When most people think about scuba diving, they picture vibrant coral reefs, sea turtles and fascinating marine life. And though, these are definite reasons to go scuba diving, they are not all that diving has to offer. Did you know that scuba diving has a multitude of positive health benefits? Yes, we are talking of scuba diving for Fit India! Some of the scuba diving health benefits are derived from the physical activity it entails. But there are also proven mental health benefits. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how far reaching the effects of scuba diving are on both your physical and mental well-being.
Scuba Dive for Fit India & A Healthier You
Here are just a few key benefits you experience when you go scuba diving in India:
Scuba diving encourages divers to take long, slow, deep breathes. A calm, slow breathing pattern reduces the risk of a lung-expansion injury while diving. But did you know that it also helps reduce mucus build up?! This breathing pattern has also been known to help with existing conditions, such as asthma. The breathing technique used during diving is similar to that used during some styles of meditation, including yoga. It helps slow down your heart rate, promoting a state of peacefulness. Slow rhythmic breathing can also have a calming effect on your psyche.
2. It increases your fitness levels, strength and flexibility.
Have you heard of resistance training? When you go scuba diving, you’ll be doing that too! Your muscles have to work harder underwater than they would on land due to the increased resistance caused by the water around you. The level of resistance increases significantly when you are swimming against even a mild current. That’s why we recommend scuba diving for Fit India. The more you dive and swim, the more your muscles begin to strengthen. And you’ll also develop endurance as well as flexibility. Scuba diving and swimming doesn’t only give your legs a workout. It can also help build up your core strength, which is important for a good overall posture.
3. It lowers your blood pressure
Remember the first time you went underwater? In all likelihood, you would have experienced a spike in blood pressure. Most divers do, due to the excitement and adrenaline. But this is usually only a temporary increase. Once you have recovered from the initial spike, your heart rate reduces, so does your blood pressure. The slow and deep breathing technique you learn helps lower your blood pressure and keeps you calm throughout the dive.
4. It introduces you to the spectacular marine life underwater
Seeing stunning coral reefs and a fabulous array of fish and critters is enough to put anyone in a good mood. Also, it has been proven that seeing certain colors can affect the brain in many different ways. Scientists believe that being subjected to bright, intense colors, similar to the ones we might find surrounding reefs, can promote feelings of happiness. It can uplift your mood. In addition, the color blue has been known to induce a calming effect on the body.
Yes, it is possible to dive virtually anywhere on the planet that has a body of water. However, divers tend to travel more than they dive at home. Traveling overseas, exploring and taking time off work, all lead to adventures, excitement and positive experiences. All of which are good for your body, mind and soul. Infinitely much better than being stressed, bored and stuck in a rut, don’t you agree?!
6. It provides you with the healing effects of water
Being underwater has many healing benefits. The likeness to being in the womb is believed to promote feelings of security, well-being and happiness. In addition, being in salt water for long periods of time can cause your body to dehydrate meaning that you tend to drink a lot more after the dive. This in turn means that you are replenishing your cells. You are receiving all the benefits of water both externally and internally.
7. It exposes you to sunlight
Being exposed to sunlight creates vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium, which in turn keeps bones healthy and strong. Exposure to sunlight also helps increase endorphin production. Now you know why we scuba divers are a happy lot.
8. It has socializing benefits
Diving is a social activity. It involves diving with a buddy. And among divers, we find like-minded people with a common interest. There is a sense of community. A sense of being part of a ‘tribe’ when spending time with other divers. All of which are positive feelings and good for your mental well-being. Did we mention that it also helps lower stress, building confidence and gives you a sense of security and belonging!
We have mentioned it earlier that the breathing pattern for diving is similar to a meditative breathing pattern. Meditating is a great remedy for stress too. Slower breathing promotes calmness. Not just that, but when we are diving, we are focused on the environment around us which enables us to completely forget work, family, relationships or financial issues. Having this mental ‘time out’ gives the body a chance to rest. It brings the nervous system back to its natural balance. Studies have shown that a relaxed and calm mind promotes a positive mental attitude. It helps you deal with your issues in a calm and rational manner. It reduces feelings of depression.
Corona Virus & Fitness
There are many uncertainties and unknowns surrounding the Corona Virus pandemic. But one thing that is widely believed to be true is that the effects of COVID-19 are generally less severe in a person who is physically healthy and fit. We know, you may not cherish the thought of going to the gym to work on your fitness, but how about going diving instead!
At Plant Scuba India, we are following recommendations regarding scuba diving health and hygiene standards. We have new procedures in place to ensure that gear is disinfected and all recommendations are being met. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will require a doctors medical clearance, as a precautionary measure, prior to participating in any in-water activities. Contact us by email and we can provide you with a form for your doctor to sign.
If you’d like to learn to dive or to join us for fun diving in India, or if you have any questions about scuba diving for Fit India, health and diving, or corona virus and diving, contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to diving with you soon!
Text: Sarah Ann Wormland, PADI
Photos (in order of appearance): Madhava Reddy, David ST Loh, Gopala Krishnan
Scuba diving in India is still at a nascent stage. This is mostly because only a small percentage of Indians have taken that giant leap and joined the dive club. That said, most non-divers are as intrigued by the underwater world. As a scuba diver, you have definitely been asked some, or most, of these questions: What does scuba mean? Do you breathe oxygen underwater? Are corals as colorful in reality as they are in pictures? Have they really found the lost city of Dwarka, and can you dive there?
You can find the answer to all these questions here, along with some more fun facts about scuba diving in India. Also we have interesting tidbits about diving in general, which you may not have known.
Scuba is an acronym.
It stands for ‘self-contained underwater breathing apparatus’.
In 1943, the first scuba gear was invented.
Divers breathe compressed air underwater.
No, not oxygen. In fact, breathing oxygen under pressure is toxic. The scuba diving cylinder contains the normal air you breathe on land, which is 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen.
Colors fade underwater.
This is because water absorbs light. Water absorbs different wavelengths of light to different degrees. The first to fade is red. Next to follow is orange, then yellow… This is why your blood looks greenish-black underwater. It is also why corals don’t appear as colorful as they are in pictures. Well, until you point the light from your dive torch at them.
Only 5% of the oceans have been explored.
The final frontier is not just space, but also our own oceans. Approximately 95% of the world’s oceans still remains a mystery to us.
The Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench is the deepest point in the ocean.
It is about 10,944 metres below sea level. No chance of scuba diving there. But it was first explored in 1960 by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh.
The world’s deepest scuba dive is at 332.35 metres.
Or 1,090 feet and 4.5 inches to be exact. Ahmed Gabr broke the Guinness World Record for the deepest scuba dive in 2014. Then 41-year-old, he set this world record in the Red Sea, off the coast of Dahab, Egypt.
For scuba diving in India, only a fraction of our 7,500-kilometre coastline has been explored.
Scuba diving in India at Dwarka has been on every avid diver’s bucket list.
Ever since marine scientists discovered archaeological remains underwater, off the Gulf of Khambhat, on the west coast of India. Rumor has it that the discovery might change history as we know it. And that the remains lying underwater here are allegedly 9,000 years old.
You can begin your scuba training at age 10.
The PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification allows young divers to dive with a PADI professional or certified parent or guardian to the depth of 12 metres.
Being a responsible scuba diver is important wherever you are diving. But it’s even more so in India because of our dense population. The great news about being a responsible scuba diver is that it has a major feel-good factor, and together we can make a difference and raise awareness – all of which leads to healthier dive sites and the ongoing development of scuba diving in India. Here are some tips to responsibly scuba dive in India, how they help in your underwater adventure, and how they can help you in your daily life too!
1. Get certified to scuba dive in India
If you want to scuba dive, get certified! This not only increases your personal safety underwater, it also means you’ll learn about how to dive to limit your impact on the coral reef and marine life. This in turn means that dive sites stay preserved for you and other divers to enjoy, dive after dive. If you are not certified to dive, sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver Course – you can even start learning online from home now! Once you are a certified diver, you’ll be recognized as such by dive centers all around the world. Yes, you will have more places to explore and more buddies to meet and dive with!
2. Don’t touch coral reef or marine life
Did you know that corals are living animals? You need to treat corals with the same respect you would give other creatures. Touching corals can not only lead to nasty stings, but you can actually infect the reef. Contamination from humans can be deadly for coral reefs, and for the fish living there. Hard coral is often covered with a thin layer of live tissue which protects it. When touched by humans, this layer gets damaged. The basic rules of sustainable scuba diving are: (1) don’t touch the corals and (2) don’t take any corals or shells out of the ocean.
3. Be in control of your movements
Having good control underwater comes through proper training and supervised practice. If you are not a certified diver, sign up for a Discover Scuba Diving program. You’ll learn some basic skills to keep you and the reef safe, followed by an amazing dive in the ocean with an instructor. If you want to get certified, take the Open Water Diver Course and commit to learning to scuba dive in India. Want to develop your diving skills further? Why not take the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course? Being in control of your movements makes you look more accomplished underwater and you’ll also be ensuring the longevity of the reef by not making contact with it. As an ‘in control’ diver, beginners will look up to you and follow your example.
4. Maintain good buoyancy
Divers with good buoyancy control are looked up to wherever they dive. Be a good role model with excellent diving skills, and you’ll gain the respect of your buddies in no time. Good buoyancy control also means that your air will last longer so you can dive for longer. You’ll be able to avoid crashing into a reef or making contact with the bottom. Also, you’ll also be able to maneuver better, which means you can get closer to the marine life and corals. You’ll reduce your stress and anxiety levels in the process as well. Say hello to more relaxing and comfortable dives.
5. Invest in the right equipment
Scuba diving in India is still a relatively new activity. There’s yet an element of ‘cool-ness’ attached to it. You have to have the right equipment if you want to look and feel great underwater. And it has to fit correctly! Over-sized gear or a too-snug fit are both uncomfortable and unsafe. Ask us about which scuba diving equipment you should have and how it should fit for the best performance. If your gear isn’t the right size for you, you’ll struggle with buoyancy and are more likely to damage the reef, since your focus remains on your gear and not on your surroundings. All your scuba gear needs to be tucked away. Nothing should be trailing or dangling, as it can cause to damage to the reef or even lead to entanglement.
6. Don’t pollute the water
For the sake of both land and marine species, it is increasingly important today to be responsible and try your best to reduce your environmental footprint. Never throw trash, even organic, in the ocean. Pick up any trash you see while diving, and others will follow your example. Role model good behavior at home too. Try to reduce your use of plastic by using eco-bags for your shopping and think twice about buying items that are overly packaged. In India, we generate a huge amount of plastic waste. Be a trailblazer and get active on social media about what you are doing to reduce your own plastic consumption.
7. Educate yourself and others
The more people know about something, the greater their interest in protecting it. Learn about corals and marine life and share your findings with others. Not only will you impress them with your knowledge, but you’ll also help create a new generation of educated Indian scuba divers who, like you, want to protect our amazing underwater world.
8. Be an ocean advocate
Being a scuba diver is not just about what we do when we are diving in India. It’s about our behavior at home too. Be a diver everyday by becoming aware of global issues such as climate change and overfishing. Join online conservation groups and be a leading voice on social media. We all know the power of people, so help start a wave of awareness and change!
9. Promote scuba diving in India
Share you underwater pictures and talk with your friends, family and neighbors about your adventures and experiences when scuba diving in India. The more Indian divers there are, the more powerful our collective voice becomes.
Are you ready to put these points into action? Get started by booking a PADI scuba diving course, or your next dives now! Contact us via our online contact form or send us an email to: email@example.com
— BY SARAH WORMALD, PADI
Why would you want to restrict your holidays to just 30% of the earth’s surface, when you can go scuba diving in India and explore the rest of the world as well?! Besides, just think about all those amazing Instagrammable images you will click. The envious faces of family, friends and co-workers. And did we mention that the boss can’t get in touch with you when you’re underwater. Yes, it’s time to tick diving off your bucket list. Especially since you can learn scuba diving in India in your very own city.
1. Learn scuba diving in India & explore the most fascinating place on earth
Fancy yourself a traveler? As a scuba diver, you can claim exploration of the seas as well. Maybe, even discover a spectacular dive site! We kid you not. This is a strong possibility when scuba diving in India since only one per cent of the country’s 8,000 km coastline has been explored.
2. Escape to a tranquil world
Think of your last holiday and the number of times your boss or that pesky colleague sent you a message asking for some document or email they simply could not locate. Now think about your upcoming trip scuba diving in India and how you can claim no network underwater. No phone calls, no messages, no emails. Just eat, sleep, dive, repeat!
3. Experience a world both old and new
If you are a history buff, just think of the shipwrecks, underwater monuments and other fabulous sites you could explore when diving in India. The 9,000-year-old lost city of Dwarka in Gujarat, for example. Or the shipwrecks at Minicoy, Lakshadweep. Or the diving near an active volcano at Andamans. Every dive has something new and unique to offer, be it that interesting fish you’ve never seen before or the shipwreck you would love to explore.
4. Click the best holiday pictures
A photograph of you clicking a photograph of a turtle. Images of the most scenic beaches. White sands, blue seas, colorful coral, curious fish, your own picture underwater… Counting those Insta likes already?!
5. Make new friends
Diving brings together people from across the globe. People who share a common passion for the world below the waves. Besides, there is no chance you see a 5-meter shark and not come back to the boat and talk about it. Not only will be go back from your scuba diving holiday with new experiences, but also a new set of friends and a better understanding of different cultures.
6. Learn scuba diving in India in your own city
Yes, you read that right. You can learn scuba diving in India in your own city. Even if it is a land-locked one like Bangalore. The theory and confined water sessions of the PADI Open Water Diver course can be completed before you head for your adventurous holiday. So you don’t need to spend precious vacation hours in a classroom. Instead, you can giant leap into the blue and discover the last unexplored frontier. You can even advance your skills with courses like the Advanced Open Water Diver, Enriched Air Diver and other PADI specialties.
What happens when on the initial day of your scuba diving holiday itself you see manta rays and dozens of white tip and grey reef sharks? Well, the stakes just get higher for the dive guides. But then again, this is the Maldives! The tropical paradise made up of 26 atolls, with some of the best scuba diving sites in the world. And every dive here is simply spectacular.
Scuba diving holiday in Magical Maldives
For Planet Scuba India, this was our third trip to the Maldives in 2018. And, come to think of it, it seemed like each diving holiday was trying to supersede the previous one. This time around, our liveaboard of choice was the Horizon 3. From October 7-13, this luxury liveaboard was home to 23 guests of different nationalities—Indians, Singaporeans, Taiwanese, Malaysians. Including two divers from India completing their PADI Open Water Diver course. They then went on to complete their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, along with three other scuba divers from India.
This diving holiday also had a couple of non-divers (who enjoyed themselves just as much, if not more) and some of the best photographers. You need only take a look at the pictures to nod in agreement.
It was six fun-filled days of eat, sleep and dive! And, of course, swapping of hilarious, unforgettable scuba diving adventures.
Here are some of the highlights of one of our best diving holidays in the Maldives.
The Manta show
First dive of the day at Lankan Manta point. This dive site, at the southeastern outer reef of Lankanfinolhu Island, is one of the most popular cleaning stations for manta rays in North Male Atoll. And, as luck would have it, on the day of our dive, the manta rays showed up in all their magnificent glory. We took a giant stride off the dive dhoni, descended a few meters, and gasped in awe (well, as much as one can gasp with regulator in mouth), as a manta ray elegantly swam past. Not knowing then that this was just a prelude of what was to come a few minutes later. Our dive guide led us to the coral blocks of the cleaning station. And, lo behold, heads swiveled in every direction as mantas glided in, out, and around in circles.
Here’s the thing about cleaning stations: they are a riot of colors. It is not just the mantas vying for attention but brightly hued cleaner fish, vibrant corals, and a motley of sea creatures. There is just so much to take in that you rue the fact that your neck isn’t able to turn more than 90 degrees. Just how are you supposed to see the cuttlefish whooshing past behind your back, when you eyes are so intensely trained on the spectacular subjects in front of you?!
Mantas come calling
Subjects that came to visit us later that night. Bang at dinnertime! Who cares about food when you can watch a manta ray circle around the back of your boat instead. Well, to be fair, it was dinnertime for the mantas too. And one somersaulted away, mouth agape, sieving marine organisms out of the water and into its stomach. Round and round it went, as 23 heads (more if you count the crew) stuck out of the sides of the boat watching in fascination. That is, till it had had its fill and glided away as surreptitiously as it had appeared.
Bathala Maaga Kanthila, North Ari Atoll. Even though this dive site, which we visited right after the underwater manta ray spectacle, had grey reef and white tip sharks. Not to forget, schools of yellowback fusiliers and a huge Napoleon wrasse that stole the show. It was the dive at Fish Head at North Ari Atoll that remains etched in our memory. Perhaps it was the story that did it for us. As our dive guide, Marko, told us during the briefing that at one time this was a famous fishing spot. But when the fishermen reeled in their catch, all they got was the heads of the fish. The sneaky sharks had eaten up the rest. Or perhaps it was the dive site itself. With its multiple ledges and picturesque overhangs replete with fan corals and abundant fish life.
Again, just a few meters and a few minutes into the dive, we spotted sharks right below us. Our dive guide took us on a detour, around one ledge and onto another below it. Having us swim stealthily to not disturb the unfolding drama. Sharks darted around, remoras in tow, while parrotfish hid in crevices in corals. And clownfish peeked out of anemones. Crustaceans moved a centimeter at a time to not be spotted.
It was 45 minutes of spying on sharks. Eyes wide in wonderment; cameras trained at the action. Grey reef sharks and white tip sharks, and also barracudas—all the predators at their A-game. Little wonder then that Fish Head, also known as Shark Point or Mushimasmingili Thila, is listed as one of the most famous dive sites in the world.
Night dive with nurse sharks
We just can’t get enough of sharks. Especially on night dives. Two months later, we were back during this diving holiday too to be bumped into by nurse sharks. Simply put, the dive at Alimatha Jetty, Vaavu Atoll, offers an adrenaline rush like no other. And to think that all you need to do is kneel on a sandy bottom. While nurse sharks, stingrays, travellies whip around you foraging for food. If we had to bet on a species, it would be the crafty travellies, who gulped down the food faster than the nurse sharks and stingrays could wonder: ‘where the heck did it go?’. It was a surreal experience that no amount of photographs or videos could do justice to. Though the ace photographers did manage to capture little snippets of the frenzy.
Back at the boat after the dive, and the nurse sharks came visiting. Who would have thought that after all the action underwater, there would still be so much excitement to see them. Cameras were whipped out. Facebook Lives were posted. Frantic video calls were made to friends to gloat about what they were missing.
Whale shark frenzy
There’s only one thing in the Maldives that can get divers into the water faster than you can blink. And that’s the much-awaited sound of someone screaming: ‘whale shark’! On this diving holiday, we snorkeled to see one just after our dive at Dhigurah Beyru, South Ari Atoll; a dive site that counts whale shark encounters as one of its highlights. It was a mad jumble of divers, cameras and fins, as a lonesome whale shark swam calmly, feeding its way through the waters. Seemingly oblivious to the mayhem unfolding above, for just a glance of it.
Colloquially, UMS, or usual Maldivian stuff, is a term used to describe everything from soft corals to giant turtles. That’s because every dive in the Maldives reveals spectacular sights and secrets. Marble rays hunting together. Octopuses, tentacles intertwined, in a sort of a love-hate dance. Mantis shrimp peeking out from its coral den. Scorpionfish in perfect camouflage waiting for its prey. Turtles gorging themselves silly on sponges. Sweetlips hanging out under overhangs. Moray eels getting spruced up by banded coral cleaner shrimps. Shoals of glassfish darting in and out of a wreck. Feather starfish climbing over hard corals. Stingrays swimming in and out of camera range. Schools of bannerfish, yellowback fusiliers, batfish, red snappers just going about their day underwater. And a liveabord full of happy divers. ‘Coz you just couldn’t ask for a better diving holiday destination than the Maldives.