It seems a shame not to take advantage of the amazing diving Malaysia and the region has to offer! Find out how to find a diving course, enjoy this hobby alongside kids or how to bring them with you even when they are young.
Who can dive?
Diving can seem a daunting activity to involve kids in, understandably too! We weren’t born with gills so it can go against one’s parental instincts to send the little ones meters down into the ocean! But as a parent that loves all things water sports and having had many family snorkeling trips I couldn’t wait until the kids were old enough to get involved.
There is some controversy even amongst the diving community as to what is the correct age to allow a child to begin diving. It is generally thought that children can start ocean diving at 10 with the Jr. Open Water or around 8 with the PADI Bubblemaker. The 8-9 year-olds can also start with pool based programmes like SSI Scuba Rangers.
Our daughter was 9 and we allowed her to do the Bubblemaker course by PADI during a recent holiday. Bubblemaker is a course especially designed to introduce children to diving. They need no prior experience – just a swimsuit and a sense of adventure! All good dive centres will provide the rest.
Got tiny tots in tow?
The tiny ones may be too small to dive but there are also many family friendly instructors that will allow adults to dive and bring little ones along on the boat – this can be arranged at least in Tanjung Jara. Dad and the little one can have a snorkel while mum dives and then swap over. So diving really can include all the family, it’s just finding the right resorts. If the resort has a house reef, the little ones can snorkel while the adults take turns diving at the same spot.
Never dived before?
Also not a problem, check out our experience below. Both resorts mentioned have house reefs where you can do intro dives right from the beach. Parents can take turns doing an intro dive, that only takes a few hours and as it’s from the beach there are no long boat trips or pool time needed. Intro dives are perfect to give you a feel for diving.
Our experience: Tuna Bay
At Tuna Bay resort resort on the Perhentian islands the adults of our group enjoyed the house reef dive and after some discussions with the instructors from Universal Divers we decided to trust them with our 9-year-old the next day for a diving course.
They were extremely professional and patient. They provided all the gear needed, although I would advise bringing your own snorkel mask if you have it. This is just my personal preference: as you know it seals and fits well you’d be as well using it. Your dive centre will be able to supply one just as easily.
The Bubblemaker course began in the classroom with a video explaining all the necessary safety information. After that they headed to the beach where the instructor took them through the basics and safety of scuba diving in the house reef and in shallow waters. It took about two hours to complete and all the kids on the course seemed to love it!
Picturesque beaches and crystal clear water helped the grown ups kill time too! I chose to sit with a book and enjoy a couple of chapters without interruptions but many of the parents snorkeled out to watch the kids.
Our experience: Rimba Resort
I’d also personally recommend Adam and his team down at Hi-Tide Divers at Rimba Resort on Sibu. They also have a great house reef with so much bio-diversity and very child friendly staff. Offering a full range of dive courses starting at 8 years and snorkeling from any age they will do their best to accommodate little ones. They even have an eco-club for the kids to get involved in.
They were patient and professional at checking all their diving gear in front of us and making sure adults and children were confident and secure every step of the way. The last thing you want with young children is to give them a fright, so they really took their time with them and taught at each child’s pace.
Both of these resorts are also very family friendly with good accommodation and food options. Follow the links for our reviews on the stay here.
The biodiversity in Malaysia is fantastic and I’m sure there are many more great resorts that have very child friendly instructors and wonderful house reefs. Indonesia, The Philippines and Thailand also have great dive spots in Asia but I have only included those that we have stayed at.
We’ve also tested the Dive School at Bubbles Resort on Perhentian Islands, and can warmly recommend them, too!
Don’t take my word for it!
I headed down to speak to Michael Grossman of Scuba Mikes dive school in KL to get his tips for diving as a family and choosing a diving course for kids. This is what he recommends:
- What really makes a “good” dive center is how they look after you. Speak to the owner or manager about your concerns and wait for their response. Did they get defensive? Brush off the issue raised? You can tell very quickly if the dive center is run by professionals. Also, check the reviews on social media and Tripadvisor.
- Confused about the agencies? The World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) sets the standards that all agencies must follow. The agency (PADI, SSI) then decides how to deliver the knowledge to the students. The experience of learning is down to your instructor, not the agency. SSI and PADI are like MasterCard and VISA, they do the same thing. SSI has a brilliant online programme where you can study on your own schedule and get an electronic card that is stored on the app.
- Many dive centers forget about you after your open water training, but one of the best parts about learning to dive is that you enter a new community of awesome people who share the same passion. A good dive center will keep you active and keep you involved in their community of divers.
- Scuba diving is a lifestyle, get in with the right people and you will love it! Find a dive center that will teach you and family to be safe and confident divers.