My PADI Scuba Diving Course at Netrani Islands, India

posted in: Asia, Beaches, India, Karnataka, Tips | 99

Though it has been many months since my unforgettable Scuba Dive at Havelock Islands in Andamans, that thrill of being underwater was something that I still remembered. My resolve to do an independent dive remained as strong as when I made it after my first dive. I had already gleaned information about how to get certified for Scuba Diving from the Divemasters in Havelock. All that remained was to actually sign up for the PADI Scuba Diving Course. And that is what I went on 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

With my announcement of having completed the PADI Scuba Diving course, came in a lot of congratulations and best wishes from all of you. Also, thrown in were questions on what were the requirements of such a course, where could one do it, what would it cost etc, And then, there were some who even wanted to know how it felt and if Netrani Islands, where I completed the course was worth it. Best to compile the answers all into this mega blog post on my personal experience with the PADI Scuba Diving Course at Netrani Islands along the coasts of Karnataka in India.

This post should serve you as a dual travel guide – one on how to get your scuba diving certification in India and the other guide on scuba diving at Netrani Islands. So, here goes –

Initial research on the Scuba Diving Courses in India

Ocean Tribe Dive Shop at Havelock Islands, Andamans
Most Dive shops are affiliated to both – PADI and SSI

India or Abroad, there are basically two recognized diving courses –  SSI (Scuba Schools International) and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).  I will admit that I was familiar with only one – PADI for that is the name that I saw in most of the dive shops and resorts that I had visited. A little research into the whole system revealed that both the courses were almost similar in every aspect – costs, eligibility and even the course. The differences were minor. Talking to people, I realized that PADI was a little more popular than SSI. As is the case, Familiarity evokes trust and thus, PADI it was for me.

There are plenty of PADI Scuba Diving Courses. The first step or the first level is the PADI Open Water Diver Course, which allows you to dive to a maximum depth of 18m. Only after you have completed certain number of dives, can you move ahead to the advanced courses. There are also, special courses like the underwater photography courses but again your basic PADI Open Water Diver Certification is a must for this. Naturally, this is what I opted for. Through the blog, I refer to the PADI Open Water Diver Course only.

Requirements of a PADI Scuba Diving Course

The sea was my first concern for with a home base of Bangalore, I had none accessible by a walk. Interestingly, my search on the PADI website, threw up two options in Bangalore itself. A quick email to both the places revealed the following –

  • The PADI Open Water Diver Course needs you to complete three basic modules – classroom training, confined water dives (pool training) and finally the open water dives.
  • The first two modules can be done at any PADI center across the world while the third module can be completed at a PADI certified school or resort at any of the beach destinations.
Learning at a Beach Destination requires you to stay over for at least 5 days
Learning at a Beach Destination requires you to stay over for at least 5 days

The advantage of doing this course in places like Andamans, Thailand or Indonesia is that you can finish it all up at one-go over a 5 – 7-day course. However, for that, you would need to stay at that destination, which would mean an additional hotel or stay charges. The advantage for me doing it at home was that I just need to pay for the first two modules of a course while only keeping aside 2 days at a beach destination for the third. It made sense to me given that I could complete the open water dives in a span of one year after I completed the first two modules. I knew that one trip to the beach in those 12 months was a definite! 😉

Knowledge of swimming is a must for Scuba Diving
Knowledge of swimming is a must for Scuba Diving

The other criteria as I discovered for the PADI Scuba Diving Course were –

  • You needed to be physically fit. A detailed medical form must be signed before you enroll for the course.
  • You must know swimming to the point that you can swim at least 200m (in any style) continuously.
  • Another test that you must take is staying afloat for at least 10 mins.
  • And yes, you need to be 10 years old or over 😉

Signing up for a PADI Scuba Diving Course

Armed with the knowledge, I was ready to sign up for my PADI Scuba Diving Course in April 2017 with Planet Scuba. However, there came in a catch. The open water dive season in India ends by April end for the monsoons make the visibility in the water an issue. It re-opens only in October and that for me was a huge gap. Thus, I postponed my course until November 2017. Come November, I paid up my PADI fees for the first two modules and sat down like a good student to absorb the classroom videos and notes.

Module One of PADI Open Water Diver Course

Module one is essentially, all about the theory and science behind Scuba Diving. If I had to give you a broad outline of the same, it covers –

  • Impact of Scuba Diving on your body. It illuminates you about what happens to your body in the water at a depth.
  • Learning to communicate underwater
  • Safe Diving Norms to minimize body harm – equalizing your ear pressure, ensuring you reduce nitrogen build up in your body etc.
  • Introduction of various equipment used in Scuba. How to assemble them and take care of it.
  • Techniques of getting through emergency situations underwater – like if your mask gets flooded, or you get stuck without air etc. There are certain norms that you learn about Scuba diving like how to descend in water or how to come out.
  • What to expect underwater – the marine life and being a responsible diver
Learning to communicate underwater by using Hand Signals - Part of the PADI Scuba Diving Course
Learning to communicate underwater by using Hand Signals – Part of the PADI Scuba Diving Course

I enjoyed reading this all up and I also, admit that I was a little overwhelmed. However, the next day, after meeting my instructor Ranjit, everything fell into place. He took me through the various nuances of what I read and gave examples of certain aspects of Scuba. Then, came in the classroom test, which is essentially a knowledge review with multiple choice questions. The norm is that you need to pass that with at least 70% and only then you move to module two.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Diving cannot be done as a solitary activity? It has to be done with a buddy!

Module Two of PADI Open Water Diver Course
Learning to Equalize air pressure - PADI Scuba Diving Course
Learning to Equalize air pressure – PADI Scuba Diving Course

This is the confined water course which lets you apply all your knowledge of Module one in reality but within the safe environment of a pool. My pool training took place at the Nisha Millet academy which had a pool depth of 16 feet. The pool sessions are generally over 2 days and cover the following –

  • A swim test to check eligibility for Scuba Diving
  • Assembling and using the Scuba Equipment
  • Techniques of entry and exit into the water
  • Simulations of various emergency situations and learning to handle them
  • Diving using the safe diving techniques
  • Practising the entry and exit norms of Scuba Diving
Simulating situations for the PADI Scuba Diving Test
Simulating situations for the PADI Scuba Diving Test

It was a fun thing to do and I, having done an assisted dive at Havelock Islands, knew what to expect. Ranjit would demonstrate every skill once and then test us to ensure that we could do it ourselves. This became our evaluation and at the end of the two sessions, we were passed and promoted to Module Three.

Scouting destinations for my final phase of the PADI course

Now all I had to do is my last and final module. Planet Scuba recommended dives in Maldives or Andamans for this. However, given the holiday season of December, both these destinations were working out really expensive. The next three options were Tarkali in Maharashtra, Goa or Netrani Island in Karnataka. The last one was my pick for its proximity and reviews.

About Netrani Island, Murudeshwar
Netrani Island in Karnataka for Scuba Diving
Netrani Island in Karnataka for Scuba Diving

Netrani Island is an uninhabited island, off the coast of Murudeshwar. Murudeshwar is basically a temple town, a few kilometers from Gokarna. I had in my previous post on Gokarna recommended a day trip here to enjoy the beach. Netrani Island is now your additional bonus to visit here. For the last two years, the island waters were closed for Scuba following protests from the fishermen there. However, this year, it has been opened out for this sport.

With an overnight bus journey from Bangalore, I found myself at the doorstep of West Coast Adventures – a dive shop recommended by Planet Scuba to complete my course.

Open Water Dives at Netrani Island

Boat ride to Netrani Island for my PADI Scuba Diving Course
Boat ride to Netrani Island for my PADI Scuba Diving Course

As a part of Module Three of the PADI Open Water Diver Course, you are required to do 4 open water dives, over 2 days. Bright and early in the morning, I stood at the Murudeshwar beach, awaiting the boat that would take us to Netrani Islands. Along the ride, my instructor – Moin, tested me on the knowledge from Module One and two, while outlining my tests for each dive. I was nervous – I wanted to pass! However, when I figured that the tests were the same that I had done in my confined water dives, I relaxed.

My audience at Netrani Islands when I was giving my PADI Scuba Diving Test
My audience at Netrani Islands when I was giving my PADI Scuba Diving Test

The objective of this module is to test if you can handle an actual sea water scenario. And frankly, this is far more fun than the confined water dives, for you have an audience to please. Confused? I am talking about the sea creatures that you will encounter 🙂

Harlequin Sweetlips at Netrani Islands
Harlequin Sweetlips at Netrani Islands

The waters at Netrani Island are fairly clear. We attempted the dives at two points – The Nursery and Pebble Beach. The Nursery was a little shallow compared to the Pebble Beach. However, while the visibility was amazing at Pebble beach, the dive spot had a lot of strong undercurrents. Swimming in there was definitely a task.

Scorpion Fish at Netrani Island
Scorpion Fish at Netrani Island
Moray Eel spotted at Netrani Islands during my PADI Scuba Diving Course
Moray Eel spotted at Netrani Islands during my PADI Scuba Diving Course

The dives were absolutely invigorating. Moin made the tests fun for when we had finished them, he allowed us enough time to explore. He pointed out to the various wonders of the deep sea – the colored parrot fish, hidden scorpion fish, moray eels and even, barracudas. For the first three dives, I did not take my camera in for the idea was to concentrate on mastering the proper technique. However, on the 4th dive, as a reward – Moin allowed me my camera and this is what I got back for you!

Taking pictures underwater is a different ball game itself. Staying steady in the ocean currents, hovering over a fish and not touching it – man! I have so much to learn. And possibly a new goal to reach 🙂

Blue Damsels and Clamp Shells
Blue Damsels and Clamp Shells

Hallelujah! Becoming a certified PADI Open Water Diver

Hallelujah! I have done my PADI Scuba Diving Certification
Hallelujah! I have done my PADI Scuba Diving Certification

Back on the boat, it was all celebration. I was now certified. The ride back to the mainland on the boat had me dreaming of the immense new possibilities that this PADI Certification had opened up. There are so many dreams that seem possible now. Swimming with the dolphins and the turtles is something I really want to do. Exploring the sunken ships has always been a dream. Add to that, being Indiana Jones underwater with sites like Dwarka’s sunken city gets my adrenaline up. Here are some things on my diving bucket list.

The adrenaline rush of completing my PADI Scuba Diving Course kept me up that night. I had finally done it – fulfilled my own promise that I had made at Havelock Islands. The joy of your own dream coming true cannot be explained in words. It just has to be felt. 🙂


Getting to Netrani Island, Murudeshwar

  • To do Scuba Diving at Netrani Island, you need to reach Murudeshwar. This can be done from Goa, Gokarna, Bangalore or Mangalore.
  • From any of these destinations, there are regular buses to take you to Murudeshwar. The closest destination by bus would be Gokarna or Mangalore.
  • Mangalore and Goa are the closest airports to Murudeshwar. Both these places are also, connected by railway to Murudeshwar.
  • Bangalore is an overnight bus journey from Murudeshwar.
  • Netrani Island is only a day trip possibility from Murudeshwar. You can reach here via boats from Murudeshwar beach. The Boat ride is 45 mins one.

Travel Tips

  • There are three PADI dive shops in Murudeshwar that offer you Scuba Diving at Netrani Islands. West Coast Adventures is the one that I have tried and I highly recommend the same for their considerate and well-trained instructors
  • You can opt for fun dives or assisted dives (Scuba discovery dives) at these dive shops
  • If you wish to do a PADI scuba diving course directly at Netrani, it is possible. However, you will need to plan a stay for at least 5 days to finish the course – that is inclusive of all three modules described above.
  • There are plenty of places to stay in Murudeshwar. West Coast adventures too, has a room available for students opting to take the course. It is quite safe and affordable to stay here.
  • Be well rested for your open water dives. A good night’s sleep is a must. Avoid drinking the night before the dive.
  • If you get sea-sick, please ensure you have a medicine before you head out to Netrani Island. Also, let the dive instructors know the same.
  • Keep some food and water with you on the boat when you head to Netrani. Generally, the dive shops carry light snacks and fruits on the boat but it is always good to have something of your own.


Share the Thrill of Travel

99 Responses

  1. Danik

    Fantastic post. I am not a diver but love a good old snorkel now and again but Claire did the diving schools recently and would love to check out this area for diving.

  2. Tamara Elliott

    Funny, I never thought about India as a scuba destination but it makes perfect sense. I actually got my PADI certification in Philippines and was so happy we did since the diving was incredible!

    • Ami

      Phillipines is one place that I want to dive as well. India has a few spots alright and some are quite nice too.

  3. a speck in time

    love reading this post, full of useful information. Though I have some fear of deep water and don’t meet the criteria as well. My family is extremely interested to learn scuba diving, we will include PADI course when we visit Andaman or Indonesia. Thanks for this detailed post.

  4. Eric Gamble

    Taking a Padi Scuba Diving course at the Netrani Islands in Murudeshwar India looks amazing. I love the clarity of the water and all the reefs and fish you saw. What a great way to get certified in tropical paradise in your own back yard

    • Ami

      Absolutely… Right in my backyard. Am so glad to have been able to do that. Thanks Eric for stopping by

  5. Carol

    Well done! Congrats on earning your scuba diver certificate. It’s always been a dream of mine to go scuba diving, but I’ve never gotten around to getting certified. The Netrani Islands waters looks so clear! Great capture of underwater life!

    • Ami

      Thanks a bunch. You should just Plunge in for it… The PADI course. It really isn’t so tough. Cheers

  6. Dana

    This looks so cool! Yeah I actually never realized how hard it probably is to keep a camera steady underwater haha, but it looks like you got some great footage/pics! I would love to do this someday. Genuinely don’t know if I could pass the swim test though/staying afloat for ten minutes hahah i haven’t done that since I was on swim team like 12 years ago!!

    • Ami

      If you have done this once, you will be able to swim again,. Especially if you have no time limit. Go for it Dana. Cheers

  7. Alexander Popkov

    Looks like you havd a great experience. I am kinda envious, diving pass is something I want to get, but it takes too much time.

    • Ami

      It doesn’t actually Alexander. Less than a week actually. Am sure you can manage that for this exclusive passport to the undersea.

  8. melody pittman

    I’ve never seen a post telling what is actually necessary to get PADI certified so this is a first. I learned alot. My daughter and husband are both divers but it never interested me other than seeing the pretty fish.

    • Ami

      Thanks Melody. Always makes it easy for someone to take a call on a course based on an experience. Hoping that this will help many other aspirants for diving. Cheers

  9. Denny George

    Scuba has been on my bucket list for the longest time now. Thank you for this post. It is quite informative and will help me quite a bit as and when I try and get a certification for myself.

    • Ami

      Glad to be of help and I hope you can get this done sooner. I wish I had, it really opens out a lot of new travel opportunities.

  10. mapcameratravel1

    This is such a great post. I m not a diver and never did scuba but my husband would certainly love this. We missed getting to netrani island last time but hope this scuba will definitely take us back there to explore underwater world. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ami

      I am sure he will love it. Hope you get to India before May or maybe come here after October. The best season for scuba

  11. Blair Villanueva

    Omg this adventure is still in my bucket list. I know how to dive and swim, but haven’t tried scuba diving and see the beauty underneath.
    Ah im feeling jealous!

    • Ami

      Glad to be of help. I hope you attempt this course, you will get a lot more flexibility with your dives.

  12. Jen Joslin

    Interesting to learn about the SSI course as I also had only ever heard of PADI. I attempted an introductory PADI course in 2014 in Cambodia, but freaked out about breathing underwater. I definitely want to try again as everyone raves about the underwater world that you can only experience when you dive deeper. It sounds like you had a much more extensive course, and it’s great they went into how to be a responsible diver. I hadn’t considered getting certified in India, but it’s great to know that option to take such a good course is there in Murudeshwar. Plus you saw some pretty amazing underwater creatures!

    • Ami

      I agree with the others who say that as you get better with the dives, you will enjoy them even more. Give it one more shot. It never hurts 😉

  13. Joy Generoso

    What an amazing underwater experience! Seeing the underwater creatures are just remarkable. Would love to experience it one day. 🙂

  14. Alli

    Congratulations! It sounds like an exciting adventure, and accomplishment, that you should be proud of! I can only imagine how the adrenaline would keep you up at night. The photos are incredible! This gives me some inspiration to conquer my fear of being submerged in the deep blue sea!

    • Ami

      Thank you Alli. I am glad to have been able to do this for myself and am hoping to get down to more dives. Hope you get to try it at least once to help you get over your fear

  15. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

    That’s so amazing for you! Congrats! My hubby and I have talked about becoming PADI certified and I love how this post shows the steps in the process. It makes sense for us to do the first 2 modules from home and then plan a trip somewhere to complete the 3rd module. I’m concerned about the floating part, though. I can swim but floating is super hard for me. Definitely bookmarking this post because I love your step-by-step process.

  16. Meg Jerrard

    Thanks for putting all of your info into this post – really helpful as I want to do my PADI Scuba Diving course, though not sure which country yet. I like the idea of the Andamans for finishing it all up in 5 – 7 days. Good to know though that season for this ends in April – yes, I don’t think I would want to be learning in a monsoon! Awesome choice on Netrani Island for your open water dives – the water is so clear! Congrats becoming certified, and thankyou so much for sharing what the experience is like with so much detail and depth 🙂

    • Ami

      Thank you Meg for the lovely comment. Am glad you found the post useful. Andamans definitely is an amazing choice for a scuba course. They have so many dive sites as well. Hope you get to it soon.

  17. Lauren

    Congratulations! That’s awesome! I haven’t tried scuba yet but I LOVE snorkeling so maybe I need to give it a shot? I’m a little bit scared to try it. But, it is something to aspire to do for sure. Thanks for walking me through the process in your article.

    • Ami

      Glad to be of help Lauren. I hope you do your first dive soon. If you like snorkeling, you might just like it a little deeper too.

  18. Nathalie McNabb

    Thank you for the very detailed information on the steps to get a certification. Interesting facts about getting the first 2 steps done in any worldwide PADI certification. I’m not a diver but would think this aspect would be beneficial for some people wishing to save some extra expenses.

    • Ami

      Thanks Nathalie. I hope that people benefit from the tips. It is a great way to explore the underwater.

  19. Lydia Smith

    Wow! Underneath the water is another beautiful landscape. Getting a PADI scuba diving Coirse seems hard kind of but the happiness that comes after is more. I’ll also fall in love with diving of I had tried it once and it’s interesting. Your pictures of the underwater are beautiful. And I think you should become a PADI instructor now since you can give a detailed guide. Lol

    • Ami

      Ha ha Lydia. The instructor bit is way off for you have to do certain no of dives before you can even attempt a course. My next aim is to go for more dives this year. Fingers crossed for it.

  20. Anuradha Goyal

    I wish I had discovered Diving while I was in my 20s, I would have spent a lot of time underwater. I did not know that PADI course could be done so easily – thanks for compiling all the information so neatly.

  21. Abigail Sinsona

    That course sounds like a must for those who are into diving. I have only been diving once and it was an unforgettable experience. I hope to do it again soon. This post just reminded me how much I enjoyed that experience.

    • Ami

      Maybe you should give it a shot since you did like Diving. Go for it Abigail. And thanks for stopping by

  22. Natalie

    What a detailed post! I’ve always thought it would be wonderful to scuba dive. I think it would be like swimming in an aquarium!! Snorkeling has been so much fun and scuba diving has to even better! I need to practice my swimming before I give it a try though.

  23. TravelTheGlobe4Less

    Definitely a good move going with PADI. Although the courses may look the same, I hear that some places do not recognise SSI. I did a lot of my certification in a cold and dark quarry in England so this definitely looks like a better option.

    • Ami

      This was amazing. Did not know that SSI is not as well recognized. But glad that I stuck to PADI. Cheers

  24. Jamie Joyner

    What a thrill for you to learn to scuba dive. I didn’t realize all the steps it took, but it makes sense that you must pass many tests. The sea life you see would be worth all the effort for sure!

    • Ami

      Totally worth the effort. I am glad I could finish my course for I am now raring to go for my dives.

  25. Juliette S

    Welcome to the club! Such an incredible experience to be able to get your certification abroad and in a cool place like Netrani Islands! I have PADI certifications and although there’s not a huge difference between that and SSI, PADI is certainly more widely recognised. I’m PADI AOW and am totally keen to keep up the training and do my Rescue Diver next! Good luck with your diving endeavours!

    • Ami

      Thank you Juliette. Glad to be a part of this troop. Good luck with the rescue diver course… Envying you right now