To be entirely honest, scuba diving in Pondicherry isn’t something I was looking forward to or even excited about.
But diving off the Coromandel coast surprised me with its massive artificial reefs — home to abundant marine life. Also, got to witness some interesting marine life like eels and massive groupers.
So, coming to the burning question.
Is Pondicherry good for Scuba diving?
While diving in Pondicherry isn’t anything like the Maldives or the Andamans, Pondicherry is one of the best places to dive in mainland India.
The rich and diverse marine life in Pondicherry is bound to surprise you. More than anything, scuba diving in Pondicherry is easily accessible for all kinds of travelers. So, that makes it ideal for beginners to learn and practice diving here.
Best Scuba Diving Sites in Pondicherry
I went diving with Samudra Adventures for 2 days — 2 deep dives on one day and 3 shallow dives on the other day. Both days, we had to be there at the dive center by 4:30 am. While it wasn’t easy waking up at 3:30am for the dives, we finished the dives by around 1pm which meant we had the rest of the day to ourselves. I was diving with my dive buddy Raksha Nagaraj (aka Solopassport) who had already dived in Pondicherry before.
Note that all of these dive sites mentioned here are only accessible to certified divers.
1. Aravind’s Wall
This site features a huge rock formation resembling a wall. One of the few dive sites, if not the only one in Pondicherry with natural corals. Also, Aravind’s Wall is probably the best dive site in Pondicherry.
Type of Corals: Sea fans, gorgonians, sponge corals. Not many hard corals around here, mostly soft corals.
Depth: 30 to 40 meters
Suitable for: Advanced Open Water Divers and above
Dive Type: Wall/Drop off
The main attraction of this dive site is manta rays. Possibly even whale sharks.
Besides, you’ll find plenty of diverse marine life here like spotted rays, moray eels, sweet lips, snapper, batfish, long pipe snout fish, groupers, and silver moonies among others.
My Diving experience at Arvind’s Wall in April
While these were the best dive sites we were going to experience in Pondicherry, due to bad visibility, we couldn’t spot any fish or natural corals. But the experience of just being here and diving up to 30m gives you the feeling of being inside the Blue Planet movie. It was quite surreal. And spotted a lot of tiny jellyfish larvae – so delicate and beautiful!
Current: Strong Current
2. Grouper’s Den
As the name suggests, this dive site is known for groupers. Located, 6kms off the Coromandel coast of Pondicherry, this dive site takes about 45 minutes to reach. You’ll find big tree trunks covered with nets.
Depth: 21 to 25 meters
Suitable for: Advanced Open Water Divers and above
Marine Life at Grouper’s Den
You can spot a lot of groupers here, some of them are quite massive. Apart from groupers, you can also spot other interesting marine life like batfish, rabbitfish, Giant Trevally, Long Snout Pipe Fish, Nudibranch, Snappers, Silver Moonies, and Schools of Baracuda.
My Diving experience at Grouper’s Den in April
It had some of the biggest groupers I’ve ever come across. Really loved this dive and the visibility wasn’t too bad either.
Current: Light Current
3. Danny’s Eel Garden
Danny’s Eel Garden is a great dive site for beginners as you’ll spot plenty of fish in a small area. The terrain here is also quite different. The sandy plain gives you the illusion of an underwater desert world.
Depth: 16 to 18 meters
Suitable for: Open Water Divers and above
Marine Life at Danny’s Eel Garden
It’s a no-brainer that this dive site features different species of eels. Other than eels, you can spot cuttlefishes, hermit crabs, octopuses, scorpionfish, lionfish, barracudas, bannerfish, and triggerfishes. On a sandy plain. September – October time is quite special here as there’s a possibility of spotting cuttlefish mating during this time.
My Diving Experience at Danny’s Eel Garden in April
I spotted a giant starfish on this dive and so many eels standing up. Truly making up for its name eel garden which was discovered by a diver called Danny. It was nerve-wracking to see so many eels standing up at the same time.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, we dived in 2 more dive sites with Samudra Adventures.
- Marianna’s Reef – Discovered by Samudra Adventures
- Unnamed Dive Site
Which Dive Center to choose in Pondicherry?
I’m not exaggerating when I say that choosing a dive center can make or break your experience. So, it’s so vitally important to choose the right one to increase your chances of having a great first dive!
I had a great experience with Samudra Adventures and I’d highly recommend diving with them – whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver.
Samudra Adventures opened shop in 2018 and they are the only dive center based out of Eden beach. They are primarily an SSI dive center and offer all the standard courses in scuba diving. From Discover Scuba Diving (for first-timers) to Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue diver courses, and divemaster courses if you want to take up a career in scuba diving.
They also have a stay option Samudra Eco Beach Resort right on the premises of the dive center where guests can stay and dive with them.
What makes Samudra Adventures Special
- The instructor Ritwik has worked in Indonesia and brings international standards to the table – in terms of safety and quality. Ritwik is really one of the best divers I’ve come across – he is quite knowledgeable and brilliant at his craft. He is quite patient and makes sure you have a great experience diving!
- The divemasters Akshay and Pranav were quite helpful and made sure that everything was in order for us. Pranav shot our videos and thanks to him, I have underwater footage from our dives I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
- The equipment was well maintained and of good quality. I had no issues with the equipment for the entirety of 5 dives over 2 days.
- They are willing to push beyond the obvious dive sites and we ended up going on exploratory dives. How cool is that? So, if you are a serious diver wanting to go for a dive in Pondicherry, Samudra Adventures is your best bet!
How to contact Samudra Adventures
Operational Hours: 7 am to 6 pm
Located close to Eden Beach – the first Pondicherry beach to receive the coveted blue flag certification.
What is the cost of Scuba diving in Pondicherry?
Let me be the first to tell you that I found scuba diving in Pondicherry relatively expensive. Maybe because the demand is high here and only a bunch of diving centers run in this region – so perhaps they have a monopoly over the prices.
I found the prices at Samudra Adventures relatively more affordable compared to the other centers.
At Samudra Adventures, for first-time divers or Discover Scuba Divers, the prices start from Rs. 7000 per dive which is the cheapest in Pondicherry.
On the other hand, if you are a certified diver and want to go for fun dives, it costs Rs. 2100 per dive. So, for certified divers, diving in Pondicherry is a great value for money for experienced divers. Excellent place to freshen up your diving skills and get more dives under your belt like getting certified as an Open Water Diver.
Refer to the table below for prices for different categories of diving:
|Discover Scuba Diving (First-time divers)||Rs. 7,000/-|
|Certified Divers (Fun Dives)||Rs. 2100/-|
|Open Water Course||Rs. 25,000|
|Advanced Open Water Course||Rs. 19,000/-|
Check the updated prices on the Samudra Adventures website here.
What is the best time to scuba dive in Pondicherry?
The best time to dive in Pondicherry is between November to March when the weather is pleasant and the visibility is better.
However, keep in mind that like any other wildlife encounter, diving underwater doesn’t EVER guarantee great visibility or spotting marine life. Here in Pondicherry or anywhere else in the world.
Things to Consider While Diving in Pondicherry
- All the dive sites in Pondicherry are only accessible via a boat ride. Boat rides may take around 20 mins to 2 hours depending on the dive site location.
- Chances are you’ll end up going to the dive sites in small boats, so you tend to feel the wave of the ocean more closely. Carry a seasickness tablet if you are prone to it.
- There’s a possibility of spotting whale sharks in March in Pondicherry. But I’ve heard from the local instructors that they haven’t spotted any whale sharks this year.
- Water is usually warmer in this region, so it’s quite comfortable and pleasant to dive here.
- The majority of our dive sites included jellyfishes. So, I’d suggest wearing a full-sleeved wet suit and maybe even covering your legs if possible.
- The visibility of water depends on a variety of factors like weather or phytoplankton growth. When we went diving at the end of April, the visibility was pretty bad. It usually isn’t that bad, but visibility in Pondicherry usually isn’t the best either – probably the main negative to diving in Pondicherry.
Overfishing in Pondicherry
The harsh reality is that the underwater world of Pondicherry has suffered due to industrial fishing. Huge trawlers sweep fishes and decimate the marine life which is really devastating! To reduce the effects of overfishing, the Fisheries Department has enforced a 61-day annual ban from April to June. During this time, mechanized boats aren’t allowed to venture out into the sea. And that has helped the marine life grow and sustain, at least to a certain extent.
With the global sea temperatures rising to cause the slow death of coral reefs and overfishing resulting in the loss of marine life, the underwater world in Pondicherry, or around the world for that matter isn’t what it used to be.
Artificial Reef in Pondicherry
Having said all that, one thing I really liked about Pondicherry is the artificial reefs.
The fishermen and the dive centers came together many years ago to build artificial reefs to promote marine life off the coast of Pondicherry.
Built with completely recycled materials such as concrete blocks, iron bars, palm leaves, trees, and rocks – these artificial reef structures are quite massive and the efforts are finally paying off now.
The artificial reef attracts schools of silver moonies and banner fishes and many other big fishes like groupers and snappers. It’s truly a sight to behold!
Temple Reef (also called Four Reef) is one of the popular artificial dive sites in Pondicherry.
We did 5 glorious dives with Samudra Adventures. While a lot of things didn’t go as planned and the visibility wasn’t good either, I still enjoyed diving in Pondicherry with Samudra Adventures. I’d totally recommend giving scuba diving a try when you are in Pondicherry.
Do you have any questions about diving in Pondicherry? Comment below and let me know.