Which Island is Better For Scuba Diving?
HAVELOCK (Swaraj Dweep) OR NEIL(Shahid Dweep)?
Another common question we get from our divers is – what is better for diving, Havelock or Neil?
The answer to that, of course, is… it depends.
It depends on what your experience level, the type of diving you want to do and what you are looking for in a vacation spot.
To start with, the 2 islands are very close together, so you are not going to see a significant change in the ecosystem and marine species between the two locations.
However, there are a few significant differences between the 2 locations:
- Neil does not have the same mangrove cover as Havelock, and so tends to have lower sedimentation run-off. This results in generally better visibility closer to shore.
- Havelock, by virtue of having the other islands of Ritchie’s Archipelago to the north, has a lot of sites that are sheltered no matter the wind or environmental conditions. This means that there are more shallow/sheltered sites for divers, where conditions allow access year long.
- The drop-off into deep water is much closer to the southern side of Neil. This means a few more high-octane sites with a greater chance of seeing big pelagics (and we mean BIG).
- Havelock has an excellent training reef accessible from the shore – a great place to do classes like Rescue Diver, Buoyancy, Navigation, Search & Recovery and more.
In addition to this, the islands themselves are fairly different. Havelock is all grown up now – it is has fiber optic internet, several restaurants and is pretty much a tourist island (albeit only relatively – compared to places like Goa, it is still positively rustic). Neil is still quieter and the package tourist hordes tend to give it a miss (or stay there only a night) – that gives it more of the quiet, “remote island” vibe of the Andamans. Depending on your preferences, you might find yourself gravitating towards one or the other.
Here is the list of top dive sites accessible from each island:
Best Dive Sites in Havelock: The Wall, Slope, Pilot Reef, Aquarium, Nursery, Tribegate, Jackson’s Bar, Broken Ledge
Best Dive Sites in Neil: Margherita’s Mischief, Junction, Bus Stop, Nursery (a different one!), Sea Fan City and a few more special ones that are going to be revealed over time.
Wait, wait, wait!
What about the Andaman, you ask – the world-class dive sites like Johnny’s Gorge, Dixon’s Pinnacle, V16, M/V Inchkett and Whitehouse Rock. The good news is – we can access them from both Havelock and Neil.
So as you can see, both Havelock and Neil are very good options. If we had to pick, we’d give Havelock a slight edge for newer divers looking to get some experience in controlled conditions or for divers looking to do some training courses. For advanced divers, we think Neil has the slight edge in terms of dives sites (although that edge is likely to increase in the next 6 months or so).