A relatively new dive tourism destination, but offering an incredibly rich marine life, Explore India's Andaman Islands with huge numbers of reef fish and pelagic shoals.
Liveaboard diving in India is largely centred around the beautiful Andaman Islands which sit in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. In India liveaboards are a relatively new concept as is tourism in general. Fortunately, this means the hundreds of islands that make up the Andaman Islands are fairly deserted and you might find that on many liveaboards in India you have the dive sites to yourself. This peaceful region of India has a great deal to offer divers and has remained wonderfully isolated and untouched.
The Andamans are made up of hundreds of small islands, many of which are completely uninhabited. These islands are home to pristine white sand beaches and tropical forests above land and expansive coral reefs below the surface. Fishing is very strictly controlled around the islands which means that the marine life is incredibly rich.
Divers will find huge numbers of reef fish and pelagic shoals on dive sites such as Cinque as well as beautiful corals. For those looking for the bigger marine life the reefs and drop-offs at Havelock and Narcondam Islands are also great spots for larger pelagics. Mantas and whale sharks as well as white tipped and grey reef sharks can be seen in these areas.
Liveaboard Trips in India
Most dive cruises in India depart from Port Blair in the Andaman Islands and sail out to the more remote islands that are only accessible by dive liveaboard. This is the case for most of the best dive sites in the Andamans, with the best spots an overnight sail from the main islands. Due to the remoteness of some of these islands the typical itinerary is around 8 nights with three or four dives per day.
The liveaboard boats in India are luxury liveaboards with beautiful cabins and fine dining on the top decks. These boats offer other activities as well as diving with on board kayaks for exploring the islands and the option of massages after dives. Guests also enjoy full board and can enjoy a drink sitting on deck watching the beautiful sunset.
Dive Sites and Areas of India
Scuba diving in India is most popular around the Andaman Islands which are home to some of the world's most untouched reefs and islands. Havelock is one of the top diving islands in the Andamans with a host of dive sites to offer. Jackson's Bar is a great drift dive with the chance to see sharks, eagle rays and even mantas. Johnny's Gorge is also a great site for marine life with dolphins and sharks both found around here along with rays and eels galore.
At Narcondam there are several great sites for spotting mantas, both Lighthouse Reef and Ooh La La offer the chance to dive with these giants. Both sites are also rich with coral, gorgonians and huge sponges. Many dive tours also visit Barren Island which despite its name is rich with colourful reefs and fish. This black volcanic island is also a great place to spot mantas and even whale sharks if you are lucky.
When to go
Dive safaris in India sail from late December until early May and during this season the water temperature is fairly steady from 27-30 C. The weather during this period is normally good with sunny days around 25-30 C with cooler nights. The sea conditions are also excellent with calm clear days and great visibility. It is possible to see mantas during this time as well as whale sharks.
Tips for Travellers
The Andaman Islands are well known for having a very laid back vibe without a very developed tourist infrastructure. This is a very refreshing and enjoyable experience but don't expect lots of facilities on land so bring spares of anything you can't live without. It is a good idea to take ample mosquito repellent and long clothing for the evening, although they should be less of an issue aboard a boat than on land.
Adaptors will be necessary for anything you don’t want to use the charging stations on the liveaboard boat for. The three pinned plug is standard with 230 volts the norm. Visitors to the Andaman Islands will need to get a visa for India before they travel. Be sure to do this well in advance as it can take quite a long time in some cases.
How to Get There and Ports of Departure
Port Blair is the main port of departure for dive cruises in India, it is easiest to reach this area by plane from Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai airports. Although there are flights most days they are often very busy so be sure to book well in advance. There is also the option of taking the boat from Chennai which takes around three days to reach the islands. This is a long trip but can be a very enjoyable ride.
Liveaboards in India are normally fairly luxurious and exclusive, they range from around 300-400 Euros per person per night with food, drinks and dives included. The diving in India is fairly easy although there can be some current so it is open to most levels of divers. Most of the dives in India should be suitable for Open Water divers or equivalent.
Visitors should note that they can apply for a visa for India online and the price will depend on the type of visa and country of origin. There are several vaccinations recommended for visiting India including Typhoid and Hepatitis A.