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What Age can my Kids Scuba Dive?

28 December 2022

If you're a fan of scuba diving and your child wants to join you, or if they're an adventurous kid who loves water, you may be wondering how old they need to be in order to don scuba gear and see some fish up close. Read on to find out.

Safe Minimum Is Eight Years Old

The earliest age that a child should learn to scuba dive is eight years old. This age is the absolute minimum requirement and is not a guide for when a child should start to learn. A lot of it is down to the capacity of the individual child to pay attention, to stay calm and to take in what they are being told. 

The reason for the eight year old limit is that children’s lung capacity has not developed to its full potential before that age and there are (understandably) no studies on what effect scuba diving can have on young, still developing children, so it is better to err on the side of safety and caution. 

Slightly Older Might Be Better

The next consideration is the physical size of the child who wants to scuba dive. If you are starting them at eight, they will likely be very small compared to the equipment and this will make it quite difficult and more unwieldy than if they were just a year or two older. There is dedicated children’s scuba diving gear for sale but with the rates of growth, the fickle interests of children, and the cost of the equipment it may not make sense to purchase it at this stage. 

At eight years old, children are limited to a maximum depth of four metres for their safety and this is only within a diving pool rather than in the sea. It would be our recommendation to start them no earlier than ten or eleven. 

PADI Courses

When they reach ten years old, children can enrol into Professional Association of Diving Instructor (PADI) accredited scuba diving courses which are very similar to those run for adults but with shallower depth limits and with the understanding that they are required to dive with an adult at all times. If they pass the courses they will be a qualified scuba diver and that qualification will be recognised worldwide. 

At twelve years old, children are allowed to dive to greater depths but are still required to dive with a suitably qualified adult. 

By the time they reach fifteen, they are considered to be a junior diver and they can sit the qualifications for open water diving and advanced open water diving. It will probably irk them at this age but they must still dive with a qualified adult diver. Once they reach eighteen they are legally an adult and are no longer bound by the restrictions relating to children. 

By that point, if they have been diving for a few years, they will have a thorough grounding in all of the important safety aspects, most likely their own scuba diving equipment and, if they are still interested, the possibility of becoming a scuba diving instructor themselves. PADI diving instructor qualifications are in demand all over the world. 

Scuba diving is a gateway to another world and getting to see a slice of the life that exists under the water is a fascinating and beautiful opportunity. Just be prepared, as this can be a very expensive hobby! 

Photo by gokhan polat on Unsplash

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