Experience The Underwater Wonders Of Andaman Islands

By: T M Abbas & Elakkiya Thavadurai

Last Updated: 21-Jun-2022

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Some of the wildest places on earth lie underwater in a world we humans understand the least. A world preserved in its untouched wilderness. And there is no better way to witness even a semblance of that wilderness than going underwater. Umpteen numbers of islands are scattered across our world, and many of them promote their tourism by offering fun water sports as their main attractions. But, making the top list of budget-friendly island destinations in the world, one cannot miss the Andaman Islands and its world-class underwater activities under budget. 

Located at a juncture between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, this Indian archipelago exudes of marine life and its inhabitants. Home to the lushest corals of India, Andaman boasts one of the rich marine biodiversity in the world. It is hard to believe that beneath the calm wavy surface, there is a bustling ecosystem full of anemones, algae, fish, sponges, clams, urchins and other scores of beautiful species that are a spectacle to watch. 

To protect the diverse ecosystems of the island, the government established the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park in Wandoor, Andaman Islands. The park is roughly 30kms from the capital, Port Blair and easily accessible by road. Public buses are operated by the government regularly between Port Blair and Wandoor. Private modes of travel by taxis or cars can also be used. This protected reserve promotes ecotourism on the islands of Jolly Buoy and Red Skin, giving the public a chance to marvel at the ocean beauty in its pristine conditions and leave us in awe. But wait for it. The jaw-dropping doesn’t stop there. Andaman fascinates us at every turn by offering a variety of exciting marine activities to unleash our adventurous streak and truly explore the ocean in-depth, literally!

Glass bottom boat:

Tourists admiring underwater life from a Glass Bottom Boat tour

If you’re not a ‘gear up and dive headfirst into the ocean’ kind of person, Glass bottom boat could be an excellent place to start exploring the water world. Suitable for anyone regardless of age, the boat rides through the serene beaches surrounding the island, offering a picturesque view of a world that is around and under. While we are wading through the tides, an onboard ocean expert will guide us along the way about its aquatic life and vibrant ecosystem. A fun way of enjoying with family and friends the view of ‘blink-and-you-will-miss-it’ sea creatures as they slide away right under our feet.  Best to do at the Jolly Buoy and Red Skin Islands, a 45-minute session will cost anywhere between Rs.600 - Rs.800. 

Snorkelling:

Floating atop while Snorkeling

Don’t want to take a deep dive into the sea? No problem. Yet wish to witness the sea creatures frolicking around their way among colourful corals? Sure, you can! Don’t know swimming, though? Not a problem, at all. But how? By Snorkelling, that’s how. Grab a snorkel mask and a fin (if you fancy), plunge into the sea to wonder at the beauty of underwater life. The clear shallow water and the fringe reef formation with an abundance of marine life make snorkelling at Andaman a memory that will be etched forever in our heart. Assisted by certified instructors, it is a safe yet sublime experience not to be missed, and shelling out approximately Rs.600 - Rs.1,500 per session is worth every rupee to have this once in a lifetime swim among those ocean inhabitants. Best experienced at Havelock Island, Jolly Buoy, Red Skin Islands.

Scuba Diving:

 Dare to dive by Scuba Diving

Into the deep blue sea! That’s what scuba diving is about. Anyone with a minimum level of fitness and health above the age of 10 and below 60 can go scuba diving. But safety is paramount when we delve deeper into the ocean, so, gearing up properly with all equipment is necessary. A PADI certified instructor will be with us throughout the journey, assuring our welfare.

Nonetheless, it is indeed the most enjoyable and sought-after water sport for the experience it offers. Breach that surface, let yourselves sink in slowly to the ground wallowing in the surrounding only to be stupefied by the calmness of the ocean and its mystic beauty. Hit the ground and be prepared to be mind-blown by the magnificent escapade of corals and other sea creatures while we swim among them. Revelling at its beauty, one has to take that dive to know the impact it leaves on us. Also, who can say no to the best chances of checking our wobbly self underwater through photos and videos? Of course, with the bonus of capturing stunning visuals of ocean life. The best underwater activity there is, it is best experienced at Havelock Island and Neil Island, and the cost varies from Rs.3,000 to Rs.7,000 per session depending upon the type of dive we choose (Offshore and Boat diving). Our thumbs-up is for boat diving though, because of the endless possibilities it offers from where you want to take the plunge. It doesn’t matter if our dive is flimsy or poised, take that leap!

Sea walk:

Tourists enjoying Sea Walk

A walk to remember, literally! Yet again, into the deep blue sea! But this time when we are submerged, we are going to be tottering on the ocean bed to marvel in the tranquillizing beauty of these underwater gems. Geared up in our safety helmet, we will be guided through the corals by a certified instructor at Havelock and North Bay island for an approximate cost between Rs.3,000 and Rs.4,000. Although anyone can attempt to take a sea walk, it is highly recommended for people who could not go scuba diving to watch those lively creatures up close.

Semi-submarine:

Model of Semi Submarine boat

If you’re not a water person and doesn’t want to get wet, then semi-submarine is the ideal option for you. But it doesn’t matter if we are a water person or not; anyone who wants to take a ‘relaxed stroll’ in the ocean can take a ride in one of these submarines. Unlike the Glass bottom boat, here we can view the sea life as we pass by instead of viewing from the surface. A ship with a viewing dorm fitted underneath, the semi-submarine can be a unique experience to witness the Waterworld in all its entirety. A merry way to play ‘Spot it’ with your family and friends by spotting several sea creatures that we pass by, the ride is sure to be filled with laughter and child-like enthusiasm. A unique experience not to be missed especially for those who can’t take part in other underwater activities in Andaman. For an approximate cost of Rs.2,500 to Rs.3,000, this activity is available only on the Northbay Islands of Andaman where the marine life and underwater visibility is less compared to other islands. The price could be a bit steep, but the comfort it offers can easily bridge that gap. 

Though there are many underwater wonders in Andaman, the perfect experience cannot be one-size-fits-all. So, pack your bags, cruise to the island, find your groove and unwind!

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