Celebrating Young and Old in Turks and Caicos

Izzy, age 12, explores The Dome.

A TWO-WEEK LIVEABOARD in Turks and Caicos was the first dive trip I’d taken in 18 months, and I quickly learned that this small island nation has plenty to offer adults and children alike. It was Family Week, so I got to spend time with the younger generation of divers and their parents.

West Caicos provided great sites for all ages, especially the Gully, with barracuda, sharks, turtles, stingrays, groupers, cowfish, and more. But in my opinion the best of the best is The Dome, which is shallow and easily accessible. Its occupants, from schooling species to the tiniest blennies, mesmerized our entire group. The newest divers, some as young as age 9, got to experience spectacular fish, octopuses, groupers, and eels at a safe depth, where they could also pay attention to their instructors, gauges, and time limits.

We changed the itinerary one morning and went on dry land. There is a lagoon in the center of West Caicos where, if your timing is right, you might see flamingos. The island’s rich history is evident in the salt-mining relics, and nature is on display during a walk to watch for birds and along the extraordinary shoreline that was like a petrified forest of coral.

As the week progressed, it was not hard to feel more and more engaged with the kids and what they were learning, seeing, and accomplishing. It became apparent that these activities don’t have to be restricted to Family Week. I watched in awe at how many families can learn on many of the yachts, especially in the Caribbean, where the sea conditions are more amenable to youth activities. Sharing the sport of diving is more than just an adventure. It’s learning new skills and discovering the marine environment.

Parents can find their own moments while still building family bonds. I found such joy and moments when the youngest generation of divers inspired me. I want to spend more time with them — their enthusiasm can teach all of us what appreciating the underwater world looks like.

Although our operator holds Family Week only three times a year, you can take a trip with your kids at other times or have a similar experience locally. The operator’s specialists were extremely helpful with identifying needs for specific certification levels, travel times, and the best locations for all the family members to enjoy.

If you plan to take a family dive trip, find an operator who is receptive to your questions and offers helpful advice to make the most of it and find safe and engaging diving that everyone can experience. If a longer trip to a faraway destination isn’t in your plans, the dive shop or dive professional at your local site or another accessible dive destination may be a resource to help you have a similar experience. However you can make it happen, I encourage you to consider involving the young people in your life and sharing your love for diving with future divers.

The Cook family consists of Sonia (mom), Jason (dad), Roxie (age 8), and Izzy.
Izzy learns about octopuses.
Izzy created this mixed-media artwork of an octopus.