Indian sea beaches are not really known for hosting congregations of scuba diving enthusiasts. However, with the rising number of scuba practitioners on these shores, the sport has become a big favourite of adrenaline junkies who wish to explore our hidden, underwater universe.

The surge in activity-based tourism in the country has further inspired the establishment of adventure sports agencies in India. One such is West Coast Adventures (WCA), which is known for delivering exciting scuba diving experiences to enthusiasts across the country.

WCA, which was founded in 2013, provides scuba diving services that range from introductory dives for someone who has never experienced the sport before, to training and certifying dedicated students.

With centres across Murdeshwar, Goa and Mumbai, the adventure sports company employs instructors who are certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and Scuba Schools International (SSI), the two apex bodies in the industry.

Speaking about the growing scope of the sport in India, Pawan Shourie, CEO and founder of WCA, said, “Until very recently, people perceived scuba diving as a sport that is almost inaccessible. There was very low awareness about scuba diving on the whole and there was also a perception that scuba diving could only be done in international

“The movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara changed the way people perceived scuba diving. The movie beautifully showcased the wonders of the ocean and interestingly enough the sector has seen quite a bit of a buzz since.”

With its several dive sites across India, WCA also caters to special requests such as underwater wedding proposals, and assists people with setting underwater world records.

Shourie, who comes from a marketing background, enjoys working in the dive centre environment. He said, “The environment is very laid back and focuses on fun.”

“The movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara changed the way people perceived scuba diving. The movie beautifully showcased the wonders of the ocean and interestingly enough the sector has seen quite a bit of a buzz since.”

He further added, “You get to know people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds and interesting stories. But the highlight for me is to see the expression on someone’s face who has just had their first scuba experience. What a thrill!”

About the business hurdles, Shourie shared that the first big challenge he had to face was when he had to undergo the tedious process of acquiring permissions from multiple bodies.

“Secondly, the perception that safety standards followed by all the dive centres in India are substandard. This is not true. In fact, WCA safety standards are at par with the best in the world. We encourage our guests to check on our certificates and reviews so that it becomes a practice even when they go to other dive centres anywhere in the world,” he said.

Offering services to all age groups, WCA is mostly approached by clients in their 20s. While the activity is usually marketed to youngsters, Shourie points out that the oldest person to dive with WCA was 71 years old.

Striving to make scuba diving accessible to all in India, WCA also intends to get their guests to experience the beauty of the deep seas and to do so in a safe and professionally handled setting.

Rates vary from Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 for diving experience in the sea.

Talking on how committed the WCA is towards the safety of their divers, Shourie said, “We strictly follow guidelines laid down by PADI/SSI, both in terms of operational procedures and first-aid equipment. Additionally, all our staff is Emergency First Responders. We also make sure that the guests are medically fit by getting them to fill a medical assessment form before the dive.”

In addition to offering a memorable diving experience, the WCA is also committed to responsible tourism and ensures that divers don’t meddle with the sensitive ecological balance of their setting. Also, they conduct cleanliness initiatives at the dive centres

Shourie elaborated, “We are very particular about our responsibility towards the ocean. Whenever we venture into the sea, we make sure that our patrons do not touch or carry back shells, stones or anything that belongs to the sea, we also make sure that they don’t throw anything in that does not belong there. In case we see garbage and plastic, we ensure the same is picked and disposed off in the right manner when back on land. We also conduct dive site clean-up drives where the WCA staff along with certified divers dive with the sole objective of collecting waste from the sea bed in and around the
dive sites.”

For those who intend to make a career in this fledgling industry, Shourie advised, “The scuba industry is picking up and we are hoping to see great traction from enthusiasts and first-timers who also see India as a great place to scuba dive. For a substantial growth in patrons, we would need a substantial number of dive masters and instructors. An interesting thing to note also is that the season for scuba diving is usually around October to May, but through our emphasis on city dives, the opportunities for dive masters and instructors are now perennial. This industry also provides ample opportunity to travel and work at dive centres across the world. It’s a great way to see the world and experience its different cultures.”

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