Ever since the idea of scuba diving came up while planning for this trip, people in our group had sleepless nights. For some it was out of excitement, while like yours truly because they dreaded it !
Having checked in at Daryasarang Resort, near the Chivala Beach in Malvan, we met our Scuba Diving organiser. He gave us half an hour to refresh and then our adventure would begin! Getting ready and driving down to the beach felt like a prisoner being readied for gallows!
Why? Now, imagine. You are 15-20 feet under the sea, suspended to the surface by oxygen pipes. You are venturing into some unknown world, breathing oxygen through a pipe held in your mouth. What if the oxygen pipe leaks? What if you suddenly feel like breathing with your nose? What if the oxygen pipe slips out of your mouth? This writer is nothing if not paranoid!
On your mark, get set for the Scuba Dive !
At Malvan, you could do Snorkeling and Scuba Diving. The diving is conducted by people approved by the Maharashtra Tourism. For Scuba Diving, you need to head to the Chivala Beach at Malvan. The actual diving takes place near the Sindhudurg Fort, located in the middle of the Arabian Sea.
A 15 minute boat ride takes you near the fort. Moving away from the shore and into the middle of the sea always gives you a slightly jittery feeling.
A boat, probably belonging to Coast Guard passed by, people cheered as they spotted the Indian flag fluttering in the air.
We arrived at our Scuba Diving spot near the Sindhudurg fort around 2 PM. There were a few people already Snorkeling around, which looked much more safer than Scuba Diving but our dive organiser insisted that Snorkeling was not even half fun as Scuba Diving.
The preparation for the Scuba Diving begins with instructions from your dive instructors. At Malvan, Scuba Diving is done through oxygen pipes attached to a tank on board the ship, you do not carry the oxygen cylinders while diving. The instructors teach you how to breathe using the pipe and hand signals to communicate underwater, simple “up” and “ok” signals. You are then given an option of changing into the diving suit or dive with your own clothes. The instructor told us to wear our own clothes so that we could make out who was who in the pictures ! You will have to wear canvas shoes given by them.
A lead strap is tied to your body so you can sink in. You are also given plastic goggles too see underwater, these goggles are designed in such a way that they even plug your nose, you are automatically forced to breathe through the pipe attached to your mouth.
Taking the plunge !
At a time 3 people could go in for the dive because there were 3 instructors. Each dive takes about 10 minutes. We were first asked to hold the boat ladder, put our heads underwater and get used to breathing through our mouth using the pipe. The first few attempts of putting our heads underwater and breathing through the pipe were some of the most scary moments of our lives, most of us couldn’t hold in for more than a few seconds, our heart rate increased because of the tension ! The instructors were very friendly and encouraging though.
After a few attempts, they take you in the middle of the water and let you float with an inflatable tube till you feel comfortable.
There are 2 instructors per person. One hovers on the surface looking out for you and the other takes you underwater. When you are ready, take a deep breath and then take the plunge !
The instructor holds your hand and down, down you go. All of a sudden, as if by magic, a whole new world emerges before you. A world of sea weeds, corals, rocks and fish !
You are guided around by the instructor who even throws some food for the fish and they come swarming at you ! For all the tension that we felt before the dive, once underwater, everything is forgotten, you will even be surprised how effortlessly you are able to breathe through the pipe.
We went some 15 feet underwater, we glided past corals, sea weeds waved at us, here and there a few fish peeped out of their homes. Being Summer afternoon time, the water was not very clear but the visibility is good enough. We tried looking up towards the surface and could see sunlight streaming in through the water. What a mystic, divine sight it was !
Zen under water!
We came up to the surface for a bit of fresh air and the next time, Mr and Mrs.Truly dived together, it is total fun doing it with your spouse ! The instructors took us near a big coral and made us pose for pictures, they also made a 1 minute video !
We stood holding the coral, while the video was being recorded and looked around at the silent world around us. All you can hear is your own breathing through the pipe. There was this one moment, when we felt a sense of complete bliss, where our minds were devoid of any thoughts, there was nothing to think, feel, experience, it was a state of nirvana!
After our group of 10 completed their dives, some of the guys didn’t have enough and went for another round, this time they went deeper to about 25 feet.
Check out some little fish swimming past the human species and wondering what fishy business is going on around them!
From dreading to even think of the dive to going into a state of zen and far from being an adventure sport, Scuba Diving is a magical experience !
Dining in Konkan style
Scuba Diving done, our boat took us back to the shore, it was well past lunch time and a few fishermen were returning from the sea.
We were starving after our dive and headed for lunch at a restaurant nearby. While in the Konkan area, you cannot miss the varieties of fish that they serve you. Our group binged on everything that was available on the menu. A few vegetarians like this writer did not have too many options but the Thali was as delicious as it could get. They served some dessert that looked like whipped cream, it was so tasty that we lost count of the number of cups that we ordered !
Lunch done, we waited for another boat to take us for a tour of the Sindhudurg Fort.
Scuba Diving at Malvan was an experience for our lifetime !
– Scuba Diving is easy once you get a hang of breathing through your mouth with the help of the pipe.
– If you feel any discomfort, show the thumbs up sign to your instructor and you will be pulled on to the surface within seconds. You may feel a little pain in the ears while ascending back to the surface.
– Follow your instructors and don’t try to venture on your own and do not disturb the underwater life.
– At Malvan Scuba Diving starts at 8 AM and goes on till 4 PM. They usually do not conduct the dive if there is a high tide.
– It is preferable to wear t-shirt and shorts for the dive or hire the diving suit.
– Avoid diving after a heavy meal.
– The cost comes to around Rs.1200/- per person in the off season.
– The best time for Scuba Diving in Malvan is November to February when the water is very clear. Mornings are ideal. The brighter the day, the clearer the view.
This travelogue was first published by Highway Only Way.