It’s a common challenge for a dedicated scuba diver: you wanting to spend your vacation diving but your non-diving family members are less enthusiastic about the prospect of you spending all your time beneath the surface. With a bit of flexibility, planning and understanding, your vacation priorities and your family’s can mesh just fine. Just do as follows.
It’s not just your vacation — it’s everyone’s. So begin by sitting down together and talking about what you each want from your trip. Let them know how much time you hope to spend diving, and find out if it matches up with their expectations for family time. Maybe your partner wants to take a sunset yoga class every night — a perfect excuse for a dusk dive.
Quid Pro Quo
This Latin adage, “something for something else,” is worth noting. Make sure that your chosen location fits with everyone’s wishes, and then start planning activities around that. Make sure that you’re not keeping everyone waiting while you dive, forcing them to spend a good portion of their hard-earned holiday in a holding pattern. Do your diving while everyone else is doing his or her own thing. Maybe your wife (or husband) wants to hit the Balinese spa, or your kids are camel riding in the deserts of Egypt — you’ll each have experiences to share over dinner that night.
Pick the right location
Some dive destinations are really only suitable for divers, such as most live-aboards. Fortunately, the coral belt, which lies on both sides of the equator, coincides with the tropics. So many of your favorite dive destinations are also perfect destinations for white sandy beaches, warm, clear water and tropical weather. Focus on places with lots of land-based activities and shore diving, which will give you more time to spend with your family. Below are a few examples of family friendly locations that have enough topside activities to keep everyone happy.
Egypt’s Red Sea shore is a well-developed tourist area, both on the African side and on the Sinai Peninsula. There are large, family-friendly resorts and lots of historical sights and other activities. Spend a week along the Nile, seeing all the historical sites, and then a week by the Red Sea, where non-divers can swim, snorkel, tan and sail, while the diver in the family can explore the shore-based Red Sea reefs.
Indonesia’s an exotic location for many, with a plethora great beaches and an exciting culture. Many of the islands, including Bali, Sulawesi, Lombok, and many of the smaller ones, have excellent shore-based or near-shore diving.
A number of the vacation-friendly islands, such as Koh Thao and Koh Samui, offer comfortable, modern resorts, great beaches, great nightlife and excellent diving.
A former Dutch colony in the Caribbean, this small island features cute, Dutch-inspired architecture, a great national park, excellent beaches and snorkeling, and world-class diving. Most diving is shore-based, so it’s easy to fit into your family’s holiday schedule. There are also well-known windsurfing and kiteboarding scenes if you (or your family) want to catch some wind.
Be flexible about where you go
There are many more locations than what we’ve listed above that could potentially suit both you and your non-diving family. Even unexpected locations can feature great diving — perhaps much more unique — than a traditional beach vacation. Go diving in a mountain lake if your family wants to make like the Von Trapps. If they want to go to New York City, check out Wreck Alley. Or dive a mine in Finland, a cave in Bulgaria, or a submerged village in Italy — if there’s water nearby, and there probably is, see if there’s a dive scene to go with it. And check out our article on alternative dive destinations for more inspiration.
Finding the right destination, being flexible with your time and being there for your family when you’re not diving can go a long way towards satisfying everyone’s expectations. After all, this is your holiday too. Enjoy!