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Scuba diving in Chennai

By Articles, scuba diving in india

Scuba Diving in Chennai

Ever imagined how it will be to wake up in your own bed, pack only a swimsuit, hop in a car, drive to the shore, get on a boat, kit up and dive? Scuba Diving in Chennai is exactly that. We are here to celebrate your love for diving, right in your backyard.

‘Is there life in the seas here? Can you see anything at all in these green waters? Can a new diver like me dive in Chennai?’, you may ask. The answer is yes, yes and yes.

Chennai is one of the big players in Indian fishing industry, owing to the rich faunal diversity all along Tamil Nadu coast. Yes, the visibility under water is not the greatest, and yes, we pray to the Wind Gods for a successful day everyday, but reefs off Chennai are some of the most prolific reefs we have come across along the coast of mainland India.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:

#1 Thoondil Street: One of our deeper sites where the world changes at about 18 meters, where the visibility shifts from tens of meters to only a few. However, the murky waters don’t stop marine life to thrive down there. The flat bottom that sits at 26 meters is made of rocks covered with soft coral and sponges. Right as you enter the murky waters, you are met with schools of snappers and fusiliers leading their fast paced lives and schools of sweet lips swimming around like a parade of soldiers. The bottom is busy with the groupers having one of their Mafia sit-downs and random excursions by sea snakes.

Thoondil Street - Best dive site in chennai

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites


#2 Castle Rock:
This dive site is a beautiful example of conservation efforts by people concerned about the insistent overfishing along Tamil Nadu coast. This is one of the artificial reefs built to promote the use of traditional fishing gear like hook and line over the more destructive trawlers and seines. Sitting at about 25 meters, these blocks of concrete house a variety of fish species. On a good day, you might find yourself stuck here in a traffic jam of fish. Starting from patient groups of groupers, goofy gobies and gliding lionfish at the bottom, you will see fish like longfin banners, oriental sweetlips, snappers, fusiliers and surgeons schooling in hundreds over the structures.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:

#3 Vaddi Pop & Garden Rock: These are our shallow dive sites, perfect for beginners to apply the skills learnt in confined waters. Starting at 12 meters, the sites are built of big boulders running parallel to the shore and go down till about 16 meters. The rocks are laden with sea fans and whip coral, gardened by butterfly and longfin banner fishes. Feather duster worms and nudibranchs can be seen beautifying these fans and rocks frequently.

One of our most treasured dive sites in Chennai, however, is not in the sea. In the hills of Kanchipuram, we have found this abandoned quarry which is just perfect to experience diving in its purest form, and never again be bothered by bad visibility, swells, currents or any out-worldly distractions.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:

#4 ShowCat Boneyard: The smaller, right side of the quarry has submerged, mostly dead trees and shrubs growing on a bed of sedimentary rocks, eventually falling down into a valley upto 27 meters. The curious placement of rocks makes it a ‘site’ to behold.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:


#5 Mayajaal:
The much larger, left side of the quarry seems like a scene out of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas. After a gradual slope till 7 meters, the site drops straight to 27 meters along a humongous scarred wall of sedimentary rocks. Ideal for running deep scenarios, the flat bottom will keep you entertained with numerous crab gatherings, random appearances of truck headlights and tyres, TNT shells, fuse reels and scorch marks on the walls.

There is much more to diving in Chennai than what meets the eye. From rich marine ecosystems hidden in murky waters to new ecosystems sprouting in clear fresh waters, diving here is meant to change your perspective of the world underwater altogether. Contact us for more

Where should you go scuba diving – havelock or neil island?

By Articles, Blogs, Dive Sites, Scuba Diving Andamans

Best Place for scuba diving in India

Where should you go Scuba Diving next?
Havelock Island (SwarapDweep) or Neil island (Shahid Dweep)

Where should you go Scuba Diving next? Here are the best dive sites in Havelock Island and Neil Island to help you decide where you should dive next.

Best Place for scuba diving in India
Havelock Dive Sites:

Dixon’s Pinnacle – Three pinnacles at different depths with abundant soft coral growth on them. Depths range from 17mtrs – 32mtrs. Schooling fish like snappers, fusiliers being hunted by trevally, banner fish, red tooth trigger fish, juvenile emperor angel fish, peacock mantis shrimp, Moray Eel, cleaner shrimps, turtle if you’re lucky. A dive site that is good irrespective of visibility because there’s so much to see. Ideal site for nitrox

Johnny’s Gorge – A gorge with rocks scattered around. Strong currents sometimes at this site. Depth ranges from 18mtrs – 30mtrs. Massive schools of snappers (different types), fusiliers being hunted by trevally, banner fish, White tip reef sharks, occasional turtle, Barracuda school, lovely swim throughs, shit loads of moon jellyfish in summer when waters get warmer…

Jackson’s Bar – Primarily a deep dive site ! A long bar which starts and stays at around 22-23mtrs with the edges dropping down to 30-35mtrs. Lots and lots of sting rays on the bar, soft coral, occasional rays gliding by, huge school of snappers, lots of Moray Eels… I can’t remember much about this site now cuz it’s been that long ?

The Wall – As the name suggests, a reef with one side dropping off to 60mtrs and the other side gently sloping down in the form of huge steps. Soft coral at depth but fish life concentrated between 9 – 15mtrs. Again, massive schools of fish like fusiliers, trevally, snappers, lionfish, angels, octopus, morays, crocodile flatheads, ghost pipefish, scorpion fish and a whole lot more. Easy dive site even if there is a strong current because you can simply hide from it. Perfect for all levels of divers. Except for try divers.

WhiteHouse Rock – Oh boy, where do I even start with this site. My favourite in the Andamans. Coming up from about 60 odd mtrs to as shallow as 8-9 mtrs, this dive site offers everything ! Insane variety of soft coral, fish life like groupers, residential turtles, octopus, Scorpion fish, Barracuda, trevally, rays if lucky. Swimming through the soft ‘black coral’ is like swimming through a forest, then around the corner the type of coral and colours start to change ( I need to look at the names of all those corals, forgot ) perfect site for deep,, Nitrox, fish id specialty dives…

S.S Inchket – Steam Ship Inchket was a Japanese cargo vessel which sank in 1950 (I can’t remember exact date) after hitting a huge rock. It took a long time for the ship to sink and so there were no casualties. The wreck is now an amazing site for all sorts of marine life. Coral, invertebrates, molluscs, reef fish, turtle -all reside here… The ship is broken in two parts and has a couple of narrow swim throughs, however, Penetrating the wreck entirely is not possible. The site ranges from 5mtrs at the bow to the deepest point being at the stern at 18mtrs. Visibility at this site is usually quite low but tends to surprise on some days. Currents if any are quite mild and most often because of thermoclines. A lovely site overall. One of the furthest dive sites from Havelock apart from WhiteHouse Rock, diving these sites requires planning based on the tide to have best conditions.

Best Place for scuba diving in India
Neil Dive Sites :

Junction – called junction because it’s right at the junction of Neil and Havelock ! This is a deep dive site and topography is similar to Jackson’s Bar. Starts off at 23mtrs and goes down to 33mtrs, this dive site has a lot of soft coral and Gorgonian Fan coral in particular. The currents at this site can get really strong and since the life is primarily deep, dives tend to be shorter than others. Huge school of fusiliers feeding on plankton and being hunted by trevally make for an epic dive even if it is short. Strong currents at the junction could be an ideal place for pelagics and so drifting off if you have plenty Air after running low on bottom time could be fruitful.

Bus Stop – Bus stop is a gently sloping dive site with patches of reef and sparkling white sand in-between the reefs. Most often always very clear water at this site. The patches of reef are home to the reef fish and Moray Eels. One particular area where there is a fan coral has around 35 lionfish and can make for quite a site if they are all out in the open and not hiding under the overhang. Sandy bottom is home to a carpet of garden eels facing the direction the current is coming from. This site ranges from 13-22mtrs and continues sloping gently..

Margarita’s Mischief – Another patch reef, this dive site has patches of reef of what is supposed to be volcanic rocks. The way the reef is formed makes the reef patches look like it were some ancient construction with very rectangular shaped rocks placed horizontally and vertically. In between these rocks are invertebrates, morays, sand filled with sting rays, anemones, feather stars, and beautifully colourful Anthias. Surgeon fish, snappers, banner fish, red tooth trigger fish always cloud up the visibility. One section on the reef is where a lot of hunting happens when the current and visibility are just right – most often ! The site is fairly flat and ranges from 12mtrs over the reef patches, to 16mtrs in the sand… Beautiful site for all certification levels.

Fish Slate – Jeeeejus ! Whatasite ! Suitable for all levels of divers from DSDs to experienced certified divers. This site is a reef fringing Neil Island. Has amazing coral life starting at very shallow depths of 5mtrs. Boulder and a variety of branching and table coral make for picturesque views. Visibility at this site is most often clear and schools of fish are massive. Schools of Midnight snappers, chubs, red tail butterfly fish, sweetlips and a whole lot of fusiliers always hovering over the reef are a perfect safety stop. Reticulated Dascyllus and freckled Hawkfish are always above and between the branches of the staghorn coral. If this site really wants to show off, then even a turtle or dugong may show up. The max depth at this site is 12mtrs and currents are mild. A site you should definitely dive at from Neil Island

Busy Buro – A site just out of bounds for open water certified divers in terms of depth. Starts at 16mtrs, this is a flattish reef of volcanic rock. Not too much coral at this site but lots and lots of fish. Schools of yellow snappers at the start, stingrays or marble rays in the sand, lobsters and cleaner shrimp in the crevices followed by white snappers and golden sweetlips at the other end of the rock at 19mtrs make this another site off Neil with different schooling fish. Trevally hunting fusiliers is exciting to watch at this site because of the coordination of the trevally hunting and fusiliers darting all of a sudden.. Currents could be from none to moderate.

K Rock – haven’t dived it much. Only a couple of times so far..

Anchor Line – Another reef fringing Neil Island, a site ideal for DSD and open water course divers. This site has a  Sandy bottom at 6mtrs and reef filled with live boulder and branching coral. Schooling fish doing their thing and the sand bed right by it, makes it a perfect dive site for beginner divers to watch and understand why one gets hooked to diving. Easy relaxing dive site !

Nursery – This site is on the western side of Neil Island and again is a reef fringing the island. Schooling fish, lobsters, stingrays, octopus and cuttlefish are what can be seen here. A site suitable for all levels of divers starting at 6mtrs and upto about 12mtrs.

Can you scuba dive if you can’t swim?

Can you scuba dive if you can’t swim?

By Andaman scuba diving course, Articles, Blogs, Scuba Diving Andamans

SCUBA DIVING IN THE ANDAMANS – FOR NON-SWIMMERS

One of the most common question we get from people coming to the Andamans and wanting to try scuba diving (or even from people who want to try diving in their home city) is: “I don’t know how to swim – can i try scuba diving?”

Can you scuba dive if you can’t swim?

The answer is:  yes, you can

To get certified as a diver, you need to know basic swimming (ability to float or tread water for 10 min, swim 200m unaided/300m with mask-fins-snorkel). However, to do introductory scuba diving program such as Try Scuba or a PADI Discover Scuba Diving program, swimming is not required.

So what is the difference and why?

The introductory scuba diving program, be it the very basic Try Scuba or the more immersive/experience-rich PADI Discover Scuba Diving, is designed to give people a taste of scuba.  There is a dive professional in the water with you at all times, who is responsible your safety during the program.

The certification course is designed for people who want to take up this amazing sport in a more in-depth manner, and who want to keep exploring the oceans in different parts of the world – it is designed to create divers who are trained in diving procedures and skills, including safety/emergency procedures, and who can dive without professional supervision.   As such, swimming is a requirement.

So why do people go through all this trouble to get certified?  Can’t they just do more introductory scuba experiences wherever they go!

Well, yes, they can.  Nothing wrong with that and many people do just that.

However, the intro programs are all designed to be just that – intro.   While the instructor does handle your safety in such cases, there are several things that the instructor cannot do for you.   So all responsible dive centers conduct the Intro to Scuba / Try Scuba / PADI Discover Scuba Diving programs in locations where the conditions are benign, predictable and as much within the instructor’s control as possible.

For first timers, these is still a marvellous experience – virtually everyone who tries scuba for the first time comes out having experienced the “wow” factor.

But… the “wow” becomes “OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT WOWOWOWOW!!!” when you get certified:   it is yet another level of amazing when you are able to go deeper.   That’s when you get to have experiences that match what you see on Nat Geo.   And for that, certification is indeed required – as is swimming

what does scuba diving feel like

What does scuba diving feel like?

By Andaman scuba diving course, Articles, Opinions

What does scuba diving feel like?
A beginners view.

One of the downsides of having been diving for a while is that sometimes, it is easy to take the ocean’s wonders for granted – yes, the diving is still enjoyable but that sense of wide-eyed wonder is lost. The more you dive, the more cool things you see, the less you tend to be excited by the common, everyday stuff – which, if you take a step back and think about it, is pretty damn amazing. On any given scuba dive here in the Andamans, you can see well over a hundred species of marine life. Translate that to seeing 100 different animals in a national park, or 100 different birds in a morning walk.

The same thing happens with the Andamans. After going out for an evening walk with the dogs daily for nearly 10 years, it is easy to take the long stretch of quiet, untouched beach, the clear azure waters and all the interesting marine life in the low tide rock pools for granted. It’s human nature, after all.

Still, sometimes, it is nice to “see” things from fresh eyes. Rajdeep Bhattacharyya came to do his open water course with us, and has written a beautifully evocative post on his first experience at diving. It puts a smile on my face, and it reminds me of my own first dive (in a pool – where the feeling of weightlessness had me hooked to the sport instantly) and the first dive where I saw fish (dive #30, in Florida). So, with the author’s permission, here is a link: https://www.wingd.ca/swimming-fish-andaman/

 

Update on the North Andamans safaris

By News

Posted by Vandit Kalia |

We’ve done a few of the safaris to the North now – and a pattern is emerging:  excellent coral, superlative diving, big fish and a true sense of exploration.   While we are still a ways away from being experts when it comes to knowing what we’ll find (give us the off-season to achieve that expertise!), we’ve can talk about some of the highlights so far.
We’ve been seeing a lot of sharks – grey reefies, leopard sharks, white and black tips as well as an occasional silvertip or two.  We’ve also seen mantas and devils rays, and Sayeed lived up to his Tamil Heart-throb moniker by causing a HUGE leatherback turtle to fall in love with him.
We send Vikas over recently with a video camera and as soon as he is able to process the clips, we will put them online here and on Youtube.
Happy diving!
Vinnie