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Recently we were in Dahab, Egypt for a month with our 8-year-old. We went snorkeling every day and our little world traveler enjoyed the underwater world tremendously. He learned so much about corals, fish and marine preservation. Being dive enthusiasts ourselves, it was fantastic to see him completely in his element in the water. After finding out the minimum age for the PADI Bubblemaker program is 8+ of course he wanted to try this as well. It was an unforgettable underwater experience and he loved it!
Since we’re both certified divers they allowed us to tag along and see him in action. We hope that later on he’ll want to do the Junior Open Water course so we can all go diving together. We got a little taste of what it’s like to go on a family diving holiday and it was awesome.
What is PADI Bubblemaker
PADI Bubblemaker is basically a shallow introduction dive, intended for kids 8+ to discover the fun of scuba diving. It’s usually done in a pool but can also be done in shallow open water. After an explanation of how to breathe using a regulator and how to clear your mask, kids get to practice these skills in the water 1 on 1 with their instructor. Then the instructor takes them down for a shallow dive to a maximum of 2 meters (6 feet) deep.
The advantage of snorkeling
Kids that know how to snorkel have a pretty big advantage since they already know how to breathe through their mouth while underwater. They’re used to wearing a dive mask and most often they know how to swim with fins. Even better if they have their own kids snorkel gear. We’ve taken our little world traveler snorkeling since he was 4 years old and he’s quite experienced by now. When we started he couldn’t swim yet so we used floaties. It was so cool to see him discover that there’s a whole different world underwater. We always love seeing the world through his eyes. It makes us take another look too and discover new things.
Find the right dive center & instructor
We’re lucky to know a number of instructors in Dahab and one in particular is very experienced and great with kids. Our son really likes him and we trust him completely. So it made complete sense for us to pick Fantasea Divers Dahab where our instructor friend works. Since our children are the most important people in our lives, it’s vital that you find a professional dive center for your child’s first dive. Make sure their facility and materials are well maintained and they have a professional setup. It’s paramount that your child feels at ease with the instructor taking them for the dive.
Checklist for a successful first dive
- Make sure your child is ready for it. Not just the right age, but also mature enough
- Find a trustworthy dive center
- Find a fun instructor that your child connects with
- Inquire if the dive center has equipment in your child’s size
- If you have it, let the child use their own mask, snorkel and fins
Where can you do a Bubblemaker dive?
Depending on your location, a Bubblemaker dive is done is a pool or in shallow open water. In Dahab there’s a confined area at the Lighthouse. It’s often used for dive training. Shallow and safe, while still being in open water and teeming with marine life. This was a big plus for us. Doing a PADI Bubblemaker in a pool is fun, but this made it even more ‘real’ for our little world traveler. Check the PADI website to find a dive center near you and inquire about doing the Bubblemaker program. If you prefer open water for your child’s first dive rather than a pool, check out shore dive destinations. Obviously Dahab, Egypt is a great choice.
PADI Seal Team
Besides the Bubblemaker program PADI also offers the Seal Team Program for kids. This is a more comprehensive and varied pool program for kids 8 and older. Kids learn basic scuba diving skills, but also do other fun underwater activities PADI calls AquaMissions. Some examples are underwater photography, practicing buoyancy, using an underwater torch, wreck diving and learn about environmental awareness.
Next step: PADI Junior Open Water
Between the age of 10 and 15 kids can do the Junior Open Water Course. This teaches them the same skills adults learn in the regular PADI Open Water course, but in smaller groups and in shallower water. Besides the age requirement, Junior Open Water students also need to be able to swim. Kids who are JOW certified must always dive with a PADI professional or a certified parent of guardian. For divers aged 10-11 the maximum depth is 12 meters (40 feet), and divers 12-14 cannot exceed 18 meters (60 feet). After the Junior Open Water certification young divers can continue with Junior Adventure Diver or a number of PADI specialty courses. When they turn 12 years old, they can also do the Junior Advanced Diver or Junior Rescue Diver course and even become Jr. Master Scuba Divers.
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