Thousand three hundred kilometers South East of the Indian Subcontinent is a cluster of tropical Islands called the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These Islands are very beautiful with its beaches and the tropical rain forests. Some of the most beautiful beaches on earth are here. There are over five hundred islands of which a very few are inhabited. Planning your trip to Andaman Islands starts by resolving how to reach Andaman Islands. There are daily ships and flights from Kolkata and Chennai. Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands houses the airport and looks just like any other Indian Town. Port Blair is connected to all the inhibited islands by ferry. Of these, the most frequently visited islands are Havelock and Neil Islands. Timber logging, fishing and tourism are the major income generator for the islanders, moreover the islands have subsidized supplies and come under the union of India. Hindi is widely spoken and people understand English. Banks and ATMs are available in Port Blair;, State Bank of India is the prime bank operational here.
How to Reach Andamans ?
Planning your trip to Andaman Islands starts from here. Port Blair is the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Veer Savarkar airport is located here. The airport is very small and has a couple of flights operational from the main land, from Chennai and Kotkota. The connectivity is only either from Chennai or Kolkota, and no international flights are operational to Port Blair. Ships take up to 60 hours and mostly carry supplies to the islands, the flight from Chennai takes two hours to reach Port Blair. There are ferries operational from Port Blair to other islands on a daily basis, however one night stay at Port Blair would be required on the day of arrival due to connectivity Issues.
Port Blair and other Islands – Havelock and Neil Island
Port Blair is an Island of great history, the cellular jail is a living example of the Indian freedom struggle and functions as a museum. For an Indian, this place is much more than a monument; it gives us a glance of what our forefather had to bear and reminds us the cost of the freedom that we enjoy today.
Havelock would be the most interesting Island in Andamans from a visitor’s point of view. There are ferries operations every day, it would take one and a half house by a luxury ferry like Makruzz or Coastal Cruise and 2.5 hours by a Government ferry which is operational thrice a day. Try depending on a tour operator based in Andamans to get the ferry tickets. Makruzz and Coastline are luxury ferries with air conditioned interiors, they offer tickets online, however the booking engine is not that great! Government ferries are primarily for Islanders and cabin conditions are not that great, expect only bare minimum standards and your only intention should be to reach the other island.
The most famous Radhanagar beach is located in Havelock; the beach is eleven kilometers from Havelock pier. Radhanagar beach is very shallow and clear, the beach sand is almost like refined flour and the shores are covered with virgin rain forests. It’s a very romantic place; very much ideal for couples 🙂 other beaches in Havelock like Govindnagar and Kala Pathar beaches have partial rock formations and many dead corals. These dead corals are evidently seen while low tide. In 2010 there was a series of bleaching which led to the end of most corals. Bleaching is the process of rise in water temperature, any temperature above twenty five degrees would lead to the killing of corals. Neil Island is less popular compared to Havelock, however like Havelock the beaches are beautiful and there are some good dive spots for both Scuba and Snorkeling.
Accommodation in Port Blair and Havelock
Port Blair is the entry point to Andaman Islands, there are all types of accommodation available here. The best ones would be the Sinclairs Bayview, which is a few kilometers away from the Airport. Peerless Sarovar Portico is a good one, around eight kilometers from the Airport. The Nest, bed and breakfast could be considered if you are on a budget.
Havelock has more than thirty resorts, and most of them have beach access. Only the Radhanagar beach is ideal for swimming, rest of the beaches has dead coral formations which make it hard to get in to the water or swim. You have all types of accommodation available, from basic two stars to luxury level accommodation. Scuba barefoot can be considered for budget, Silver Sand for mid range and the Barefoot at Havelock, the best one available with private access to the Radhanagar beach. The beaches are emerald blue everywhere and have its tropical charm.
The best thing to do is to pre book all the basic transfers you require, including the ferry tickets to the islands through a tour operator, this will make things easy and convenient. The islands have conveyance facilities, there are cars and SUVs available. Other islands too have conveyance facilities, but the best option would be to hire a scooter on a daily basis which will be more convenient and cost effective. You need to fill a form and submit a copy of your driving license, the process is done!. The scooter conditions would be average running condition, choose the best one available and move.
Activities in Port Blair and Havelock
Being a fine tropical beach destination, the Andaman Islands is a place to relax, recharge and get along with a lot of activities. There are a lot of dive centers in Havelock and Neil Island, Dive India are the pioneers in diving activities in Andamans, we had a DSD scuba dive with them and found them really good. If you are looking for some serious diving sessions or courses, I would recommend this place. Another one would be the barefoot scuba dive center; they have more range of dive and related water activities. One of the most interesting activities we felt was the mangrove rafting, where you take your kayak through the Mangroves, this is conducted early in the morning and would be interesting for nature and ecology lovers, unfortunately we missed this!
Anyone who loves water, tropical beaches, Island life, diving, underwater world, snorkeling and boats should be here. Truly this is an amazing place 🙂
Written by Benjamin John