While Lakshadweep has the clear blue lagoons of coral atolls, Andaman and Nicobar are volcanic islands surrounded by deep, undisturbed waters that have an astounding bio-diversity. The third destination Goa, has many exiting things to do, on land as well as water.
1. Andaman and Nicobar : This is the closest you can get to feeling like Robinson Crusoe, 362 volcanic islands scattered in the Bay of Bengal, only 37 of these are inhabited. These lush green islands have a colorful historical past. With strings of invasions by the French, Dutch, Japanese and British, raging wars between settlers and the native tribes. The Cellular Jail, where hundreds of Indians revolutionaries were imprisoned during the Indian freedom struggle, still stands tall. Descendants of these political prisoners and the local tribes of the area are the inhabitants of modern day Andaman and Nicobar.
The tropical rain forest that loom close to the seashore are home to unique species of birds and to tribes that still have not learned to use fire. Andaman is an experience quite unlike another. And if you find yourself using more mosquito repellent here than ever before you will be using a lot more camera roll too.
Around Port Blair: The waters around Andaman have spectacular bio-diversity and dive conditions that are ideal for an experienced diver.
a) Cinque Island: One of the best dive destination in the island it has clear emerald water with a visibility of upto 80 feet. The deep dive offers a terrific variety of marine life, including black coral, sightings of Sharks and is ideal for the experienced diver.
b) Rutland Island: The shallow water here have a good representation of most smaller fish and coral and a good place for training open water diver.
c) Snake Island: Awesome rock faces and a spectacular dive landscape. Marine life includes Trigger Fish, Grunts, Goldfish and Rays.
d) Havelock Island: This island is located approx. 4 hrs from the Port Blair airport by inter-island ferry. The dive center located on the island offers a wide range of largely un-explored dive sites reach in underwater marine life.
ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLAND – Can be reached
These island are located about 1250 kms from Calcutta (west Bengal) and about 1200 kms from Madras (Tamil Nadu). The capital, Port Blair, is served via Indian Airlines and Jet Airways ex Calcutta and Madras.
It is also possible to sail to Port Blair from Calcutta and Madras every week. The crossing over takes about 3-4 days. All ships plying on this route are under the auspices of the Directorate of Shipping, Govt. of India.
It is advisable to carry a few extra passport photographs and copies of your passport as you would need to submit these to the authorities at Port Blair on arrival for your permit to visit the island.
2. LAKSHADWEEP : Be warned. There are some things that are really hard to find in Lakshadweep. Like fast cars, or shrinks or tranquillizers. They do have all the waters though. Bright and clear as liquid glass. Fringed by white stretches of sand where the only throngs you will ever see are of the sandpipers on the shore. And you could sleep by the seaside by the night sky as you are ceiling. Therapy has never felt better.
Geographically similar to other diver’s hunt, Lakshadweep is like Maldives without the crowds. 400 kms off the coast of Kerala, this group of 36 coral islands and atoll can be reached by a twenty-hour sea journey from Cochin. Of the ten inhabited islands, only two, Bangaram and Kadmat, are open to foreigners and there are dive centers on both these islands. The lagoons are home to a spectacular world of marine life, so unexplored, you may well have a site named after you.
Around Kadmat Island: Surrounded on the eastern and western side by the lagoon, Kadmat is the ideal haven solitude. This little island has an astonishing variety of marine flora and fauna. Some of the dive sites explored till date are beyond any sort of written description, they are ethereal moments of pure wonder.
a) The Wall: A wall of soft coral starting at 12 meters and cascading down to the deep blue. Dive amongst turtles as resplendent as their surroundings.
b) Sting Ray City: A 21 meter dive along the sand dunes, abundant with Sting Rays.
c) Cross Currents: Located between the island of Amini and Kadmat, drift dive alongwith schools of Snapper, Fusilier and Sharks at 15-21 meters.
d) Jack Point: A drift dive between 21-20 meters with different type of fish like Jackfish and Kingfish.
e) Garden of Eden: An abundance of table coral at 12-25 meters alongwith variety of small fish and groubers.
f) East Channel: Located between 19-20 meters an abundance of soft coral and Tuna.
Around Bangaram Island: A tear-drop shaped island surrounded by a continuous strip of creamy sand. The temperate blue-green waters of the Indian Ocean are an irresistible invitation to the scuba diving fraternity of the world.
The exquisite black coral formations alongwith Angel Fish, Clown Fish, Butterfly, Surgeons, Groupers, Mantas, Sting Rays and wondrous marine life found in the Lakshadweep.
Visit the wreck of the Princess Royal at 32 meters, sunk in a battle over two hundred years ago, or if luck is on your side, have the pleasure of being escorted by a pod of 10-20 Dolphins…
Visit the dive sites Manta, Shark Point and the Wall, Dive amidst a submerged reef with shoals of Giant Parrotfish.
Bangaram – a place on the edge of the world. A bit of paradise.
LAKSHADWEEP – Can be reached
These islands are located about 400 kms from Cochin (Kerala State). Indian Airlines operates daily flight (except Sundays) from Cochin to Agatti. On arrival at Agatti , you will be transferred to either Bangaram or Kadmat Island by private resort boats. It is advisable to book both your inbound and outbound tickets well in advance.
There is a Ship service that takes about 20 hours to reach Lakshadweep from Cochin.
All foreigners need to send their names, nationality, date of birth, passport number, date of issue and expiry to the resort. The resort at Bangaram will obtain the permits through the Lakshadweep Admnistration. A minimum of 3 days is required for this.
6 photographs along with the first and last three pages of your current passport have to be submitted to the office of the dive centre. Permission for Kadmat comes from the Home Ministry via Lakshadweep Administration. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for this process.
3. GOA : Goa is a little bit of Rio De Janeiro meets Ibiza. But then Goa has a lot of things. This little seaside state, with an identity that’s a seamless blend of Portuguese-Latin influence and Indian tradition, was crackling enough to have been one of the millennium destinations of the world.
The waters are safe and temperate, the absence of riptide currents making them ideal for learners and novice divers. And when you aren’t wiggling in and out of your wet suit, you could be sun bathing or bungee jumping, visiting temples or haunting the free market. Like we said, Goa is a lot of things.
The 300 years of Portuguese rule has left an indelible imprint on the collective psyche of Goans. It shows in their music, their architecture and their culture. It’s also why Goans make the most wonderful vindaloo this side of the Indian Ocean.
The Marine life in Goa is similar to that found in Maldives. The presence of wrecks in Spanish and Portuguese galleons, world war II ships make the fish life prolific.
a) Grande Island: Much of the local diving is conducted around this island. Some of the sites near the island include Suzy’s wreck, Davy Jone’s locker, Sale Rock, Turbo Tunnel, Surge City, Uma Guma reef, and Bounty Bay.
b) Angria Bank: A 4 hour high speed boat ride takes you to this world class dive site 120 miles from Goa. A vast underwater landmass about half the size of the state of Goa, it offers an amazing wealth of coral and fish. A “Live-Abode” is available with the local dive center to make diving at this site an unforgettable experience.
c) Pigeon Island: This rocky outcrop has interesting marine life as well as good visibility.
d) Malvan Shoal: Some interesting shallow sites in the water between Vengurla and Malvan, 2 hours away from the capital city of Panaji.
GOA – can be reached by
Most of the scheduled flights from Europe, UK, and USA arrive at Mumbai from where there are daily flights to Goa. The flying time from Mumbai to Goa is just under an hour. This sector is served via both Indian Airlines and Jet Airways that have daily flights to this destination. It is advisable to book both your inbound and outbound sectors well in advance.
The visa issued for India is sufficient documentation for your trip to Goa, no individual permit is required here.