Holiday seekers with an adventure are increasingly going for Scuba Diving in India and abroad. India’s pristine Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshwadeep Islands are the best places for scuba diving, says a scuba diving expert.
Best Places for Scuba Diving in India are Andaman and Lakshwadeep Islands
‘You have to know swimming to try Scuba Diving’
Blackboard’s Amit Sengupta speaks up with Azeem Harianawala, scuba diving instructor who has learnt the art of scuba diving in Thailand on the various lessons, best places to dive and his own personal scuba diving experiences.
What are the steps – 1-2-3-4 – for diving enthusiasts in order to find about scuba diving in India?
First let’s understand the course. The PADI open water course (level 1) consists of 3 modules. Confined water training, theory and 4 open water dives. You can start this process in the city with a city based dive centre and carry forward the process to the dive destination, which saves some time or you can start and end at the dive destination itself which is approx a 4 day process. This is for the first level certification, you can keep climbing the ladder from there.
Which are the best places for learning about Scuba Diving in India and abroad?
In India there are surprisingly quite a few dive destinations. From mainland we have Tarkali, Goa, Murudeshwar, Pondicherry. Then we have the pristine islands. Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Abroad and budget options for Indians would be other Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, Cambodia, Philippines etc. And then around the world of course you have Australia, South America, Africa etc. You can basically learn scuba everywhere in the world.
There is a perception that swimming is necessary in order to learn Scuba Diving — How true or false that is?
Yes it is true that you have to know how to swim to sign up for the basic certification course, but you can also do a discovery scuba dive which is an assisted process and not a certified course.
Are there any age or weight or health restrictions to learn scuba diving?
You can start scuba at the age of 10. There is no upper limit though, as long as your healthy you can dive. I have personally seen 70 year olds dive.
The max depth for recreational diving is 40 metres and that’s more than enough to enjoy all the colours and corals and marine life. The usual duration that they have in dive schools is approx 50 mins.
Please suggest some best diving spots in India and abroad.
Best in India from mainland would be Murudeshwar, Andaman and Lakshadweep.
Abroad, Komodo island- Indonesia and Raja Ampet-Indonesia, Maldives, Koh tang- Cambodia, Gulf of Thailand, the list can go on.
How can one become aware of ecology and marine life to be a sustainable diving expert?
During the training process itself students are made aware of the eco system underwater and the first time the jump in and are introduced it, the sheer beauty and expanse of it drives them to learn more and work more towards sustaining it.
How can one take up professional scuba diving as a career?
You can start the process by signing up for the open water diver (level 1) and then keep climbing the ladder to advance open water diver to emergency first responder to rescue diver and then enter the diver master course which is the first professional level and then you do the instructor course to become a trainer.
Could you recite some of your best and memorable diving experiences?
I have experienced some fabulous dives around the world. Huge manta rays with a 5 metre plus wing span, diving and chilling with whale sharks 8 metres in length, schools of sting rays, night diving with nurse sharks. But by far my best and most memorable dive was in Florida where we went for a shark feeding dive without a cage and successfully fed tiger sharks and lemon sharks.
Have you encountered any dangerous diving situation ever?
Diving is not a competitive sport and as long as your diving within your limits you will be safe. It is also the safest adventure sport.
People fear getting attacked by marine life, but the fact is that if you don’t poke it and agitate it, you will be completely fine. The basic rule is that you do not touch anything underwater.