If you want to experience a family Caribbean vacation like no other, or if you’re looking to explore the depths of seas or lakes closer to home, nothing beats scuba diving. Kids are quick learners and their natural curiosity makes them the best dive buddies around. Here’s our guide to scuba diving certification programs for tweens and teens.

Intro to Scuba Diving

A good way to determine if your child is ready for scuba diving in open water is to enroll her in Bubblemaker. Kids as young as eight can enroll in this day-long program, which gives them the opportunity to dive in a swimming pool or confined water with a safe max depth of two meters/six feet. If they enjoy their one-day Bubblemaker adventure, you’ll want to enroll them in a Seal Team. This more intensive program covers basic scuba diving technique and also allows kids to hone their underwater photography skills. They will also learn about ocean conservation best practices. Once children have mastered these basic skills, they can move onto Junior certification (if they’re at least 10 years old) and even Open Water Diver Certification (if they’re older than 13). Both will give them the chance to dive in the great wide open sea.

Junior Certification: For Kids 10-Years-Old and Up

PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, offers a Junior Open Water Diver course. This is a kid-friendly version of the adult certification program. With Junior Open Water certification, kids are restricted to diving with a PADI Professional or a certified parent or guardian, and dives cannot exceed 12 meters/40 feet. (12 to 14 year-old divers cannot exceed 60 feet.) Interested kids must be strong swimmers (they will be tested before enrollment). Kids can do the “schoolwork” portion of the course via an easy-to-access eLearning program Open Water Diver course online or via a PADI Open Water manual and DVD.

Super Diving Kids

Super diving kids ages 12 and older can opt to add more skills to their official certificate, including:

  • Junior Advanced Open Water: Ages 12-14
  • Junior Rescue: Ages 12-14
  • Junior Master Scuba Diver: Ages 12-14
Not only do these courses give kids the skills they need to dive safely, they also offer an education component that will improve their STEM skills.
Age 15+: Official PADI Open Water Certification

Once teens hit age 15, they no longer have to follow depth and buddy restrictions. Kids initially certified as junior divers can order an official card that says “Open Water Diver” from their PADI Dive Center or PADI’s website. If your child hasn’t completed Junior certification, she can go ahead and register for a standard PADI Open Water certification course.Interested in learning more?
Contact your local PADI Dive Shop to register for any of the programs above, or visit Youth Programs on PADI.com.