Travel Guide Andaman

andaman

Andaman and Nicobar [1] are a large group of nearly 600 islands in the Bay of Bengal. Though they are a part of India politically, they are closer to Myanmar and Thailand than to the Indian mainland. They are grouped here with Southern India. They were just north of the epicenter of the Boxing Day quake of 2004, and were the site of dozens of aftershocks. The Nicobars were badly hit by the resulting tsunami, while the Andamans escaped with a few bruises. With the exception of Little Andaman Island and the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, the rest of the tourist destinations are operating normally again.

Cities

  • Diglipur – take a road trip to the far north of the island chain, a base for visits to nearby Ross and Smith Islands.
  • Dundas point
  • Mayabunder
  • Port Blair – the laid-back capital of the Andamans and the sole entry/exit point. Spend a day or two here walking around and enjoying fresh seafood and seeing a couple of the nearby sites.
  • Rangat

Other destinations

 

Turtle Nesting sites in Dec-Feb

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Totani Resort

  • Baratang Island, Mud volcano, Limestone caves, and Mangrove creeks are a good attraction for people looking forward to get a different experience in Andaman. Total journey is long and you need to start the trip as early as 4 AM. Road condition is not very good. The boat charge from Baratang to limestone cave is 1000/- per passenger. Vehicle cost will be anywhere from 5000 – 6000 Rupees.
  • Barren Island, an island with the only volcano in all of India. Private Boats are available to visit Barren Island, however, the cost of the trip will increase. You are not allowed to stay at Barren Island as per government regulation.
  • Havelock Island, the most visited of the islands, with the most (although still minimal) infrastructure. Beautiful beaches, great snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Jolly Buoy Island, a small island, is a part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. It is undoubtedly the best place for snorkeling with its extremely clear waters and a rich and diverse marine life. Unfortunately, snorkeling is currently banned (January 2020) so you can either pay for a glass bottom boat tour (an extra Rs. 300-1000 depending on how long you go for) or swim in the small sectioned off area. It has a small beach with thatched huts and the location is quiet scenic. To reach here, one has to first go to Wandoor and then take a jetty from there. Taxi costs Rs. 1800 for a private car that will take you to the jetty and return you back to Port Blair. Prior to going, one has to get the permission from the forest department office at Port Blair, charge is Rs 100/- per head for locals and Rs 1000/- for foreigners. Boat charge is 850/- per head. Jolly Buoy is open from November to May.
  • Little Andaman, once popular for surfing, it was devastated in the 2004 tsunami. Ask around in Port Blair to find out the current situation.
  • Lohabarrack Crocodile Sanctuary
  • Long Island, great if you’re looking for Robinson Crusoe style camping. You can bring all of your own gear and food but there is new establishment called Blue Planet with decent huts and foods. This is the only resort in the island as of January 2015.
  • Neil Island, quieter than Havelock with nice beaches and decent snorkeling.
  • Rutland Island, is pristine, non-polluted and least visited island. Beautiful Mangrove forest and coral reefs welcomes you to the 274 sq.km island. There is also a 45 acre Totani Resort which has quaint little huts which can be used as a base camp for exploring the island. It is the ideal place for eco-tourists.
  • Wandoor, a relaxed destination in its own right, but known more as the gateway to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. There is a newly setup luxury resort called Sea Princess Beach Resort. Easily reached, and near the Wandoor jetty is Anugama Resort, the newest property there. This location is far from the main city
  • Mid-January until mid-May sees the best weather, and often the best diving conditions. The days are mostly sunny at this time of year, and the sea sometimes flat enough to reflect the clouds. The monsoon usually hits around late May, lasting until the end of July, and is probably the worst time to visit the islands – strong winds, frequent rain and low visibility underwater. August through November some occasional showers and slightly rougher seas are possible but diving can still be great at this time of year. The weather often takes a turn for the worse for the month of December through early January. Andaman has a moderate temperature all through the year within the range of 23 degrees to 31 degree celsius. It has tropical climate, there are no severe climate conditions except for tropical storms and rains in late Summer and Monsoon.
  • By plane

    Andaman’s airport is at Port Blair. it’s connected to Chennai, Kolkata and other cities in the country. Air India is the most important carrier for Andaman. Throughout the seasons discounted airfares also are provided by the airlines. The price of the tickets is usually cheap, particularly if reserved earlier.

    The only way to reach the Andaman is by air is from the Indian mainland. Flights can fill up in peak season and immigration doesn’t look kindly on people arriving without confirmed flights back, so book a return ticket and change the flight date if you decide to hang around longer.

    • Spicejet[3] offers a flight direct from Chennai to Port Blair.
    • Go Air [4] now flies daily from Kolkata to Port Blair, and from Delhi via Kolkata.

    Flights to Port Blair are not really “low-cost”, if compared to the same airlines’ mainland India flights, but still cheaper than any other way to get to islands. Price varies significantly with date, so if your travel dates aren’t fixed, you can save significantly by choosing the right day to fly. Advance booking (available on respective airline’s website) at least several days before trip is recommended.

    Port Blair’s Vir Savarkar Airport is probably one of the most quaint and idyllic airports in India. There is a scenic view point where the whole airport can be seen. There are no night flights as the airport is handed over to the Indian Air Force after 3pm.

    By sea

    It is possible to take a ship from Kolkata (~60 hrs), Chennai or Visakhapatnam which takes almost 4 days to arrive in Port Blair. It is less expensive. Facilities are basic, though and many prefer to sleep on the deck rather than in the cramped bunks. The ferries can take up to five days to arrive depending on weather and various other variables. This can be quite frustrating for many.

    The fares:

    Ship MV Swarajdweep / Nancowry / Nicobar

    • Deluxe Cabin: Rs. 7,640 for the tourists and Rs. 3,940 for the islanders.
    • First Class Cabin: Rs. 6,320 for non-islanders and Rs. 3,560 for the islanders.
    • 2nd Class Cabin: Rs. 5,030 for non-islanders and Rs. 2,680 for the islanders.
    • Bunk: Rs. 1,960 for tourists and Rs. 710 for islanders.ders.

    Ship MV Harshvardhana

    • Deluxe Cabin: Rs. 7,640 for the tourists and Rs. 3,940 for the islanders.
    • First Class Cabin: Rs. 6,320 for non-islanders and Rs. 3,560 for the islanders.
    • 2nd Class ‘A’ Cabin: Rs. 5,030 for non-islanders and Rs. 2,680 for the islanders.
    • 2nd Class ‘B’ Cabin: Rs. 3,890 for non-islanders and Rs. 2,350 for the islanders.
    • Bunk: Rs. 1,960 for tourists and Rs. 710 for islanders.ders.

    Ship MV Akbar

    • Deluxe Cabin: Rs. 7,640 for the tourists and Rs. 3,940 for the islanders.
    • First Class Cabin: Rs. 5,400 for non-islanders and Rs. 3,430 for the islanders.
    • AC Dormitory: Rs. 3,290 for non-islanders and Rs. 1,790 for the islanders.
    • Bunk: Rs. 1,700 for tourists and Rs. 660 for islanders
    • Do

      • Scuba diving – Havelock Island is the main dive destination. South Cinque Island is another possibility, enquire at Anugama Resort at Wandoor. One of the dive shops on Havelock was talking about opening a shop in Diglipur soon, which would open up newly discovered sites.

      The best dive sites in the Andamans are in very remote locations and accessible via a liveaboard. The dive sites around Havelock are actually very ordinary by Andamans standards. The best diving in the Andamans is: Barren Island (an active volcano), Narcondam Island (an extinct volcano), Invisible Bank (an extensive seamount approx. 100 miles Southeast of Port Blair) and 4 spectacular but un-named sea mounts off the west coast. There is also a good wreck dive just south of North Brother Island. There is one regular liveaboard in the Andaman Islands – the Infiniti Liveaboard, and it is the best way to get around. Its brand new & fully equipped, though a little expensive but well worth the money for the comfort & adventure.

      • Sea Walking[5] A major activity conducted both in North Bay Island, Port Blair and Elephant Beach, Havelock Island. You will need a boat to reach North Bay at Port Blair and Elephant Beach at Havelock Island to avail this activity. This activity is more like moonwalking. The cost of the trip is 3500 Rupees per person.
      • Snorkeling – A traditional attraction of the Andamans but the 2010 El Niño sadly resulted in the destruction of most of the coral. As at 2016, there are signs of recovery but the snorkeling is not good. Regardless, the best spots are North Bay, Mua Terra Beach and Havelock Island. Equipment is cheap, and can be bought or rented at North Bay for 100 Rs. The price for Snorkeling at various locations is about 500 Rs (for ~15 min.) and 1000 Rs (for ~25 min.).
      • Scan corals reefs in glass bottom boats off Jolly Buoy Island, at the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor, 29 km from Port Blair.
      • Check out India’s only active volcano on Barren Island, for some magnificent volcanic diving
      • Take the Andaman Trunk Road, and be the zipping-in-the-car-idiot to the curious Jarawas. The ride is long, but the journey that takes you through some gorgeous reserve forests and up to Maya Bunder and beyond, is worth it.
      • Revisit Havelock just to taste the red Snapper in Burmese garlic sauce at Benny and Lynda’s Wild Orchid Beach Resort.
      • Narcondam Island a dormant volcano is spectacular volcanic diving
      • Make a new list. Add scuba diving and sea cow spotting. Do some moon-bathing while planktons swim in a phosphorescent sea.

      Eat

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      Tandoori fish at Lighthouse Residency, Port Blair

      Seafood is the order of the day. From upscale restaurants in Port Blair to local dhabas on Havelock, fish abounds. Be prepared to pay a little more for good fish and seafood dishes than for standard Indian food, but it’s well worth it. Basic Indian food is also available, and as cheap as on the mainland in most of the small dhabas. Resort restaurants on Havelock can also whip up a limited set of more or less Western dishes, but the resort restaurants are pretty expensive for Indian standards. Fresh Crab & Tuna can be enjoyed here.

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