Category: Andaman

Andamans: A Quick and Handy Travel Guide

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Picturesque beaches, crystal clear water and a bit of history make the Andamans the perfect choice for a laid-back, enjoyable vacation, with long treks, lazing around in the island backwaters and, for the more adventurous, deep sea diving. From the multicultural town of Port Blair to the pristine white beaches of Neil and Havelock Islands and the limestone caves of Diglipur, the Andamans offer something for every tourist.

Picturesque beaches, crystal clear water and a bit of history make the Andamans the perfect choice for a laid-back, enjoyable vacation, with long treks, lazing around in the island backwaters and, for the more adventurous, deep sea diving. From the multicultural town of Port Blair to the pristine white beaches of Neil and Havelock Islands and the limestone caves of Diglipur, the Andamans offer something for every tourist.

Don’t leave the Andamans before you:

See:

Port Blair: A multicultural town offering a glimpse of various local traditions, Port Blair is a scenic escape from the hustle and bustle city life. Steeped in colonial history, Port Blair is perfect as a basecamp for your stay in the Andamans.
Havelock Island: Clear blue waters and white sand beaches lined with mahua trees give Havelock Island a picture-perfect look. With long treks and fascinating backwaters, Havelock promises to be an escape into adventure and scenic beauty.
Neil Island: This serene island welcomes you to coral reefs, calm beaches and rich wildlife. Needless to say, snorkelling is perfect here since, unlike other islands in the Andamans, Neil Island offers an escape from the crowd. There are still a few virgin beaches around for an evening date with your lover, or better, with nature itself.
Limestone Caves, Northern Andamans: The Limestone caves are located in Northern Andamans and are a treat that shouldn’t be missed. Your journey will be mesmerizing, taking you through tribal reserves. You can also catch a glimpse of sun-bathing crocodiles camouflaged perfectly in the mangrove forests of the area.

Do:

  1. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving: If you’ve ever snorkelled, you already know that there’s nothing better than snorkelling in clear turquoise waters to explore vibrant aquatic life. The coral reefs at the Andamans are famous for featuring some of the widest range of aquatic flora and fauna. Scuba diving is also a great way to get up close and personal with the vibrant, colourful corals that these beaches are famous for.
  2. Cellular Jail Memorial: The taboo of kala paani still haunts the walls of the Cellular Jail. The prisoners sentenced to exile here were not only traumatized by their journey to the prison, but they also believed they’d lose their varna (caste) if they crossed the kala paani (dark water) of the ocean. The British used this prison to exile many freedom fighters and political prisoners. Located at Port Blair, it’s open to tourists from Tuesday to Sunday. The light and sound show at night is especially recommended.
  3. Trek to Madhuban: Considered one of the best trekking routes in the country, the trek from Mount Harriet to Madhuban witnesses a huge tourist turnout. The lush green forests and the exotic fauna in the region is why trekking enthusiasts love the place. You can start your trek with a ferry ride from Chatham Harbour, Port Blair. Three major ferry routes in Port Blair connect Chatham, Bamboo Flat, Junglighat, Dundas Point, Viper Island, Hope Town and Mithakari. Ferries from these towns make 45 trips per day. Just a few minutes on the ferry can take you to any of the trek points nearby.

Eat:

  • Seafood: Like other coastal areas, seafood is a specialty of the region. Port Blair is particularly recommended: try the whole lobster at New Lighthouse Restaurant or the seafood platter at Red Snapper. You can also get fresh fried fish from the morning’s catch at almost all of the islands.
  • Local Fare: When you reach Havelock, do check out the delicious samosas. If you’re looking for affordable yet scrumptious meals, many tiny local restaurants serve healthy Indian thalis at reasonable prices. Many local joints also offer Italian, Thai and Continental cuisine, if you’re allergic to,or not fond of, seafood.

When to Go:

  • October – May: Winters in the region aren’t chilly, and weather stays pleasant for the most part. It’s the best time to enjoy water sports and other water activities.
  • January: If you want to witness the culture and tradition of locals in the Andamans, visit the place in January. A lot of fairs and festivals will keep you busy on your trip. The Island Tourism Festival is a 14-day long festival showcasing the various traditions followed by the tribals of the region. The Subhash Mela is organized on the Birth Anniversary of Subhash Chandra Bose. The Block Mela captures the diversity in culture and rural life of locals in these islands.
  • May – October: The Andamans witness heavy rains throughout the monsoon season, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting. The Andamans have a distinct beauty of its own in the rains!

Getting There:

  • By Air: Most tourists prefer to take flights from either Kolkata or Chennai. Most flights are operated by Go Air and Spicejet.
  • By Ship: Passenger ships are available to Port Blair from Vishakhapatnam, Kolkata, and Chennai. Three to four trips from Chennai and Kolkata to Port Blair and vice versa are common every month. One sailing takes place from Vishakhapatnam every month. Each voyage takes about 50-60 hours, with the ship docked at Port Blair for two to three days.
  • Reaching Havelock: Located at just 38 Kms from Port Blair, Havelock has a luxurious camping facility near Radha Nagar beach. Two to three ferries operate every day between Port Blair and Havelock.

Getting Around:

  • Private Jeeps and Minivans: A cab in the region usually costs around Rs 600 per 35 kilometres. For a trip from Port Blair to Diglipur, it might cost you around Rs 10,000. Though it sounds a bit expensive, there will be some fun stopovers on the way. Scooters and motorbikes are easily available for hire from Port Blair. You may have to shell out around Rs 400 per day. However, some restrictions are imposed in tribal regions where tourists are prohibited from driving their own vehicles, particularly in Middle and North Andaman.
  • Bus: All ferries and roads in the region lead to Port Blair. Middle, North and South Andaman are well connected by road, with bridges and ferry crossings. You can also take a bus from Port Blair to Diglipur, Baratang, Mayabunder and Rangat in the North, and Wandoor in the South.
  • Boat: Most trips to the islands require you to travel by boat. A romantic trip on the backwaters will not only give you a tour of some unexplored beaches, but will also save you from the hassles of public transport. Book in advance to save yourself from long queues. Not all islands are open for tourists, and you should check with the Tourist Information Center before planning your trip.

What to Pack:

  1. Light cotton clothes for the summer, a light cardigan for winters
  2. Dark sunglasses, umbrella, raincoat, and trekking shoes if you’re planning to trek to Madhuban
  3. Lots and lots of sunscreen
  4. Basic medicines, anti-allergic medications, glucose supplements to prevent dehydration
  5. Beach wear, of course. Scuba diving and snorkelling kits are available for hire at the beach
  6. Unexplored beaches, clear blue waters, stunning rainforests and a dash of history—all this can be found right off the coast of India in the Andaman Islands.