My first Scuba Dive at Havelock Islands, Andamans

posted in: Andamans, Asia, Beaches, India, Tips | 75

For those of you who have been following me on my social channels, it will not really be news. However, for the others, here is the big news that I wanted to spill in my Travel Flashback 2017 post about the secret activity I did in November. I finally, did my Scuba Diving Certification and am now a certified PADI Open Water Diver. It had been a long cherished dream that became a determination after my first scuba dive at Havelock Islands in Andamans.  I never did write about it for I had promised myself that once I complete my certification, I will share the story of how it all started. And thus, my post on My First Scuba Dive at Havelock Islands.

Govindnagar Beach_Havelock Islands
Govindnagar Beach at Havelock Islands

My love affair with Water

Me snorkeling at Mawun Island, Flores
Me snorkeling at Mawun Island, Flores

Ask my close friends and family about me in water, and I bet they will vouch for me as an absolute “Water Baby”. My first swimming lesson that I vividly remember was when I was maybe, 5 years old and my feet would not touch the sandy floor of the sea in Abu Dhabi. My salty tears mingled with the sea water as I paddled my way to the shore to my mom only to be lifted again and thrown by my cousin for round ‘X”. Soon after, fear gave way to wonder and a new skill – that was sharpened and honed with proper swimming lessons in school. After that day, the sea gave me a certain thrill.

Blue Star fish that we spotted when snorkeling. Picture credits: My blogger friend - Lucie
Blue Starfish that we spotted when snorkeling.                                                                      Picture credits: My blogger friend – Lucie

Snorkeling was a piece of cake for me and I absolutely enjoyed it at various places – the best being at the Pink Beach in Indonesia. This is where I saw the best of the underwater world but sadly only from atop. A few skinny dives were all I could do and it was at that time I wished I could have done a dive. It felt so exotic and exclusive when I saw a few of my fellow bloggers head out for it. I returned home only to fly out to Andamans later that year, with a mind made up to attempt my first ever scuba dive at Havelock.

The Prep for my first scuba dive at Havelock

Ocean Tribe Dive Shop at Havelock Islands, Andamans
Ocean Tribe Dive Shop at Havelock Islands, Andamans

Day two of my visit to Andamans had me at Havelock Islands and the same day, I convinced not just my hubby but the rest of my travel companions to go for a Scuba Dive at Havelock. On the same day, with the reference given by our hotel staff, I landed up at Ocean Tribe Dive Center. The only thing I knew I had to look for was a PADI certified Dive Shop and Ocean Tribe had that right up front on its porch. The Divemaster at the center patiently explained on how the assisted dives would take place – the preparation that we needed to do, the time of dive and the training needed. He mentioned that since it would be an assisted dive, there was no prior knowledge of swimming was essential.

Disclaimer Forms for Scuba Dive at Havelock Islands in Andamans
Disclaimer Forms for Scuba Dive at Havelock Islands in Andamans

Then came a moment, where every gulped down their saliva as we filled the Diving Liability Release form, which basically states that you are doing this on your own accord and that you release the dive center of any liability. While we quietly filled the forms, a few of us thinking, am I in the right mind to do this?

This is where our Divemaster gave us two options – one was of a shore dive and the other being a boat dive. Before the others could answer, I said – “Boat Dive“. I suppose it was the combination of excitement and conviction on my face that no one argued with me. After all – I was the one who convinced them to sign those forms 😉

First lessons for a scuba dive at Havelock

With the exceptions of the kids and another friend who had firmly said no to the activity, 5 of us stepped out to reach the dive center by 7 am. We were handed out our wetsuits and shoes and then, asked to try out the various dive masks for the one that fit us the best.  In batches of twos and threes, we were taken to the shallow waters for our first lessons of a scuba dive.

Shallow Water training for the first scuba dive at Havelock Islands, Andamans
Shallow Water training for the first scuba dive at Havelock Islands, Andamans

The one thing that I thought might be an issue for me was carrying the Cylinder on my back but I forgot that water makes you weightless. Strapped on with my BCD (the black jacket – Ha! Showing off my new knowledge), I stood there for the first skill of Scuba – breathing underwater

Learning to breathe underwater in Scuba Diving
Learning to breathe underwater in Scuba Diving

The first rule of Scuba diving is to breathe continuously through your mouth and for me, that was like a huge relief for it was much easier than swimming where you tend to hold your breath. Slowly and steadily, we were taught how to use sign language underwater, how to equalize the ear pressure, clear the mask if water enters it, purging water out of the mouth etc etc. This is where the patience of the divemasters is commendable as they answer questions, quell fears and reassure us all. For this, I definitely recommend the Ocean Tribe instructors.

Sign Language saying OK
Sign Language saying OK

Taking the plunge

Boat-Ride-to-Nemo-Reef_Havelock_Andamans
Boat-Ride-to-Nemo-Reef_Havelock islands, Andamans

Now that we were sorted out on the basics of the first assisted dive, we stepped onto a boat to head to our dive site – called the “Nemo Reef“. Everyone’s eyes popped out when they realized that they would have to enter the water with a backflip. Brave as I was, I became the first one to show off. Sit on the edge, pull your feet up and splash! With the weight of the cylinder, you anyway, flip backwards into the water! Pity no one took a picture of that.

The First Breath & View

My Dive Instructor was already beside me before I emerged out from my cool backflip and he pressed something (now I know that it was my BCD) so that I kept floating around. I watched my hubby do a clumsy flip (Ha! The one thing I am better in) and the rest of them being gently coaxed into making their entry. With a quick signal, my dive master gave me an ok sign and deflated my BCD gently to lower me into the depths of the cool blue sea.

First View of the Corals during a scuba dive at Havelock
First View of the Corals during a scuba dive at Havelock

With a blink of an eye, and the first spray of bubbles from my mouth, I looked around in wonder. I was underwater amidst the cool, colorful looking fish. My swimming instincts kicked in as I went horizontal and with the dive master assisted, made my way down to the bottom.

Exploring the depths of the sea at Havelock

It’s funny but true – instinctively I knew what to do. I had already aligned myself in the dive position and as much as I was not supposed to kick, I was moving like a pro. While the rest of my travel companions were vertically led to various coral sights, I pretty much swam with my instructor to them. He admitted to me later that he only kept a hand on me to guide me but I was pretty much on my own.

Chasing fish during Scuba Dive at Havelock
Chasing fish during Scuba Dive at Havelock

 

School of Fish at Nemo Reef
School of Fish at Nemo Reef
Colorful bunch at Nemo Reef, Havelock Islands, Andamans
Colorful bunch at Nemo Reef, Havelock Islands, Andamans

The blue waters were so colorful beneath with various corals decorating the bed and stunning clownfish peeking out of them. Seeing Nemo, in reality, is far more exhilarating than what you saw through a screen. Colorful Parrotfish and schools of vibrant swimming beauties crossed my path. I swam with some and chased a few big ones. Every moment was wonderous, every moment was a surprise.

Clownfish at home, Havelock Islands, Andamans
Clownfish at home, Havelock Islands, Andamans
Coral life at Havelock Islands, Andamans
Coral life at Havelock Islands, Andamans
Posing for a picture with my hubby on my first scuba dive at Havelock Island
Posing for a picture with my hubby on my first scuba dive at Havelock Island

We posed for a few pictures, including one couple pic with my hubby 8 m below the sea. I even managed to get down to the floor bottom and hover there – thanks to the confidence that my instructor had in me. It seemed like a pity, when he signaled that we had to get back to the boat.


First independent step during Scuba Dive at Havelock

Back on the Boat with a promise

Happy After the First Scuba Dive at Havelock
Happy After the First Scuba Dive at Havelock

As we broke to the surface, my heart sank. I did not want it to be over. I wanted more. And even before I was on the boat, I had decided that I was going to do my open water certification. I wanted to do this over and over again and by myself. It was my special thing. This was that thing that made me feel alive.

My Minx on her first scuba dive at Havelock
My Minx on her first scuba dive at Havelock

My hubby in his quiet manner acknowledged that this was one amazing experience. However, not so much of a swimmer, he was just happy to do the assisted dive. We decided to return back with our daughter the same noon, so that we could share the wonders of the ocean depths with her. She had just turned 10 and was at the right age to do the assisted dive. Return we did, and as my minx made her way into the water, I sat on the boat and stared at the water longingly. I imagined swimming with the dolphins and the turtles. I dreamt of exploring sunken ships and hidden treasures. This I knew, was something that I had to do!

Me after my PADI Certification at Netrani Island - a year later from my first scuba dive at Havelock
Me after my PADI Certification at Netrani Island – a year later from my first scuba dive at Havelock

I made that promise to myself to finish this course over the next one year. Upon my return to land, I announced it to my hubby and with his encouragement, a year later in November, I signed up for my PADI Course. I finally, completed it in January 2018 (a month over a year promised) at Netrani Island and this post, as promised is a celebration of that. With my new PADI certification, I feel as if I have been handed an exclusive pass to the beautiful oceanic world.

Scuba Dive at Havelock

Getting to Havelock Islands

  • Havelock Islands is accessible from Port Blair by boat only. To know how to get there, take a look at my guide to Andamans.
  • Port Blair is connected to the Indian Mainland by water and air. You can either take a ship here or fly from Chennai or Kolkata to it. All this is explained in the same guide that I have mentioned above.

Travel Tips

  • Please read this guide for all the dos and donts and the restrictions in Andamans
  • When attempting Scuba Diving, please look for Dive shops with an authentic PADI certification
  • If you have a cold or are unwell, please do not attempt a dive
  • Please listen and practice all the instructions given by your dive master. It is easy enough but staying true to it, is what will keep you safe.
  • You need to wear a swimsuit under your wetsuit.
  • If you wear contact lens, please inform your dive master in advance. It is not really a problem but they will instruct you accordingly on how to clear water from your mask. P.S: I wear them too!
  • The best time to dive is early morning when the water is relatively undisturbed.
  • Sleep well and be rested for your dive
  • Carry your memory card for the underwater pictures with you. The Dive center inserts it into their camera and helps you with your pictures.
  • If you feel any discomfort during the dive, inform the instructor and head back to the boat
  • Do not attempt to touch any of the marine animals when on a dive.
  • For your first assisted dive, you don’t really need to know swimming. However, if you wish to do a course, it is another matter altogether. Coming up on my next blog, all about doing the PADI Open water certification.

 

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75 Responses

  1. yogi Sarswat

    Beautiful pictures with detailed and informative write up . Everyone has a dream to be there and try scuba diving at least once in lifetime.

  2. Kala Ravi

    That was some adventure! Reminded me of the experience in Zindagi na mile dobara. Your experience sounds so thrilling, makes me want to try this myself. And the views underwater, mind blowing!

    • Ami

      To be honest, the silence in the boat after the dive was quite like the movie. It was one hell of a trip

  3. Dada

    Ohh congratulation for your Padi! I know how you feel, once you are down there you just don’t want to get up again. I can easily get lost with time underwater both while scuba diving or snorkeling. I must say though that depending of the location, I prefer to snorkeling as some places one don’t need to go very deep to see amazing marine life…plus you can stay as long as you want. Perhaps now when you have your Padi you can try to do the freedive courses!

  4. Arnav Mathur

    Getting the chance of experiencing breathing underwater is indeed a wonderful experience. Just like you I too had my first tryst with the underwater world back in Havelock Islands. The first dive is always the most memorable of the lot, and you are lucky to have tried out diving for the first time in the pristine blue waters of the Andaman Sea in Havelock Islands. welcome to the group of PADI certified divers.

  5. Soraya

    What an absolutely amazing experience to have diving out at the Andaman! I totally would love to add this to my bucket list. You did great convincing all your travel companions and your hubby to join you on the dive. It sounds like the company you traveled with were professional and patience, they did well to get everyone comfortable in the water. I am sure backflipping into the water with your tank was a different experience, but I love that you ticked to do the boat dive!

    • Ami

      It could not have been more thrilling than this for sure and am glad I made those choices. Thanks for your lovely comment

  6. Soumya Nambiar

    Awesome, Ami. It is so nice to read about your first dive experience. I have also only done an assisted dive once and I need to go get certified too. I am a water baby just like you and hope I can do it by the end of this year. I was terrified of doing the backflip.

    • Ami

      The back flip did seem scary at first but it’s a piece of cake after it is done. Go for your certification and then we can plan a dive trip together. Cheers

  7. Samah

    I don’t hear about diving in India very often so this was a great read! It’s amazing how you get up close to the coral reefs and see marine life up close. I haven’t explored underwater much – basically stay on land wherever I go, but this has truly gotten me interested in learning to dive.

  8. 100cobbledroads

    Being a water baby since you were a child, it is not surprising that you took to underwater diving so well. Now you can plan to go back for repeats, at different locations across the world! Me…I’m a little wary of all those underwater creatures 🙂

    • Ami

      They don’t harm you if you don’t 🙂 but I can understand coz my daughter too is scared of them

  9. Hannah

    What a great achievement – congratulations! Your first dive does seem inspirational – all those fish, and getting to see Nemo too! I love the water too, and would love to give scuba diving a go – will wait until I am warmer climes like Andamans! You’ve reminded me that I want to try this, so will definitely add it back on the list!

  10. TravellingDany

    Diving must be such a great experience! Because of my asthma I can’t do that, but I love that this school will assist you also if you don’t have any experience! I’d feel very safe and I had no idea you had to learn sign language underwater, too!

    • Ami

      Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry to hear abt your asthma. Not sure if you can still attempt diving but you can always check with your doctor on the same. Sign language is the only way to communicate underwater 🙂 and quite important too.. You got to be able to tell your buddy if you are OK or not for one. 🙂

  11. Lydia Smith

    You sure do have a strong mind. You not only went under the water but also encouraged others. Lol. I love the views from underneath the waters but I’m not sure I have enough nerve to try diving deep and even taking pictures. Good to read you’ve completed your PADI certification course, I look forward to reading more of scuba dive posts.

  12. Linger Abroad

    Congratulations on receiving your certification! Diving sure can carry a level of trepidation for first timers, but once you get down there, it’s the most amazing place to be in. Havelock Islands look like a great place to dive and you got to see a lot of wildlife. Am excited to see your future diving stories!

    • Ami

      Thank you for stopping by. It sure can be overwhelming when you start but that first dive is just so amazing that you forget everything. Waiting to do more of those dives. Cheers

  13. Sandy N Vyjay

    What a lovely experience. Have never done Scuba Diving. Not much of a swimmer, just enough to stay afloat probably. Not sure if that is enough for scuba diving. But the fascinating underwater world is something irresistible and am sure to dive somewhere, sometime to experience this.

  14. whisperwanderlust

    Congratulations on getting your certification and I hope you will have plenty of chances to dive into the most beautiful waters on this planet. I don’t know even how to swim :)) I believe marine life is fascinating and you should definitely take advantage of your new skills.

    • Ami

      That is indeed the intention. Hoping to maximize my certificate with more dives. Thanks for stopping by

  15. Linda de Beer

    Well done on the Scuba Diving Certification! I’ve never had a desire to dive. I’d much rather snorkel, knowing a breath of fresh air is within easy reach. But you make it look so easy. I love the picture of your first view of the corals with the little Nemo in it.

    • Ami

      Actually, breathing here is easier than snorkel for you are constantly breathing easy air on your back. I think you should attempt one assisted dive to get an experience. You might change your mind. Thanks for stopping by Linda.

  16. Parnashree Devi

    What a great experience you had. I would have never dared to jump since I am a water-phobic. But seeing you doing it and getting the certificate makes me feel good. Wish I could gather the courage to do it someday. These are good tips as well.

    • Ami

      Try an assisted dive to start with and who knows, you might just love it. My cousin was scared too and she cannot swim either but she loved this experience. Thanks for stopping by, Parna

  17. Valerie Wheatley

    Wow, what an accomplishment, congratulations! I’m so happy to read your story – sounds like you were made to scuba dive. I had a terrible experience (my first and only) scuba diving in the Galapagos and I’ve been scared to give it another go. But sounds like you had a much nicer instructor and more hand-holding if you needed it. I may have to give it another try!

    • Ami

      Come to Andamans or Netrani Islands in India and I bet you will love the experience with the team I have recommended. Thanks for the lovely comment, Valerie

  18. Nathan

    Congrats on becoming a qualified scuba diver! Seeing the abundance of marine life underwater and how beautiful they look in their natural habitats certainly makes this guy here want to pick up scuba diving too – thanks for sharing!

  19. Elisa

    Congratulations for your PADI! Like you, I started swimming very young but I was never interested in knowing what was down in the sea bottom. One day, I decided to give it a try and I saw amazing fishes and plants just like in your pictures and, like you, I was hooked. Good that you could share your experience with your hubby and daughter, sharing makes things even more interesting.

    • Ami

      It sure does feel good to share the experience. Am craving for more now. Hope you get down to it soon.

  20. Medha Verma

    I am so inspired to go diving after reading your post! I am planning to do it (I cannot believe I haven’t as yet) and it’ll be my first dive too so I can totally imagine how amazing it is going to be, after reading about your first experience. Andaman (and Havelock) is one of the very few places in India that can offer such great diving experiences because of the clear waters and marine life. Kudos, you did it!

  21. Meg Jerrard

    I just finished reading about your PADI scuba course, and now inspired to get it done myself! Havelock sounds like a fabulous place for your first dive – haha I think I would be like your hubby though and be quite clumsy in my flip!! It sounds like you’re such a natural in the water – and I love how clear the water is here – you got such fabulous photos. Congrats on your first scuba dive! I look forward to hearing about many more now that you’re obviously hooked!

  22. neha

    Wow Ami..first of all, the “firsts” are always so special. And then, you did it so well. The underwater world of Andaman looks so beautiful. When I go there, i will definitely try scuba diving (you are really inspiring me to!) And I saw you took the PADI scuba course as well. Way to go!

    • Ami

      This led to the course Neha. I could not have not done it. Glad I was able to live up to myself. 😉 And Andamans is the place for a dive.

  23. Marvi

    Oh wow! Congratulations Ami! I’m soo happy for you! Accomplishments like this ought to be celebrated and I can understand how exciting this is for you. Like you, I’ve always wanted to learn how to dive. Though of course, I did not know how to swim when I was just a kid. I’ve started learning to swim 5 yrs ago, but I’m still not a strong swimmer. LOL.. It does take a lot of time but I’m hoping to get certified too just like you!
    Kudos also to your husband for supporting and joining you on this cool activity!

    • Ami

      Thank you Marvi. You need not be a strong swimmer, just have to be good. Give the course a try, you never know you might surprise yourself.

  24. Kavita Favelle

    Loved reading the story of your first dive and how it lead you to do your PADI certification! I understand what you mean about that surprise wonder of being able to swim and breathe under the sea and to enjoy the peaceful beauty there! Great that you fell so hard for it and will be enjoying more dives soon!

    • Ami

      Thank you Kavita. Glad you enjoyed the whole tale. This was my first dive and I hope to do more of these now that I am done with the certification. Amen!

  25. Followingtherivera

    I’m so jealous of this, as I was terrible when I tried scuba diving! However, I feel inspired to try again especially after seeing your photos! Good tips on the breathing, will try it next time!

  26. Mann

    Wow…I almost did SCUBA. Thanks for such a detailed and interesting post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Mann

    • Ami

      Thank you Parul. Just read your attempt. I guess the fear did overpower you but you know what, attempt. One more. Who knows, after my post, you might feel better 🙂

  27. Shaily

    Wow! Such a splendid experience! Andaman and Scuba both are on my bucket list. Your post has inspired me to plan for both soon. Your pictures are very beautiful – especially the undersea world. Thanks for sharing the details of your diving experience. Very helpful!

  28. Jane Schuler

    Really this experiences is so interesting. I just thought it when I under water how the see view that is wow just I realiged.You do that. You are so lucky. That view is a different view in world. Underwater is so beautiful. I am also excited to do that. Thanks for share this interesting post and that inspire me to go there.

    • Ami

      And hope you go to Havelock for it. It sure is one experience you will cherish. Cheers

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