Leave The Kids With the Dolphins On Your Next Family Travel Adventure
Parents who are divers are often faced with a dilemma when selecting their family travel destinations. They want to dive, but they hate leaving family members behind. Now, divers can travel to a resort that has developed a unique approach to family vacations. At Anthony's Key Resort, dolphins are part of a unique kids program that makes nature and learning a unique part of the family travel experience.
Located 35 miles (56 km) off the coast of Honduras on Roatan, Bay Islands, Anthony's Key Resort sits next to the second largest barrier reef system in the world. There are hundreds of snorkeling and dive sites to choose from, 35 sites within 5-30 minutes away, in waters averaging 80 degrees or better with 80-100 feet of visibility. Parents who dive or snorkel will have a variety of choices each day while their children enjoy swimming with the dolphins and learning how to dive.
Anthony's Key Resort and the Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences (RIMS) offer a week-long Discovery SCUBA Camp to vacationing kids, 5-14 years old, who want to split their time between learning to dive and learning about dolphins while working with dolphin trainers to feed, train, and swim with dolphins. During the Camp, kids are introduced to the basics of diving and marine biology. Adults and kids rendezvous when the dive boats come in, activities stop and everyone gathers at the Resort to eat.
PADI instructors from the Resort's Scuba School lead four age-appropriate introductory courses for campers: SASY, Bubblemakers, Junior SCUBA Divers, and Junior Open Water Divers. "In SASY, which is Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth, kids 5-8 essentially SCUBA on the surface of the water," says Teri Bolton, RIMS trainer and Discovery SCUBA Camp founder. Kids wear a solid floatation device that looks like a water skiing vest. A small PONY tank, about the size of a two-liter bottle of pop, allows them to breathe naturally.
Bubblemakers gives 8 to 10 year-olds the chance to SCUBA dive in six feet of water. Kids ages ten and older can become Junior SCUBA Divers, diving 40 feet with a PADI professional. Junior Open Water is designed for children ages 10 to 15. Upon completion of this course, kids aged 10 and 11 may descend to no more than 40 feet accompanied by a parent, guardian, or PADI professional. Children aged 12 to 14 will be qualified to dive when accompanied by any open water certified adult.
Discovery SCUBA Camp counselors from RIMS facilitate educational activities, such as learning about the bottlenose dolphin diet and feeding the animals fish with the trainers. Kids also learn hand signals for behaviors in the classroom and then go outside on the key to try them out with trained RIMS dolphins. Other activities include marine life slide shows, island field trips (often to the Iguana Farm, Bird Park and/or Butterfly Farm), dolphin identification lessons, dolphin evolution, anatomy and physiology lectures and a family beach encounter with the dolphins.
The Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences (RIMS), owned and operated by Anthony's Key Resort, is a unique research and educational facility with the only dolphin program in Honduras. Dolphins reside in an unaltered natural lagoon, complete with a living coral reef ecosystem, and leave to be trained in the open ocean.
The Discovery SCUBA Camp package for kids 5-14 years old, includes 7 nights' accommodations at Anthony's Key Resort, three meals daily, all camp activities, equipment and materials for $625 per child, plus 16% hotel tax based on double occupancy for 2005. Camp will only be conducted for groups of 6-15 kids per scheduled week, Sunday - Friday, May 22-Aug. 26, Nov. 20-25 and Dec. 18-30, 2005. While equipment is included, it is recommended that kids bring their own mask, snorkel and fins to ensure a more comfortable fit.
Anthony's Key Resort is a PADI 5-Star Gold Palm Resort with a strong commitment to diving and snorkeling activities. Eleven custom dive boats are available to leave three times daily for reef, wall, wreck dives and two weekly night dives. Snorkeling trips leave twice daily, and outer island excursion day trips are also available.
Beyond the world-class dive sites, Roatan has much to offer above the surface of the ocean. Canopy tours rush visitors through the treetops, swaying over the island peaks, and down the steep slopes to Tabyana Beach. If high altitude and high speed are too much of a rush, there are horses to ride on the beaches, kayaks to paddle around its shores, fly fishing on the flats and dolphins to play with in the surf. Visitors can also arrange to visit Maya Ruin sites or hike in a cloud forest on the mainland of Honduras.