I recently had the pleasure to go diving in Chennai. Situated on the east coast of India, Chennai is arguably one of the diving hot-spots of the country. The city is also well known for the amount of water sport operators who run their business in and around the city hub. Blessed with a multitude of beaches, Chennai caters to all kinds of water sports. If you’re travelling here, be sure to carry lots of sun-screen lotion – it’s blistering hot throughout most of the year!
Chennai hosts a total of three seasons. During summer (from March – May), temperatures can soar up-to 40° C. The winter sets in towards the end of November and continues until February (~20 – 25° C). The bi-annual rainy season occurs from June – July and October – November. Whilst not as torrential as the rains in Mumbai, the city is prone to heavy flooding during these months. This could also play spoilsport and ruin your diving plans. The ideal months to go diving in Chennai would be Jan/Feb – May and September & early October.
Diving in Chennai and ‘Mahabs’
Diving in Chennai is usually carried out at two places. Along the length and breadth of the East Coast Road (ECR) and Chennai’s sister city of Mahabalipuram (Mammalapuram/Mahabs). The ECR joins Chennai – Pondicherry and is one of the most beautiful and scenic drives one can find in the country. The highway runs parallel to an unending stretch of beaches – from where you’ll most likely be embarking your dive boat! The dive sites in Chennai vary from 15 – 60 metres. You can look forward to doing various kinds of diving. This includes Boat, Drift, Artificial Reef, Tec etc. The diving in Chennai, whilst not as good as the Andamans, is certainly fun. Expect an average visibility of 10 metres. Depending on the time of the year this can drop down to 03 metres and on occasion increase upto 15+ metres.
Depending on who you choose to dive with you can also dive at various locations near Mahabalipuram. Although I have not seen it myself, ancient temples are said to adorn the sea bed surrounding the city. I personally went diving in Chennai in the month of September and the visibility wildly varied from 03 – 20 metres. The marine life I encountered included Groupers, Snappers, Batfish, Stonefish, Jellyfish and Nudibranches.
Those of you who decide to go diving in Chennai/Mahabs can try and book your spots with Salty Bone Divers. The dive shop is fairly new and is jointly owned by Xavier and Meenal – both very experienced instructors. The dive centre is in the heart of Mahabs and can be easily located via GMaps.