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Thumbs up for seniors diving

Stan Waterman: active diver at 88. Photo: Howard Hall


By Stan Waterman

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing each to each.
I do not think that they will sing for me.

…We have lingered in the chambers of the sea,

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

T.S. Elliot

 I share none of Elliot’s thoughts expressed in his epic poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. However, I must confess to having physically grown old. I have no more hair to part. One eye is gone, and I do mean it’s no longer there. I have four titanium bolts in my lower vertebra and two-feet of my colon were removed many years ago. Eager as you may be to hear more, I will desist. But I do agree with one definition of old age I encountered some while back. It read, “Old age seems to be one continuous round trip to the lavatory.” As I write this I am 88, I can no longer walk a straight line, due in part to a plentiful lack of balance, but I have not yet subscribed to Pampersâ.

I am an active diver.

So what about the sea and diving for us geezers? If I could shake Poseidon’s hand and slap him on the back with heart-felt thanks I would do so many times over. The simple fact is that when you drop into the sea with your aqualung, all gravity is shuffled away. Balance is restored. A flick of your fins and you move through the aquatic world as if on a magic carpet. You may not be able to run a marathon or play vigorous singles tennis any more, but with your wits still about you and the ability to travel, you can continue to explore and enjoy diving.

Some years back I documented a dive trip for a Boston dive group, the Moray Wheels, dedicated to handicapped divers. Both young stars of the show were paralyzed from the waist down, paraplegics and wheelchair-bound. But with help in and out of the water from their group dive buddies they were able to scuba dive effectively and continue to enjoy the greatest adventure of their lives diving in the distant Caribbean around the island of Bonaire.

Seniors, who might be apprehensive about their dexterity aboard live-aboard dive boats, or a daily dive regimen too vigorous for their level of energy, may gain reassurance from my own experiences with the very considerate and experienced crews of the live-aboards I still serve as a tour host. Typically, guests may make as many as five dives a day, including a night dive. I limit myself to two dives a day and forego dives where big currents are present. I suit up on the dive deck. As I sit at the edge of the dive platform or skiff there is always a helping hand with my tank, BC, weights and fins. So I am launched with zero effort. By handing up my fins, weights and tank at the ladder – or being hauled over the side of the skiff like a sack of potatoes – I am retrieved just as effortlessly.

The above care would surely resonate for a ‘special’ seniors dive tour. Such a tour would schedule just two – possibly three – dives a day if requested. Night dives would not be scheduled, allowing the amenities of cocktails before dinner and wine with dinner. On all my dive tours, I provide after dinner entertainment. For an hour or less I present a world of underwater video that I’ve produced during the last half century, and I take no offence if snoring drowns out my narrations.

Since I passed 80 and decreased agility and energy have become a fact of my daily life, a thought – a prospect perhaps – has grown in my mind, one that I’ve shared with other guests well into their senior years. Would a tour expressly for senior divers, custom-designed for their levels of comfortable physical activity, be viable and find a welcome market?  I very much hope so and would delight in sharing stories and life experiences with my diving contemporaries.

Hello out there! What say you?

In 1833 Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in his poem Ulysses,

“…How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

As though to breathe were life!”

And in his book, Ulysses Found, Ernle Bradford, a contemporary writer and mariner, followed the course of Ulysses in the Odyssey. He speculated that the great adventurer, not long after he returned home safely, became restless and yearned for adventure. Bradford wrote, “I do not think he was content. One night they slid the black ship down into the sea. They unloosed the mooring rope from the pierced stone. They turned the eyes of the ship to the west and, sitting all in order, they smote the gray sea waters”.

I concede this brief essay is self-serving. But there are many veteran divers in their retirement years, like me, with a harvest of rich experience and stories to share.

Though many may have found, as I have, that their energy for vigorous sports is diminished, I have found the sea a gentle mistress and diving a most happy way to continue physical activity. “Activity” is the operative word; it is the key. Stay active.

The poet, A.E. Housman, wrote in Reveille,

“…Up, lad: when the journey’s over

There’ll be time enough for sleep.”

42 Comments Leave A Reply

42 Responses to “Thumbs up for seniors diving”

  1. Lyn

    I think a senior dive trip is a great idea. Actually, I landed at this site while searching for one.
    Is there any other information available?



    • Rosalind Ruhl

      Dear All, I also am looking for dive programs for seniors. I was Certified basic in 1974(at 25)and as rescue diver through NAUI in 1977, I was checked out in August in Sardinia for open water diving again as it has been some years since I dived. I did very well and am really wanting to go with a safe and friendly senior oriented group! If you know of any please respond. We are not done yet!!! My interests are in warm water dives in the following places: Komodo Islands, Seychelles , Australia…west coast ! If it is a senior trip and a fun group I could join even if I already have been to the destinations!
      Kind Regards , Rosalind Ruhl Waknu Creek ,CA

  2. Susan

    Searched high and low for exactly that.
    Live aboard or other diving holiday specifically for senior divers.
    Still in my 60s and well …arthritis no problem in warm seas.

  3. Ray

    I’m not a senior (yet) but was so disappointed on a recent dive safari in Thailand and Malaysia not to have happened upon a single senior diver. Which gave my wife and I the idea to start up a business focusing entirely on the needs of this group. But what about getting seniors interested in an open water certification, seniors who perhaps have never had anything to do with diving in their youth? Combining training, diving etc. with new cultural experiences.

    I’m searching for people to have a conversation with about the requirements, interests, infrastructure, marketing, etc. for this group. Land based tours and training (possibility for better accommodations) or live aboard? Etc? Who wants to talk about the possibilities? I need input for a business model!

    • Marilyn Flaherty

      Would love to discuss your business model. I was certified at the age of 68, but haven’t been on a dive since. I’d be interested in hearing from you…

    • Joanie

      Ray, I’ve been thinking the same thing. The 76 million baby boomers include millions of divers who are in good health and have the financial resources to travel. We want different services from 20-year-olds — decent beds, somebody to carry our tanks and the company of grownups. I think the key is to partner with a large established dive shop like Mike Ball or Captain Don. And I think one would want to focus on one thing, at least at the beginning. I.e. start with senior-only dive trips, see how it goes and then later maybe branch out into certification for seniors. I believe this could be a brilliantly successful business.

    • patricia bennett

      I am 68 years young and taking my first open water class tonight. I am so excited and yes a little fearful. However this is something I have always wanted to do. I am single so that has held me back also. Now it doesn’t matter I feel it will all work out. I was a fan of “Sea Hunt” never missed an episode. 🙂 so here I go. Patricia

  4. Mary

    I found this post while searching for senior dive trips. I think it’s a great idea. I’m in my early 60’s and have been diving for just a few years. On most trips I’ve been the oldest by quite a bit. I’d really enjoy more company closer to my age. There’s gotta be more like us out there.

    • Marilyn Flaherty

      Mary, there is…ME!! I was certified by PADI when I was 68 and I have not been on a dive since! I’m afraid I won’t be able to lift the tank, get back on board, etc., etc. I’m remain active however. Would be interested in what you have found…


      • Karen

        Hi, I was just certified at 60 and was looking for somewhere to dive too. I have trouble getting out of the water so, the divemaster let me take my bcd off in the water….very helpful. Please keep me posted. This is a GREAT ides.

  5. John Parker

    I hope to hear more from this group. I’m 71 and an active senior male. I started diving in my late twenties, and was very active at one period, getting my DM status. I have my own gear and I can handle it alone. I’ve done several dives this year, but don’t enjoy the youth culture of today…constant sexual innuendo and profanity…I’d like to dive with real adults.

  6. Christine (Chris)

    I am 66, was certified in 2005 at age 57. I have been diving in Maui, the FL keys, and the Galapagos, on a liveaboard with my son in 2008. Sadly, that was my last dive. I would love to dive with a senior group.

    • Marilyn Flaherty

      Christine, have you found a senior group yet? I share your interest. My last dive was 2008 – looking to get back in!!!


  7. Patricia Silver

    At Last…. a few time a year I search for “senior scuba trips”; this is the first time I have found any kind of answer.I am interested. I do not have a dive buddy so a group of like-minded divers is just what I need. I am 70, PADI certified in the early “80s. if this happens – please contact me.

  8. Kev

    I would be up for it,69 and not dived for two years due to struggling on a tossing live aboard with full kit etc.
    and left to my own devises,I was by far the oldest on the boat.
    Once in the water though,it was a different story and I was down the longest,whilst the younger ones were
    out within 30/40 mins.
    I just felt out of the group,and a week seems a long while on your own.

    • Brenda Brooks

      I have not dived in several years, around 20 years to be exact.
      I am 75 years old and still very active. I train and ride
      horses. I would love to dive again and feel confident I would
      be fine with a little assistance getting in and out of the water.
      I am sure it would be more enjoyable with a group of older,
      active people like myself.
      If anyone is interested in putting together a dive trip for seniors
      I would love to get in on it.

  9. David

    I am 62 year old male. I have been an active diver for over 40 years. I am a dive master. In Jan and Feb of this year I worked on a dive boat in Honduras. I did 72 dives in 45 days. My wife is no longer interested in diving. If you are interested in an experienced dive buddy for a Caribbean trip, please contact me.

  10. Sharon

    My husband and I turn 65 this October and are interested in finding dive trips that are geared toward seniors. Any information would be appreciated.

  11. A. Stacy

    Love to dive

    I would like to further converse about age diving financial ability to pursue diving as we get older and placement in a older set of divers as such
    I think if some will come together offering desire, dive certifications, finances, business aspirations etc….together we could work something out to everyone needs and enjoyment!
    Please give me a shout 🙂

  12. Kyle Fisher

    I wanted to voice my support in favor of senior divers. I came across this article while looking for dive boats in the keys that cater to senior divers but amazingly couldn’t find any. My 65 year old father who has had heart bypass surgery, enjoys diving and I enjoy diving with him. Diving itself is calm, relaxing, and weightless but the prep, amount of gear, boat ride and wearing a hot wet suit on the surface can be taxing. Most boats are cattle boats and not prepared for senior divers. When we go diving I always carry my father’s tanks and weights; I help him get get his gear on and off, in and out of the water. Even I have trouble slipping a BC with a tank on by myself and walking on a rolling deck with fins and weight belt. It’s not that my father can’t do this; he plays softball twice a week. It’s just the opposite, without help he will do it on his own in a hot wet suit and I don’t want him straining. What this means is that I’m constantly last in the water and exhausted. You try to tip the mate well for help but on most boats, the mates are overwhelmed by the number and inexperienced divers. I’d love to find and pay extra for a dive charter in the keys that meets the needs of senior divers; helps them with gear and getting in and out of the water. I also want them to carry a defibrillator and have a crew that knows how to use it. The boomers are the largest, wealthiest demographic group, why is no one catering to them? My father loves diving and I want to keep him diving. If anyone has recommendations for boats in the keys that meet my requirements, please let me know.

  13. Kip Elliot

    I’m 65 and have begun my certification in the Philippines this past week. My plan is to retire from teaching in 2 years and in the meantime finish my Dive Master and Instructor certification during the summers. Once retired I intend to work as a dive professional in the Philippines. After reading comments by others I was wondering just how many Senior Americans could see themselves taking a 2/3 week dive safari to some of the best diving the world has to offer … the Philippines …


      I am 64 male living in Hawaii for the last 23 years. In two years I am thinking to retire in Philippines. Kip, where are you diving in the PI? I will make a short trip to Olangapo in December near Subic area. I surely like to scuba dive with a group of serior divers in PI.

    • Marty Crapper

      I am wondering how your journey went? Is there an older (55+) new diver opportunity that your have become involved in?

  14. Carol

    I will be 68 this upcoming summer solstice, and I just finished my Padi Dive Master course and feel in tip top shape and look forward to many more years of diving. Would love to hear more ideas about a trip for older bolder adults!

  15. Marion T Chlebana

    The last time that my husband and I went diving was on our honeymoon in Hawaii in 1977!! Heading to Roatan in November 2016 and was looking to get recertified…or redo everything since I was PADI certified in 1970. I could match all of that titanium and more that Stan was mentioning. Would love to go on a dive trip with some young aged folks like us. Give us a shout if something comes together; or if help is needed to organize. Not interested in a business of doing so; just retired 2 years ago to a northern oasis. If there is an interest in diving on wrecks, there are schools of them in the Great Lakes.

  16. Elaine J Bentzley


  17. Ruth Holmes

    Has anyone found a provider/ club organizing dive trips for us experienced, but older divers yet?
    We are previous owners of a dive business, so understand the logistics, but just want to go on trips with others our age and enjoy relaxed and fun holidays.
    We would especially like to dive Bonaire!

  18. Joe Bowers

    It has been a number of years since I dived but I’d love to try again with people in and around my age group. I. willing to take the PADT course again if required and invest in today’s state of the art equiptment.

    Please get back to me with information about your organization.

    Thank you.

  19. Tom Cole

    We are looking for a senior dive trip. Any suggestions?

  20. Marty Crapper

    I am 60 and keen to begin a new adventure. Avid snorkler with sons who dive. Certification with peers rather than be the old guy in a group of kids has become appealing. What are some suggestions?

  21. Ann Ellenson

    I am a 71 year old, active senior and very good swimmer, who is very interested in a senior scuba diving trip. I am not certified now but would do so if a group is available

  22. Kendall Gray

    I’m not a new diver (did mostly cave diving in 60s and 70s) but I am new to dive computers and BCs (we used Navy tables and plastic jugs) and I want to go diving with other seniors. Surely someone will start a seniors dive club soon. I don’t care to go cave diving (been there, done that) but I would like to dive some pretty reefs with people that know how to respect each other.Where can I sign up?

  23. Wendy

    30 years ago my dad introduced me to diving…it was his passion and something he wanted to share not just with me but with my friends at school too! He helped run a SCUBA club at school…how lucky were we!
    This year I suggested a father/daughter trip to the sun, we don’t live close enough to see each other regularly and thought some time together would be fun. My 72 year old father’s response was…’yep Wend, I’d love to do that…do you think we could fit in a few dives too? Haven’t done it for a few years but I reckon I can still remember what to do!’ And so here I am, looking for advise and suggestions… can you help?
    Many thanks…wishing us all many more happy underwater adventures!

  24. Ahmad Al-Akhras

    This is wonderful, I love the piece. And God bless you Stan, you are inspirational. I am not yet there, your age that is, but you give me hope. I am a Scuba Instructor and doing Tec diving. I hope I will be able to continue diving until the journey is over. Very profound. Thanks a million.

  25. cheryl axley

    Has anyone found a senior dive group? I am interested in going on some warm water scuba trips with a group more in my own age. Please advise.

  26. Jane Potter

    Seniors dive trip? Did it happen? Does it exist? How can we make it happen?!

    • Arnie Wilenken

      Last month (September), I traveled to Key Largo, FL to dive with Conch Republic Divers. They’re an incredible group of folks to dive with and their skippers who helm the “Republic Diver” boat are awesome! The upper Keys are pretty much an all-year place to dive and there are several nice places to stay during a trip there. This might be something worth looking into.

  27. Arnie Wilenken

    Just discovered this article. This article is clearly a classic! I started diving in my ‘teens’, but didn’t continue until in my late 60’s, a few years ago. A great editorial by “Diver” magazine! Unlike us, it never gets old, lol!

  28. Arnie Wilenken

    This is something worth “working up”! Not sure what sort of dive trip you’re interested in. I just returned from Key Largo, FL last month (September). The diving there is awesome! The particular dive shop I dived with, Conch Republic Divers, was excellent and I definitely plan to dive with them again in the future.

    • Tamelyn Peper

      Has anyone found a dive group for seniors yet? I know The Villages in Florida has one, but it is only open to residents of The Villages. I am 64, feel fit and would love to find a group of 55+ divers! I am primarily interested in warm water live aboard trips, but I am open to considering other options.

  29. Tamelyn Peper

    I’m wondering whether anyone has found a dive group for seniors yet? I know The Villages in Florida has one, but it is only open to residents of The Villages. I am 64, feel fit and would love to find a group of 55+ divers. I am primarily interested in warm water live aboard trips, but I am open to other options as well.

  30. Vivian Tung

    Hi, is this group still doing dive trips? Anyone going to SEA? I am almost senior but have past injuries which reduced my flexibility and mobility. Would love to join a group or create our own if anyone is thinking of doing a trip to South East Asia. Can contact me at please.


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