Are there scuba diving age restrictions?

By Julius
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Old scuba diver hovering underwater

Have you ever wondered if there are scuba diving age restrictions? Are you thinking about whether you or someone you know may be too old to dive or too young?

If so, keep reading.

For those who need an answer NOW, however, here it is:

There are (almost) no scuba diving age restrictions.

As long as you are at least 8 years old, you are never too old for scuba diving! 🙂

Did I just hear a sigh of relief from some of you? Great, now on to the article.

Scuba diving age restrictions

I recently got asked “Am I too old to learn to dive?” by someone looking to get their Open Water Diver certification at age 62.

Spoiler alert, of course, they weren’t.

There is no maximum age for starting to or continuing to dive. Whether you are 60, 75, or 96 years old, scuba diving is a sport that will keep you in great shape and offer incredible experiences.

As a matter of fact, the oldest diver we ever trained at Social Diving was 78 years old!

They did great and are still diving regularly as far as I know. 🙂

Old cave diver on the surface
Good news. You’re never too old to scuba dive!

On the other hand, the minimum age for kids wanting to scuba dive is 8 years. If you or rather your children are younger than that, they will have to wait a little longer.

However, snorkeling and swimming are still great ways for kids to get used to being in the water and getting ready for the time they are finally allowed to dive with scuba gear.

In the following sections, we are taking a look at some tips, tricks, and recommendations for divers of each age group and as they get older.

Scuba diving for kids

In regard to scuba diving, we consider children to be anyone under the age of 15.
Certain courses (ice diving, wreck diving, technical diving in general) have further age restrictions of 16 or 18 years, respectively, but for standard recreational diving 15 years is the usual threshold.

Today, about 7-10% of all scuba divers are below the age of 15 and that number is growing steadily.

More and more dive bases and resorts around the world now offer courses and guided dives tailored to the needs of younger divers.

Scuba diving boy standing on pool ladder
Look at that smile. Everyone loves diving!

Minimum age for scuba diving

Once again, the universally agreed-upon minimum age for children diving is 8 years.

This is not an arbitrary number, though.

Before this age, the lung structure is not yet developed enough to be exposed to the high pressures during scuba diving.

The main reason is that the number of alveoli in the lungs increases by a factor of 12 between birth and age 8. Fewer alveoli mean lower lung capacities and hence lower efficiency.

Between this age and adulthood, the number of alveoli increases further by a factor of 3 which is significantly smaller.

Illustration of human lungs and bronchi
The number of alveoli increases as we get older.

Therefore, starting at age 8, children are usually physically fit enough to begin scuba diving in very shallow waters and pools.

In case of severe allergies or asthma, diving is prohibited for children!

Scuba diving courses for children

Different scuba diving agencies have different names for their programs for young divers, such as “Bubble maker”, “Seal team” or “Junior diver”.

Some offer snorkeling courses and excursions for children aged 6 – 8, however, they may not wear scuba equipment yet.

For example, at iac, the progression of courses goes as follows:

Course NameMinimum AgeDepth Limit
Junior Diver83m/ 10ft, pool only
Junior Scuba Diver95m / 15ft, confined water
Junior Open Water Diver10depth = age, open water
Scuba diving courses and limits for children at iac.

As you can see, the depth limit increases with age for all certification levels.

As Junior Open Water Divers at iac, kids can dive down to a maximum depth in meters, equal to their age. So at age 12, this would be 12 meters and so on.

Other training agencies choose different metrics and PADI, for example, limits children’s diving depths to 12 meters.

Certain specialty courses such as Nitrox or deep diving are not available for kids, for obvious reasons.

However, first aid or navigation are great courses for children to practice their skills.

Above the age of 15, anyone can obtain the regular Open Water Diver certification.

If you want your kids to start scuba diving, make sure the instructor is a certified children’s instructor first!

Diving Medical for children

As you know, a medical statement by a physician is required in order to go scuba diving.

However, while many adults simply fill out the medical questionnaire provided to them by their dive base, children have to see a physician first!

This is very important for parents to know and every reputable dive instructor will require this form before any diving can start.

While the Diving Medical is valid for two years for adults aged 18 – 40, children have to renew theirs on an annual basis.

Once again, this is required for anyone wanting to go diving with their kids and discarding it can lead to permanent injuries!

Scuba diving for adults aged 40+

Don’t worry, you’re not “old” yet! 😃

However, one thing you should keep in mind is that from now on your Medical Statement by a physician is only valid for one year.

While many people only fill out the medical questionnaire provided by their dive base, I highly recommend seeing a physician at least once a year for a check-up.

Old scuba diver hovering underwater
Now is the best time to become a certified diver!

During the examination, your lung and heart capacity are measured and your ears are checked.

This ensures you are definitely healthy and ready to go diving at any time.

Moreover, certain types of diving you might try out now such as mine diving, cave diving, or technical diving require Medical Statements instead of a filled-out questionnaire.

At Social Diving, for example, any technical and very advanced diving requires a Medical Statement and we know many other bases that handle it the same way.

Scuba diving for senior citizens

I understand that some of you might be a little offended by the phrase “senior citizen“.

However, due to the lack of a better alternative and to avoid the word “old” that was the best I could come up with.

I began this article by telling you about the 62-year-old who wanted to know whether he was “too old to dive”.

Of course, that was nonsense as there is no maximum scuba diving age restriction.

There are some things you might want to look out for in terms of equipment and diving courses, and we will look at that shortly.

Maximum age for scuba diving

Whether you are 60, 80, or even 100 years old, it is entirely possible to become a certified scuba diver.

The current record holder for the oldest regular scuba diver is 102 years old. So if you are younger than that, now is the time to start!

Again, the oldest student I personally ever had was 78 years old and there was almost no difference from the younger students.

Old diver smiling on boat before dive
There is no scuba diving age restriction. You can enjoy diving for as long as you want!

If at all, he was much more patient with himself and the instructor. 😉

Never too old to dive

As with any sport or activity, it is important that you feel safe and healthy to do it.

If you don’t have any physical or other disabilities, all you need is a Medical Statement from a doctor and you are ready to begin.

However, even if there are, that does not mean you can’t become a diver.

It just means you and your instructor have to work around some of the challenges you are facing.

If you are not able to carry heavy equipment on your back, have your instructor help you bring it to the dive site.

Once in the water, you can put your gear on without any physical strain and go diving right away.

If you feel like a weight belt puts too much stress on your hip, exchange it for a BCD with integrated weight pockets.

On the other hand, if heavy fin kicking seems daunting to you, tell your guide or instructor to move slower and take breaks in between.

A good reference is my guide to the most useful scuba fin kicking techniques so you can conserve your strength and air underwater.

This will also give you the opportunity to practice hovering motionless in one spot and enjoy the scenery around you.

Scuba diving is a great sport for anyone and you should not let your age or potential physical or other limitations discourage you from trying it out.

After all, this might be the first time in your life that you have a lot of free time at your disposal, your kids moved out and you don’t have to go to work every day anymore.

I’d say if you haven’t started yet, try scuba diving today and see if you like it!

Conclusion and more tips

I hope you found this article useful and I could encourage you to give scuba diving a try no matter how young or old you are.

As always, I recommend looking for the best instructor first and only then for prices or agency names.

You can read my tips to find the best dive school for you to help you with that.

For diving with kids, the instructor should be certified as a certified children diving instructor.

Ask for their license before going diving with them and how much actual experience they have with younger students.

When picking a dive base, look out for offers for kids, and that dive groups are made up in a way to accommodate all levels and maximum depth limitations.

If you are of older age, ask them how they handle courses and can potentially make adjustments for your particular needs.

Scuba diving instructor in the water with student
Your instructor can help you if you face challenges during the course.

Don’t forget to get regular medical check-ups to ensure you are healthy enough to keep diving.

If you want to learn to dive or have questions about what you just read, leave a comment below or send us a message!

Got a different opinion or experience with diving at a very young or very old age?

I am interested in reading your thoughts so post a comment and discuss them with me!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃



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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

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