Looking for a Kids' Activity on Your Roatan Vacation?
It's the tropical analog to ski school: what to do with the little ones while mom and dad go diving every day for a week... except it far surpasses anything a ski school could offer.
The program is the branchild of Anthony's Key Resort (AKR) in conjunction with the Roatan Institute for Marine Science (RIMS). AKR is an icon on Roatan and an innovative leader in the Caribbean diving industry. As an all-inclusive dive resort, AKR caters to those who vacation to dive - guests whose primary vacation goal is maximum time under water. Young and single or newly married people without kids make up the bulk of this market because it's hard to dive 'til you drop when you've got a bunch of little ones running around.
The ski resorts wrestled this problem to the ground long ago. They invented ski school - that is, babysitting with a purpose. Just drop your kids off in the morning and pick them up at 3 or 4. They get some lessons, meet some other kids, see a little bit of the mountain and have a hot lunch. Meanwhile, mom and dad can ski the way they want - or not. What's not to love?
But diving is a little different, despite the affinity the ski crowd has for diving, and vice-versa. You can't just drop your five-year-old off at the dock and say "Good Luck". There's a small matter of being trained and trusted to breath under water safely.
This six day summer "camp" gives kids the opportunity to learn to dive (or prepare to certify if under 10), interact repeatedly with AKR's dolphins, go horseback riding, visit an exotic animal rescue hospital (where monkeys, jaguars and ocelot cubs were the main attraction) all while learning about local marine life, their ecosystem and how to care for both.
The program runs from Sunday thru Friday from 8 to 4. Lunch is provided every day, as well as ample "down" time (pool, games and two movie nights), lots of cool trips on boats between keys, not to mention the apparently fascinating art of coconut "opening". Mornings are generally spent with RIMS, both in the classroom and on the beach learning about the animals you'll interact with that day. The afternoons are generally spent in the water snorkeling, diving and/or achieveing PADI junior certification. And throughout the week, there are a few additional activities like a field trip to the animal rescue hospital on Maya Key and horseback riding on the beach to keep things interesting.
The Roatan Vacation Rental Shuffle
During our annual visit last summer, we enrolled our 9 year-old twins, Lucas and Dylan in the "camp", not so we could dive, but so we could begin the extreme makeover of Coral Vista Villas - our vacation rental home in West End. We got up every morning and did the 10 minute drive to AKR (stopping by Fresh for home-made pastries, breads and smoothies), and handed the boys off to their counselors by 8. Then, each afternoon, after a day of sanding and painting or window treatment removal or furniture shopping, we drove back over and met two happy, excited, border-line exhausted boys at the pool out on the Key.
We got an update on their scuba progress, and they proudly told us stories of their interaction with the dolphins (including the birth of a baby while they were there!), how they saw an eagle ray while doing their "bubblers" training and how to call the boat to get around from Key to Key. The boys literally had the time of their lives and will definitely be going back again this summer, this time as 10-year-olds with the goal of getting their junior open water certifications.
The 2013 Summer camp season runs from May 26 to August 30, 2013, and the cost per camper (5-14 years old) is $1,029. While that price may cause a little sticker shock, we found the program to be a good value for the money. A week full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the kids freeing mom and dad to enjoy their vacation (or in our case, use our vacation) in ways that would not have otherwise been possible is priceless.
Contact AKR at 800-227-3483 if you're interested, or if you are staying at Coral Vista, just let our concierge know and we'll set it up for you.