If you’ve got young explorers at home who dream of swimming alongside Nemo or meeting a sea turtle up close, your next vacation may be the right time to introduce them to snorkeling and scuba diving. At coastal locations around the world, resorts and dive shops tailor programs for families and kids so they can begin chartering their course as the next Jacques Cousteau.

The Basics

Kids as young as 8 can learn scuba, though they must be at least 10 to become certified, according to theProfessional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), which provides certification for scuba divers.

Through PADI’s “Bubblemaker” classes, hosted at many dive centers around the world, kids 8 and older can learn how to use scuba equipment and breathe underwater in shallow environments, usually a pool. When they turn 10, they can be certified as Junior Open Water Divers; a PADI certified adult must accompany them, and they will be limited to a depth of 40 feet. At age 12, the depth restriction is removed.

If you or your children feel they’re not ready yet, snorkeling is a good alternative; they can join the fun and literally get their feet wet for scuba diving.