 feet). 

child scuba diving

Be aware of the dangers

While scuba diving is a lot of fun, it’s important to be aware of the dangers. There’s a reason PADI requires everyone to sign a health statement and a risk and liability release agreement before diving. Diving simply isn’t for everyone. If a child has any issues with their sinuses or ears, such as a cold or allergy, it isn’t wise to dive. Even at just 2m the pressure on the eardrums can be painful and cause problems if the child is unable to equalize their ears. Thoroughly read the health statement to see if your child is fit to dive. 

Find the right dive center

Especially with kids, it’s important that they feel comfortable with their instructor. Your first dive can be an overwhelming experience. We’re lucky we know quite a lot of instructors in Dahab and one, in particular, is great with kids. Our little world traveler really likes him and is completely at ease with him. Of course, not everyone is that lucky. Since diving can be dangerous and we value our kids’ health above all, it’s important to look for a professional dive center. Make sure their gear is well maintained, the setup is professional and they have experience teaching kids. Have a chat with the instructor and see how they interact with kids. Of course, also let your child meet with them to make sure they have a ‘click’. Kids are usually pretty intuitive. 

Snorkel training helps

If you have some experience snorkeling it definitely makes diving easier. Kids that know how to snorkel are used to wearing a mask and fins. They’re at ease in the water and have already learned how to breathe through their mouth using a snorkel. This is a big advantage when doing the Bubblemaker or Junior Open Water program. Our little world traveler has been snorkeling since he was 4 years old, so he’s pretty experienced by now. At first, he couldn’t swim yet and we had him wearing floaties and later a swim vest. Now, he’s learned how to swim and doesn’t need any additional floatation devices anymore. 

Bubblemaker in Dahab

In Dahab Bubblemaker dives are basically very shallow introduction dives, which are done at the Lighthouse dive site. There’s a confined area that’s used for scuba training. It’s perfect for little scuba enthusiasts. Not only do they get to practice breathing underwater and swim around with scuba gear, but they can see some amazing marine life while doing so.

Our little world traveler was very at ease in the water, playing and having fun with his instructor. So he even got to go on a proper dive along the reef. His instructor was impressed by how relaxed he was and it was an awesome experience for our little dive enthusiast. The first thing he said upon exiting the water was ‘when can I go again?’. Now, that’s a good sign!

Underwater family pic

On his first dive, we entered the water together but only stayed with him for a few minutes before going deeper for our own dive. We were very lucky that on his second dive we got to stay with him the whole dive and even got to make a cool family picture underwater. It was fantastic to get a taste of what diving together as a family is like.

Learning through experience

It’s great to see how real-life experiences fuel learning. After snorkeling, we made it a habit to look up all the fish and other marine life we’d seen. He’s learned to recognize so many fish and coral species this vacation. I love hearing our son say ‘look mom, there’s a wrasse’ or ‘I saw a unicorn fish’. Of course, doing his first dives was a massive learning experience as well. 

Unfortunately we also saw the devastating effect we humans have on our planet. When diving or snorkeling, or even when we take a walk somewhere, we always clean up any plastic we see. It’s become a habit and our son has started following our example. During one snorkel trip, all three of us spent over an hour picking plastic from the water and there was so much more still floating around. It’s heartbreaking. But also a great opportunity to talk about the importance of marine preservation and the effect people have on their natural environment. 

This is what worldschooling is all about for us and why we travel. We want our son to learn about the world around us, by participating in the world and experiencing things firsthand.

Next step: Junior Open Water

When our little world traveler turns 10 he can do the PADI Junior Open Water course and become a certified diver. Between the age of 10 and 11 he’ll then be able to dive to a maximum depth of 12 meters (40 feet), which will be increased to 18 meters (60 feet) when he turns 12. Since his body is still very much developing we’re not completely sure yet if we’re comfortable letting him do the course that young. The other option would be to let him do a few more Bubblemaker dives first. Of course, PADI has done a lot of research into scuba diving for kids and they deem it safe. Since our little world traveler really wants to do the course with our instructor friend in Dahab, we’ll have to wait until we’re there again anyway. 

All in all, our son’s first dives were definitely the highlight of our trip! If you ever find yourself in Dahab or another dive destination, we can very much recommend letting your kids try scuba diving with the PADI Bubblemaker program.