Think of adventure in India and the mighty Himalayas are the first thing that come to mind. While centers for trekking, rafting and paragliding are easily accessible in the hills and foothills, scuba diving here is something that is perceived to be relatively new and accessible only in a couple of places. Scuba or Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, of course, requires the diver to carry a breathing apparatus under water. This is what gives her/him flexibility of movement and lets her/him stay underwater and see underwater sights. Although India boasts of long coastline with a few islands scattered across in the surrounding ocean, unlike famous dive sites like Puerto Gallera
and Koh Samui it has never been on the map for divers globally. There are some pretty amazing dive sites though all along the southern part exposed to the sea, for those willing to explore and some not even been discovered yet. (And yes! That means you get to name the new dive sites!) Heading to India and want to explore the huge coastline underwater? Unsure where to do it though? Well here is a list that we compiled for your convenience.
The Andaman and Nicobar experience
Stretching over a length of 700 kms in the blue waters of Bay of Bengal, this union territory consists of 572 small islands. Thirty-six of these remain inhabited. Home to one of the richest coral reef ecosystem in India as well as the world, Andamans makes diving an inimitable experience for everyone. It's frequently featured in the list of b
est diving spots in the world. You get to dive at the foot of a volcano, beat that! While the remote Havelock Island
attracts the bulk of tourists, other diving spots in the island include Cinque Island, North Point, Corruption, Fish Rock and the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor. These are only a few of the many places where one can sight black corals, schooling fusiliers, banner and unicorn fish, dolphins and a host of vibrant colourful corals. Pelagics like Manta Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays and Reef Sharks can be found in plenty. Even the rare Whale Sharks have been spotted here! Alien tip: The best season for diving is from December to April.
The Lakshadweep experience
Fast emerging as a tourist destination, Lakshadweep has a water sports institute in Kadmat Island. This institute offers a host of water based activities along with scuba diving. The wild and adventurous have an option of either going to Kadmat or Kavaratti. Although Kadmat, Bangaram and Agatti are the only islands open to international tourists, Lakshadweep is now planning on opening up more islands for both, international and domestic tourists. Brilliant news! The natural coral reefs, lagoons and attractive marine life remain a hit amongst the visitors. Alien tip: The main tourist season goes on from October to May. Agatti and Bangaram can be visited throughout the year.
Pristine waters in Lakshadweep!
The Goa experience
We all know what Goa is famous for. But to think that it is limited to only the beaches, alcohol and shacks with good food and music would be an injustice. While the limited underwater visibility does not make scuba diving a world class experience, there is a huge amount of underwater life that can amaze even the most proficient of all divers. Apart from the sharks, sting rays, jelly fish and unique coral formations, divers can also come across a number of shipwrecks. Although, very few have been found and explored. Alien tip: The main tourist season starts in October and goes on till March. However, prices seem to drop considerably in the months of March to May because of the rising temperatures.
Spotting Mermans in the tropical Goan waters.
The Netrani experience
Netrani is a tiny island located in the Arabian sea, located off the coast of Karnataka in the south on India. Situated 20 kms from Murudeshwar, this island is considered as the best diving spot accessible from mainland India. The place is also famous for drift dives and the Bhatkal ship wreck, a Japanese iron ore carrier. A few lucky souls have the opportunity of spotting whale sharks and orcas! Pelagics such as barracudas, tuna, jacks, trevally, fusiliers and corals though are commonly spotted. Dive expeditions to new sites in Malvan and Tarkali, in the state of Maharashtra, are also organised although a lot needs to happen to make it a suitable site for environmentally sustainable diving. The dive sites here are primarily Sindhudurg fort, Vengurla rocks and Devbag Sangam. These sites are a little deeper than those in Goa but are teeming with large schools of fish. And the best part is that the area is still being explored, you'll probably be among the first divers here! Alien tip: October - May is open for all water activities and is considered the best time for tourists to visit.
The Pondicherry experience
A quaint little town on the East coast of India, Pondicherry is best known for it's French colonial history - the road signs are in French, the people speak fluent French and you'll find French cuisine in a lot of restaurants! And it is probably the only place on the eastern coast of India suitable for scuba diving. The best thing is that the diving is all-year round. So if you can't wait for your next dive and all the nearby sites are closed, this is the place to head! Alien tip: February-April and September-November is best for visibility although like I mentioned before, diving is all year round here. Here’s what a friend and a professional diver at Havelock Island had to say about his first dive -
I was mesmerised by the sensation of being weightless and seeing nature in an unimagined form. Such was the intensity of engagement with the coral reefs and marine life in its uniquely primitive state. As I look back, I realise that I can say all this as an after thought, but actually on my first dive, I was just somewhere else!
We hope that your first dive in India is a wonderful experience and would definitely love to hear about it. Do come back and share your experience with us. Oh and heads up on the sharks!