Tag Archives: scuba diving

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 14: N for Nicobar|Neil|North Bay Islands

Hello wonderful people, how are you guys doing? Hope you had a good weekend and celebrations of Easter and the New Year (for the Indian friends)!!! All I could do was rest as i was not keeping well, even missed publishing the post for Saturday 😦 and had almost thought of discontinuing from the challenge but somehow didn’t want to give up half way.

So as a bonus today in my post i talk about three other well known places (or islands) among the chain of 572 islands that make Andaman and Nicobar Islands in total. Hope you have a good read!! 🙂 

NICOBAR ISLANDS and Car Nicobar
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands as you know are a chain of islands big and small and spread in a vertical landscape in the Bay of Bengal. While many islands come under the Andaman district(per say) the remaining fall under the Nicobar district. The islands under this set comprise of some other well known islands like Little Andaman, Nancowry, Camota, Car Nicobar, Katchal, Great Nicobar (which is the largest island) spread over 1648 km2.
The Nicobar islands are believed to have been inhabited for thousand of years and is home Nicobarese tribes. Six indigenous Nicobarese languages are spoken in these islands. The Nicobarese tribe are the civilized and well educated of all other tribes that inhabit the islands. The Nicobar in itself is also an island where the people live a normal living lifestyle unlike any town or village. About a night journey from the capital Port Blair, these islands are no more permitted for tourist visit. The Car Nicobar has an airstrip but is not open for commercial service and is monitored by the Indian Airforce.

a typical Nicobarese hut

I have been to these islands back in 1997-1999 when my mother was posted in the Malacca town as a high school teacher to these islands for two years. I would visit her on my longer school vacation. The main religion followed in these islands is Christianity. On 31st May 2013, UNESCO had declared these islands as World Biosphere Reserve. The Nicobar islands were the worst hit due to the 26th Dec 2004, Tsunami’s 10-15m high water waves. Some islands even broken into two (Teressa island)to three (Trinket)pieces, and coral reefs moved above water. Almost the entire belt of Nicobar islands was moved to as much as 100 feet by the earthquake and tilted. 
The Nicobarese have a very different law and order and marriage system amongst their clan. They have a Captain like any tribe and its under his command the remaining families live. You can read more about them in my future posts on the tribes of Andamans.

NORTH BAY

The clear waters at North Bay, perfect for snorkelling , sea walk and scuba diving

North Bay island is a popular destination in Port Blair. The beach and the snorkeling opportunities in its fringing coral reefs are the closest ones you will find at Port Blair. A ferry (9 am and 2 pm; 30 mins) will take you across Aberdeen Jetty and bring you back after 3 hour. The corals at North Bay are rather good and spread over large area. You’re very likely to spot many fish, a lobster, or even clams on the coral reef. Snacks and basic meals are available in some shacks on the beach.

This is the same island where my friends and i had gone for scuba diving, you can read about it more on my post My first Scuba Diving Experience

Also its the same island whose image is on the back of the 20 rupee Indian currency 🙂

 When at North Bay, it is time to relax and enjoy. Options such as Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Sea Walk and many other Sports activities are also available. You can also trek to see the Light House. However, sometimes the light house is closed for outside travelers.


NEIL ISLAND

Neil Island around 37 Kms by sea is a good place for Island hopping. With plenty of marine life. Neil Island dwells with lust green surroundings of paddy fields, banana plantations and tropical trees. It occupies an area of 18.9 square kilometres (7.3 sq mi) and Bengali being the widely spoken language.The islands are famous for it’s own Howrah bridge at the Lakshmanpur beach which is a Natural Rock Formation and one of many rare natural phenomenons. It is best seen during a low tide and the walk to the rock is a little tough. (we missed this spot) 

Pristine sandy beaches at Sitpur, Bharatpur and Lakshmanpur are some of the best beaches to explore. A quite heaven for a traveler. The breathtaking view of sea and the lusting greenary in the island is really rejuvenating and enjoyable for enthusiastic travelers. It is worth spending a few days on Neil Islands – also known as the Kitchen garden of Andaman Islands. 

That is a picture of my friends and me waiting at the Neil Island Harbour for our ship to Havelock. Clicked by Sanjay using his go pro

In our seven day trip we halted at the Neil Islands for one night and it was amazing. We went to all the three beaches. The word Neil means blue and it definitely does justice to its name. Watch this video on the Neil Islands and be mesmerized!!!

Let me know if you were awestruck and fell in love with the blue waters … 🙂 Did you Monday Blues get kicked looking at the amazingly beautiful blue waters? (that was a dumb one) 🙂  Neil Island is a must visit tourist destination if you ever plan on visiting the islands and so is North Bay for the water sports activities.  And you know whom to contact 😉

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 08: for Heavenly HAVELOCK Islands

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.” – Anonymous 

Named after the British general, Sir Henry Havelock who had served in India these islands are the most famous of the entire 572 island group. Situated at a distance of about 57 kms from the capital Port Blair and to east of great Andamans, this beautiful island is spread over 113.93 km2.

With more than one beach(also termed as beach 1 which includes the port to beach 8) to its name these islands are definitely an Escapist’s hood.  Havelock is an amazing experience. Right from the seaplane to kayaking and white sandy beaches. It has multiple joy of adventure and beauty wrapped in itself.  

Radhanagar beach 

If Sun Sand and Sea is an idea of your perfect vacation then the Radhanagar beach is the place to be, for it holds the honor of Asia’s best and World’s 7th best beach and 6th best in terms of bluest water. Yes you heard it right, Asia’s best beach ❤ ❤ ❤ It is a 3 km long stretch of pristine white sand covered beach. The warm crystal blue water and the white sand is the hallmark of these places. Radhanagar beach is also very popular with surfers as the beach tends to have gigantic waves during the surfing season. 

When you don’t feel like getting out of the sea

Kalapathar beach

PC : Andaman Tourism Department

Kalapathar beach is a remote beach about 10kms from havelock jetty.The beach is accessible by road and is famous with couples and nature lovers.It is picture perfect and far less crowded than Radhanagar beach. For the ones who prefer spending some lonely time in natures wilderness this is the perfect spot.  Also you can trek down to this amazing lagoon which is known to very few. Check out the video captured from a drone of this secret lagoon.

The Elephant beach 

PC : Nelson bhaiya

The Elephant beach is stunningly beautiful and looks straight out of a postcard. You would definitely end up using the hashtag “#nofilter” because no filter would do justice to the beauty of the images one would capture. The beach is not accessible by road and the only way to reach the elephant beach is by hiring a speed boat or dinge from Havelock jetty. Elephant beach is ideal for water-sports activities because it’s crystal clear waters .Water sports activities like jet ski, scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater sea-walk are conducted at the beach.

Apart from all this, it is well known for its most loved resident  RAJAN  – the legendary elephant that swims 

The Andamans draw thousands of people to its pristine shores year after year. Among the many treasures you uncover on the islands, blue waves and sun-kissed beaches are just the tip of the iceberg. Just take a walk towards the beautiful Beach No. 7 and you’ll find the fantastic elephant, Rajan, waiting to welcome you. But how did an elephant make its way to the Andamans? 

Once upon a time, an elephant named Rajan lived in the thick jungles of Karnataka, where he was surrounded by tall trees, wild animals and birds. Rajan loved the jungle and everything that came with it. One fine day, Rajan was relocated from the jungle and sent to a land that was surrounded by water. He adapted to his new surroundings and discovered the joy of swimming by taking regular dips in the ocean. Since then, he has been basking on the white sandy beaches of the magnificent Andaman Islands. 

On the island, Barefoot at Havelock took him in with open arms. As the only rainforest seaside resort in Asia, Barefoot had left no stone unturned to make the environment a wonderful home for the majestic animal. Once when a temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala offered his then owner a sizable amount for Rajan, the resort decided to pay the eye-popping sum of around Rs 25 lakhs to keep the beloved pachyderm. Rajan loved to meet his admirers and greets them with a thunderous trumpet. Guests could even opt to bathe their four-legged friend at the holiday resort on request.  

Rajan was an exceptionally skilled swimmer and had been seen going against the tide on a few occasions. The diving elephant was one among the last few left of its kind on our planet. He had been featured in commercials all over the world and has even appeared in Hollywood movies like 2006 Hollywood movie THE FALL and other famous websites like the Huffington Post. And that’s exactly why Rajan was the most loved resident of Beach No. 7.  

Sadly Rajan took his last breath sometime in the intervening night of July 31 and Aug 01 when he was about 66 years old. Rajan’s body lies deep within the forests of his adopted home where it will lay undisturbed after 66 years of a truly unconventional life.  

Besides these three beaches, the Havelock islands have few other beaches which are open to public like the Vijayanagar beach and some which are yet to be explored. And how do you reach this paradise on earth? 

Well the two hour distance to Havelock Islands can be taken either via a govt ferry or the famous Makruzz which is a favorite among tourists. While the govt ferry does four rounds a day, the Makruzz does only two trips one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  

Thats the inside of the Makruzz, from our last day way back to Port Blair

Seaplane Ride  

If you thought we were done with the attractions of Havelock, then the answer is “not yet”. Brace yourself, for the Seaplane Ride. Havelock has its own commercial seaplane service named “Jal Hans”. Jal Hans is India’s first commercial seaplane service. The airline is jointly owned by Pawan Hans, India’s largest helicopter services provider and the Union territory of Andaman Islands and is run on an equal Revenue sharing basis. Seaplane is a must ride. The beauty of flying over the shimmering sea blue water is something you cannot afford to miss. 

Radhanagar beach is also famous for the beautiful sunset it offers to the travel lovers. Below is another time lapse video recorded by my friend Saketh and Sanjay during our vacation. I remember the only time we came out of the water was to have food and play some cards for about an hour, and again we were into the water. In our seven day vacation, we chose to stay three days in Havelock. 

 If ever you plan on visiting the Andaman islands, please make sure you stay a minimum of two to three days. And now you know whom to contact in case you need any help 🙂 😀 

 

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤ 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY05: E For Experience Scuba Diving | My first

PC @monsieur.lopez

Disclaimer – Long Post 🙂

I remember it was the summer vacation i was in my first standard and my brother and all the other elder cousins were playing in the river which ran behind my uncle’s home back in Kollam, Kerala. I was the only girl in my paternal side then and i was insisting in going to the water as well. And since none of the cousins wanted to take my responsibility of taking care of me i was just watching them and crying non stop.
Finally my uncle agreed to take me to the water as well. I still remember this crystal clear (i have a sharp memory 🙂 ) my grandmother gave me a piece of advice, she said “When you go into the water remember and the water level reaches your chin, do not take a sudden breath or else you would always be scared of getting into water” . And i finally was in the river playing with my cousins . 

PC – dad 🙂

Post that whenever we used to go to the beach in Andamans’ i would not be scared to get into water, i would go right up till my chin while am standing straight in water (whatever the height that would be) and jump when the waves would hit me. 

Only regret I COULD NEVER MANAGE TO LEARN SWIMMING 😦  I know i know me being from the islands its shameful and embarrassing to not know swimming but the thing was there never was a swimming pool kind of facility for my parents to send me for classes. If i had to learn swimming it would be going to the beach and my dad teaching me which was not really practical. I was too busy enjoying my dance classes and taking part in other literary competitions. Beaches only meant picnics, getting into water to take bath and just play even though i would always regret not knowing how to swim specially when i saw my other friends getting into the sea and swimming or even the swimming pool for a matter. My job would be to sit by the side and hand them food and drinks when needed.

Years went by , I’ll be 30 this July and i hate to say this but i don’t know swimming even now 😦 (hoping to learn this summer..which is already here). But one thing was always on my bucket list SCUBA DIVING. It became even more an adventure that i wanted to fulfill anyhow when i had learnt you don’t really need to know swimming to do scuba diving(thanks to Zoya Akhtar and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara). There always is a way if you really want to do something in life 😛

Scuba diving became a popular water sport in the last few years in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and whenever i went home for a vacation it would be just a week or two and mostly i would be home and catching up with family friends and relatives. There was no possibility of me going to the beach and take up diving.  

I had not given up hope and had to do scuba diving before my 30th birthday and finally it happened, yes my first ever scuba diving experience and i don’t have words to describe how beautiful that feeling is. It was exactly the #ZindagiNaMilegiDobara moment when Hrithik Roshan takes his first dive and the poem in the background, it was exactly that. Click here to watch 

And it happened

On 12th Feb 2017 i did my first scuba diving. All thanks to my friends who joined me in a week long vacation to Andamans and i decided to join them as well as a tourist and see more of my beautiful hometown. We were doing the scuba diving through the BAREFOOTSCUBA. Barefoot Scuba is the first and only PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort in the Andaman Islands established in 2004 I knew them personally since it was part of the Barefoot Resorts whose Operational Manager is my brother and also the diving instructors were known to me. My dive instructor was Bunty bhaiya (the one in the first pic and in the video you cant watch below). Other than these also there are Scuba Dive Operators like the Dive India, Andaman Bubbles Scuba Diving .

The Training and the Dive

The 45 minute scuba diving session included 15 minutes of training and then 30 minutes of dive of up to 13-14 meters underwater. For a non swimmer like me 14 meters is a big deal 🙂 We chose the North Bay islands for scuba diving unlike the Havelock where generally tourists do the scuba diving. One because we knew them personally and second the rush is less in North Bay compared to Havelock, so the divers too are not in a hurry. 

Thats after the training all set to go for the dive

To start with the training we were told all the hand gestures that we would be using underwater like Ok, not okay , up, down, nose block, ear pain, water getting into the mouth etc. Then you are made to practice to breathe through your mouth wearing the scuba gears. Trust me this is the most difficult part, i had a tough time to get used to breathing through the mouth.

Then the moment arrived, once the trainers checked for all the precautions and revised us through the hand gestures they pulled us along with them inside water. Ideally its one instructor with two people but i got to go alone with Bunty bhaiya, perks of being an islander. I didn’t even realize and i was already underwater. It was beautiful, calm and quiet, it was a different world all together. The only sound i could hear was my heart beat and the sound of me breathing in and out.

PC – Bunty bhaiya’s friend while we were diving

I saw some small fishes of different colors, corals, also managed to see a sea cucumber and a sea urchin (which was not new to me, had seen them before also) . It was so beautiful that i stopped breathing in between and suddenly my ears started paining. I think i came up above water twice in the 30 minute dive. I did want to see the Nemo but i couldn’t but i have heard people telling they saw the Nemo, below is one such pic my friend Saketh clicked.

Time flies underwater, before i could get the whole hang of it thirty minutes was up and time for me to say bye to the amazing marine life. I feel so proud to be from Andaman not that i was not before but after the dive i get the whole idea of why people enjoy diving so much and travel all the way to these islands for diving and snorkeling.

As always, leaving you all with few more pics clicked by Saketh : 

 Here is my scuba diving video to give you a sneak peek of what the underwater life looks like. The BarefootScuba makes sure your memories are captured forever. Also they give us a certificate once we finish our dive which is pretty good 

Watch till the end to see the fishes 🙂 (or skip to 1:06)

I am determined to go for even more scuba diving sessions once i learn swimming so that i can become better than my first one in terms of breathing and not letting the claustrophobia hit me which has always stopped me from learning swimming.

Andaman as a Scuba diving destination

The azure waters surrounding the Andaman Islands make it a treasure trove to dive into and snorkel around.

Pristine dive spots and enchanting fish life have ensured that the Andamans are now considered as a diving hot spot and divers from all around the world make their way to these islands simply to scuba dive. Irrespective of whether you can swim or not – as long as you are at least 8 years old, you too can try your hand at diving and get addicted for life!

One can also take up advanced level certification and become a certified diver. Many folks from all over the world actually come to Andaman to take up the diving certifications. 

You can also check out some instagrammers who are based in Andamans and their profiles are a treat to watch. @tara.oceanista and @nelson_raju

Have you done scuba diving? Where and how was your experience? Is it on your bucket list, if yes then some serious advice – PLEASE DO IT.  Don’t think about it even for a second, the moment you get a chance just do it. Let me know if you liked this post (i know this was a long long one).

Happy blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤