"Darling it's better down where it's wetter..." We believe you, singing lobster Sebastian! But snorkeling only skims the ocean's surface, and scuba is often for ages twelve and up: so, how to get down to the ocean floor with kids?
The answer, for ages eight or older, could be snuba or sea-trekking.
With snuba, kids (and grown-ups too) don weights and masks and breathe through air hoses connected to a tank that floats above the group. Even easier is sea-trekking-- see write-up at link below.
Fast facts about snuba:
- maximum depth is 20 to 25 feet
- instruction is brief: half an hour or even less, right before your outing
- snuba has many locations world-wide: Hawaii, Florida, Virgin Islands... see snuba.com
- costs vary: a shore excursion (as on St. John USVI ) might be $60. But if a boat ride to a coral reef is involved, the cost will rise.
- snuba can be tricky!
Snuba can be tricky?
Well, sometimes. On a snuba outing in the USVI, I found it difficult to control buoyancy. With scuba, a person has a Buoyancy Control Device: the diver increases/decreases the air in the BCD to control whether she/he rises higher or sinks lower in the water.
With snuba, the BCD is your own lungs. You inflate to rise up, deflate to sink lower... Umm, the thing is, I also use my lungs to breathe. I spent much effort controling buoyancy, probably due to insufficient weight on my weight belt.
Why would a person snuba instead of scuba?
- kids can snuba at age eight, and a "Snuba-Doo" program is for even younger kids, four to seven
- snuba can be less expensive
- scuba dives aren't permitted on the day a person will fly on a plane.
- even an easy "resort scuba dive" requires hours of instruction, often a day before your dive.
- some people experience ear problems when scuba-diving. (Pressure on the ear builds quickly, the deeper you descend.)
If you're game to try snuba:
- make sure your child masters buoyancy control before you set out.
- make sure your child has the right weight on the weight belt.