The Andaman Odyssey - Dive with Scuba Lov - A Review
We undertook a journey into a world free of caste, creed, race, politics and pollution; far away from Homo sapiens. The existence of that world revived us and left us awestruck. The life under water is like a dream; it’s silent yet speaks so many words. As the sea creatures meandered across us, we took a break to admire the colorful world beneath us. The eerie silence was welcoming and securing. We tried to see all around and take in as much as possible. But we started returning as the time was running out and the air pressure was dropping. No matter how much we wished to stay we had to return! The moment we were out, things had changed. We were no more what we were before. We left the world wanting more. And we still crave to return back and relive those moments. Even the most extensive vocabulary cannot describe our experience underwater and you will always be incapable of understanding our feelings till you dive yourself! This is the story of our first Scuba dive we did in Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep), Andamans, India with Scuba Lov.
The series of travel blogs - The Andaman Odyssey will serve as a one stop travel guide to you and give you all details along with recommendations to ensure you can plan your own trip.
Our other blogs of the series - The Andaman Odyssey will help you understand and plan your trip to Andaman Islands and give you a good idea of Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) and Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) with recommendation on places to stay and activities to do.
8. Review: Dive with Scuba Lov - Current blog
Our first scuba diving experience was in the turquoise blue waters of Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep) – the biggest Island of the Ritchie’s Archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. We signed up with Scuba Lov for a ‘Boat Discover Scuba Dive’ session a few days before we reached the Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep). The beginners can only opt for one from the three dives that they offered for starters - Try Scuba (6 meter, 30 minutes dive), Discover Scuba Dive - DSD (12 meter, 45 minutes dive) and Boat Discover Scuba Dive – BDSD (12 meter, 45 minutes dive). Since, BDSD ensured we stayed underwater for the maximum time and dive at a site away from the main Island, we opted for that.
Dive Center - Scuba Lov:
Scuba Lov’s dive center is located in the Sea Shell Resort, a beach side resort of Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep). The first thing that we noted there was their tagline – ‘Life is more than just a surface interval’ along with a cute dolphin as their logo and that was all to trigger excitement within us. We met our instructors and it was a delight to know them personally. We took a walk around their premises and realized what makes Scuba diving a costly affair. They need to keep stock of so many diving gears in proper condition along with number of lined up oxygen cylinders, diving apparatus etc. For someone walking into such a place for the first time, it was quiet an experience just watching these gears, knowing what they are called and realizing it was an industry in itself who make all these cool equipment.
Our experience - Scuba Lov:
We were made to fill and sign a lot of ‘It’s not your fault if I die’ forms. There are numerous health conditions that prevent a person from diving and we feel lucky to not have any of those. A quick change into the wet suits, heavyweight belts put around our waist and we were ready to start our journey to our dive site – The Turtle Beach. We helped our instructors carry the cylinders and other safety devices through the waters to the boat named Whale song which was parked off the Sea Shell resort in the sea. Turtle beach is around 30 minute boat ride from Scuba Lov. In the boat we were served samosas (Indian snack) and energy drinks to prepare us for the dive. We enjoyed a great conversation with our dive masters. Each of them had a personal PADI/ SSI certified dive master who was to accompany us for the dive. Along with them, there was a underwater photographer and boat captain who accompanied us.
On reaching Turtle Beach, we were trained for the dive on the shore. We learnt that ‘Scuba’ is the abbreviated form for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. We were also introduced to our Scuba diving apparatus - The wet suits that we were wearing is meant to provide thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy; the BCD jacket stood for Buoyancy Control Device and gives us stability both on surface and underwater, the weight around the waist helps in descending deep, the mask allows us to see clearly, it also blocks our nose as we had to breath from mouth; the Octopus regulator has to be placed in the mouth and helps in breathing; the gas cylinder at the back is filled with nitrogen and oxygen (pure oxygen can be poisonous) and provides the air that we need; and the fins helps us in swimming efficiently.
We also learnt various hand signals to communicate with our dive master underwater. Very patiently our dive masters answered all the crazy questions that we had. After a 20 minute training session and a quick test by our dive master, we were declared ready for diving.
We were made to float on the surface of water facing the sky, our BCD jackets were inflated and slowly we were dragged into the deep blue water. Our feelings were a mixture of excitement, nervousness, uncertainty and uneasiness all mashed together in varied degrees. A few meters into the water, we were asked to put the regulator in our mouth and were turned upside down with face inside water. Slowly we adjusted our breathing with the regulator releasing bubbles throughout the dive. Our dive masters controlled our buoyancy and decided how much amount we ascend or descend underwater. Our dive masters held our hands and slowly started pulling us deep; we were descending. It was easy to trust them. Each time we panicked, our dive master would come over and signal to take deep breaths or certain other techniques they had taught us to make ourselves comfortable.
Under water with Scuba Lov:
We were immediately treated to an exceptionally clear view of coral reefs. Corals are marine invertebrates and they form reefs by secreting calcium carbonate. A quarter of all ocean species depend on coral reefs for food and shelter. We saw corals of varied shapes, form and vibrant colors; no two corals looked alike. In sometime we started cruising along a gigantic cliff that went down a few feet deep. The wall of the cliff was lined with numerous corals while small colorful fishes pecking on them. There were so many schools of fishes playing around us that we actually felt out of place in this underwater world. We chanced upon glittering fishes, colorful sea anemones, octopus, brightly colored clamps, yellow, white, blue, green, orange, silver – all colors of big and small fishes going criss-cross performing their daily chores.
Gliding all around, our dive masters pointed to us various corals, rocks, fishes and shells. At one point of time, we were almost touching the sea bed. We were hypnotized by what all we saw and the colors that we never imagined existed. The deeper we went the sunlight became less, the water became colder and the marine life richer. One of the dive masters was clicking our underwater photographs with the marine life throughout. We stayed at the sea bed for a while and again were pulled by our dive masters to the other end. We felt minuscule in the infinite underwater forest. Still lost in the amazing world, our 45 minutes of scuba was over and without our knowledge we started ascending acclimatizing at specified depths. After a while we were signaled to go up. We turned around for one more look. It was like a moving canvas. We swam up slowly and in no time we were at the surface. They told us we had been down there for 45 minutes. 45 MINUTES! We felt it’s just been 10 minutes; the time ceased underwater. Lying afloat there, we fell into a meditative state, saving and storing as much memory as we can in our brain.
Back to the shore of Turtle Beach, we were speechless; overwhelmed with joy and happiness. As if the world under water was not beautiful enough, God decided to show his above water magic and painted the sky in gorgeous colors. It was time to leave but the show was not over as we witnessed the most beautiful sunset from the boat while returning back.
We were even rewarded with a certificate from Scuba Lov to successfully complete the scuba dive. This will be a life long cherished memory. By the end of it, we had all become great buddies, pulling each other and laughing at each other’s photographs and videos. We cannot thank them enough to have given us such a wonderful experience. We would really like to thank our dive masters Ashley, Akshay and Donald without whom our experience might not have been as awesome as it was. Also Jaideep who manages the Havelock center who patiently enlightened us about so many facts and titbits about diving and under water life. Last but not the least Jurgen who is the founder of Scuba Lov and was very cordial and humble during our interactions with him. Each of their stories are extremely interesting and inspiring and we could chat with them for hours getting to know them better.
In a nutshell, we had a splendid experience with Scuba Lov and would recommend everyone visiting Andamans to dive with them. They can arrange dives in both Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) and Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep). They also offer other activities like snorkeling and Island hopping around Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep). And they are soon to introduce ‘A dive with Marine biologist’ to better understand the marine life down there. They also have centers in Mumbai were one can learn basics of diving in a pool. Scuba Lov also sells snorkeling and diving equipment and souvenirs like t-shirts in their site offices which one can buy if interested.
To be frank, the moment we were first overturned during our dive and had our first glance at the what lied beneath us, we were blown away. It felt like entering a different world all together. A world which was present right below us but we had no idea about, A world that is so rich and beautiful that God probably decided to create water and cover it up in an effort to protect its treasures. Its a world we would want to go back to again and again and has forced us to contemplate getting an advanced certification in Scuba which enables us to go deeper into this world we were completely oblivious to.
Hope you liked our experience with Scuba Lov as much as we did and plan to experience your under water activities with them during your trip to Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep) or Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep). You can book your scuba dive with Scuba Lov from their official website here. What do you think of our experience doing scuba dive or service offered by Scuba Lov? Have you dived before or could our article encourage you to try it? Do let us know in comment section below.
Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by Scuba Lov in any manner.