Swim with the Fishes with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Underwater Explorers

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If your local pool feels like child’s play for your adventurous kiddos, let them spend the morning swimming alongside sea cucumbers, monkey-faced eel and bat stars. An extra-special offering at the beloved Monterey Bay Aquarium lets kids aged 8–13 strap on scuba gear and get closer to their famed Great Tide Pool then ever before—by diving right in!


An Unforgettable Experience
While the Monterey Bay Aquarium has always offered plenty of ways to get up close and personal with sea life, their Underwater Explorers program takes “hands-on” to the next level. Safely guided by Aquarium leadership-level dive staff, kids are invited to don dry suits (“Wearing the dry suit was like wearing a moon suit!” says one happy diver.), air tanks, regulators and scuba masks and taught how to surface-level dive—basically, that’s like snorkeling but with scuba gear. With one instructor for every three kids, plus up to 6 spotters scattered throughout the group, this unforgettable encounter is easy, safe and accessible for kids with absolutely no scuba experience.


Jump In, Stay Dry
The dry suits offer complete head-to-toe coverage and are worn right over their street clothes, so amazingly, the kids stay completely dry. Also, the suits are buoyant, helping kids float on the water’s surface, so participants don’t even need to be strong swimmers. Extra fleece tops and pants are also provided to ensure the tiny divers stay warm once in the water—the Great Tide Pool is an enclosed area connected to the aquarium, but it’s fed by the Bay, and features loads of local sea life from familiar hermit crabs to the more exotic monkey-faced eel. After the 20-30-minute dive, the little explorers get their own dive book to log all the creatures they encountered, as well as a photo to remember their adventure.


Tide Pool Rules
We’re betting there are lots of parents who would love to play in the Tide Pool as well, but this experience is for the kids only—parents wil have to watch from dry land, and take plenty of pictures! All participants must be between 8 and 13 years old at the time of the dive and name, age, height and weight of each child is required at the time of the reservation. We suggest making a day of it at the aquarium, enjoying all the all award-winning exhibitions while you’re there. You can find all-day day parking for $7 a couple of blocks north of the aquarium, and there are plenty of spots to fuel up before of after your swim: Grab a bowl of chowder from Old Fisherman’s Grotto on the Monterey Pier or some fish tacos from The Fishwife’s Turtle Bay Taqueria for lunch, and for dinner, Taste Café or Red House Café, both in Pacific Grove, offer elegant fare for adults along with kid-friendly fare in tasteful settings.

Insider Tip: When you book a 10 a.m. weekday slot by phone, mention Red Tricycle to receive a complimentary coffee card.

886 Cannery Row
Monterey, Ca
Online: montereybayaquarium.org

Would your little fishes love to scuba in the Great Tide Pool? 

—Erin Feher


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