Kids have a natural attraction to the blue. From the youngest age, any body of water seems to call to them, whether it’s a pool, lake, or ocean. They love to splash around, play, and explore as they swim. It’s no surprise that many kids get curious about scuba diving. But how old do you have to be to scuba dive? 

The short answer is that it depends. Let’s look at exactly what kids can do at different ages when it comes to scuba diving. 

a smiling girl wearing a scuba mask standing in an outdoor pool

At Any Age – Build Water Skills

Before we jump into the age restrictions for scuba diving, one thing that kids can do from the time they are just a few months old is to start getting comfortable in the water and learning water survival skills.

There are classes and activities available to teach young kids how to float, hold their breath, self-rescue and swim safely. This is an excellent way for kids to start building their confidence in the water. They’ll learn valuable skills that will benefit them as they get older and when they learn to scuba dive. 

In addition, kids six years and older can enroll in the PADI Discover Mermaid and Basic Mermaid courses to inspire a love for the underwater world and help them live out their mythical dreams.

8 & 9 Years Old – Kids’ Scuba Programs

The minimum age for kids to participate in scuba diving programs is eight. At this age, they can start to learn the basics of scuba diving. This includes how to put on and take off scuba gear, basic breathing techniques, and safety procedures. 

This is a great age for kids to get their feet wet (pun intended) in the world of scuba diving. They can see if it’s something they enjoy, always under the close supervision of a trained PADI Professional. 

From this age, youngsters can participate in the PADI Bubblemaker™ program, where they use real scuba diving equipment in a pool setting and experience the joy of breathing underwater. 

If they want to take their diving skills further, they can take part in the PADI Seal Team program. Seal Team introduces children to more advanced scuba techniques by completing fun and engaging AquaMissions.

A PADI Seal Team participant swims through an underwater hoop as part of a buoyancy Aquamission

10+ Years Old – First Junior Certification

At 10 years old, kids can take the first step to scuba diving in open water. This is the minimum age to obtain a scuba diving certification, known as a PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification. 

The Junior Open Water Diver course teaches kids all the necessary skills and knowledge to become safe and confident divers, with a maximum depth of 12 meters (40 feet). Once certified, a Junior Open Water Divers ages 10 and 11 dive with a parent, a guardian or a PADI Pro as their buddy. (Junior Open Water Divers ages 12 to 14 can dive with any certified adult as their buddy and can dive to depths of 18 meters/60 feet.) Besides the restrictions placed on Junior Open Water Divers, there is no difference between the ‘Junior’ version and the adult version of the PADI Open Water Diver course.

If you want to give kids a taste of scuba diving before committing to a full course, sign them up for a Discover Scuba® Diving (DSD) experience. Whether in a pool or open water, a DSD lets kids experience what it’s like to dive and see if they want to take it any further.

In addition to the Junior Open Water Diver course, there are a variety of continuing education specialty courses available to divers ages 10 and 11.

12+ Years Old – Build Their Scuba Skills

Kids certified as Junior Open Water Divers can advance their skills to the next level at 12 years old. 

The Junior Advanced Open Water Diver course allows them to increase their maximum depth limit to 21 meters (70 feet). It introduces them to different types of diving, such as deep diving, navigation, and night diving. By gaining more experience and knowledge, kids can become better divers at an early age.

They can also become Junior Rescue Divers. In this course, they learn how to handle emergencies and be prepared for potential hazards while diving. 

Plus, turning 12 opens up a wide variety of specialty courses for young divers, from Enriched Air Diver to Night Diver.

kids - Underwater - Scuba Diving - Youth - PADI

15+ Years Old – Fully Certified 

At 15 years old, kids can finally obtain the adult certifications for Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Rescue Diver.

This means they can dive without age restrictions up to a depth of 18 meters (60 feet) for Open Water Divers and 30 meters (100 feet) for Advanced Open Water Divers, if they have consent from their legal guardians. 

They can also start their journey towards a career in the diving industry by getting certified as a Junior Divemaster. As the first step towards becoming a PADI Pro, the certification allows them to help PADI Professionals with certain tasks and even give presentations on specific topics. It’s a great way to start developing their leadership skills and dive knowledge as early as possible. 

Change Your Life by Becoming a Diver

No matter your age, scuba diving is a life-changing experience that allows you to explore a whole new world and connect with nature in an incredible way, and kids can get started early.

However, it’s best to make sure that the child wants to dive before signing up for any courses, as safety and enjoyment should always be the top priorities. By waiting until they are ready, you can ensure they will have a positive and rewarding diving experience that they’ll never forget, and they’ll want to continue their scuba journey for many years to come. 

So, if you have a little one who is at least eight years old and eager to explore the underwater world, don’t wait any longer! 

Contact a PADI Dive Center and start your journey today. 

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