WHERE ARE WE GOING?
Today we are scuba diving in India, in the popular local tourist town of Pondicherry!
Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is a hidden little gem in India’s southeastern section. Found on the border of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry used to be a French Colonial settlement.
However, even today you can find that the city is wrapped in an air of French legacy as you will see chic boutiques, yellow colonial villas and tonnes of bakeries.
WHY ARE WE SCUBA DIVING IN INDIA?
Pondicherry is known for the best mainland diving India has to offer. With blue waters, colourful marine life artificial reefs and massive wrecks; scuba diving in Pondicherry is a beautiful experience. It is popular with beginner divers, and more experienced divers too.
Learn More: Learn to Scuba Dive as a Beginner
Pondicherry is best known for its artificial reefs. About ten years ago, Temple Adventures, the first dive center in Pondicherry, decided to build some artificial reefs using pyramid structures and old cars. The result of this being an abundance of marine life, making the artificial reefs their home.
HOW DO WE GET THERE?
There are several ways through which you can enter Puducherry.
If you happen to be coming internationally, then you can take a flight to Chennai and enjoy a beautiful ride to Pondicherry.
If you are travelling domestically, then you can either take a flight to Chennai and take a 2 hour road trip to Pondicherry; or you can drive down from wherever you are located to Pondicherry itself.
WHICH DIVE SITES ARE MUST-SEE?
Pondicherry boasts around 26 different dive sites that range from 12 metres to 50 metres. Few of the popular ones are:
Temple Reef (18mts)
This is the artificial reef built by local dive center, Temple Adventures, and is a home to various fish like jellies, angelfish, scorpionfish, lionfish and many moray eels. During the months of February and March, Temple Reef has whale sharks as visitors. These gentle giants visit Pondicherry every year. This dive site is 18 metres deep and is ideal for conducting Open Water Courses.
Danny’s Eel Garden (18 metres)
Discovered by Danny, our Pondicherian scuba instructor, Danny’s Eel Garden is known for the widest variety of moray eels. This particular dive site is also popular for drifting and makes it the perfect site for a Drift Diver course.
Aravind’s Wall (40+ metres)
A local diving legend, Aravind, discovered The Wall, which is deep site and a great training site for the Deep Diver course. Dive centers may also conducts Technical Dives for more advanced divers at this site. This dive site is known for it’s array of sea fans and rock formations and is home to a variety of marine life, some of which includes sea snakes, moray eels, barracudas, scorpionfish and many more.
The Trawler Wreck (40 metres)
This is a more recently discovered dive site. Laying at 40 metres, this massive trawler wreck can be found 26kms from the Pondicherry harbour. The wreck is covered in ghost nets, and dive teams will visit the site frequently to clear off all the nets. A perfect site for the Wreck Diver Course and clean-up dives.
Pondicherry even offers freshwater dives. We have numerous quarries around which are perfect for a whole day of scuba diving and picnics. Pondicherry is a great place to learn diving, as you get to experience both salt water and fresh water environments. The quarry is also a great environment to try out freediving.
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The salt water dives can be accessed via boats, where divers can either back roll into the water or kit up in the water.
As for the fresh water dives, it is an hour long drive from the main city and is a shore walk.
DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?
Pondicherry waters are considered to be tropical in nature. With water temperatures being a comfortable 26-30 degree celsius; you can wear a 3mm wetsuit, a rash guard or even just a swimsuit!
Read More: What Thickness Wetsuit Do I Need?
Scuba diving in Pondicherry can be done throughout the year! During the months of February and March Pondicherry sees a rise in plankton which is great because it is what attracts the gentle giants of the sea, the whale sharks.
WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?
Scuba diving in Pondicherry is perfect for all types of scuba divers. From being friendly to Discover Scuba Divers to being fun and challenging for technical divers, Pondicherry has it all!
There are quite a few dive centres in Pondicherry that accept licenses from PADI, SSI, RAID and would be happy to assist you on your scuba diving journey.
WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?
The conditions for scuba diving in Pondicherry varies. While most of the time Pondicherry experiences great underwater conditions, with flat surfaces and good visibility. But during the monsoon months which is October to mid December, the conditions can get a little rough and it can alter the visibility. However, freshwater diving is still accessible, which is what makes Pondicherry such an ideal location for scuba divers.
HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?
Scuba diving in India, and in Pondicherry is priced quite reasonably. Two fun dives in this city would cost a diver around 5,000 INR (roughly 70 USD at the time of writing) which includes all the equipment. For non-swimmers, a Discover Scuba Dive would be a perfect entry into the underwater world and would cost a traveler 7,900 INR (~107 USD)
For people that can swim, they can try out the Open Water course which starts at 26,500 INR.
Scuba divers who would like to continue their dive education can even opt to take the Advanced Open Water Course which is priced at 19,500 INR (~265 USD) or take up a specialty course such as Nitrox (14,000 INR) or the Deep Diver Speciality (16,500 INR).
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?
Accommodation in Pondicherry is available for all types of budgets.
Hotels: Hotel rooms can start at 2000 INR and go up to 10,000 INR per night and having a rating between 3* to 5*.
Resorts: If you enjoy living by the sea, then the beach resorts in Pondicherry is just for you! The resorts range from 2000 INR and go up to quite high prices per night.
Hostels: If you enjoy backpacking, then there are multiple hostels all over Pondicherry. The starting price of a hostel here, would be around 500 INR.
WHERE DID YOU STAY?
I live here!
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Pondicherry is a beautiful city. The locals are extremely helpful and everyone is super friendly. Pondicherry has a lot to offer and it is definitely a place worth checking out if you are interested in scuba diving in India!
WHAT DO WE DO ON SURFACE INTERVALS?
Pondicherry has a number of beautiful beaches like Promenade Beach, Serenity Beach, Quiet Beach, Rock Beach, Paradise Beach and more. Each of these beaches are unique in their own way and tourists really enjoy beach-hopping.
With accessible gorgeous beaches all around Pondicherry, it also makes it an ideal spot for beginner surfers! With many surf shops around, anyone can try out surfing and tick it off their bucket-list.
Tourists also enjoy visiting the very many cafes that you will find in White Town and in the French Colony of Pondicherry.
Since Pondicherry is an amalgamation of Indian and French heritage, tourists get to see some interesting architecture. From interesting temple formations to bright coloured french houses; Pondicherry is very aesthetic to the eye.
To the shoppers and party-goers, fret not! Pondicherry has you guys covered too!
Shoppers can find souvenirs and other things at the famous Sunday Market; whereas party-goers can enjoy dancing at the many clubs, Pondicherry has to offer.