Scuba Diving The Andaman Islands

The Andaman Islands are in Indian territorial waters but best discovered by Thailand liveaboard, with Phuket some 450 km to the southeast.

Finally open for scuba diving to the general public, being off limits to non-Indian visitors for decades, the Andaman Islands are one of the few undiscovered diving charms that have yet to be explored. However, diving conditions in the Andaman Islands involve drift and current diving and only experienced divers should consider booking Andaman Islands cruises.

At places like Fish Rock, schools of surgeons and barracuda gather in mid-water, sweetlips and snapper swarm over the rocky reef, and big fish like humphead parrotfish and giant trevally are seen almost every dive. Giant grouper and schooling mobula rays also appear regularly. Many dive sites are home to endemic species like Andaman damselfish, Andaman sweetlips, and the distinctive Indian-Ocean spinecheek anemone fish. For a great Andaman dive one of the main attractions is the snorkeling elephants and saltwater crocodiles.

Although not all the islands are open to foreign visitors, among the best for Thailand liveaboard diving are isolated volcanic outposts: Narcondam and Barren Islands, the latter of which is still active. Each features healthy hard corals in the shallows, but the best diving areas are steep drop-offs and pinnacles, where you will find huge barrel sponges and fans, as well as stunning soft corals. Both islands have a dark volcanic seabed, but the substrate at Barren, being almost jet-black, beautifully emphasizes the vibrant colors of the soft corals and red encrusting sponge. Fish are impressive at both islands, with plenty of colorful reef species, including various anthias, angelfish, blue palette surgeons, flag-tails and magnificent dart gobies, and shy but beautiful Indian yellow-fin grouper. For sheer volume HQ Pinnacle at Narcondam and Black Magic at Barren are great sites, with massive schools of bigeye trevally. There is also a good chance of dogtooth tuna, Napoleon wrasse, humphead parrotfish and mantas at many sites.

This Andaman diving region is home to more than 130 different coral species, all varying in size, shape and color. You will find four-meter tall barrel sponges and fans twice the size of the ones in the Similans. Unlike many other dive spots everything near the Andaman Islands is healthy, untouched and alive, the reefs are simply teeming with fish and macro life. A true diver’s paradise!

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Visa  

Visitors must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country, as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Visitors wishing to travel to the Andaman Islands by sea will need to get a 30-day permit in advance.
English and Hindi English are the official languages.
GMT +5.5
The official currency is the Rupee, or INR.The better hotels usually change money, but most hotels do not accept credit cards.
Tropical and Humid. Humidity ranges between 70% and 90% with a gentle breeze blowing at all times. The weather is generally pleasant with a minimum temperature of 23 °C / 74 °F and maximum 30 °C / 86 °F.
Check with your embassy or consulate, as well as with a knowledgeable doctor, for detailed information on current health issues.
220 volts AC, 50Hz.
There is no airport departure tax.

Where Is Andaman Islands


Water temperature
27 – 28 °C / 80 – 83 °F
Visibility
10 – 40 meters / 30 – 130ft
Wetsuit
Skin – 3mm – 5mm
Best time to travel
February to April
Recommended dive sites
Lighthouse Point, Neil's Pride, Campbell Shoal, Barren Island
Above water activities
Visit the Anthropological Museum and the Cellular Jail in Port Blair