The only reason I wrote such a detailed blog about my experience of scuba diving in Pondicherry, is to compel you to try it. Going back to 2018, when I was a newbie diver to becoming a PADI elite 100 scuba instructor in 2019. This blog will answer all your questions about scuba diving in Pondicherry. And if it doesn’t, then please comment below and I shall try to add the missing flavours.
After living in Pondicherry for almost about 2 years, I can say it is one of the most beautiful places in India. There are an endless amount of things I can talk about this beautiful union territory. The ravishing streets of French colonies, unique Auroville universal city, peaceful Aurobindo ashram, scrumptious Indo-French Cuisine, to stunning beaches of Pondicherry but today I will focus on one element, and that is SCUBA DIVING!
Okay so first, let me start with a few questions that are commonly asked about scuba diving in Pondicherry.
Is it worth Scuba Diving In Pondicherry?
To answer your question, Scuba diving in Pondicherry is totally worth the time and money. There are more than 23 dive sites to explore for all level of divers. The visibility in Pondicherry is 5-8 meters on an average and gets as good as 18-20 meters in certain months. There’s an abundance of marine life you will spot while scuba diving in Pondicherry like Batfish, Rabbit Fish, Groupers, and Snappers, to name a few.
My top 3 reasons why scuba diving in Pondicherry is worth the cost –
- Rich marine life – You will spot a vast population of fishes throughout the year in Pondicherry.
- The Visibility – You can expect visibility of 5-8 meters (super suitable for a mainland diving destination). It gets as good as 20 meters too!
- Whale Sharks & Mantas – Yes! You heard me right. You can spot whale sharks and Manta Rays In the waters of Pondicherry. Of course, it’s a rare sighting. But always worth the excitement, aren’t they?
How much does Scuba diving cost in Pondicherry?
If you’re experiencing scuba diving for the first time, as a beginner, it will cost you around INR 7900 excluding taxes. Whereas for a course, the most basic one will cost you INR 17,500 excluding taxes.
Scuba Diving in Pondicherry Price & Duration
|Program Name||Level||Duration||Price (INR)|
|Discover Scuba Diving||Beginner/Nonswimmer||0.5 Days||7,900|
|Scuba Diver Course||Beginner/Nonswimmer||2 Days||17,500|
|Open Water Course||Entry Level/Swimmer||4 Days||26,500|
|Fun Diving||Certified Divers||0.5 Days||5,000|
You will find a couple of PADI dive centres in Pondicherry. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is a global scuba diving body with a high level of safety standards and requirements.
A list for the cost of scuba diving in Pondicherry for different programs
How Safe is Scuba Diving in Pondicherry?
Scuba diving is super safe in Pondicherry. You will find a couple of PADI dive centres in Pondicherry (PADI is an international body of scuba diving). Scuba diving in itself is an entirely safe activity. Being an adventure enthusiast myself, I can say scuba diving is the safest adventure sport. Every adventure sport has some inherent risks. To get the most reliable scuba diving experience in Pondicherry, make sure you dive with a PADI dive centre and also, check out the reviews a dive centre has.
I would recommend diving with Temple Adventures as I used to work there, and I know the kind of safety standards and experience they have to offer.
What is the best time to go scuba diving in Pondicherry?
To get the best scuba diving experience in Pondicherry, go diving in October or March. After working in Pondicherry for 2 years as a scuba instructor, I can totally vouch for October and March. October is the best month, the visibility that time will be around 18-20 meters with amazingly blue water.
Top dive sites in Pondicherry
Pondicherry has more than 23 dive sites, and many more are yet to be explored. The top dive sites in Pondicherry are
- The Wall
- Danny’s Eel Garden
- Temple Reef
- Trawler Wreck
- Tiny Rocks
The best thing about scuba diving in Pondicherry is the flexibility it offers. It has dive sites for all level of divers. You can be a complete beginner, or a technical diver and Pondicherry will have something for you in its kitty.
A few of my favourite dive sites in Pondicherry
- Aravind’s Wall – The wall is a beautiful deep dive site with a depth rating ranging from 32 meters to 43 meters. It is a 2-km long reef with multiple dive sites on it. My favourite one is Aravind’s wall. The primary attraction of Aravind’s wall is the large population of gorgonian fan corals you will spot there (some are of the size of a car). You will spot a lot of hard and soft corals at this dive site too. Divers have also reported spotting Manta Rays here. The other marine life you can spot here is groupers, red-tooth triggerfish, butterflyfish, and shortfin tuna, to name a few. Also, do you know? The wall is actually a tectonic plate! Really cool right?
- Temple Reef – The most famous dive site you will hear about when you go scuba diving in Pondicherry is Temple Reef. As the name suggests, the reef was built by Temple Adventures. Yes! It’s an artificial reef. But it’s not something terrible. An artificial reef is just a few structures secured in the wild ocean on the sea bed. What it does is attract a lot of marine life (it’s like providing them with a house). The reef doesn’t have any corals, but you will spot a high density of marine life here. You can spot a few cars and bikes at temple reef on the sea bed and also a bunch of palm leaves tied around the structures. It’s a beautiful dive site, and I have dived at least 500 times here, and it still wouldn’t stop surprising me. I spotted a lot of whale sharks in 2019 at this reef.
- Danny’s Eel Garden – Another very famous reef you will hear about when scuba diving in Pondicherry is Danny’s Eel Garden. As the name suggests, the dive site is highly populated by a variety of species of Moray Eels. The dive site is a pretty cool one to spot some frogfishes and nudibranchs. It is also populated with a lot of sweepers and cleaning wrasse! The whole dive site is basically a bunch of rocks in the shape of a ship’s ballast.
I hope my content was helpful and it gave you a clear idea about scuba diving in Pondicherry. If you are interested in getting certified internationally as a recreational scuba diver, then continue reading the blog. I talk about my experience with the PADI open water course.
My experience with the PADI Open Water Course in Pondicherry
The story started in 2018, with a desire to head out for an adventure.
(This was before I became a scuba diving instructor. Never did I think this would lead to me getting trained as a scuba instructor in the coming year).
Anyway, coming back to the story! I needed a break from the monotony that was haunting my life. One day while casually chatting with a friend, I came across Scuba Diving and how she was eager to experience it. The idea was entirely new to me, but being an adventure enthusiast myself, it did fascinate me.
After doing quite a bit of trekking around the north of India and climbing higher, the idea of going down deep fascinated me!
I quickly turned to the internet god, to know more about my newly discovered interest. After thorough research, I decided to do the PADI open water course, which would certify me to dive to a depth of 18 meters anywhere in the world, only to find most of the dive shops in India to be shut due to an offseason!
It was the month of August, and most places in India were either shut or too far fetched and heavy on the pocket. After a long period of struggle, the internet god finally blessed me with an answer – Temple Adventures on the east coast.
I immediately contacted the dive shop located in the teeny but artistic union territory of India – Pondicherry.
A pleasant voice from the other side responded to my question about the open water course “you can start tomorrow! We dive year-round in Pondicherry as the ocean allows us to”. I was instantly excited with the thought of being able to escape the concrete jungle!
I was so excited with the thought of heading to this beautiful french town of India for an Open Water Course!
The next immediate step I took was to book a flight, straight from Pune to Chennai.
Once landed at Chennai, I took a bus from the Koyambedu bus stop to Pondicherry, which is a 3-hour ride.
The busses from Chennai to Pondicherry are available from 6 am to 1 am and cost anywhere from INR 155 to 210.
Remember to take the bus which goes through the ECR and not the one by the bypass. The ECR is a lovely route, especially if taken during the day time.
As the name suggests, the road goes along the east coast, offering a continuous view of the ocean and a few beautiful beaches along the way.
Fast-forwarding to reaching Pondicherry, I took an auto and went straight to the dive shop with my backpack.
The dive shop was a building with PADI flags all over, wetsuits hanged around the corner, and two small pools.
They also had a few accommodation options ranging from dorms, shacks, single rooms to luxury rooms.
In no time I felt at home because of the warm welcoming and friendly nature of the staff.
This was the small but neat accommodation I opted for!
After settling in and getting a good nights sleep, it was time for day one of the Open Water Course.
Day One was spent watching 5 hours worth of videos (divided into 5 sections) and learning a lot of dive theory, after which we went through three confined pool sessions, where we were taught many non-swimming related scuba skills. Basically, the first pool session is all about getting familiar with the use of scuba equipment and getting comfortable in the water.
Day Two was something similar, only this time we headed to the bigger pool for working on the remaining skills. In the PADI open water course, you learn about 24 open water skills and 3 skin diving skills. A few skills can be taught in a smaller pool (non-swimming skills) and the rest need a bigger pool as they are swimming and buoyancy related skills.
There was also a 200-meter swim test and a 10-minute float test at the big pool (These are the prerequisites for an Open Water Course).
Finally, after completing the pool sessions and theory, there was a sense of achievement. But only half the job was done. After two days of the pool and theory sessions, I was nervous, excited, happy and enthusiastic at the same time, eager to witness the unknown!
Day Three & Four of the open water course, consist of a total of 4 dives, with 2 dives each a day. In the open water dives, you generally perform a few of the skills which you mastered during your pool sessions. These skills are spread over the four dives and failing to perform any of the skills, could lead to not getting certified!
On the dive day, all divers report to the dive shop at 6.30 am. A basic and healthy breakfast composed of toasts, fresh fruits, and eggs was offered by temple adventures.
After meeting all the other divers and devouring the breakfast, everybody boarded the bus, which took us to the harbour. All the other divers and I were thrilled for the dives.
After reaching the harbour, we were taken to a briefing area. Generally, before all the diving activity there is a pre-dive briefing at the harbour. In the briefing, we were told about the safety protocols to be followed while on the boat. The dive staff then gave us a recap of all the hand signals, and skills, and told us about what we were supposed to do for our respective dives.
There was a crisp short briefing given about the marine life of Pondicherry as well, including the hand signals for them, so the instructors could point them out to us. Some interesting facts about marine life were shared too.
After the fun but informative briefing session was done, and we all boarded the boat to head out into the vast blue sea.
After a 20-minute boat ride, we reached the dive site, all the instructors and divemasters onboard started kitting up, wearing their wetsuits, knives, compasses, and cleaning their masks.
It immediately escalated my excitement level!
After dropping the anchor, the instructor displayed how to back roll into the water. After which, the boat captains and divemasters helped us to kit up.
Once I wore all my equipment and did the predive safety check, I took a deep breath, held my mask and regulator with one hand, and back rolled into the ocean.
Once in the water, I followed my instructor’s instructions and slowly started descending after deflating my BCD and frequently equalising my ears.
I was so astonished by the whole new world!
We were diving at a dive site called temple reef. There was this massive structure with palm tree leaves tied up together to a rope, with a buoy on the top and some recycled concrete blocks and rocks at the bottom at a depth of 18 meters.
On an open water diver course, the first two dives are restricted to a depth of 12 meters. During which I stayed around the palm leaves, but due to excellent visibility, I could see the bottom clearly.
The enormous fish settlement just added up to the whole experience. There were so many species of fishes around me that it left me overwhelmed. I definitely had not expected my first dive to be so awesome.
As mentioned above, Temple reef consisted of a bunch of palm tree leaves tied up with a rope together with a buoy on the top, which keeps it upright.
There are also some triangular metal structures at the bottom filled with rocks which provides stability to the systems. I spotted a lot of Batfish, Trevallies, Jackfish, Lionfish and Silver Moonies here. The reef also has an old Maruti car. It’s home to a lot of fishes.
Such a set up is called an artificial reef (everything is still wild, nothing is confined) it’s just a technique to improve the marine population and promote conservation. Trust me guys it takes a considerable amount of effort to create something like this, and this is what makes scuba diving in Pondicherry a one of a kind experience.
Another dive site I got to dive at with temple adventures is Danny’s Eel Garden. It’s a natural reef consisting of large deposits of stones and is famous for its large population of moray eels.
If you go scuba diving in Pondicherry, you will spot an enormous amount of marine life like Batfish, Trevallies, Butterflyfish, Barracudas, Turtles, Octopus, Jellyfish, Nudibranchs and Lionfish, to name a few! The list can just go on.
Scuba diving in Pondicherry is on the top of my list for a primary reason – you can spot whale sharks here in certain months. Most of the staff of temple has witnessed the magnificent whale shark, which is the largest fish in the ocean.
They can be as long as 10 meters and can weigh 20,000 kgs.
Isn’t that exciting? Diving with these gentle giants. Things can’t get better than that (I have experienced it).
This is a picture of a juvenile porcupine fish I clicked! They are my favourite.
Completing my PADI open water course in Pondicherry has been such a unique experience for me. For a person like me who loves being around nature, the crystal clear waters, and the abundant marine life in Pondicherry just left me amazed.
Many people are not really aware of scuba diving in Pondicherry. If you are visiting Pondicherry, it is definitely worth diving here! It is among the top things I recommend to do, when in Pondicherry.
I have dived in the waters here for about 2 straight years, if you would like to know more about the diving here and want to plan out a trip, please feel free to connect with me. I will be happy to help you with all the information.
Hope you enjoyed the blog! Keep following this space for some exciting adventures and travels stories. If you’re travelling to Pondicherry, I have got a Pondicherry Travel Guide for you!