Shaheed Dweep is one of the exotic, untrodden, getaways in the Bay of Bengal that offers an underwater world full of enthrallment and excitement for divers.
This section lists the best scuba diving and snorkeling destinations around Neil Island, with extra information about the aquatic life that inhabits this part of south Andaman.
In general, the best diving destinations in Andaman Islands are in the south, such as Havelock and Port Blair.
In general, you should expect to have good underwater visibility. In fact, the water clarity extends to forty metres (130 feet) during the optimum months for diving.
So, when is the best time to dive in the Andaman Islands? The peak season for scuba diving starts around the end of October and runs all the way through to May.
Having a tropical climate means the sea temperature is warm for most of the year, averaging 28° Celsius (around 82° Fahrenheit). Even so, some of Neil Island's dive sites can have strong water currents, including down currents where they collide with steep walls.
Note: The climate during the first half of the year is mostly sunny and hot with calm flat seas. But, it may be best to avoid the area when the May monsoons arrive - even though diving is still available at some selected sites.
The marine life biodiversity, and the colourful reef gardens, are the main reasons why we chose to add Neil Island diving locations to our list of best scuba destinations in India.
Some of the aquatic animals and marine biodiversity that divers and snorkelers may find in the area include:
Pro Tip: Take one of the short boat trips from Port Blair and you will find the white sandy beaches and pristine coral reefs of Neil Island (around thirty six kilometres to the northeast).
You will find a popular dive spot called 'Aquarium' towards the east of Neil Island. The primary feature of this location is a large fringing reef surrounded by several other fragmented reefs running parallel to it.
This site is ideal for beginners to discover scuba because the depths range from eight (8) metres down to a maximum of twelve (12) metres. Plus, it's only 1.5 kilometres from land.
If you're looking for the best dive site in Andaman to swim alongside semi-nomadic dugongs, this is it. New divers and snorkeling enthusiasts will feel safe around this sheltered spot because it has lots of sand banks and hard coral structures.
Imagine a popular dive site with small rock patches scattered around a sandy seabed. This is what you get if you go diving at the Bus Stop dive site about 3 km west of Neil Island.
This fringing reef is an ideal place for the local dive schools to conduct the adventure dives from the PADI Advanced Open Water course.
The shallow areas around fourteen (14) metres deep slope down to the maximum depth close to thirty (30) metres.
It's a somewhat strange name for a dive site, but the simple translation is 'busy old man'. You will find it around 4 km to the north-east in the channel between Neil Island and Havelock.
Few locations contain underwater topography like this one. But, the natural, rectangular plateau means you should expect to encounter quite strong currents when the spring tide arrives.
If you're looking for a place to make relaxing, shallow dives in the Andaman Islands, it would be good to add this one to your bucket list.
The maximum depth is fourteen (14) metres. But, remember to take a leisurely look around the seagrass meadows where you may find a family of sea cows (dugongs)
Frequent Sightings at Dugong Dungeon Dive Site: Dugong marine mammals.
The markers used at the jetty channel make for an interesting reef dive that is appropriate for almost all scuba diver certification levels.
In fact, the top of the reef levels out around seven (7) metres below the surface. The dive gets better as you drop down to the sandy bottom - closer to twelve (12) metres of depth.
The topography at this dive site combines colourful soft corals with craggy rock formations. It's one of the deepest sites 3.5 km to the north of Neil Island with depths ranging between twenty eight (28) and thirty four (34) metres.
A word of caution. The strong eastward currents tend to suit divers with a Drift Diving certification or divers with some experience in fast-moving water.
If you dive at this location, you will find a large volcanic rock that spreads out over a sandy bottom (with several different levels from 12 to 19 metres).
Even though it is suitable for most certification levels, this is a popular destination to conduct underwater navigation courses - due to the lack of strong currents.
This small circular reef is a frequent site to take novice divers for their 'first scuba diving experience'. The formation runs around a small lighthouse - situated around 500 metres from the main jetty.
If you're a beginner, you should feel safer knowing that the average depth limits are between five (5) and ten (10) metres.
Sometimes called 'Robin's Bay', the long fringing reef at Manta Point ends quite close to the shallow waters of Havelock.
This is a regular dive destination located two (2) km in the north of the area between Havelock and Neil Island.
The underwater landscape is an unusual combination of long rocky mounds and seagrass beds. Even so, don't forget to explore the cracks and crevices around the stony outcrops.
This natural fringing reef is an ideal spot to witness the diverse ecosystem that the Andaman Islands has to offer. You will find it around two kilometres to the west of Neil Island.
Head north-east of Neil Island for about five kilometres and you will find a large, rocky channel. It boasts an abundance of tropical reef fish species.
Frequent Sightings at Rockys Dive Site: Glass fish, lobsters, marine mollusks (e.g. nudibranchs), napoleon wrasse.
This is a deep dive site with short bottom times due to the depths averaging thirty six (36) to forty two (42) metres.
Frequent Sightings at Sea Fan City Dive Site: Gorgonian sea fans.
There are more locations for divers of all certification levels to explore when scuba diving in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, including:
Note: Another section explains more about passive interaction with marine animals and the importance of diving safely around hazardous sea life.