We had amazing adventures in Roatan in July 2023. Participants from Canada, Honduras, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Maine, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado joined our ocean conservation, marine science and SCUBA fun during our two weeks (student and adult weeks). 8 open water certifications, 6 advanced open water certifications, 6 specialty certifications, 20 SeaSmart ocean advocate certifications, 23 coral nursery training certifications, 20 lionfish hunting permits/certifications and 400 service hours were achieved.
Here's a video recap of our adventures:
Middle and High School Students:
Earn your Ocean Advocate Certificate and PADI SCUBA Certification with SeaSmart this summer!
In Roatan, Honduras
July 8-15, 2023
During the week of July 8-15, we will venture to Roatan, one of the bay islands off mainland Honduras, where we have access to the second largest coral reef in the world, the Mesoamerican reef. More than 500 species of fish and 65 types of coral live within the large reef system. We choose locations where developing today’s students with marine conservation skills will be best nurtured and where students can have a high impact on the endangered marine ecosystem. Roatan offers a front-row seat to the latest in marine science. The program also incorporates becoming PADI Open Water Scuba certified, can include advanced certifications, or just be enjoyed by those already certified to dive.
Partnering with an incredible team of local conservationists, scientists and dive professionals, our participants will gain exposure to experiences unique to Roatan. Mornings include diving and/or dive training, followed by afternoons and evenings filled with expert-led workshops from the Roatan Marine Park, SeaSmart and Ililly. Workshops will address ocean, coral and invasive species conservation topics. Activities and learning will focus on coral monitoring and restoration, the many fish and coral species of the local reefs, the importance of mangroves as well as challenges caused by invasive species such as lionfish and their impact. Students will have the opportunity to tend to coral nurseries and perform maintenance and outplanting activities, as well as learn to hunt for lionfish in an effort to eradicate this invasive species. With success, lionfish dissection will provide important research data and we may even sample this delicious fish! Topside, we will learn about the mangroves via a boat tour and study their importance to the local ecosystem. We will visit the Garifuna cultural center showcasing ethnic cooking and foods, and historical music and dance. Beach cleanups are always included, so we can leave our destination just a little better than when we arrived.
Here’s a peek at what we have planned - click here!
Trip & Program Details and FAQ’s:
How many students can attend per week?
Due to the custom nature of this particular program and the unique activities which have built-in limits regarding participants, we will limit each week to 12 students. However, for a large group traveling together, alternative arrangements/dates can be scheduled for the program.
What are the prerequisites for the program?
You do not need to be scuba certified to attend this program, as scuba training and potential certification is included. Students for this program must be minimally 15 years old when the program begins to be eligible for PADI Open Water certification. Students aged 10-14 years old, will be junior certification candidates.
(Students wishing to attend the optional shark class and dive must be Advanced Open Water certified or Open Water certified with the Deep Diver Specialty, and have a minimum of 20 dives completed, with 2 having taken place within the last 6 months.)
What will our days be like?
Each day will bring a completely different breathtaking underwater experience! The first several days will revolve around the PADI Open Water scuba certification course, working in a confined water setting on skills necessary for scuba certification. Then you will move to open water where you will do your final testing for certification. After certifications are completed, our dives will include coral nursery work and lionfish hunts.
We will generally travel from the dock at our accommodations, however some activities will take us “off campus,” via van to the Roatan Marine Park headquarters or to the island’s cultural center. Most workshops will be onsite as well. We will eat all of our meals on our campus.
Who do you partner with?
For this program, we will partner with the scientists at the Roatan Marine Park. They are a community based, nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of Roatan’s protected marine and coastal area including all of its flora, fauna, physical and biological characteristics and phenomena, and historical and cultural resources.
Where will we stay? Where will we eat and sleep?
We will be staying in West Bay, Roatan in a beachfront lodge. Accommodations consist of basic rooms that will be shared by same gender students in each room. Each room has its own bathroom and includes air conditioning, as well as a veranda and hammock. Our home for the program is safe, self-contained and includes:
a full-service restaurant (three meals a day with water and iced tea are included; boxed lunches on days we are out all day)
*most dietary needs/restrictions can be accommodated with ample notice
a dock for our dive boats
the PADI dive center, which will be providing our diving instruction & charters, gear and lessons
space for our workshops and learning
How does the scuba certification work?
The PADI Open Water Diver Course will potentially lead participants to a certification that allows them to dive independently with a buddy all around the world! Over the course of our days, instructors will teach the basics of SCUBA – encompassing the theory behind safe diving practices, skill mastery and finally becoming a PADI Open Water Diver on the second largest reef system in the world, certified to depths of up to 18m/60ft.
Once students have formed the base of dive skills, we will hop onto one of the dive boats and build on what has been learned by exploring and navigating some of Roatan’s many beautiful dive sites. PADI Instructors and SeaSmart professionals will reinforce what you can do to become the best scuba diver you can be!
What if I am already certified to SCUBA dive?
If you are already a certified diver, you can enjoy beautiful recreational dives with other certified divers (along with a SeaSmart chaperone, as well as a local dive guide) while those getting trained work toward their certification. Pricing is adjusted to $2650 for the program, accordingly. Those in training will join together with those already certified during the week. Alternatively, you can work on an advanced or specialty certification during training time. However, depending on your frequency and the timing of your most recent dives, you may be required to complete a refresher course with an additional $80 fee
What if I would like an advanced certification or specialty?
Based on programming and timing availability, we will do our best to arrange that training. Fees will be discussed based on requests.
Can we drink the water on Roatan?
While we cannot drink the water on Roatan, bottled drinking water will be available at meals, on the boats and at any time in the dive shop. SeaSmart will provide participants with a bottle to be used on the dive boats prior to the trip. They can also be filled to bring back to your room.
What considerations do we need to know for travel to Roatan?
You must have a passport with at least 6 months of validity in order to travel to Honduras. Additionally, in order to travel to Honduras, when you check in you will have to show proof of vaccination or OR the negative result of a COVID-19 PCR test, that has to be taken not earlier than 72 hours prior to arrival. Last, you will need to sign up and pre-check your travel information (no earlier than 48 hours) at https://prechequeo.inm.gob.hn.
What needs to be completed for an Ocean Advocate Certificate?
There will be opportunities throughout the program to attend workshops, participate in marine science and conservation activities, as well as underwater observation and work. These activities and contributions are integral to maximizing your experience and value from the program and are required for the certificate. Service hour opportunities can be discussed pending your requirements; generally 20 hours are earned for the week
How do I know if my student will like it?
Students gain so much from a unique experience such as this. Those achieving their open water SCUBA certification gain a true sense of accomplishment-it’s a lot of work to get certified - joining just 1% of the population that enjoys SCUBA diving. Students enjoy meeting other like-minded ocean conservation and service-focused students from all over. They have opportunities to serve as one another’s buddies, learn together and from each other and fulfill leadership roles. The unique activities experienced together create bonds that last. Students also enjoy the science, adventure and social fun. To hear feedback from last summer’s program participants, visit our Alumni Page.
How many counselors will be with the group?
One counselor remains with every six students. This gives you peace of mind knowing that we know where your child is at all times. Additionally, throughout the week, SeaSmart leaders will be supplemented with PADI professionals and Roatan Marine Park experts.
Do the students have to participate in diving?
No. While students can participate in the land-based activities only, we strongly encourage experiencing scuba training.
Can the students get certified to scuba dive at the camp?
Yes, we have incorporated it into the week-long program. In most cases, students will finish with their PADI Open Water certification.
How well supervised are the students?
The students are supervised at all times.
Where is the nearest medical doctor, should my student need one? How much does it cost?
There is a doctor located within a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk from where we are staying. A visit typically costs $30-$50.
Is there a decompression chamber on the island?
While we fully do not expect to need it, you can rest assured there is a hyperbaric chamber a 15 minute boat ride or 20 minute drive from where we are staying.
Can parents attend?
Yes. Parents are welcome, based on available space.
How much spending money do students need to bring?
Money for airport snacks, souvenirs/t-shirts, and soft drinks is all that may be desired for spending money. Please note that while most places on the island accept US dollar bills, only small, pristine, unripped/unmarked bills will be accepted in Roatan.
Is it safe to travel to Honduras?
The area that we travel to is very safe. Roatan is a bay island off the mainland of Honduras. We will not travel through mainland Honduras at any time during our journey.
What kind of communications will there be?
The lodge has WiFi, though on islands there are often disruptions in service. SeaSmart will post pictures of our adventures on social media, whenever possible, during our trip. You will have the leaders’ direct cell phone numbers. We allow students to keep their phones with them during the week, however we encourage the students to “unplug” when they are topside, to fully experience the nature and beauty around them.
Do we need special insurance?
Yes. SeaSmart requires that your student has DAN (Divers Alert Network) insurance for their trip. You can sign up online at https://www.diversalertnetwork.org. It is not expensive and covers extensively for dive-specific trips. Your primary medical insurance may exclude scuba diving and/or may not provide coverage when you are traveling out of the country, so you may need additional medical coverage. You may or may not also opt for trip interruption travel insurance, if you do not already have that coverage.
How much does the program cost?
The $2850 all inclusive fee for one week includes:
3 Meals Daily
PADI eLearning online course
PADI SCUBA Open Water training, and potentially, certification
Use of Lionfish hunting gear, hunting license, training and hunt dives
Coral Restoration training and dives
Transportation from the Roatan airport to the Lodge
Cultural Center and Mangrove visits
Topside activities, workshops and classes
Alumni who have already attended a SeaSmart travel program receive a $25 returning student discount. We offer a $50 per participant discount for siblings, family members or members of a scout troop or group when registering together. There is a $100 discount per participant for early payment in full.
Additional certifications/dives will have associated fees.
What do I have to do before going?
In preparation for SCUBA training, you must complete the PADI online eLearning session for the Open Water certification course, and submit a printout of your completion. This is included in your fees.
How do I get there?
You are responsible for your own airfare costs. Once we understand where everyone from the group is coming from, we will do our best to organize US airport meetups between attendees and organize which US cities students can meet a SeaSmart leader in and then fly together to Roatan. In cases where that is not possible, SeaSmart leaders will be at the Roatan airport to meet students immediately upon their arrival. Ground transportation to the lodge, once on Roatan, is included. SeaSmart counselors will remain with students at the Roatan airport upon their departure back to the United States.
After we have received your initial online registration, we will notify you of confirmation of receipt. A $250 deposit is due to secure your spot within 10 calendar days, which can be paid via Venmo, Paypal, check or credit card (cc incurs an additional 4%). A second $500 deposit is due by March 15th. Final payment is required by May 1st, after which deposits/payments in full can no longer be refunded. (*A $100 discount is offered for complete payments made in full on or before March 15th).
Additional instructions, forms and waivers for completion, and a recommended packing list will be provided upon payment.
Join us on the adventure of a lifetime and gain your SCUBA certification, too!