Adventure is the pursuit of an exciting life. And what’s more exciting than diving into the endless oceans to discover a whole new world inside? Scuba Diving is undoubtedly one of the best adventure activities you can experience in your life. It surely was on my all-time adventures list and I found this beautiful Netrani Islands on West coast of India to tick-off my checklist. Now, here is a blog to help you to do the same and enable you to take a refreshing and thrilling dive in the Arabian sea waters.
Netrani Islands: Located 20kms far from Karnataka’s popular pilgrimage and tourist centre Murudeshwara coastline, this beautiful heart shaped island is also known as pigeon island. With very clean waters and prosperous aquatic life, it is undeniably one of the best Scuba Diving sites in India, being better than other diving sites like Goa, Pondicherry & Kochi. Next to Andaman & Lakshadweep, Netrani island is the site which can give you rousing experience of Scuba Diving.
How to Reach: The coastal town of Murudeshwara is the base site to reach Netrani Islands which is at a distance of 165 kms from Mangalore towards Goa via NH66. There are direct buses & trains from Bangalore & other major cities. Mangalore is the nearest airport.
From Murudeshwara, Netrani islands can be reached only through boat or a ferry. For the scuba divers, boats are arranged by the agency you choose to dive with along with package. No private boats are allowed to island, which also marks the Western Sea borders of India.
Scuba Diving Agency: There are 3-4 agencies running scuba diving, all located at Murudeshwara. Netrani Adventures, West Coast Adventures, Dive Goa are being few. Of all, Netrani Adventures is the most preferred one as they are exclusive to Netrani islands and are better in every aspect compared to other agencies.
Dives Available: Apart from regular Scuba diving, there is Padi course & SSI course with certifications for interested ones which can be covered in multiple sessions and days.
But I’m hoping you came here to get to know about Scuba Diving. Isn’t it? So I’m going ahead giving all details and some personal insights as a novice Scuba Diver with Netrani Adventures.
Cost of Scuba Diving: Costs are seasonal here. Scuba diving at Netrani remains operational only from September to May every year. The winter months are best suited for the dive with thriving aquatic life and can cost you little higher.
On an average it would cost around ₹4,500 on weekends per head and ₹4,000 on weekdays. Costs include Scuba diving, ferry ride, underwater photographs & food on boat.
Discounts are applicable if you are registering for group of more than 5 people.
Underwater videography is charged extra ₹300 per head, which needs to be informed before dive.
Dive Time: Actual dive time underwaters is 30-40mins depending on total number of divers on the given day. But the complete end to end itinerary would take almost a whole day starting from 8AM to 4 or 5PM.
Dive Depth: Depths covered is nearly 30-40ft or 10-12mts, until where sunlight can reach. Location as chosen as such where you can touch the seabed at that depth. No prior experience of Scuba diving is required for this depth.
My first dive experience and Itinerary:
As said, it started with an expectation of fulfilling a long time wish list and I chose my birthday to make it memorable😊 The registration process was hazzle free Netrani’s support executive Sri, who gave all information needed over call. (Phone no. 9900431111). We were asked to report at 8:00AM on the day near Murudeshwara temple.
After signing declarations forms and having a light breakfast (not included in Scuba package) we were all set to leave the Murudeshwara shore by 9AM. We joined hands with 5 instructors on board to load in oxygen cylinders to boat and started our ride. Introduction was very brief and on point at the start of ride. And then it was all indefinite ocean for next 1 hour 15mins. Near the shore we could enjoy the splendid backside views of Mighty Shiva Statue of Murudeshwara. But as ride continued further it was getting quiet and quieter and the waters started to look clean and cleaner. With no doubts it the cleanest deep sea waters I have ever seen in my life.
The moment was all there to be savoured. Endless blues, rippling of waves, seagulls hunting for fish and Netrani islands at far sight appearing as a small rock over water, a journey to be remembered!! But that long water ride made few people uncomfortable. Luckily, we arrived at Netrani before anyone could go sea sick.
At arrival we were made very clear that we cannot step a foot on Island rocks as its both dangerous and in control on Indian Navy with strict action against trespassing. Following that, Scuba Diving instructions were given very clearly & thoroughly for next 30mins including the hand signs to communicate underwater. Then, we were all set for moment of truth. A dive into the depths of Arabian Sea.
The dive happens in batches of 5 people. Because every diver is accompanied by an instructor who would take care of you for whole dive and make sure you don’t get lost inside the sea! While one batch is inside the water rest of the divers can go swimming or snorkelling at surface. I wanted to feel the sea first. So jumped in to take a swim deciding to go Scuba Diving in next batch. The waters were so clean that I could see many fishes and even seabed from the surface itself. Couldn’t control my excitement to take a deep dive there!
And finally it was my time. After gearing up with all equipments, I took my regular backflip of Scuba divers into waters. My instructor accompanied me and briefed the most important instructions for 2mins and then we went together, to explore the sea! But hey, it’s an adventure. And what’s an adventure without feeling tricky? Yes, after I dived in, for first 2mins I could not breathe easily, I tried and tired. All the theoretical instructions given earlier seemed to have washed away by sea waves. Before I could go restless, my instructor signalled me to try pressure equalization. Ah! I could literally breathe a sigh of relief. My breathing became stable very quick and I was all charged up to go deep down!
For next 30mins it was all about discovering an unseen magical world. Seeing the life which I could never imagine of. There were innumerable fishes of countless species swimming around. Different shapes, sizes and colours. From little anchovies to nearly 3ft big fishes and many sea creatures which till date I had not even see in pictures. Surprisingly, They weren’t scared of us and didn’t try swimming away. Why should they be? After all, it’s their home. In fact, they seemed like they never care who dives in everyday there to see them.😄
After sometime, we went deep down until I touched the seabed. Though, that’s not the goal of Scuba diving, it was a whole different level of satisfaction. As much as Netrani is rich in aquatic life, sea corals are very rare to spot. With drenches, boulders and many creatures living on them, seabed looked very lively and too lovely. After posing for some pictures, it was time to go up. But I never felt like I had enough of that beautiful experience. Maybe I would haven’t felt complete even if I was left there for whole day. Anyhow, my instructor brought me back up and all I could do was say a bye-bye to my new sea friends😊
After getting back on high on back, I was still high on adrenaline. With a life jacket on, I jumped into the open ocean. I swam there for nearly 2 hours until everyone else completed their Scuba diving. It was the longest I had ever been in waters and it was total worth it. Finally, I boarded the boat as the last person and we started back from Netrani. The islands which welcomed us with high anticipation in morning was not bidding adieu with one unforgettable lifetime experience. #ThankYouNetrani.
On return journey everyone seemed to be tired of dive and sea. Everyone took a nap on boat. Again after 1 hour of journey we were greeted with the same mighty Shiva statue. In the golden hours of evening Sun, lord Shiva was shining with more beauty. Enjoying that spectacular view, we reached back the shore by 4.30PM. I stood at the edge of shore, staring at endless oceans with a whole different emotion filled in. Adventure, beauty, satisfaction and love. I could spot Netrani islands at a far distance, it was just like a dot. Though dots are put to symbolize an end, I was very certain, that dot of Netrani was a beginning. Beginning of many more what to follow.
Clear Your Doubts:
1. Swimming is not a required skill. This is the most common doubt for all. Swimming is not at all required for Scuba diving. To be clear, you should not swim during the dive as the purpose is to stay deep inside and not keeping afloat.
2. Age limit is 10 years to dive. It is absolutely safe for children also to try scuba diving. Only patients with heart conditions and any other lung diseases are not allowed to dive.
3. Eyesight problem is taken care of. If your eyesight is ±3, the eyes correct for sight automatically inside water. Beyond that, you will be given with masks with power eye glasses.
4. The dive site is safe from dangerous marine creatures. Instructors are well qualified and know very well about the places. Nothing to be worried about.
5. What can you spot in your dive is completely upon your luck. Cuttlefishes, Lion fishes, Eels are most commonly sighted ones.
Things to know and Personal suggestions:
1. Best time for choosing Scuba Diving is for sure on weekdays in winter months. Not only it reduces cost for you but also as there are less number of people to dive, you get to spend more time underwater.
2. Have a light breakfast and avoid oil food. Seasickness is very common if you’re not used to deep waters. Avoid food which can make it worse.
3. At Netrani islands, for the times you are not diving and on floating boat you can again feel clumsy and nauseated. Best thing to do at that time is to jump into water and not remain on boat.
4. Any comfortable swimwear is enough for diving. My suggestion is to prefer swimwear of full hands and full length pants which can avoid you from catching cold in deep waters.
5. You will be allowed to carry a backpack on boat. Carry a towel and a pair of warm clothes. There is a changing room on boat which can be used.
6. If you’re accompanying your friend or family member on boat ride but not diving, that is allowed too. You would be charged ₹2,000 for boat ride, snacks and safety equipments.
7. Snacks and fruits are provided on boat. That should be sufficient to keep your hungry away till evening. But please don’t litter the sea with food or plastic waste.
8. Don’t forget your Sunscreen lotion and sunglasses. The heat of mid-day sun in middle of ocean is as harsh as it can be.
9. Once you come back to Murudeshwara, never miss out to enjoy some lovely sunset views from shore. Especially, try catching the breath-taking views of mighty Shiva statue on the backdrops of sunset over a vast ocean. Its surely a match made in heaven.
10. If at all if you require any other information apart from all these, I’m happy to assist through DMs on my social media handles😊
Take Away: It is surely once a lifetime experience. Discovering the unseen beautiful marine creatures at touching distance is an experience which can only be felt and not put into words. You dive in with an anticipation of uncovering something new, and Sea will surely not disappoint you. And Netrani, Oh! She is a little princess standing there with all elegance up and whole different world underneath. Come out of any fear of depth, water or marine creatures and enjoy open of the best Scuba diving experiences of the country to the fullest.