Life is a big pond – Diving in Pondicherry
Every beach bum’s paradise, Pondicherry is one of the best places to be in, on India’s East Coast. Even more so, if you prefer enjoying a chilled beer post-dive in some much-needed sunshine on a beach. The beach, with its unending horizons and exquisite seafood, will double-up as the cherry on top of the proverbial cake.
This idyllic city is a 3 hours scenic drive away from Chennai. Although there are rumours about a new dive shop opening, Temple Adventures is the only known dive centre based in Pondicherry.
A Human Adventure in Pondy
Mainland India’s only PADI 5* IDC, Temple Adventures is a very professional outfit. They offer a variety of courses and specialities – right up to the PADI Tec 45 courses. They are authorised ScubaPro dealers, so expect to find only ScubaPro gear at this place (all equipment is well maintained!).
Personally, I believe that diving in Pondicherry beats every other dive spot in the mainland. Unlike in Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry hosts a variety of nightlife. From nightclubs playing EDM to quiet beachside shacks running classical music. The hotel pricing is also very economical (I used Agoda for booking a fortnight in advance) and ranges from 800 ₹. p/night (AC, no b/f) to 4000 ₹.
Diving in Pondicherry
If you’re an outstation diver, I recommend that you plan to go diving in Pondicherry from Jan to May; The diving from June to August isn’t consistent view inclement weather and monsoon. September to November is also as good as any other time to go diving in Pondicherry.
I have carried out diving in Pondicherry in November and March. Over the duration of the 10 dives I have undertaken here, I found the average visibility to be 10 metres. However, the visibility in March hovered between 17-20 metres. The water (temp. 25-28° C) is definitely clearer than that in Chennai.
There is an abundance of marine life here. Sightings of Lionfish, Groupers, Batfish, Moonies, Angelfish, Coral Fans, Moray Eels etc. are common. If you’re super duper lucky, then you could end up seeing a Whale Shark or two! Nonetheless, the fish at the Temple Reef are very friendly, and you can get up close and personal with them – if you wish to.
Do remember to carry a photocopy of your passport/any Govt. ID proof. This will be required prior setting out to sea. The closest hyperbaric facility is situated at JIPMER (Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Grad Medicine and Research), which is 15 min drive away from the dive centre. Additionally, you can always inquire at the dive shop about their emergency/safety procedures.
If you’ve never dived before and just want an experience, then you MUST go diving in Pondicherry. Ask for the ‘DSD’ package, if this is the case. However, if you’re a land-lubber who wants to learn how to dive, I suggest that you learn your ABC and D (D for Diving!) in Mahabalipuram. Simply because the diving in Pondicherry is heavier on the wallet. You will also experience slightly tougher conditions in Chennai/Mahabs, which will help you in the longer run.
If you’re already certified, then this is the best place to dive in mainland India. Do try and dive at Aravind’s Wall and Temple Reef – these dive sites will not leave you disappointed at all. Happy and safe diving to you!