Experience a holiday with a difference; Yo! Vizag brings you a glimpse into the exciting world of diving and snorkelling in the Andamans.
Indulge in a chance to swim amongst the breathtakingly beautiful aquatic fauna. As the sunlight filters through, making everything underwater seem mystical and magical, witness clams close up as you approach, swim amongst schools of colourful fish, make faces at a puffed-up puffer fish and soak in the beauty of the coral reef … Welcome to the Andamans! The seas around the Andaman Islands are some of the world’s most unspoiled. Marine life is abundant, with an estimated 750 species of fish existing on one reef alone, and parrot, trigger and angel fish living alongside manta rays, reef sharks and loggerhead turtles. Many species of fish and coral are unique to the area, and fascinating ecosystems exist in ash beds and cooled lava based around the volcanic Barren Island. This is the perfect destination for an adventure holiday underwater! For a sneak-peek of marine life, you could indulge in the simplest of all underwater activities, snorkelling. And for the more adventurous, you could venture into deeper waters, and indulge in a spot of scuba diving. Though there are quite a few diving schools and centres on the islands, the most frequented and undisputed home of diving is Havelock.
One of the diving instructors at the biggest diving school, Barefoot Scuba Resort, Anne shares a bit about the history and logistics of the diving scene in this picturesque locale. According to her, in around 2008, there was hardly a diving centre or two, which were primarily run and staffed by foreigners. There were hardly any Indians in the profession working from the Andamans back then. Gradually local swimmers were hired and trained. Back then most of the visitors to the islands interested in diving were backpackers and mainlanders who were keen on fun-dives and a spot of underwater sightseeing. Keen divers who opted to complete a course in diving and earning a certificate in addition to the experience were few and far between.
The current scenario however, is very different. In the last five years, many agencies like Make-my-trip, Yatra, Cox and Kings and others have promoted the islands with their holiday packages. Ranging from three days to even a week, such package tours have an agenda and itinerary which ensures that one gets to experience a little bit of everything. While most of such holidaymakers cannot stay long enough to do a full course, there are quite a few who have returned and become instructors as well. For a novice, the ‘discover course’ is often opted for instead of the more extensive diving courses. People of all age groups – from young children to even eighty-two year olds, can take up the discover course. From honeymooning couples diving together to serious divers keen on becoming proficient in the field, a lot of courses are offered here. Considering the number of opportunities worldwide to dive and explore, taking a full-fledged diving course is a better bet any day.
Simply put, according to the instructor, diving is just like hiking on land; not every trip involves hiking uphill or sighting animals, the hike is simply to explore . The underwater world is the same, you get to discover and view the vistas of the seabed.’ In fact, as most divers agree, the first time is so beautiful and mesmerising that no photo can replicate or do justice to it. It has to be experienced firsthand. And no diving expedition is ever the same, every time it is a different scenario; the seabed is ever-changing.
Movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara have inspired a lot of interest in diving. All one needs to have is basic swimming skills. And with the ease of connectivity with the mainland improving over the years, it is very easy to reach Havelock from Visakhapatnam or any city in India.
Vizag to Port Blair: Every Monday and Thursday there is an Air India flight. Preferably opt for a flight that lands by 12:30PM in order to catch the 2PM jetty to Havelock. Alternatively, spend an evening at Port Blair and catch the next day’s jetty. For the cruise from Vizag to Port Blair, check out the schedule with Visakhapatnam Port Trust.
Port Blair to Havelock: Book a jetty – government and private jetties are available. Jetty ride time – 3 hours / 1 and half hour.
Havelock to resort: Local rickshaws and cabs are available.
Havelock is a beautiful laid-back tropical island encompassing about 55 square miles, located about 2-3 hours northeast of Port Blair. Barefoot Scuba at Havelock Island is the highest rated PADI dive resort in the Andaman Islands and offers recreational diving in small groups for all levels of divers. Barefoot Scuba also provides you with opportunities to learn how to dive through a complete range of courses from the introductory level programs to the professional levels of Divemaster, Instructor and beyond.