For a social butterfly like me, the holidays are the best time of the year. Christmas and New Year parties were abundant and I was always surrounded by friends and family. Moving to Chennai for a new job this winter meant that for the first time in years, I had nothing to do. Instead of wallowing and moping about, I decided that I could switch things up and still have some fun!
I did some quick research and realised that the best scuba diving in India was just a short flight away from me, in the Andamans, and I wasted no time booking my trip. Of course, I was excited, but this was my first solo trip, first time being alone during the holidays and my first time scuba diving. That many first times left me jittery, but I knew the following days had a lot in store for me.
My last-minute trip began a few days before Christmas, when I arrived in Chidiya Tapu, a short drive away from Port Blair. I arrived at the hotel in time for a delicious dinner and retreated to my room to catch up on some much-needed rest. Early next morning, I woke up with a jump in my step and made my way to the dive shop for my first day of training. To my surprise, I wasn't the only solo diver, so I chatted and shared my excitement and apprehensions with a few others as we waited for our instructor to begin. The instructor gave us notes and logbooks that would help us with the theory training as we learned hand signals, breathing techniques, safety precautions and equipment usage for when we would be underwater.
Day two took us into water for the first time. Our instructor took us to the shallow areas for us to practise the theory we had learned and to get us used to the weight of the oxygen tank. It was the day we got a taste of what it truly would be to go diving. The next and last day of our scuba diving course in Andaman would take us to the expansive, blue waters, so this trial made sure we were ready for it.
The next morning, we boarded a boat and sailed to our diving spot. The entire boat ride, I could feel the anticipation building and when I finally dived under the water and looked around, I was speechless. Fish and many other sea creatures darted into my vision, surrounded by the deep blues of the sea and bright backdrops of corals in a myriad of colours. I never thought that Christmas day would feel so magical and full of life miles away from home, but there I was, secretly thanking the job that took me away from home and ended up bringing me to this paradise. I took in the views of the gorgeous world around me and followed the instructor as we explored as many nooks and crannies of the sea floor as we could.
Sadly, our time beneath the waters didn't last for nearly as much as I'd loved and we had to make our way back to the dive shop to receive our certificates. My newfound diving friends and I decided to celebrate our feat and the festival with drinks and a hearty lunch by the beach. We rambled on and on about our experience and occasionally sang along to a carol or two as we enjoyed the spirit of the season. I'm glad I got to spend my holidays experiencing the best scuba diving in India. The gift I received tops any that I have ever got before – a brand-new yearning for underwater adventures and a bunch of friends to share it with!