Growing Trend: Travel Experiences—Not Presents— For Family Milestones – Forbes

Striped tropical fish swimming under waves along the coral reef in Mauritius.
There’s been an increasing trend in travel to celebrate teen and tween milestone birthdays and graduations with special trips and travel experiences, instead of presents and parties.
Statistics are showing that people are traveling more slowly and for longer, with an emphasis on enriching, fulfilling and holistic experiences. Many people have had to place their travel wish lists on hold for the past few years, and people are now prioritizing their travel dreams and making them a reality.
One such bucket-list experience is learning how to scuba dive while on vacation.
“Learning to dive on holiday provides people with a chance to truly disconnect from the outside world and be in the moment,” says Julie Andersen Global Senior Director of Brand for PADI Worldwide. As a bonus, diving offers an incredible wellness experience both physically and mentally.
Andersen explains that her father taught her to dive at a young age and to this day their best memories are the times spent underwater on adventures around the globe. “We all treasure not just the experience, but the fact that we shared it together. Through the process, we learned a greater sense of responsibility for one another and the oceans. We learned soft skills you simply can’t get from a book: from compassion for all creatures to a strong sense of unwavering confidence. We are all better together—and independently—because of diving.

Close-up of a sea turtle swimming underwater over coral reef in Mauritius.
Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean, has world-class diving and it’s also a bucket-list destination for travelers.
The sea bed in Mauritius is exceptional because of its landscape; it is surrounded by a barrier of coral reefs.
There are numerous diving spots around Mauritius. Experienced divers often choose dive site that can be pretty deep including Gunner’s Coin, the Whale Rock, or Holt’s Rock. For those new to diving, more accessible sites are recommended like the Blue Bay Marine Park in the southeast.
The north of Mauritius has over 60 dive sites, from Pointe aux Piments to Calodyne. The northern islets, including the Gunner’s Coin, Round Island, Flat Island and Ilot Gabriel, offer striking scenery with various landscapes formed by corals, rocks and shallows. It also has various multi-colored creatures that inhabit them. You may even come across sharks—included hammerheads. Visibility is good, since this part of the island is protected from the trade winds and very few rivers end their course in the sea here.
More than 45 dive sites are located on the west coast, from Albion to Le Morne. This is the region to watch dolphins and rays. With reefs from 50 to 150 feet deep, strong currents going through basalt tunnels and chimneys, the west coast features a completely different landscape for divers. The sea bed here has fewer coral reefs and more basaltic landforms with changing topographies and highly variable depths.
The east coast has over 60 dive sites, stretching from Poudre d’Or to Blue Bay. There are plenty of shipwrecks here, for divers who enjoy that type of scuba diving.

Pilot whales coming to the surface to breathe off the north western coast of Mauritius.
Learning to dive while on a family vacation in Mauritius is easy. There are over 30 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts on the island, so there is likely one never too far away from where you are staying.
Kids as young as 8 years old can take their first breaths underwater through the PADI Bubblemakers Course and join the PADI Seal Team and kids as young as 10 years old can become PADI Jr. Open Water Divers.
The PADI Five Star Dive Resort Diving Mauritius, is the largest dive company in the country and one of the best in the Indian Ocean. Owner François Besson is a highly accomplished and respected figure in the world of diving, renowned for his extensive knowledge and experience.
Scuba diving as a family is a great way to celebrate milestones like birthdays and graduations.
Besson started his company in 1993. He was born in South Africa, but both of his parents are Mauritian. “I came back to my parents island for its beauty,” says Besson. What makes scuba diving in Mauritius so unique? “It is not a very well-known diving destination, so that keeps the crowds small and lets us give a more exclusive service,” he says. While diving in Mauritius is good all year, he notes that the best diving months are March to May and then September to November. His favorite dive spots are in the northwest. “The northwest is ideal for diving as our prevailing weather comes from the southeast which makes the northwest very sheltered and calm. There are also no rivers in the north so the result is clear water most of the year.”
In terms of training tweens and teens to dive, Besson notes, “The training conditions are ideal with very little current. The diving is very easy compared to the rest of the world which in turn makes it very attractive to families.”
Plus, the weather in Mauritius is ideal. He notes that since Mauritius is a tropical island, the average temperature is quite high. Summer temperatures range between 78-90 degrees Fahrenheit and water temperature ranges from 77–86. Winter temperatures range between 70–80 degrees and water temperatures range from 70 – 75.
Teens and tweens are a great age to learn how to scuba dive.
Diving Mauritius has centers located at several beachcomber hotels: Beachcomber Canonnier Golf Resort and Spa; Beachcomber Victoria Resort and Spa and Beachcomber Shandrani Resort and Spa. From the dock, most dive sites are no more than a 15-minute boat ride, which also makes it easy for families.
Advanced divers will be able to choose from several wreck, deep and drift sites. While novice divers have plenty of colorful coral reefs. The company offers several training courses including: Deep, Wreck, EFR, Photography, Night and AWARE FISH Identification. They can teach kids as young as 10.
As the founder of Diving World Mauritius, Besson has played a pivotal role in promoting diving as a recreational activity in Mauritius. With over three decades of experience running multiple dive schools, François has become an influential figure in the diving industry worldwide. Diving Mauritius is a PADI green star dive school.

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