Why travel faraway when you can discover underwater delights closer home?

Snorkeling is a popular recreational activity on the surface and Scuba Diving is a underwater diving with breathing apparatus. Rarely can we combine the restfulness of a vacation with the excitement of an adventure. Snorkeling is one such water sport where one can get the pleasure of both.

Swimming alongside countless schools of vibrant fishes, peeping under the corals hoping to find a rare marine animal, enjoying the heavy silence as you paddle through azure waters with only the sound of your breath to keep you company – yes, that’s what snorkelling is all about. Lets check out some of the best snorkelling and diving destinations right here in India!

1. Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
Acclaimed as the best diving locations in India, Andaman Islands are a paradise for tranquil as well as an adventurous holiday. Havelock Island in the Andaman Islands group are a popular spot for water sports. This gorgeous tropical island will take your breath away with its azure waters, white sandy beaches, lush green forests along the shoreline and a rich alive ocean waiting to be explored. Some of the famous snorkeling sites here are the Elephanta Beach, with its soft sand and peaceful waters, it makes for an ideal snorkeling site for beginners, The Lighthouse, where turtles, corals, fish, eel and even octopuses can be found in these shallow waters and the Inglis Island, a lively place with brilliant blue water of the ocean, cover of the dense rain-forest, sparkly white sand and abode of a wide variety of fish of rich hues, lobsters and sea snakes.

2. Cinque Island, Andaman Islands
Close to the capital city of Port Blair, Cinque island is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National park. With its crystal clear waters, lovely black corals, shark sightings and an affluence of life in the waters, this island is a must-visit site for every snorkeler and diver. The island is uninhabited but the rich diversity here, which includes reefs coated in soft and hard corals, Angel Fish, Bat Fish, Snapper, and Surgeon Fish, is astounding. Best time to visit this site is from October to February.

3. Jolly Buoy Island, Andaman Islands
Known for the ethereal corals and a perfect ambiance, Jolly Buoy island draws visitors from all over the world to witness the exotic marine life it supports. Forming a part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National park, this island has to be accessed through the Wandoor beach which is 30 kilometres from Port Blair.Highly acclaimed for the clear waters and thick surrounding forests, this island is a paradise for snorkelers.

4. Red Skin Island, Andaman Islands
Deriving its name from the red corals which are abound in this part of the island, Red Skin island is also a part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National park and lies close to Jolly Buoy island. The red tinted sea water of this island is rather well known and the site is packed with people during the tourist season. Best visited when the visitors are less, this island is beautiful and charming in its own way, making it unique from the other islands of the region.

5. Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Pondicherry may not have earned a reputation as a scuba diving destination in India but you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what its warm waters have to offer. 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. The closest airport to Pondicherry is Chennai.

6. Lakshwadeep
Lakshwadeep is less frequented as a tourist destination and that is probably the best thing about the place. The reefs around the islands are untouched and unspoilt by the human interference and the azure waters are bustling with some of the most diverse sea life. Bangaram and Kadmat Islands are the most frequented and the latter even has a diving school that offers various professional courses. Tourism policies for Lakshwadeep are prone to change, so make sure you obtain the required permits before you plan a vacation. Take a flight from Cochin to reach Lakshwadeep or take the sea route.

7. Netrani Island, Karnataka
One of Karnataka’s lesser known islands, Netrani Island or Pigeon Island (due to its large pigeon population) in the Arabian Sea gains notoriety for being a coral reef island. This by default makes it a hotbed for teeming marine life like butterfly fish, parrot fish, eels, barracudas, mantas, clown fish and other colourful residents. Sea turtles can also be easily spotted, and in deeper waters, scuba divers have also seen sharks.

8. Goa
Undoubtedly the most popular beach destination in the country, Goa attracts lovers of the sun, sand and surf. There are several snorkelling spots including Sinquerim Beach, Grande Island, Monkey Island and Palolem Beach. However, given that the waters of Goa are generally cloudy, the chances of sighting schools of fish and varied species of marine life are slim. However, don’t be disheartened because in spite of low visibility, you can still manage to see something.

Approximate Cost: Up to INR 2,000 for 30 minutes

9. Tarkarli, Maharashtra: We won’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of Tarkarli before this. This seaside village is a well-kept secret of the Konkan coast. Tarkarli affords an impressive shoreline set against clear blue waters and water activities are big in the area amongst professionals and novices alike. Snorkelling at Tarkarli is a real treat with hundreds of marine species making their home in the labyrinth network of corals here. Relatively unexplored, the crowds escape Tarkarli making it a haven for snorkellers and divers.

Approximate Cost: Up to INR 500 for 1 hour

This is just an illustration of the fun activities available in India and of the richness of the marine life in these waters.

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