The island life of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands 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 Andaman Islands 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 colorful sea ferns to coral reefs, scuba diving lets you witness its rich marine life in its full glory. But there are 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 Andaman. Read on and get ready to take the leap into the water.
Essential Information For Scuba Diving In The Andaman Islands
Let’s bust the biggest myth right away – while it’s 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’ll 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’ll 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 am, which is when you’ll meet and get your pre-diving instructions. It’s this time of day that offers good visibility. While dives stop by 5.30 pm, advanced and certified divers can also experience night diving at 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 canceled 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 up to 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 ensures that you can put complete faith in their hands.
Where To Go Scuba Diving In Andaman?
The Andaman Islands have several dive sites, and so many are still undiscovered. But it is this sheer variety that attracts beginners and expert divers alike. From wrecks that are now home to some colorful aquatic life to sites known for sea turtles or reef sharks to macro sites – the Andamans have 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 scuba diving sites below, and there are several more to spice things up if you need it.
Beginners’ Scuba Diving Sites
Nemo’s Reef: Also known as a classroom reef, Nemo’s Reef is a great spot for inexperienced divers to quell their inhibitions and take the leap, literally. An absence of currents and some excellent visibility make for smooth dive conditions, and an easy entrance to the sheltered site only adds to it. It’s 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 life on display. With good visibility and an absence of currents most of the time, it’s a good site for beginners. It is northwest of Neil Island, 1.5 km away.
M4: With a maximum depth of 15 meters, M4 is a great site for beginners looking to spot rays. Marbled rays, leopard rays, and stingrays are commonly seen, alongside more wonderful underwater life. It’s 12 km from Havelock Island and is closer to Neil Island.
Junction: This diving site is located near Neil Island. Its considerable depth (about 28-34 meters) and the rather strong currents mean Junction isn’t for inexperienced divers. You can also observe soft corals in this dive site. Keep an eye out for the banded sea kraits, manta rays, and eagle rays!
Expert Scuba Diving Sites
The Wall: This is a sloping formation, starting at 10 meters and dropping all the way to 55 meters. While it has a certain set of marine life that call it home, the changing tides and undersea currents often bring along guests like barracuda or tuna. It’s just about 15 minutes away from Havelock Island.
Johnny’s Gorge: A dive site of 30 meters, Johnny’s Gorge is essentially a bunch of rocky outcrops on a sandy stretch. It’s home to a number of fishes, from angelfish to schools of colorful fish, and sharks! It’s 18.5 km from Havelock Island.
MV Mars: Situated near Havelock Island, 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 it still makes for an interesting dive. The site is just off the reef, 4 km from Havelock Island. Since the wreck rests in just 15 meters of water, it’s 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 diving program 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 Island, 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, a course to become a PADI rescue diver, and also an advanced open water course. 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 by 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. We’re quite confident that once you visit these resorts, you’ll be excited for more scuba diving adventures!
How Much Does Scuba Diving In The Andamans Cost?
There’s no fixed price for going scuba diving in Andaman. 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 3,000 to INR 7,000, while PADI certifications cost much more, starting at around INR 15,000. If you’re already certified, most vendors organize fun dives meant for certified scuba divers that start from INR 4,500 all the way to INR 35,000.
The cost you’ll 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 beginner’s 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 scuba diving sessions. 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’ll be familiarized with all the diving equipment so you’re not overwhelmed when it’s time to dive. If you’re uncertified, you’ll be accompanied at all times by 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’s 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 in this underwater paradise, there’s a simple procedure to be followed – no matter how trained you are, do not try to touch anything. You’re there to observe, not interfere. As long as you’re 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 Andamans. 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, characterized by rainy days and periods of sunshine and good weather. Experienced and certified scuba 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 Andaman 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.
Is Scuba Diving Safe In Andaman?
Yes, scuba diving is safe in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and anywhere else in the world, as long as you’re with a dive professional. Scuba diving in Andaman is something scores of tourists do each year, and there are several PADI-certified divers to ensure that your dive goes well, whether you know swimming or not.
Is Scuba Diving Expensive?
Scuba diving certainly doesn’t come cheap, but it remains an affordable activity. How much money you spend depends on the course and dive you opt for. Training and certification dives are much more expensive and extensive than regular dives. Beginners dives can be INR 3,000 – INR 7,000, while PADI certifications are around INR 15,000.
How Long Can You Scuba Dive At 15 Feet?
A dive at 15 – 20 feet is a shallow dive, and you can spend several hours at that depth without needing to stop for decompression or refill your oxygen tank.
Is It Allowed To Go To Barren Island?
You can’t land on Barren Island, the only active volcano in India. But there are many unexplored diving sites around the island!