Explore our underwater world during a family dive vacation. Here are great places to consider:
1. Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island, Bahamas.
Check into one of this family-run resort’s 21 cottages and prepare to explore, relax and enjoy a special holiday. Young children can begin by participating in the young naturalist program before moving on to shoreline snorkeling lessons, a snorkel reef trip and then on to SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) Diving. The latter enables kids 7-9 to experience the underwater world wearing a small tank and other dive gear. At age ten, the Discover Scuba program is available for those interested in pursuing the next level. The resort’s on site dive staff will provide scuba lessons for one or more. The all inclusive resort offers complimentary babysitting from six until nine pm.
2. Florida Keys.
Explore the only living coral reef system in the continental United States during a visit to this scenic South Florida region. For kids eight and older: the Summer Marine Science Camp at Pigeon Key, an historic site 100 miles southwest of Miami, offers programs that include information about reef fish, coral reef systems, underwater photography and the gathering of specimens. Kids can get scuba certification during a camp session or brush up if already certified. Also included: underwater obstacle courses, volleyball, and snorkeling. Also in the region: the Wreck Trek Passport Program," spotlighting the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail, where certified divers can explore a string of sunken vessels and artificial reefs with local dive instructors.
3. Brac Reef, Cayman Brac
From this small, family-friendly island, families can enjoy a dive vacation that includes exploring the waters around Cayman Brac as well as the Russian Frigate and the Bloody Bay Wall near Little Cayman Island. The on-site dive shop provides personalized attention to the soon-to-be certified as well as the seasoned diver. The all inclusive, beach front resort also offers free bike rentals to explore the island, spa services and volley ball. Ask about special packages for families.
Contact: 1-800-594-0843; www.BracReef.com.
4. Grand Wailea, Maui.
For families who choose to blend a luxury resort holiday with a scuba experience, this resort fits the bill. Give the sport a try by joining instructors twice daily in the comfort of Hawaii’s only specially designed scuba pool. Interested in learning more? Certification classes are offered at every level. Once the instruction is complete, escorted ocean dives are available. Meanwhile, families can enjoy the super-cool pool on the property, an expansive beach, as well as a spa and numerous family-focused resort programs.
Contact: 808-875-1234; www.GrandWailea.com.
5. Harbour Village, Bonaire.
Children ages five to 12 can join the Kid’s Great Adventure program at this Caribbean resort. They will learn about the Bonaire Marine Park, snorkel, identify fish, and get comfortable with the SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) program, a wonderful precursor to SCUBA.
Children eight and over can take part in the PADI Bubblemaker program, which enables young enthusiasts to breathe with a regulator in shallow ocean water. At ten, kids can earn their Junior Scuba Certification. Currently, the second diver in your party dives free when you book the Dive Into Luxury Package. Children under 16 stay free in the room with their parents.
Contact: 1-800-424-0004; www.harbourvillage.com.
Set within the turquoise waters and world renowned coral reefs surrounding Key Largo, Florida, the Ocean Reef Club's OR SEA Diving Camp offers families an opportunity to discover the wonders of the world-famous Carysfort Reef, once navigated by famous undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
This weeklong camp gives junior divers, ages 12 to 17, the chance to become PADI certified with lessons hosted by experienced instructors on the waters of the Atlantic. Participants will explore local ship wrecks and beautiful undersea life. Though Ocean Reef Club is a private, member-owned community, the camp is open to non-members. Check for updated schedules and pricing.
Many camps at Ocean Reef Club offer overnight options for an additional cost, which includes dinner, evening activities and accommodations in dormitory-style housing with their peers. Parents are invited to partake in the summer fun while the little ones are enrolled in camp with well-appointed accommodations at the oceanfront Inn available (children can also stay with parents). Parents will enjoy access to the many activities and facilities that Ocean Reef Club members enjoy, including dive trips through on-site Cristal Clear Charters.
Home to two state parks, a national park, and a national marine sanctuary, Key Largo boasts some of the most fascinating botanical scenery in the state of Florida.
For more information: www.OceanReef.com.
This page is brought to you by Pride of Maui offering fun-filled, action-packed snorkeling/sailing trips to Maui's Molokini.
Snorkeling is a great way to explore the beauty of our underwater world.
Here are six places the family can learn about coral reefs, colorful fish and more:
Consider a fully catered, guided tour in sunny Baja California, Mexico. During four to six day trips, family adventurers will maneuver two-person kayaks through the Sea of Cortez, the winter home of blue whales and among pods of dolphins. Later snorkel in Loreto Bay National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site before camping under the stars on secluded beaches. Ask about special deals. Contact: 800-616-1943; www.seakayakadventures.com
If you yearn to see and experience the Inside Passage, a part of Alaska, a new option is now available.
Activity-rich, yet affordable journeys on a 49-passenger expedition vessel will enable you and your family to kayak among whales and near glaciers, hike in forests with naturalists, visit native villages and try new activities such as the stand-up paddle board and the polar plunge. The eight-day, seven-night voyage travels between Ketchikan and Juneau. Ask about similar trips to Mexico.
Contact: 1-877-901-1009; www.innerseadiscoveries.com
The best holidays often include learning a new skill, expanding your knowledge or discovering a new destination.
Kitty Hawk Kayak and Surf School - Outer Banks, N.C.
Learn to surf or paddle board from the pros while enjoying beautiful beaches and warm sea breezes. Camp programs, lessons for girls only or group instruction provide a wide array of options for would-be wave runners. Crabbing, hiking, kayaking and other surf side activities combine to make this a great vacation spot.
Contact: 1 (866) 702-5061;www.khkss.com
Sanctuary Baines’ Camp. Botswana.
Go walking in the bush with three orphaned and semi-habituated elephants, Jabu, Thembi and Morula. Learn from “elephant whisperers” Doug and Sandi Groves about how the animals’ innate bush-sense enables them to survive in a wild environment. Join the magnificent creatures for a nature walk and observe how they strip leaves from branches with their trunks and shower in the delta lagoons.
Surfing Montreal, Quebec Canada.
Several hundred miles from the nearest ocean beach you’ll find this unlikely surfer’s paradise. A standing wave in the St Lawrence River provides adventure-minded families the opportunity to learn river surfing while enjoying a holiday in this charming and multicultural city. The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth offers a package that includes lessons from a pro, equipment rental, a daily breakfast buffet and energy snacks.
Dive Deals. Fort Lauderdale, FL.
June is “Learn to Dive” month. In the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, many of the major dive operators used the designation to launch discounted Scuba certification programs. Offers, most of which are valid through the summer, include free dives, Dive and Stay packages offering a 4th night free, and other benefits and amenities. A simple, one-stop shopping web page helps dive enthusiasts and those new to the sport, find deals and assistance in getting certified online. For additional added value, check out the VIP, two-for- one offers.
Rocky Mountain Round-up.
Week -long and four-day three-night packaged trips in the Rocky Mountains offer activities that include a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park, river rafting, horse-back riding through wildflowers on Beaver Creek Mountain plus scenic gondola rides at Vail and Keystone followed by family-friendly naturalist hikes and mountaintop picnics. You can also enjoy historical walking tours through the old Victorian mining town of Breckenridge followed by cowboy campfire dinners and storytelling. educational information about local flora and fauna, geology, geography and history of the region is also integrated into the family-friendly activities.
Contact: 888-538-EPIC (3742); www.EpicSummer.com
Hike Zion. Springdale, UT.
Get the guidance and gear you need to take on the famed canyons solo from the crew at Zion Adventure Guides by accessing their ground courses. (Guides are unable to work within some parts of Zion National Park.) For those who prefer professional “company” while exploring the world class slot canyons, alternate routes are available. The Narrows, a 16 mile corridor, can be hiked in one rigorous day, but most recommend an overnight or the Bottom Up hike that enables hikers to see some of the most stunning aspects of the canyon in four to six hours. Either way, you and your family will be enthralled by the splendor of the twisting slots, where carved sandstone rises to the bright, blue western sky. Recommended for children eight and older.