The island life of the Andmans is a fantastic world of escape, luring those who seek a tropical getaway. But there’s a whole world waiting to be discovered just beneath the waves. Scuba diving in the Andamans is a once-in-a-lifetime activity that gets you hooked, leaving you coming back for more!
From the smallest of micro critters to rays and sharks, from colourful sea ferns to coral beds, scuba diving lets you witness it all. But there’s several misconceptions about scuba diving, what it takes and who can experience it. We’ve laid it all bare for you in our blog on experiencing scuba diving in the Andamans. Read on and get ready to take the leap into the water.
Essential Information For Scuba Diving In The Andamans
Let’s bust the biggest myth right away – while it is recommended that you know basic swimming, you do not have to be a swimmer to go scuba diving. Non-swimmers can also scuba dive, just remember to stay calm and focus on the underwater world ahead of you. Dive instructors will be by your side and you will get adequate training before you dive. You will most likely have to give a float test if not a swim one. This is to see if you can tread water without panicking.
The age limit to go scuba diving is from 10 to 60. When signing up for a dive, you will have to fill out a medical form listing any medical conditions you have. This will help determine whether scuba diving will be too risky for you. Pregnant women, people with heart conditions or other serious conditions, and people with back problems shouldn’t attempt a dive. Some vendors will refuse to let you dive if you are one of these as the risk is too great to undertake.
Dives are usually in the first half of the day, starting as early as 7.30 to meet and get your pre-diving instructions. It is this time of day that offers good visibility. While dives stop by 5.30, advanced and certified divers can opt for night dives to certain sites. Keep in mind that there are several factors that influence your dive, most of which are not under human control. Those factors include:
Visibility under water
Your own safety
Make sure you check your cancellation policy when booking a dive. If dives get cancelled due to the weather, you ought to receive a refund or a different date to dive. The duration of time required for your dive can differ greatly depending on the type of dive you opt for. A casual dive can take half a day. A dive with some training beforehand can take a few days, while certification dives can take upto even a week or two. Ensure you plan your trip well.
Lastly, ensure your dive professionals are PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) or SSI (Scuba Schools International) certified. These are both highly recognized international diving authorities. This only ensures that you can put complete faith in their hands.
Where To Go Scuba Diving In The Andamans?
The Andmans has several dive sites, and so many are still undiscovered. But it is this sheer variety that attracts everyone, from beginners to expert divers. From wrecks that are now home to some colourful sea creatures, to sites known for turtles or sharks, to macro sites – The Andamans has it all.
The main islands of the Andamans each have their own diving spots. The list is extensive and it would take all day and then some to accurately get into all of it. We’ve listed down a few major sites below, and there’s several more to spice things up if you need it.
Nemo’s Reef – Also known as a classroom reef, Nemo’s Reef is a great spot for beginners to quell their inhibitions and take the leap, literally. An absence of currents and excellent visibility make for smooth dive conditions, and an easy entrance to the sheltered site only adds to it. It is very close to and easily accessible from Havelock island.
Aquarium – True to its name, Aquarium is like being in an aquarium that offers a stunning variety of marine biodiversity on display. With good visibility and an absence of currents most of the time, it is a good site for beginners. It is northwest of Neil island, 1.5 kms away. M4 – With a maximum depth of 15 metres, M4 is a great site for beginners looking to spot rays. Marble, leopard and sting rays are commonly seen, alongside more wonderful underwater life. It is 12 kms from Havelock island, and is closer to Neil island.
The Wall – The wall is a sloping formation, starting at 10 metres and dropping all the way to 55 metres. While it has a certain set of marine creatures that call it home, the changing tides and undersea currents often bring long guests like barracuda or tuna. It is just about 15 minutes away from Havelock Island
Johnny’s Gorge – A dive site located at 30 metres, Johnny’s Gorge is essentially a bunch of rocky outcrops on a sandy stretch. It is home to a number of fishes, from angel fish to schools of colourful fish, and sharks! It is 18.5 kms from Havelock island.
MV Mars – Situated near Havelock, this site is the wreck of a small wooden boat that sank in 2006. The wreck rests upright, and is home to a variety of fish. Visibility isn’t perfect like most wrecks, but still makes for an interesting dive. The site is just off the reef, 4 kms from Havelock. Since the wreck rests in just 15 mts of water it is a great site for beginners.
SS Inkchett– The SS Inkchett is a perfect example of how the end of one life can be the beginning of others. This wreck is home to some wonderful coral life, and is recommended for intermediate and experienced divers.
How To Experience Scuba Diving In The Andamans?
Most people are under the impression that you have to be trained or certified to go scuba diving. Or, that it is an intimidating activity that only certain people can do. This is untrue! All you really need is the will to go scuba diving and the openness to the experience. In terms of training, there are several diving schools that will help you with all the necessary knowledge you need before you dive. The training is open for intermediate and advanced divers as well, and is not restricted to beginners. You can always approach one of the schools to seek the training you want. Below are 2 reputed dive schools that you can opt for.
Barefoot Scuba Dive Resort
Barefoot offers a range of diving courses for those interested. But if you’re looking for a complete package, look no further. Barefoot Scuba Dive Resort not only takes you on a fantastic diving experience, but also looks after accommodation for you, with a range of rooms appealing to every budget. They are the first PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Dive (IDC) Facility in the Andaman Islands, and have a full-fledged facility to give you all the proper training required before you dive. They also have a range of dive sites that will be recommended to you based on your skill level.
Based in Havelock, they operate off Havelock and Port Blair. They have a range of dive courses you can opt for, from a 3-hour course on discovering the basics of diving for beginners to getting certified as a diver over 4 days. The Open Water Diver certification is valid worldwide and does not require renewal. The costs for the dives are exclusive of accommodation. If you choose to book accommodation as well, your price ranges will change depending on your choice of room and course.
Standing in contrast to Barefoot’s large-scale operation but just as reliable is Ocean Tribe. It is operated by three local tribe brothers, Dickson, Jackson and Johnny. These three are nothing short of local legends when it comes to diving, and even have 3 dive sites named after them! They offer 3 levels of activities based on your interests and experience. They also offer an Open Water certification for the basic level (Open Water Diver) to the first professional level called Dive Master. These are certified from PADI and SSI. They have a range of sites that you can visit according to your level and desire.
There are also other schools across the islands, with some even offering a way to complete your theory for the advanced courses from the comfort of your home. Make sure you plan your trip such that you have enough time to go diving, relax, and take in the other sites of the isles as well. This is especially important if you intend on opting for one of the more intensive courses.
How Much Does Scuba Diving In The Andamans Cost?
There is no fixed price for going scuba diving in the Andamans. It depends greatly on the vendor and type of dive you choose to go for. Shore dives are usually cheaper than boat dives, as the cost of the boat ride is removed. A beginner’s dive could cost between INR 3000 to INR 7000, while PADI certifications cost much more, starting at around INR 15,000. If you are already certified, most vendors organize fun dives meant for certified divers that start from INR 4,500 all the way to INR 35000.
The cost you will pay generally includes the boat transfer, use of the scuba equipment, the training and the dive. The basic dive with Ocean Tribe costs INR 4,000. Barefoot Dives offers a professional divemaster course that is priced at INR 62,500. The beginners course ranges from INR 3,000 to INR 5,500. The fun dives range from INR 6,000 to INR 35,000. Their comprehensive combined course that makes masters of beginners is INR 1,61,550.
Is Scuba Diving In The Andamans Safe?
Many people approach scuba diving with apprehension and nervousness. But with professional vendors and certified divers to accompany you, the Andamans is a definitely safe destination to go scuba diving.
Your safety protocols start right when you book a dive. Beginners get an introduction to the scuba diving experience, along with learning how to signal to your dive instructor underwater. At the first signal from you, your dive instructor will respond accordingly. You will be familiarized with all the diving equipment so you are not overwhelmed when it’s time to dive. If you are uncertified, you will be accompanied at all times with a dive instructor. They will reassure you every step of the way, helping you make the most of your dive.
What Can You Do:
For your part, here’s what we recommend – stay as calm as possible. It is very easy to panic when underwater and it will not help you. Trust in your equipment and in yourself, and remember that your dive instructor is there to help you along. The dive can end whenever you feel too panicked or claustrophobic, so there’s no need to fear being trapped underwater. Always book with PADI certified instructors to ensure you’re getting the best possible experience.
When it comes to the sort of creatures you will encounter underwater, there’s a simple procedure to be followed – no matter how trained you are, do not try to touch anything. You are there to observe, not interfere. As long as you are respectful of the life around you, things will be fine.
Best Time For Scuba Diving In The Andamans
January to March is the ideal time to go scuba diving in the Andmans. Temperatures reach a maximum of 33°C, and the sea is calm. October to December and April are shoulder months. There is a slight drop in tourist crowds, and you can still go diving. As the temperatures increase, fewer people opt to go on dives. Mid April to mid May is when the temperature peaks, but the visibility under the waves is generally at its best. Intermediate and advanced divers can dive during these months.
The monsoon is from June to September, characterised by rainy days and periods of sunshine and good weather. Experienced and certified divers can still opt for dives, as it will certainly be less crowded and cheaper than otherwise. It is safe enough unless a bad day is forecasted, in which case no vendors will be willing to take anyone out for dives.
The Andamans is a collection of over 500 islands with innumerable dive sites. Thus, when few are shut in one place, there are bound to be others still open. It is important to remember that intermittent rains are a year-round occurrence in the Andamans. You can still dive despite the light showers. Beginners usually have little to worry about, as most dive sites for beginners are accessible the year round.
You can now plan your trip to the Andamans feeling prepared. Scuba diving in the Andamans has to be on your lifetime bucket list, trust us, you won’t regret it. Just remember to be patient and trust in yourself. Do not let one mediocre or foiled dive seal your opinion, as for every bad dive, there are ten better ones.