A part of India, the Andaman Islands are one of the world's newest diving destinations and have yet to be properly explored for diving. After a 50 year period of virtual isolation from the outside world the Indian government has made a decision to allow limited, environmentally conscious tourism development in the islands.
The Andaman's modern history began as a British penal colony for Indian radical elements. During WWII it was occupied by a small Japanese force. Once India gained its independence from Britain, India initiated a limited colonization program and at the same time, committed itself to protecting the island's aboriginal population and its natural environment.
Only 26 of these 576 islands are inhabited. They are two hundred kilometres away from the nearest Asian mainland. The capital and administrative centre of the this little-known archipelago, Port Blair, was off limits to non-Indian visitors for decades; and adjacent Nicobar Islands are still closed. Visiting and diving the Andaman Islands really is a special adventure!
Diving around the Andaman islands of India, one of the last unexplored diving frontiers in the world, in a luxury liveaboard is an experience no diver should miss!
Until recently, the Andaman Islands were completely isolated and the new tourism development has been environmentally conscious, resulting in abundant and diverse marine life in surrounding waters for divers to explore. With fringing reefs, steeply sloping walls, coral pinnacles, plus the more unusual jet black volcanic walls of Barren Island, there is something for every diver on a liveaboard cruise to the Andaman Islands!
At Passage Island the sloping hard coral reef levels out at 22-28m and is known for its vibrant fish life. Here you can encounter Spotted Eagle Rays and Mobula Rays, schools of bannerfish, both Blue-fin and Giant Trevallies, Oriental Sweetlips and Hawksbill Turtles.
Fish Rock is a series of rocky pinnacles and underwater rock formations which now house fan corals in what was once an Indian Navy target practice area. The sea seems to have harnessed the power of the ammunition once fired here and can sometimes unleash powerful currents! Fish Rock is so-called for a good reason! Napoleon Wrasse and an assortment of groupers, as well as octopus and giant Yellow-margin Moray Eels, regularly put in an appearance here.
The two adjoined islands of The Sisters ought really to be called The Siamese Twins! The hard and soft coral reefs are usually explored as a drift dive to encounter giant groupers, White-tip Reef Sharks, Great and Chevron Barracudas, and nudibranchs, as well as beautiful Harlequin Sweetlips.
A now extinct volcano, Narcondam Island, is encircled by coral beds where you may witness gas bubbles popping up from the shallow sea floor. As well as the larger sharks and rays which can be found at Barren Island, Narcondam Island’s reefs harbour rich fish life as well as some fascinating macro life. Lionfish, Hawksbill and Green Turtles, Ornate Ghost Pipefish and several unusual nudibranchs all make their home along the ridges and among the coral gardens. Diving here offers pinnacle diving and current-beaten crests and rims, as well as some calmer coral gardens.
Barren Island is a live volcano. Its wisps of volcanic smoke may well have rendered the land barren, but under the water lies a different story! The reef topography allows for wall diving. Gentle sloping lava ridges and seemingly infinite drop-offs can be dived as a drift where you can hope to share the reef with some of the more spectacular residents such as Manta Rays, Grey Reef Sharks, White-tip Reef Sharks, Silvertip Sharks and Blue-spotted Sting Rays – far from barren! What makes this site all the more fascinating and unusual is the effect of the last volcanic eruption. The black sand encrusted walls make for a startling backdrop for the colourful fish and the graceful outlines of the silvery, streamlined sharks.
The reefs which ring Havelock Island are home to a plethora of colourful and intriguing fish from lionfish lurking at Lighthouse to numerous splendid seafans at Seafan City, where residents include some large schools of tuna, jacks and groupers. The gullies and ravines of Pilot Reef make perfect homes for Leopard and White-tip Reef Sharks, and there is always the possibility of encountering a visiting Manta Ray. At Mac Point you might be lucky enough to see a dugong frolicking in the sea grasses!
Named after the 18th century British marine surveyor John Ritchie, Ritchie’s Archipelago comprises 13 islands including Button Island, Havelock Island and Henry Lawrence Island. The thrill of diving in this area is that it is still being discovered and explored, so you really will be among the first divers to have the pleasure of charting new waters.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which covers 280 sq km and comprises 15 islands of mangrove creeks, tropical rainforest and reefs . It supports over 135 species of corals, hundreds of species of fish, and is a hub for nesting turtles including the leatherback, hawksbill, green, and the smallest of all, the olive ridley.
Known to be a haven for the most exotic marine and coral life of the island chain and has impeccable visibility, the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is a protected zone & no fishing activities are allowed. The variety of marine life includes larger fish such as Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, mantas, white tip and gray reef sharks, octopus, squids and sea turtles. Some popular dive spots here are Cinque Island, Bala Reef, Corruption Rock, Rutland Island, Mac Point, Barracuda City