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. Not many of us are aware of rich ecosystems the oceans support. A dazzling array of exotic creatures and plants thrive in the world’s oceans which cover about two thirds of the surface of our planet. Outnumbering the land animal and plant species, a peek into this wonderful world of exotic flora and fauna can be taken through activities like scuba diving and snorkeling.
If you’re not up to going all the way downto the ocean bed then snorkeling is just the sport for you. What other activity involves floating calmly on the water surface while witnessing an entirely new world? India has an enchanting range of places one can go to experience this sport. Here are the 10 best places in the country where snorkeling is the most wondrous experience.
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. Tarkarli, Maharashtra
Located in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, 546 kilometres from Mumbai, Tarkarli is a prominent beach destination among tourists. Lauded as the Queen Beach of Sindhudurg, Tarkarli is a mesmerizing sight with dense green vegetation all around and diaphanous blue-green waters of the Arabian sea. Providing a magnificently clear view of the 20 feet deep sea bed glittering with coral reefs spreading over the entire coast nearby, Tarkarli is quickly emerging as one of the most sought after destinations for water sport adventures in India.
6. Bangaram Island, Lakshadweep Islands
The unexplored and exquisite sites of Lakshadweep Islands still lie untouched in their sublime beauty. Only ten out of the thirty six islands of Lakshwadeep are inhabited leaving a large region still uncharted. Home to one of the most beautiful islands in the world like Bangaram Island and Agatti Island, Lakshadweep Islands are also the best site for snorkeling as they provide the most enchanting views of the marine life in their crystal clear waters. A historic snorkeling tour is offered here where one can witness the wreck of Princess Royal, a battleship that sunk during the war between the British and the French, resting at a depth between 9 and 54 metres off the coast of Bangaram Island. Also an excellent spot is the Manta Point, a site of colorful and multitudes of fish and other aquatic lifeforms.
7. Netrani Island, Karnataka
Located 10 kilometres away from the temple town of Murudeshwar in Karnataka, Netrani island is a tiny paradise for snorkelers all over the world. A rarely frequented site, the months of December and January are the best months to view the abundance of aquatic life here which includes corals, butterfly fish, parrot fish and trigger fish etc.
8. Grand Island, Goa
Goa is inevitably one of the most sought after destination for water sports. With innumerable breathtaking beaches and scores of activities, it is one undoubtedly the favorite tourist destination for snorkeling. Perfect season to do so would be from mid-October to April. Grand island in Goa comprises of 7 sites for diving and snorkeling including regions like the Umma Gumma Reef, Suzy’s Wreck, where the ship SS Rita sunk and Shelter Cove, a lovely sandy mating site for squid and cuttlefish.
9. Agatti Island, Lakshadweep Islands
Also a part of the Lakshadweep Islands, Agatti island lies 458 kilometres off the coast of Kochi. Replete with multicoloured coral and fish, the island hosts nearly a dozen sites where you can dive and snorkel. Sting Ray City, Japanese Garden, Dolphin Reef, Lost Paradise, Soft Coral Garden, Fishsoup, Class Room etc. are some of the spots where one can enjoy a leisure float in the water with wondrous sights.
10. Aravind’s Wall, Pondicherry
Best during January – June and September – November, Pondicherry opens up a whole new world to us at Arvind’s Wall. Awash with aquatic life such as lionfish, parrot fish, banner fish, whale sharks, turtles and even dolphins, this site is excellent and mysterious.
Listing just 10 of many other incredible sites which offer the meditative adventure of snorkeling, this is just an illustration of the fun activities available in India and of the richness of the marine life in these waters.