What do you think when we say you can scuba dive in India? Well, we know what we thought: “really?”. But as Girls that Scuba love taking on a mission and discovering lesser visited dive destinations we headed over to Pondicherry on our latest to trip to India to find out what the diving was really like!
Where is Pondicherry?
Located in the South of India, Pondicherry is known for its scenes in the fantasy adventure movie, Life of Pi. Formerly Pondicherry; generally known as ‘Pondy’ it was under French rule until 1954. Some people there still speak French (and English with French accents).
How to get to Pondicherr
Spicejet offers 45 minute direct flights from Bangalore to Pondicherry for less than $60. From other major destinations you’ll have to fly into Chennai which is around 3 hours from Pondicherry.
Dive centres in Pondicherry
There is only one dive centre in Pondicherry – Temple Adventures, and luckily they are awesome. Established in 2009 they have single-handedly put Pondicherry on the scuba map in India. Before these guys, The Andaman Islands were all people knew about. Ok, so people still don’t know much about diving in Pondy, but Temple Adventures are trying to change that. They created their own artificial reef “Temple Reef” five years ago with metal structures, old bikes and cars. Spanning a massive 40 x 40 square meters, each section was built by hand, the dive site is now a thriving refuge for thousands of fish and other marine life.. We’ve never seen such a successful artificial reef like this anywhere in the world, and it is 100% due to their staff and researchers who dedicated years to this effortWe believe – if kept in good condition – larger marine life will soon call Temple Reef home. Temple Adventures are a ScubaPro stockist so you’ll be geared up head to toe in well maintained ScubaPro equipment. They even have side mount and technical diving set ups. Temple Adventures are a friendly bunch and will invite you to have lunch with them and enjoy beers every evening. We recommend you take advantage of their hospitality and immerse yourself in their community and learn as much as you can about their conservation efforts. Fun dives start from 5000 Indian Rupee, approx $65.
Fun Fact: Temple divers were the support divers for the Life of Pi movie!
Diving in Pondicherry
Pondicherry has 22 dives sites varying in depth and quality. DSD’s go straight to Temple Reef while experienced divers will head to The Wall a straight descent to 33m with a max depth of 50m for those tech divers among us. Danny’s Eel Garden is an awesome beginners dive full to the brim with marine life. It’s a small block of corals and rocks, and is surrounded by huge schools of fish. It honestly had to be the most fish we’d seen in such a small area in a long time! You’ll swim into them and they will cover your mask offering you a pathway between them only to cover you all over again. Danny’s Eel Garden is a beautiful dive to remind you exactly why you started diving. Visibility is not always great, sometimes vis was around 10 meters and other dives were around 7 meters. Visibility was the only negative to diving Pondicherry. If the vis was great Pondicherry would be an amazing new dive destination to reveal to you all.
What will you see?
We saw schools of barracuda, trevally, moray eels, rays and nudis. Whale sharks have been sighted numerous times, but have yet to be seen as of March 2018. Pondicherry is home to Malabar Grouper, Red Snapper, Blue Line Grouper, Coral Banded Shrimp, Dancing Durban Shrimp, Spearing Mantis Shrimp, Hump head Batfish, Round face Batfish, Zebra Batfish and so much more.
Is it worth it?
Completely! For those of you that know India, you know how hectic it is. Not many places in India offer solitude and peacefulness, so jumping into the ocean in Pondicherry is definitely recommended. If you are an experienced diver looking for great vis and big animals, Pondicherry might not be worth the trip. However, if you are in Pondicherry definitely dive.
For more information on scuba diving in Pondicherry or anywhere in India contact the guys over at Temple Adventures.