Surrounded by the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, the long coastline of peninsular India offers diverse underwater attractions, such as coral reefs (natural and artificial), caves, pinnacles, shipwrecks, etc. However, like any other sport, it requires dedication and practice, and knowledge of safety requirements. So unless you are a certified diver yourself, it is best to go diving with certified (such as PADI certified) operators. Many operators have started offering training and practice in urban centres in their simulated pools you can join one of them so that you have some basic knowledge and practice when you reach the actual location.
In most places in India, the diving season opens in October-November and remains open till April-May.
Capital of the union territory of the same name, Puducherry (Pondicherry) is fast becoming a gateway to some of the most picturesque scuba diving sites on the eastern coast. With both natural and artificial reefs, there is plenty of marine flora and fauna to explore. There are several organisations operating scuba diving packages but ensure they have relevant certifications (such as PADI certified). One of the most interesting dive sites is the Temple Reef (built by Temple Adventures) constructed from recycled material, including iron bars, rocks, concrete, plants, etc.
When not diving, you may go sightseeing &ndash to Auroville, the French quarters, the beaches and lakes, etc.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep), reached via Port Blair, the capital and main gateway to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is known for its azure waters. The deep sea off the island is popular with scuba divers largely due its visibility. Coral gardens, pinnacles, sloping reefs, etc, are some of the attractions here. One of the underwater attraction is the Dixon&rsquos Pinnacle. Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep), nearer to Port Blair, is also fast becoming a popular diving centre. If it is a first time experience for you, ensure the operator has instructional courses in place. Popular operators include Barefoot Scuba, Dive India, etc.
While passing through Port Blair, on your way to and from the diving centres, you may do a spot of sightseeing &ndash Cellular Jail, Corbyn&rsquos Cove, etc.
This land of temples, cuisine and culture is also an upcoming water sports destination on the eastern coast. The sea off the pilgrimage centre of Rameswaram is a popular diving site. The water is known for its reefs and marine fauna.
While there, don&rsquot forget to visit the Ramanathaswamy Temple to see one of the longest corridors in the world.
The shallow lagoons around India&rsquos smallest Union Territory is a favourite with water sports enthusiasts. The sea off the island of Kadmat, Kavaratti and Bangaram are the popular scuba diving centres here. Beginners can start with the calm lagoon off Kavaratti. Experts can go cave diving along the north-west corner of the island. The water off Kadmat is known for its abundance of marine fauna.
Off the coast of Murudeshwara in Karnataka, Netrani is a popular diving centre. Also known as the Pigeon Island, it offers an opportunity to go exploring the depths of the Arabian Sea. Clear vision and a variety of corals are its twin attractions. There are several operators in the area you may try Dive Netrani.
For a break from the waterscape, do visit the ancient Murudeshwara (Shiva) Temple, take an elevator ride to the top of the Raja Gopuram for a panoramic view of the surroundings, etc.
The sunshine state of India is popular with divers around the globe. Some of the popular dive sites include Suzy&rsquos Wreck, Coral Garden, Lobsters&rsquo Avenue, Shelter Cove. Visibility, ambient water temperature, marine fauna, shipwrecks, rock pinnacles, increase the diversity and attraction of the sites.
While there, in between diving and sightseeing, do not forget to partake of the Goa&rsquos culinary repertoire which includes a unique blend of Indian and Portuguese styles.
With a long coastline along the Arabian Sea, Maharashtra is fast gearing itself as a water sports destination. Tarkarli, on the Konkan coast, is being developed as a scuba diving zone. The Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports is located here.