Diving in Puducherry (Pondicherry) – India

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Boat Diving in Puducherry
Photo by Tushar "TC" Chaudhary

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Today we are scuba diving in Puducherry, India. This French colonial town is formerly known as Pondicherry and is the capital city of Indian Union Territory of Puducherry.

WHY ARE WE DIVING IN PUDUCHERRY?

Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry), was a French colonial settlement in India until 1954 and now a Union Territory town bounded by the southeastern Tamil Nadu state.

Many travelers are drawn here due to the French legacy preserved in its French Quarter. Streets are lined with trees and sheltered by mustard-colored colonial villas and chic boutiques. A seaside promenade runs along the Bay of Bengal and passes several statues, including the 4m-high Gandhi Memorial.

As Puducherry is along the country’s East Coast, there is some amazing scuba diving here, packed with enchanting marine life. A dive into the sea will let you explore the rich life comprising of beautiful natural coral reefs and other exotic creatures such as manta rays, kingfish, sea snakes, lionfish, butterflyfish, crustaceans, moray eels and many more.

HOW DO WE GET THERE?

Puducherry has its own domestic airport. So if you are an international traveller you can get a flight to Pondicherry from any Indian international or domestic airports like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, or Hyderabad.

As it is not an island and connected to the mainland on the east coast of southern India it is easy to reach by bus and train with regular schedules.

Once you are in the city, there are a lot of public transport options such as buses, cabs, cars and even Tuk-Tuks. If you are feeling more independent, you can also rent electric bicycles, scooters, bikes, and cars. Traveling to Puducherry from anywhere in India is very easy and safe.

WHICH DIVE SITES ARE MUST-SEE?

School of Fish while diving in Puducherry
Photo by Tushar “TC” Chaudhary

If it is your lucky day, you might spot whale sharks. And possibly even sharks, dolphins, and turtles. You also have the option of enjoying a dive at an artificial reef and experience its thrill. All this makes scuba diving in Pondicherry beach irresistible.

SOME OF THE DIVE SITES IN PUDUCHERRY

There are about 22 dive sites in and around Puducherry. They range from 12 to 50 meters.

4 Corners

The depth is 18 meters, mostly used for Open Water Courses as well as fun dives. It’s an artificial reef made up of pyramid structurs and trees. It also features some vehicles now home to several fish like Potato Groupers, Pufferfish, Lionfish, Yellow Boxfish, Trevally, and others.

Canyon Wall

The depth ranges from 32 to 37 meters. Canyon wall is situated on the Tectonic plate and allows divers to peer into small cracks on the rocky bottom. It is known for ​Giant Moray eels, Sea snakes, Lionfish, Shrimps, Slugs, and more.

Danny’s Eel Garden

The depth is around 16 to 18 meters. It’s a man made rocky bottom on a sandy plain. As it’s name suggests it features many species of eels and in September to October it’s ​Cuttlefish ​time!

Dannys Eel Garden Puducherry
Photo by Tushar “TC” Chaudhary

Fan Garden

The depth ranges from 35 to 38 meters. The dive site is situated on the tectonic plate with a huge area covered by ​soft ​and fan corals. ​It feels like flying when you swim over the garden of colourful fan corals. Schools of small ​Blue triggerfish ​& ​Lionfish​ are commonly seen.

Shy Shark​ & ​Table Top

Shy Shark is at a depth of 20 meters. If you are lucky you can spot a lot of ​Grey reef sharks​ here. ​Barracudas are also commonly sighted.

Table Top reaches a depth of 35 meters with the natural structuring of the rocks appears arranged like a chessboard. Under these rock slabs as well as in the cracks, we spot a lot of ​Moray eels, Lobsters, and ​Sea Snakes. Sometimes a ​Whale Shark​ visits Table Top.

Whaleshark sighting in Puducherry
Photo by Tushar “TC” Chaudhary

There are lot of other beautiful dive spots around the tectonic plate filled with various marine life.

DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?

The Puducherry sea lies in the Bay of Bengal and is considered tropical water. Therefore the temperature of the water ranges from ​27-30 degrees Celcius​. The diving can be done in wetsuit, rash guard, or simply shorts/bikini.

Use our wetsuit temperature guide for more information on what to wear in Puducherry.

The diving season is from November till May. The best months for diving are ​January, February, March, and April​. From March onwards ​whale sharks​ can be spotted on several dive sites. Mostly there is little current but sometimes the ocean is calm like a lake.

The visibility varies throughout the season from around ​30 to 5 meters​. During the months of April, and May the water becomes a little green because of plankton, however, there is an increased chance to spot whale sharks.

WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?

Diving in Puducherry is great for beginners, try dive, Open Water level, and up! Puducherry has several dive centers and resorts that accept licenses from PADI, SSI or RAID. Diving is conducted by professionals, insured by DAN.

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?

The diving in Puducherry is beautiful featuring​ tectonic plate diving in international waters​ as well as diving on ​artificial reefs​ in the sand. Sometimes the diving can be challenging too with currents and drift dives. Puducherry is a good spot to learn drift diving​.

Artificial Reef Puducherry
Photo by Tushar “TC” Chaudhary

There is even some technical diving​ in Puducherry with a few deep dive sites.

There is a fishing boat wreck at 30 meters depth where a school of ​trevally and silver moony​ is commonly sighted. Most of the diving is conducted around 18 meters, so an open water certification is sufficient and the diving is super awesome!

Batfish in Puducherry
Photo by Tushar “TC” Chaudhary

There is also ​boat and shore diving​ in Puducherry. Some dive sites are further away from the shore are reached by boat from Puducherry harbour. The closest dive site is about a 15 min boat ride and the farthest is about 2 hours away.

Most shore dives are conducted in the ​quarry​ on the mainland, which is reachable by car.

HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?

Almost all dive centres in Puducherry will offer discounts for ​professional divers.

Scuba diving in Pondicherry prices are very cheap compared to other south-east Asian countries. The average cost for ​2 fun dives​ in one day is about ₹6500​ (INR). You can complete your ​Open Water course for about ​₹26,500​ and your Advanced Open Water course for about ​₹19,500​. Specialties such as ​Nitrox​ can be completed for around ​₹13,500​ or the ​Deep diver specialty about​ ​₹16,000.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?

Various types of accommodation is available in Puducherry to suit all budgets.

Hotels in Pondicherry

There is a range of 3- to 4-star hotels that are available from ₹2000 to ₹10,000 a night. Many hotels feature sea views and are situated on the beach with many of them built in French-style architecture.

Hostels

There are a few hostels that are very affordable for backpackers. The facilities are pretty good and they charge around ₹800 for a night.

Resorts & Aashram

There are beach resorts in Puducherry that range from ₹1500 to ₹10,000 a night. Aashram in Puducherry needs to be booked online in advance.

Auroville

Auroville is a world-famous city situated about 8 kilometers outside of Puducherry. The hotels, hostels, and resorts there are the best options for people looking for a peaceful, natural, and yogic experience. Cars can be hired to travel to Puducherry. Even houses in Auroville are available for rent for around ₹6000 to ₹20,000 a month.

THINGS TO DO IN PONDICHERRY DURING THE SURFACE INTERVAL

There is plenty to explore when you are not diving in Puducherry.

A favourite for tourists are the beautiful beaches around Puducherry. Every beach is different in its own way. Popular ones are Paradise and Rock beach.

There is also Auroville beach is liked for surfing, Serenity beach for sunbathing, Quiet beach like the name suggests for a laid back vacation vibe. There is also Promenade beach favoured for beach yoga enthusiasts.

If you want to catch a mesmerising sunset, Veerampattinam beach is where you need to go.

While you are here, be sure to visit White Town, French Colony and the many Cafes around there.

There is a Sunday market and even a nightclub for the party goers!

These are the most visited places in Puducherry. Roaming around the beautiful city in the morning having refreshments at several cafes, bakeries is the perfect way to spend your surface interval. Going clubbing until 2 am is also an option, but not before you have a day of diving planned. On Sundays, there is a crowded market that offers you everything, anything you want.

As a result of French colonial history, there are some very beautiful French architecture and even mind-boggling churches.

Since Puducherry is located in the southern part of India, it holds a very vast variety of cultural, and religious heritage. These beliefs are reflected in the amazing architecture of their temples. There are a lot of religious festivals, and rituals happening throughout the year.

Auroville & Osudu Lake

Auroville is an experimental township in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry in India. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa and designed by architect Roger Anger. It “represents humanity’s aspiration for peace and goodwill” and that it is “a unique symbol of human unity”. Well worth a visit!

TC is a PADI MSDT working as an instructor at Urban Nomad Unbound Adventures in Puducherry. He is a computer science engineer and his journey as a scuba diver began in 2019 when he traveled to Koh Tao with friends. People he met during this trip changed his life and inspired him to pursue a career in diving. He is the happiest underwater with the fish.

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