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Family Open Water Course

Family Holidays in Indonesia – PADI Open Water Course in Bunaken, Sulawesi

This edition of the Murex Blog has been inspired by the wonderful Vandenschrick family who joined us at Murex for their PADI Open Water Course followed by some fun diving over in the Bunaken Marine Park. Our Blogger caught up with the family to find out why they decided to take the course together, what they got out of it and why it’s an experience that all active families should consider.

The Vandenschrick family consists of Mum and Dad (Desiree and JP) and their 4 children Anna (12), Tom (16), Camille (14) and Marie – AKA M&M (18). This active and fun Belgian family are currently living in Jakarta and were looking for a family getaway which would keep them active, together as one group and provide a shared and valuable interest – learning to dive definitely ticked all of the right boxes!

Family Open Water Course at Bunaken Island

From left to right Mom Desiree, Anna, M&M, Camille, Tom and Dad JP

Here are 5 key reasons why we at Murex (and the Vandenschrick’s) recommend that all families should consider taking the open water program:

Getting Active

While we want to relax on holiday, for many families this can be a problem – the children have boundless energy and Mum and Dad want to chill out by the pool. Inevitably this leads to bored youngsters and frustrated adults. You may work long hours in your normal life but it is a proven fact that exercise, laughing, doing something you enjoy with people you love are the best ways to escape stress! It’s important to remember too that the PADI Open Water Course is a serious dive program but it is not a military boot camp. PADI Instructors are expert educators who recognise that making it fun for kids and adults alike is paramount. The course is varied and includes theory, practical, pool and ocean training but you are never overloaded and the days are well scheduled allowing for leisurely lunches, periods of self-study (which can be done when lazing around the pool or on the beach), as well as all of the fun parts that happen underwater! A big part of getting active is also achieving your goals and with a well-structured course and professional instructor at the end of each session you will feel like you achieved something together as a family – that’s an amazing sensation and one that doesn’t happen as often as it should in busy households where people have different interests and schedules.

Learn About Each Other

It may seem strange to think that you might learn about each other – after all, you are family and you live together! This was a revelation for JP and Desiree as they saw a side to their children that they hadn’t done previously as did the children in them. In life we wear many “hats”, the way we behave at the office is not how we are at home or in school or at a job interview. For JP it was really enlightening to see his children in a learning environment – obviously he knew that from their school reporst that they are good students but it’s not often something a parent sees first hand. He also saw how they dealt with problems and uncertainties and for the first time the children got to see their parents learning something on an even footing with them rather than taking on the parent or teacher role – they were all on a level playing field. So beware parents – you may be outdone by your kids!

The youngest family member Anna after the last Open Water dive

The youngest family member Anna after the last Open Water dive


We all want our children to have broad learning experiences both in and out of school but it can be difficult making learning fun – especially over an extended period like a holiday. The PADI Open Water Course is not only educational for children but for adults alike. Topics that are covered in the course include: eco-systems, nature, conservation, physics, biology, health, fitness, first aid, equipment considerations, weather, climate and ocean changes, tides, global currents, geography, safety, rescue and survival skills, communication and most importantly team work.

For Anna, at just 12 years old she hadn’t yet studied density and volume masses in school, this wasn’t a problem though as the course is designed for all levels. What was really great for Desiree though was to see that older brother Thomas had studied these things at school so was able to recap his own knowledge and then go on to help Anna understand the theories herself – if that isn’t a great example of teamwork and family support then what is? The program works with you all as a class and you progress at the speed of the most cautious learner which means everyone benefits from everyone else doing well – there are no elements of competition in diving like there are in other sports, instead the focus is on support and development.


Of course we want our children to be responsible and to make wise and well considered decisions but when we are young and have heaps of energy and see no danger in anything it’s not always guaranteed. This is where the PADI Open Water Course really helps youngsters. They have series’ of checks that they need to remember to perform together. They have to evaluate conditions and make decisions about how to proceed. They also have chance in the last pool session to voice to the instructor what they feel they need more practice on which makes them evaluate themselves too. They are taught self-responsibility and to be responsible for each other. JP said that one of the best moments on the course for him was when he looked around and could see all four of his children asking each other if they were “okay?” and responding “yes” to each other and making extra checks on Anna who was a little nervous to begin with. When you are used to the kids fighting for something as trivial as the TV control it is not only refreshing but incredibly heart-warming to see them working together, caring for and supporting each other and really looking out for one another. And of course, all of this is happening while they are having fun exploring an entirely new underwater world, pointing out fish to each other and watching an occasional turtle swimming by! Who says that learning is boring??!

Fun as a unit

The fun element cannot be overestimated and it comes in so many forms during the course – whether it’s laughing at someone (such as Dad JP) putting their wetsuit on inside-out, hovering like a weightless astronaut, seeing incredible marine life, your instructor making jokes underwater, jumping off the bow of the boat into the clear blue water, passing tests together, learning and trying out some new Indonesian words and phrases, celebrating every success together and even sitting on wrecks of motorcycles underwater together.

The Family after finishing the PADI Open Water Course

The whole family with dive guides Bernard (l) & Laurens(r) and Instructor Pim in the middle

If you want to take your family through the PADI Open Water Course and share in some lifetime memories and experiences get in touch with us at The program takes 4 days but you should allow for a fifth day as you cannot fly immediately after diving – we can arrange for a highlands or Tangkoko tour to entertain you on your last day or you can simply hang out and enjoy our resort revelling in your success!

Children need to be at least 10 years old and all family members should be in good health, able to swim and have a sense of fun and adventure!

For me as the Blogger, it was a pleasure to join this family on their experience, they had an amazing Instructor – Pim, from Murex Manado and got to dive some of North Sulawesi’s best dive sites. This is just the beginning of a lifetime of adventures for the Vandenschrick family and now they are certified divers they have opened so many doors to a lifetime of fun family holidays.
If you are living with your family in Indonesia why not come and join us for this once in a lifetime experience? For residents we offer a 20% discount on published prices – there is no better time to bring your family to Murex.

For booking or more information on the PADI Open Water Course please email us at:


Dive, Snorkel and Explore More with us in beautiful North Sulawesi.

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