Scuba Diving and Snorkeling have become very popular due to both the exposure to National Geographic TV and some portrayal in Bollywood movies. While we are still a while away from the average Indian scuba diving, we felt it was time to write a small guide to the best places to Scuba Dive in India.
Firstly, diving is in it’s infancy in India and there are limited places to buy dive or scuba equipment. While there are a few dive schools in Mumbai and Bangalore, we cannot recommend signing up for one of their courses as they will only be able to do pool classes which in our opinion is a waste of time and money.
PADI Vs. Non-PADI centers.
We recommend going to a PADI course specifically budgetting for 3-4 days and doing the PADI Open Water certification as a first stop. You will need to know how to swim well, have some presence of mind and a little appreciation of science but otherwise you should be good. There are other schools which do CMAS certifications, but PADI is the established international standard and by getting certified by PADI, you are then free to dive worldwide. It also ensures you talk the same language as most other divers.
Where to begin?
India is unique in that the two good dive spots are offshore – Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands – which are both islands which are part of India but quite far away from mainland making the trips expensive.
As such, you have two other options – Goa and Murudeshwar. In our opinion, there is just no comparison – Head to Murudeshwar – Goa is just too commercial, the water has strong currents and poor visibility and there is just too much other touristy stuff around that takes the focus away from Diving.
Murudeshwar on the other hand is an idyllic location midway between Goa and Mangalore on the west coast of India – accessible easily by the Konkan rail or bus or even a drive from Goa or Mumbai. You don’t dive in Murudeshwar but at Pigeon Island or Netrani – an hours drive away by simple boats operated by fishermen. There is also a wreck close by at Bhatkal for the slightly more experienced divers.
Murudeshwar is the place we would highly recommend to get yourself initiated into diving and to experience firsthand the beauty of the underwater world.