Popular Snorkeling Sites In India: Head Now for Adventure
- Andaman And Nicobar Island
- Lakshadweep-Minicoy-Amindivi Islands
- Grand Island, Goa
- Aravind’s Wall, Puducherry
- Netrani Island
- Tarkarli, Malvan
Among the snorkelling places in India, the largest island group of the Andamans is most common with a number of islands offering snorkelling lessons and tours. Besides the Lakshadweep islands, Goa and a few other beach destinations in Pondicherry, Karnataka and Maharashtra are also quite offbeat snorkelling sites, although the underwater beauty of no place surpasses the other!
1. Andaman And Nicobar IslandCrystalline turquoise blue and emerald green waters of the Bay of Bengal make way for the massive tourist influx every year to enjoy the serenity of the lush rainforests, virgin beaches and water activities. Apart from the below-mentioned sites, you will get snorkelling opportunities at South Button Island, North Bay Island, Ross and Smith Island, Rutland Island and Passage Island.
- Havelock Island –Undoubtedly one of the best places for snorkelling, Havelock Island earned its popularity from the Elephant Beach where the water current is favourable enough to explore the marine life, rock formations and wreckage of sea vessels. The Lighthouse is another snorkelling site rich in corals, eels, octopuses, turtles and various fishes. Covered in the forest, the Inglis Island will mesmerize you with the colourful fish, sea snakes and lobsters in the azure water.
- Red Skin Island, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park –Deriving its name from the abundance of red corals which make the sea surface reddish, the Red Skin Island forms part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park where you can see endangered marine species while snorkelling.
- Jolly Buoy Island, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park – Jolly Buoy is famous for its glassy seawater that makes snorkelling more enjoyable to go up close with the clownfish, anemones, blue corals and sea cucumbers. Surrounded by thick forests and beaches laden with large shells and conchs, the island can be reached via Wandoor Beach.
- Cinque Island, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor –Easily accessed via Port Blair, the uninhabited Cinque Island is distinct for its treasure of black corals which can be seen clearly from the glassy placid water surface. Shark sightings and getting close-up with baby sharks are special attractions here. Explore the hard and soft corals, snapper, batfish, angelfish, surgeonfish and clownfish here.
Best Time To Snorkel:December through April. Visit Red Skin Island during shoulder season when the visitors are scarce and Cinque Island during October through February
Dive Center Details:1. Andaman Bubble Scuba Diving, Havelock Island (089009 36494)2. Barefoot Scuba, Havelock Island (095660 88560)3. Ocean Dive Centre, Havelock Island (+91 9474299413, +91 9933233837, +91 9647000313)4. Lacadives, Chidiya Tapu, Port Blair (098200 48381)
Approximate Cost:Around 1,000-1,500 INR for half an hour
2. Lakshadweep-Minicoy-Amindivi Islands
One of the most exquisite yet most offbeat seaside destinations of India, Lakshadweep islands are pristine and less crowded. The government organization of SPORTS conduct most of the tours including snorkelling, although there are a few private tour providers run by local Laccadivians who offer snorkelling sessions.
- Kavaratti Island, Lakshadweep –The capital of the union territory, Kavaratti is not only the home to the diving centre but also endless leisure and water activities in seclusion. The lagoon and deep-sea snorkelling tours will offer you the spectacular sight of numerous coral species, large and small sea cucumbers, starfish, anemones, lionfish, turtles, Moray eels, octopuses, sharks and more.
- Agatti Island, Lakshadweep –The only island with the airport, Agatti is easily accessible via flight or ship from Kochi. The pristine blue water of the white coast laden with coconut groves and wildflowers is home to magnificent soft coral beds, dolphins, sharks and a plethora of fish. Popular sites include Japanese Garden, StingRay City, Soft Coral Garden, ClassRoom, Dolphin Reef, Fish Soup and Lost Paradise. Like Bangaram, it is also famous for the phosphorescent plankton around the coral gardens creating a bluish lustre off the beach in darkness.
- Bangaram Atoll, Lakshadweep –The uninhabited island in the shape of a teardrop lies close to Kavaratti and Agatti. While exploring the lagoon, you should also visit Parali and Thinnakara near Bangaram atoll. The resort of Bangaram offers a snorkelling tour to Princess Royal shipwreck site lying within nine and fifty-four meters of depth off the coast, which speaks on behalf of the battle between the French and British. Another snorkelling site is Manta Point where you will see mantas, reef fish and other aquatic creatures like sea cucumbers within the coral formations.
- Kadmat Island, Amindivi –The lagoon around this small island of Amindivi is blessed with seagrass beds and around 45 coral species. Crystalline water and powdery white beaches complement the underwater extravaganza with a hawksbill turtle, crabs, shellfish, rays and octopuses.
- Kalpeni Island, Lakshadweep –This uninhabited atoll is famous for the massive storm bank on the southeastern and eastern coasts, comprising of washed-up coral debris and rocks.
- Minicoy Island –Located on the southernmost tip, Minicoy is also home to coral gardens and reef creatures like sea cucumber, crabs, shellfish, starfish and reef fish. Within 8 meters depth off the island, you can enjoy a snorkelling tour to explore the three shipwreck sites which house various natural corals, eels and fish species.
Best Time To Snorkel:From November through March, best in January
Dive Center Details:Lakshadweep Diving Academy, Kavaratti (04896 262 105)
Approximate Cost:Around 750 INR for half an hour of snorkelling in the lagoon, around 1,250 INR for one hour of deep-sea snorkelling.
3. Grand Island, Goa
Spectacular beaches, fantastic surf and verdant hilly forests make Goa one of the most-visited beach destinations. However, due to cloudy water (and great crowd) visibility of marine life or variegated fish remains a tricky part in snorkelling. Grand Island on the Arabian Sea still makes it among the top sites of snorkelling with various underwater shipwrecks.
From the seven snorkelling sites of Grande Island, you should check out Cove of Shelter (cuttlefish and squids are abundant in this sandy site during mating season), UmmaGumma Reef, Bay of Bounty and the Wreck of Suzy (the sinking site of the ship named SS Rita) while snorkelling. Palolem Beach, Sinquerim Beach and Monkey Island can also be considered for exploring coral reefs. You would see Moorish idols and lots of fish species like snappers, barracudas and parrotfish.
Best Time To Snorkel:Mid October through April. Avoid the rainy months as the tides are unwelcoming and the water remains very murky.
Dive Center Details:1. Dive Goa, Candolim (093250 30110)2. Goa Aquatics, Calangute (098226 85025)3. Scuba Diving in Goa (088060 33332)
Approximate Cost:Around 2,000 for half an hour
4. Aravind’s Wall, Puducherry
If you thought Puducherry was only about spiritual fervour and colonial architecture, take a dip into the water at the Aravind’s Wall and explore a whole new world ruled by whales, rays, lionfish, parrotfish, triggerfish, groupers, Moray eels, sea snakes and crustaceans. Temple Reef is another snorkelling site in Puducherry where you can go up close with the whale sharks, bannerfish, dolphins, turtles and many other marine animals.
The site of Aravind’s Wall got its name from the Temple Adventures co-founder and diver Aravind. Surfing India and Temple Adventures monitor over twenty diving and snorkelling sites where man-made coral reefs flourish in perfect harmony with the natural ones. You will get trained professionals as your instructor here and you can even take part in coral conservation by contributing to an artificial coral frame that the divers would place on the sea bed to let it flourish.
Best Time To Snorkel:From January through June, from September through November (once monsoon rain is over)
Dive Center Details:Temple Adventures (099402 19449)
Approximate Cost:Around 1,000 INR for one hour
5. Netrani Island
Often called as Pigeon Island due to abundant pigeon population, the Netrani Island on the Arabian coast of Karnataka lies only ten kilometres away from Murudeshwar and is known to very few travellers as a snorkelling spot. While the site is still being developed as a proper snorkelling spot, the number of parrotfish, clownfish, butterflyfish, barracuda, manta ray, stingray etc depicts the potential of the place. Reef sharks and sea turtles are spotted in deeper regions. The island considered as “the heart of India’s diving” is flanked by jagged rock bed and therefore, launching of all the snorkelling expeditions takes place from a boat.
Best Time To Snorkel:December and January are the best months, however, the snorkelling season starts from October and continues till April.
Dive Center Details:Dive Goa, Netrani (93250-30110)
Approximate Cost:Around 1,000 INR for half an hour
6. Tarkarli, Malvan
Located near Sindhudurg fort, the Tarkarli snorkelling site in Maharashtra remains functional from 9 AM till 4 PM and as not many travellers are aware of this affordable snorkelling paradise in central India, you will get to enjoy snorkelling in leisure. The crystal clear water remains in perfect temperature to let the vibrant tropical aquatic plants and reefs of corals flourishing along with small sharks, tropical fish and dolphins.
With clear visibility through the bluish-green water up to 20 feet depth of the ‘Queen Beach’, you will also catch a glimpse of the submerged remnants of the Sindhudurg Fort. This remote village on the Konkan coast amazes both newbie and seasoned snorkelers alike.
Tarkarli is easily accessible by road from Pune, Mumbai and Goa while the nearest airport is in Goa. From Tarkarli, you have to take a speedboat journey for 45 minutes approximately to reach Vengurla Rocks which is the diving/snorkelling site.
Best Time To Snorkel:October to March is the snorkelling season
Dive Center Details:1. Shamika Scuba Diving (094041 63204)2. Adarsh Scuba Diving Center (094047 92858)3. MarineDive Scuba Diving (090499 47804)4. MTDC's Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports (02365 248 790)
Approximate Cost:Around 500 INR for one hour
Additional Requirement And Tips
- You can carry your snorkelling gears like an eye mask, snorkel tube and fins but most snorkelling operators offer these on rent, the cost included in the overall snorkelling fare. So, it is better to leave your gears at home.
- Being an expert in swimming can be a plus point but not mandatory as while snorkelling, you will get life jackets from the dive centres.
- You should not set out for snorkelling alone; no matter if you know the area or are an expert swimmer-snorkeler. The snorkelling tours are offered only by authorized instructors who know the permitted areas for snorkelling and the ethics regarding the activities so that the habitat is not disturbed.
- Make sure you get a permit from the tourism authority before taking part in snorkelling in Lakshadweep.
- If you have hydrophobia or feel suffocated underwater, get advice from the expert regarding whether this is a permissible activity for you. Test the snorkelling equipment and make sure they fit properly. Breathe regularly and slowly through your mouth and if water leaks through the goggles or gets inside the snorkel, ask the instructor for help. Adhere to the instructions from your instructor properly.
- Use only waterproof action camera or use waterproof cover while using one –don’t compromise your safety or balance while underwater shooting. Keeping your camera safe is your responsibility alone, for any damage such as saline water leakage, the diving centre will not bear any expenses.
- Acclimatize yourself before taking a snorkelling tour, practice floating or swimming in any swimming pool or get a lifejacket and float near the beach if possible.
- Monsoon season is a no-no for snorkelling as visibility is low. However, slight drizzles would not be a problem. Choose shoulder season if you want less crowd.
- Getting an instructor on a particular day in peak season might be a problem –call the diving centre beforehand. Pre-booking will not be necessary in shoulder seasons.