Every year, travellers get attracted to the pristine beauty and untouched sandy beaches of Andaman Island. It has some of the most scenic spots for travel and nature lovers. This archipelago is visited by people from all over the world to uncover and explore its jewels. The entire island is amazingly gorgeous but there is one place that nature lovers and beach bums never miss- Neil Island (renamed Shaheed Dweep in 2018). It is located at a distance of 30 kilometres from the main islands of Andaman and is known for some of the most unique sights. If Andaman Island is a crown, then Neil Island is its most precious gem!
Neil Island, now known as Shaheed Dweep officially, is known for its rich marine life across the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Compared to the popular Havelock Island, it is less crowded and thus, you can explore the underwater world in a relaxed manner. Here, we have compiled a list of scuba diving sites in Neil Island from which you can pick the best one for yourself as per your level.
If you are looking for dreamlike natural surprises, then your search ends at Neil Island. Its thriving biodiversity, unexploited coral reefs, white sandy beaches, adventurous experiences, a notable population of birds and animal life, etc. are a few reasons why you should pick this island to spend a few days of your life here.
Please note that off-shore sites have more big-fish action and clearer waters. However, diving there depends on wind and sea conditions. The seas are usually choppy in the months of June, July, and December. Thus, visiting some of these sites may not be possible due to unfavourable conditions.
Depth: 72-98 feet
Suitable for: Intermediate-Advanced
Located between Havelock Island and Neil Island, Junction is a reef that starts at around 72 feet and drops down to nearly 98 feet. A big school of lionfish living around some soft corals can be seen at the tip. Blue-spotted stingrays, various types of sea stars, and very large napoleon wrasses can be seen towards the shallower part of the reef. Divers can also spot the Pelagic fish and reef sharks at this site. Marlin can also be seen occasionally. Others include a large school of trevallies and barracudas. The Junction dive site in Neil Island is suitable for intermediate to advanced divers owing to its depth and moderate to strong currents.
Depth: 39-62 feet
Suitable for: All
An incredible dive site for all levels of scuba divers, K-Rock is a huge volcanic rock over a sandy bottom having varied depths. This dive site rarely has any current and thus, it is perfect for underwater navigation courses. There are many crevices, small overhangs, and small boulder formations for you to explore. You can spot different types of snappers, sweetlips, soldierfish, and butterfly fish on this rock. The aquatic life here is different from Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep).
Depth: 22-52 feet
Suitable for: All
This Neil Island dive site is a huge, sandy bottom that is covered in a maze of boulders. The perfect location for open water divers owing to its easy depths and good visibility. Margherita’s Mischief rarely has a water current. Dugongs often frequent this site and you can capture them on your camera. Hundreds of yellow snappers and soldierfish can be seen on the boulder patches. Pufferfish, angelfish, batfish, and dozens of blue spotted stingrays can be seen hidden in the sand. This scuba dive site is just ten minutes away from the jetty.
Depth: 45-65 feet
Suitable for: All
This dive site is located on the western side of Neil Island. Bus Stop is along a gentle, sloping bottom that begins from 45 feet and goes up to 65 feet. There are small reef steps on the sandy bottom. One can spot plenty of garden eels in the sand between reefs.
Depth: 22-36 feet
Suitable for: Beginner-Intermediate
Suitable for all divers including Open Water students, this dive site in Neil Island is a gorgeous reef around the jetty channel marker. The top is 22 feet and drops down to a sandy bottom around 36 feet on the sides. You can see a concrete pillar on its side underwater at this site. The aquatic life here includes schools of trevally, angelfish, stingrays, parrotfish, small puffers, triggerfish, juvenile batfish, scorpionfish, and so much more!
The best time to visit Neil Island is from October to April when the weather is pleasurable. Most of the people preferring to come here plan their Andaman trip during this time. The summer season is likely to be avoided.
To reach Neil Island, first you have to reach Port Blair, the capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Port Blair is well-connected via flights. Direct flights are available from Chennai, Kolkata, and Bangalore. And if you are flying from any other city like Delhi or Mumbai, then you will have a layover in Hyderabad or somewhere else. Once you reach Port Blair, you can opt any of the following ways to reach Neil Island:
Some of the prettiest beaches in Andamans are located in Shaheed Dweep. The scenic beaches boast of white sands and uninterrupted views of the clear blue skies. During monsoon, the sight changes entirely as the sky becomes way too dramatic. The most popular beaches of Neil Island are Sitapur Beach, Bharatpur Beach, Lakshmanpur Beach, and Sir Hugh Rose Island. You can book your stay nearby Lakshmanpur or Sitapur beach at a fancy resort.