Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Ever struggle in knowing which dive centre to choose from when planning your next family dive holiday together? You are not alone. Here is Scuba4families' top five tips on how to choose a family friendly dive centre:
1: Customer Service
Customer service is without doubt our number one tip for selecting a family friendly dive centre. When sending emails to all the different dive centres those that respond within a week and answer all your questions already demonstrate good customer service. Those that don't reply we tend to cross off our list as it can indicate compliancy or lack of interest, which you don't want in dive staff. We like to follow up with a telephone call, to really get a personal feel for the dive centres' members of staff. The information you want to know when assessing a dive centre is: Instructor/divemaster to child diving ratios, the centre's experience with teaching children, training facilities at the centre, ease of access /level of dive sites, accessibility to child sized dive equipment, have background checks been done on dive staff and safety/emergency first aid procedures.
2: Instructor : Child Ratio
This is both the teaching and diving ratio between an Instructor/Divermaster and a student. Most official diving organisations state a maximum ratio of 1:4 when training a child, but they are age dependent and whether its confined based training or open water. Scuba4families personally recommend a 1:1 ratio or even better a 2:1 ratio where two members of staff are present in a training session. There are many reasons for this but our primary focus is on a child's concentration level. Children can get overwhelmed with all the information they receive when learning to dive. A loss of concentration in a dive scenario, can lead to needing immediate personal attention from the divemaster/instructor. Putting safety first must be the highest priority when teaching children.
3: Beginner Dive Sites
A family friendly dive centre will have entry level dive sites both suitable for the young and old. Things to ask the dive centre are: ease of access to the dive sites, meaning manageable entry and exit points, what is the travel distance to and from the dive site? Are sheltered and shallow shore dives possible? What is the depth of the dive site? What type of boat does the centre use, will dive entries be giant stride or a backward role? When teaching young children from the age of ten upwards we have found that its easier with shore dives to kit up in the water, then having the child carry the heavy gear down to the sea only to be exhausted before the dive has even begun.
4: Children's Dive Gear
For our young dive buddies, appropriate sized diving equipment is essential for making their experience comfortable. Its important to know if the dive centre has smaller mouthpieces for their regulators, children sized BCDs, 5-10 litre tanks, wetsuits, masks, boots, and fins.
5: Dive Centres' Experience
What is the dive centres experience with teaching children? How many certifications of Junior Open water diver programme do they do each year? Do they run bubble-maker or seal team activities? These types of activities will indicate the level of experience the centre has with teaching a child to dive and the daily interaction they have with these water babies. Working with children is not the same as with adults. More personal attention, care and patience is required. Please note that numbers are not always the best indication of whether a dive centre is good as it may be they're repeating poor techniques, good recommendations from friends or from social media site should be there aswell.