25 years ago (wow! Did I just say that?) my then new wife and I were lying on the beach in Kenya on honeymoon enjoying the sun and each other’s company. Little did we know that our world was about to change . . .
By Nick Mobley of Dive Saint Lucia
A German chap, Bernd, wandered past our loungers gently asking, “Anyone want to try scuba diving?” This piqued our interest and so Samantha (Sam) and I decided to give it a go; this was an activity that had never really crossed our paths before.
We were guided to the pool, given a concise but informative briefing, and kitted up in scuba gear. Bernd then explained the next steps of placing the regulator (the thing you breath through) in our mouths, dropping to our knees and going for an underwater swim. We followed his guidance and were immediately hooked! We signed up for the Open Water Certification and spent the second week of our honeymoon gaining this qualification.
The next few years were spent finding diving destinations for our new scuba addiction on our annual holiday and we travelled to many destinations to ‘get our fix’. One year, however, the diver’s curse struck! We had booked a diving holiday to the Maldives and were excited by the prospect of the underwater world in this region. Just before departure we received some news: Sam was pregnant! Ecstatic as we were by this, it did create an issue: what were we going to do about diving? Diving was our thing; we had always dived together as a buddy pair, never without the other. The answer was clear – neither of us would dive. And so we succumbed to the diver’s malady – children.
We sat on the beach and had a lovely holiday, listening jealously to the stories from the divers just off the boat about all the wonders they had seen. I must admit taking my frustration out on the beach volleyball court on a few occasions!
Fast forward a few years: two kids, a girl and a boy, now 19 and 16 respectively, and we dive together regularly as a family; the pleasure is immeasurable! Let me tell you how we got there.
From the age of eight, children are able to experience the underwater world through the PADI Bubblemaker programme, a fun and safe way to introduce them to scuba. Seal Team Aquamissions follow on from this for the slightly more adventurous youngsters; these creative activities start honing scuba skills without any pressure of academic learning.
From the age of 10, children are able to take the world’s most popular scuba certification: the PADI Open Water Course. Once certified, they are able to dive, buddied with a parent or PADI professional, up to a depth of 12 metres at PADI centres around the world. Think of what possibilities (and amazing fun!) this gives our kids.
I recall with both of my children my trepidation and excitement of them completing their diving courses. Will they enjoy it? What if they do something stupid? Will they hurt themselves? Would I be able to live with myself?
The PADI system, though, is designed to guide people of all ages through the process of learning to dive, and safety is paramount. At every stage of the journey this is a key emphasis and delivers confidence to the student and parent alike.
Once the academic side is done, and confined water skills have been honed in a pool-like environment, it is time to conduct the four open-water qualifying dives. Both of my children completed their certifications here in Saint Lucia where there were, and still are, a number of top quality dive centres.
I have an indelible memory of the first occasion when, as a family of four, we dived together. I was buddied with our daughter and Sam with our son. Finally, after a 13-year gap, our diving journey could properly continue, and it continues to this day.
As all parents will know, having a shared and common interest with your children keeps you closer together. What better way to enjoy the Simply Beautiful underwater world of Saint Lucia than as a family?