Diving in Andamans
Diving in Andamans
Having dived all over the world – from North Atlantic deep-sea wrecks to Florida to the Mediterranean to Red Sea to Maldives – we have always been drawn to a particular type of dive operation: one offering professional quality service, but in a flexible and relaxed manner - a shop where you feel like hanging out after the dive, having a refreshing post-dive beverage (we recommend “scuba libres”) and swapping travel/dive stories.
We'd like to think that our dive shop offers just that. Every single one here is here because we have a passion for diving, and a passion for the Andamans. All of us here at DIVEIndia – instructors, divemasters, staff, 2 boisterous not-quite-puppies & 1 grouchy cat – look forward to sharing that passion with you, not just as our customers but also as our friends.
DIVEIndia is the oldest dive center in the Andamans, and was founded by Vandit Kalia, aka Vinnie. A former management consulting drone, a very early midlife crisis (at the ripe old age of 28) made him take a year off as a sabbatical. He spent 6 months out of that year in Havelock, back in 2000 before returning to the corporate world. However, he was unable to resist the call of the islands and decided to walk away from the rat race to start DIVEIndia in the Andamans in December 2003.
The early days were interesting going. No one had any idea what diving is about, nothing was available in India, there were no reliable boats, boat staff or dive professionals. From a universe of 6 existing dive sites - Wall, Lighthouse, Aquarium, Barracuda City, Pilot Reef and Minerva Ledge, Vinnie started exploring and added South Button, Elephant Beach, the Inchkett, I-95 and later, Johnny's Gorge, Jackson's Bar and Dixon's Pinnacle (named after local staff who worked at Diveindia & trained under Vinnie to become the first dive professionals from the Andaman Islands). And thus, diving started to grow, other dive centers started and an industry was born.
Today, we have come a long way from those early days (when a fancy boat was a dunghie with a cover, the fast boat from Port Blair to Havelock took 4 hours and connecting to the internet meant plugging a laptop into the phone cable at a public call booth) - with fleet of customized dive boats, 14-15 dive professionals covering 2 islands, Havelock and Neil and customers from all over the world.
However, a few things haven't changed. We feel diving should be fun, safe and accessible. Everything we do is based on this. That’s why we’ve never adopted a premium pricing strategy, despite offering premium extras like small groups, unlimited shallow water training if needed, highly experienced guides, etc. And our primary goal is, as always, to make sure our guests have a great time here. We are not a big corporation, we don't have a fancy PR machine, we dont offer everything under the sun - we focus on one thing only, and we like to think we do it better than anyone else.More Information About Our Team
As an SSI Diamond Instructor Training Facility – a level awarded only to dive centers with a proven history of excellence – we are SSI’s flagship dive center in India and offer training all the way up to Intructor
We pride ourselves on our overall ethical practices: we dive responsibly and promote marine conservation; we help the Zoology and Forest departments; we have various reef monitoring programs ongoing; and we try to give back to the island that has given us a home, by training & employing local dive professionals.
We have found all the top dive sites of Havelock and Neil Island that you dive, and even now, continue to discover new sites each year.
Our goal is to provide our customers with more options for their training – so rather than limiting ourselves to just one agency (and reaping the cost benefits of an exclusive arrangement), we offer training with multiple agencies so as to give our divers more choices for their training. And all training is backed up by our quality guarantee – if you dont feel happy with your training, we will provide additional sessions at no extra cost.
A FEW WORDS ON RESPONSIBLE TOURISM
The number of tourists to the Andamans is starting to increase. This is a good thing overall, as it helps improve the local economy and provides a better livelihood to the people of the islands.
However, increased tourist volumes, especially in developing economies, are accompanied by their own ills: increase in pollution/wastes, degradation of the environment and negative social impact on local culture. As an avid traveler myself, I am disheartened by the changes for the worse that have occurred in other “undiscovered gems” after their discovery. Ask anyone who has been to the Himalayas, to Goa, to Sharm El Sheikh or to Kenya over the past 15 years or so, and inevitably, the answer is: “it isn’t the same anymore.”
To prevent the Andamans from going down the same path, we request you to consider our suggestions below:
– Please be environmentally conscious. Solid waste is one of the biggest urban problems today, especially in developing countries which lack the waste management. Where possible, please avoid the use of plastics and disposables. Where unavoidable, please ensure that the trash is properly handled, not thrown out in the back.
– Limit the amount of water you use for showers. The fresh water table in Havelock has been decreasing every year, as tourist volumes increase.
– Do not touch or break coral, whether you are diving, snorkeling or swimming. Coral growth is very slow – taking years to grow each inch. Even a touch can remove the protective mucous covering on them, leaving them vulnerable to attacsk by other organisms. The old diving maxim – “ take nothing but memories, leave nothing but bubbles.” – holds true here.
– Do not give money, sweets or gifts to local children. Gifts are perfectly ok to people you know or who have helped you in some way. However, distribution of pens or candy to children builds dependency and leads to association of tourists with “freebies.” If you would like to contribute and give back to the Andamans, please donate to one of the many welfare organizations and NGOs working there.
– Please do not support businesses that operate in an eco-unfriendly manner. This includes resorts that throw their trash in the sea, snorkeling boats that throw their anchor on coral beds, shops that sell coral, turtle shells, tiger skins or similar prohibited items, restaurants that sell shark-fin soup, etc. If possible, let the person know why they have lost your business and in the event of illegal items for sale, please inform the local authorities.
– Raise your voice against shark-finning. This barbaric practice involves cutting off the fins of a shark while it is still alive, and dumping it back in the sea where it slowly bleeds to death. Charming, isn’t it?
– Please refrain from nudity in public places. We never expected that we would have to write this, but this is happening more often. Please keep local sentiments in mind – while swimsuits and bikinis are ok on the beach, nudity is most certainly not acceptable in India, and especially so in traditional Andamans.
– Do not engage or attempt to engage anyone to take you on a tribal tour. That is exploitation, pure and simple. We will call the police on anyone we learn is trying to do this.