Whenever I thought of a submarine, I always pictured naval warfare, torpedoes firing at each other underwater and the world above water through a periscope. While I have always known of tourist submarines in popular beach destinations, somehow, I could never recall those when I thought of submarines. However, my recent exploration of the underwater world in a submarine in Mauritius has changed this perspective completely. It is quite an experience to be able to witness the depths and the mysteries of the ocean while sitting comfortably in an AC chamber and not getting wet! To know what I mean, let’s go a virtual tour of my journey in a submarine in Mauritius.
Arrival and Briefing
We were scheduled for this ride on a Submarine in Mauritius on the day we arrived. However, the Sea Gods were playing a match and with the turbulence that they caused, the ride was postponed to the next morning. After checking into the Blue Safari Submarine center, we received our briefing which essentially was to put our fears, if any at ease. The lady at the center explained the following –
- The ride was completely safe for all ages – from 3 years to 80+ years
- Our submarine was anchored a little away from the shore and we would be taken on a speed boat to board the same
- The maximum depth that we would be exposed to would be 35m
- The entire tour from the briefing to submarine ride to getting back would be for 2 hours.
- The submarine ride itself would be for around 45 mins.
- After we return, we would be treated to soft drinks aboard the ship.
While I was waiting in the reception, I also, noted a Sub-scooter – a submarine ride for two. Greedy me! Wanted to try that one out. However, while the thrill of it lies in driving it yourself, you can only do 3m under water. That deterred me for that I felt could be managed with some snorkeling. 🙂
First glimpse of the submarine in Mauritius
We climbed aboard “Le Betty des Mascareignes” – the base where our submarine was anchored. It looked like a small little raft with some railings on the top. Quite small and compact. If you did not know that it was an underwater vessel, you would have easily passed it off as a paddle boat. Here we were introduced to Jonathan – our charismatic Submarine pilot, who demonstrated to us on how to jump into a submarine.
Stepping into a submarine in Mauritius
There is a thrill the first time you lower yourself down that manhole into the comfortable and compact interiors of a submarine. It is not just me who felt that. Obviously, the Blue Safari staff too feels it for this is a major photo-op point for them. I just wish I had a navy cap to complete the feeling.
Once I was in, I felt that I had entered a blue world. It was eerie and yet exciting. The submarine was a 10-seater – where each person had a small window to themselves. The clarity of the view was quite nice though most of the things seem to appear a little more magnified than what it was. Imagine how our friendly window-cleaner appeared to us. 🙂
Jonathan stepped in at last and checked with us on how many of us were doing this for the first time. With all our hands raised, he smiled and said – his first time too! (with us) And with that joke, he slowly lowered the submarine into the mysterious depths of the Indian Ocean.
Hello underwater world
Curious fish stopped by at our windows to say Hello, while we glided over the coral reefs. The submarine in Mauritius has small plaques installed near the seats that depict all the different fish that you can expect to see in these reefs. This was quite useful as I still have trouble identifying the specific species of fish. I spotted plenty of butterfly fish, clown fish and some schools of snappers. They say that if you are really lucky, you even get to see turtles.
While the corals were quite beautiful, I was not as impressed. Possibly I had seen far more colorful ones in Indonesia and Andamans. Take a look at this small video of our view through this submarine in Mauritius.
As I mentioned, while the corals did not particularly excite me, what did pique my interest was the shipwreck that we encountered. This was my first personal experience with one and it was amazing catching it live as against watching it on TV. Jonathan explained to us that this was a ship that sunk in 1988. The ship was called Star Hope and it was caught in a storm that resulted in its current state.
I know all of you are thinking of Titanic – and I am sure that the Titanic wreck would be a lot larger and exotic than this one. Star Hope was fascinating precisely because of this imagination. It is also, amazing to discover how it becomes a part of the sea bed and sea life. You can observe how seaweeds and corals grow out of it and how the fish have made it its home.
Besides Star Hope, we also, saw an 18th-century anchor that was swept by the storm and has been lying here for years together.
Bidding Adieu to the Submarine
With our 40 mins up, we headed back to Le Betty des Mascareignes for a quick drink and refreshment. While we waited there, we were shown our pictures that the Blue Submarine guys had captured on our entry into the Submarine. We also, go our submarine certificates – a small rejoice for doing something unusual. With all these, we sped back to the shore and bid Adieu to our submarine in Mauritius.
Overall Experience of a submarine in Mauritius
The Submarine experience is great for a lot of reasons –
- You can experience depths that otherwise need you to have high PADI certifications
- It is comfortable and dry
- The cabins though small, are quite roomy. However, if you are prone to claustrophobia, you might just find it a bit of a problem.
- The ride is quite smooth and chances of seasickness are low.
- You are able to identify what you see immediately
However, having experienced Scuba diving, I missed getting up, close and personal with the world down there. The ship-wreck part definitely has my resolve to dive stronger for I would have loved to be right there, touching it all. I guess, a submarine ride is good when it comes to depth and for people who have the fear of swimming or diving. I think I would resort to it only in case of the former – that is the dive being too difficult or deep for me to access. 🙂
What about you? Are you game for one such experience?
- The Submarine ride is available in the North of Mauritius on the Trou aux Biches beach. You can get here with the help of a cab from any part of Mauritius.
- There are a few local buses that get you to this part of the country. You need to head to Mon Choisy beach or Grand Baie Junction for the same. Here is a useful site that can help you find a bus.
- Click here for the official website of Blue Safari Submarine in Mauritius.
- You can use the above website for all information on timings, bookings and prices.
- A submarine ride for one adult will cost you 4700 Mauritian Rupees. (Approx. 8800 INR).
- Prior booking is recommended. Also, please ensure you confirm the same before going – more from a perspective of the weather holding up for your ride.
- Blue Safari also, organizes lunch in a submarine or a wedding too. So, if you wish to exchange your vows underwater, this is a perfect solution.
- Opt for pictures through your cellphone as the submarine glass tends to capture reflection on your pictures.
P.S: I was a part of the media trip organized by Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.