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The best snorkelling destinations in India

Why travel to Maldives or Seychelles when you can discover underwater delights closer home? 

Swim alongside countless shoals of colourful fish, peep under the corals and you may just spot a rare marine animal, enjoy the complete silence as you paddle through azure waters – yes, that’s what snorkelling is all about. Skyscanner gets you ready to hit the best snorkelling and diving destinations right here in India!

What is snorkelling: Snorkeling is swimming on or underwater wearing a diving mask, a breathing tube called a snorkel, and swimfins. With the equipment, you do not need to come up for air every minute. Its is a super awesome way to view the fascinating world of corals and marine life beneath the waters of a sea or an ocean.

How to snorkel: First, put on the mask and tug the straps around your eyes and nose. Then, lie down flat on your stomach in the water and bite down gently on the snorkel mouthpiece. Ensure you keep breathing slowly in and out through the tube.

Snorkelling for non-swimmers: It is always good to know how to swim. But even non – swimmers can snorkel – you just need to float with a snorkel and swim-fins in salty sea waters.

Top Snorkelling destinations:  The best snorkelling destinations in India include Havelock Island, Neil Island and Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Andaman, Bangaram and Kadmat Islands at Lakshadweep, Grande Island in Goa, Tarkali in Maharashtra and Pondicherry. Read on to explore these destinations.

1. The Andamans

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Snorkelling in the sparkling turquoise waters of the Andaman Islands is an unforgettable adventure. Head to the Elephant Beach in Havelock Island for a breathtaking experience – spot corals, remains of wrecked sea vessels, beautiful underwater rock formations and vibrant marine life. The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is the place to see and learn about rare and endangered marine species. Other spots for snorkelling include Neil Island, North Bay Island, Jolly Buoy and the Red Skin Island, Rutland Island and Cinque Island. You can learn diving at the Lacadives Dive Center at Chidiya Tapu near Port Blair. Most diving centres in the Andamans offer the ‘Under Sea Walk’, which requires you to wear a special suit and mask before you hit the deep bottom of the sea.   Read More: Best time to visit Andaman Islands

2. Lakshadweep

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If you want to stay away from tourist hordes, Lakshadweep is the place to be. The reefs around the islands are virgin and the azure waters are bustling with diverse sea life. Bangaram and Kadmat Islands are popular destinations. You can see reefs, coral gardens, coral gardens et al. Minicoy – the southern most island – in Lakshadweep has three large ship wrecks within an eight metres depth on the island reef. These fascinating wrecks house large fish species. Kavaratti is ideal for scuba beginners, with the dive centre located on the northern tip of the island. A special permit is required to visit Lakshadweep. Tourism policies for Lakshadweep are prone to change, so make sure you reserve your tour in advance and obtain the permit.  Take a flight or a passenger ship from Kochi to reach Lakshadweep.

3. Goa

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The party capital of India, Goa is also a haven for water sport enthusiasts. Sea life is abundant in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, the shipwrecks along the coast attract divers from all over the world. Some of the most popular spots are Grande Island, Wreck of Suzy, Cove of Shelter and Bay of Bounty. Expect to see parrotfish, snappers, Moorish idols and barracudas. Avoid the rainy season as the water gets murky and the tides are not very welcoming.

Read more: Best time to visit Goa

4. Tarkarli, Maharashtra

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Tarkarli is a hidden gem on the Konkan coast. The Sindhudurg Fort has a rich coral growth on the submerged walls which is home to hundreds of aquatic species. The clear, unpolluted waters allow for good visibility – snorkelling and diving here is relatively cheaper. India’s first integrated scuba diving school – the Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports (IISDA) – is located between Tarkarli Beach and the backwaters. Beginners can sign up for the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) programme. To get to the dive site, Vengurla Rocks, you embark on a 45 minute-long journey on a speedboat. Tarkarli is easily accessible by road if you are coming from Mumbai, Goa or Pune.  The nearest airport is Goa.

Read more:  5 Best Beaches in Maharashtra

5. Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

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Pondicherry may not have earned a reputation as a scuba diving destination in India but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 4 Corners, Arvind’s Wall, The Hole, Danny’s Eel Sanctuary and Cool Shark Reef are rife with aquatic life and you can spot parrot fish, sea snakes, crustaceans, triggerfish, lion fish, groupers and moray eels. If you are lucky, you may even have a tete-a-tete with a reef shark or turtle. Temple Adventures Scuba Diving and Surfing India offers more than 20 diving sites, with natural and man-made coral reefs, for beginners and experts. Trained professionals are available as instructors. You can also opt for PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified scuba diving courses.The nearest airport is Chennai.

Read more: 5 Beaches in Pondicherry

Snorkelling Tips (do’s and don’ts):

  1. It is preferable to know how to swim. Otherwise, use a life jacket to stay afloat.
  2. Find equipment that fits you well.
  3. Practice in a swimming pool, before heading out to the sea or ocean.
  4. Do not go out without an instructor, especially if you are a beginner.
  5. Remember to breathe slowly and regularly while snorkelling.
  6. Do not drink alcohol before snorkelling or diving.

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