Andaman – A Complete Travel Guide
Pristine beaches, clear blue waters and exquisite marine life – when you think of all these the place that comes to the mind is Andaman. The virgin island provides a lot of attraction for the tourist and backpackers alike. Andaman has the best of beaches, most virgin natural trails, mesmerising sunsets and its history; the place has been one of my favourites. Andaman is one of the most beautiful places of India and I strongly recommend all pay a visit to the place.
This archipelago of 572 islands lies in the Bay of Bengal, about 12000 km from the Indian mainland. Out of these 572 islands, only 38 are inhabited.The island is quite unexplored mainly due to the distance and accessibility from the mainland. And that is where the beauty of the place lies. So for all those planning a trip to Andaman, here is our travel guide to help you plan a trip to the beautiful Andaman.
- 1 Places to visit in Andaman:
- 2 Other Offbeat Places
- 2.1 Baratang Island
- 2.2 Diglipur and North Andaman
- 2.3 Chidiya Tapu
- 2.4 Wandoor Beach and Jolly Buoy Island
- 2.5 Chatham Saw Mill
- 2.6 Getting in Andaman:
- 2.7 Island Hopping at Andaman:
- 2.8 Islands for day trips:
- 2.9 Islands for night stay:
- 2.10 Within the Islands:
- 2.11 Water Sports at Andaman:
- 2.12 Places to stay:
- 2.13 Food:
- 2.14 Permits and Permissions:
- 2.15 Best Time to Visit Andaman:
- 2.16 Some other useful tips:
Places to visit in Andaman:
As I said, the place is a delight for both the conventional tourists and the backpackers alike. The list is quite a long one, but the places are all worth your time. I will start with the conventional places and then go to the offbeat ones.
Port Blair is the capital town of Andaman. Also the largest town, it is also the entry point for all the other islands. There are a few places of interest in the town like the Cellular Jail, Samudrika Marine Museum, and water sports complex among others. And if you want to visit a beach, you can head towards the Corbyn’s Cove beach. You can also enjoy water sports here. But I would recommend going for water sports in Havelock and Neil islands.
On your arrival at Port Blair, visit the marine museum, water sports complex and the Cellular Jail. Also, don’t miss the evening light and sound show at the Cellular Jail. It shows the story of the India freedom fighters and how India got independence through the light and sound show.
Ross Island and North Bay Island
Take day trips to North Bay Island and Ross Island. North Bay Island is known for water sports. You can do scuba diving, snorkeling, jet ski, sea walk and speed boat ride here. The island is an hour ferry ride from Port Blair Jetty.
Ross Island is another place that will leave you spellbound. This island was the erstwhile capital of Andaman until 1941 when an earthquake destroyed the island. Ross Island was the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement for nearly 80 years. The island had markets, bakery, stores, workshop, water distillation plant, church, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital, cemetery, open air theatre and others. Today, everything has disappeared except some old dilapidated buildings, which housed some of these landmarks.
Usually, North Bay Island and Ross Island tour is done together in a day.
This island is the most famous and hyped island of Andaman. Havelock has some of the most beautiful beaches of the Island. In fact, Radhanagar Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches of Asia. You can hire a bike or scooty here to roam around the island. Spending a day at Havelock is highly recommended to explore the island. Elephant Beach: Elephant Beach is about 20 minutes boat ride from Havelock Island. According to me, this is one of the most beautiful beaches at Andaman. With white sand and beautiful coral reefs, the place is an absolute winner. Don’t miss out on this one.
Here is a complete backpacker guide to Havelock Island – the ultimate backpackers’ destination.
This beautiful island is a backpacker’s paradise. The turquoise blue sea waters and golden sandy beaches are a treat to the eyes. Apart from the pristine beaches, there is a natural bridge at Neil Island. Although you can visit Neil Island in a day trip, we highly recommend staying here for at least a night.
And for all the foodies, there is Megha’s Restaurant near the Bharatpur Beach that serves wonderful food along with sea food platter.
Other Offbeat Places
Baratang Island is situated between South and Middle Island. It has beautiful beaches, mangrove creeks, limestone caves and mud volcanoes. You have to take permission to visit the limestone caves. Baratang Island is about 100 km from Port Blair and it takes almost 5 hours to reach and the conditions of the road are quite poor. We are not discouraging, but visit this place only if you like to explore the unknown and are not intimidated by long hours and poor conditions of the journey.
Diglipur and North Andaman
This is perhaps the best-kept secret of Andaman. North Andaman is yet an unexplored region of the island. It takes almost 12 hours to reach Diglipur by road from Port Blair. But once you are there, you will be mesmerised by the virgin beauty of the place.
Ross and Smith Island: Ross & Smith islands are actually two islands – Ross & Smith joined together by a sand bar to make a single group of islands. The water is crystal clear and the sand bar appears during low tide. During the high tide, the sand bar disappears leaving a trail of water between the two islands. You can also go for a trek to the Saddle Peak, the highest point of North Island.
Chidiya Tapu is around 30 km from Port Blair and the place is famous for its sunset and bird watching. You can make a day trip from Port Blair to Chidiya Tapu.
Wandoor Beach and Jolly Buoy Island
These 2 places can also be covered on a day trip from Port Blair. Jolly Buoy Island is a part of Mahatma Gandhi National Park and the place is famous for its crystal clear water and underwater coral reefs. Boats to Jolly Buoy start at 9 am in the morning from Wandoor and come back by 3 pm. So, if you are planning to take a ride to Jolly Buoy, please reach Wandoor before 9 am.
Chatham Saw Mill
Chatam Saw Mill is the oldest and largest saw mill in Asia. But this is not the only reason that you should visit the saw mill. The history of the mill starts from the time when Lt. Archibald Blair landed at Port Blair in 1789 to establish a British settlement there, more so as a deportation centre for the convicts. The saw mill was earlier used to cater to the needs of the west.
Mill Timings: 8.00 AM to 2.30 PM except for Mondays and Thursdays.
The list can be unending. The itinerary of your Andaman trip will depend on the number of days you have in hand. You can contact us if you require any help in your trip planning. We will be happy to help!
Now for some other important details about your trip to Andaman:
Getting in Andaman:
Port Blair is the gateway to Andaman. You can reach Port Blair either by flight or ship. You will get flights to Andaman from all the major cities of India. You can get in by sea. Ships are available from Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam. It usually takes 4 days to reach Port Blair.
Flights are thus the easiest and convenient option of getting to Andaman.
Island Hopping at Andaman:
Once you are at Andaman, you cannot escape island hopping. There are two types of trips.
Islands for day trips:
These islands are nearer to Port Blair and you can make a day trip to these islands. Simply head towards the Aberdeen Jetty and pick up an operator to make your bookings instantly. Your hotels can also do the bookings for you. Ross Island, North Bay Island, Jolly Buoy Islands are some of these islands where you can make a day trip.
Islands for night stay:
If you want to visit the Havelock and Neil Island, then you have to go to the Phoenix Jetty. There are Government boats as well as private operators. You cannot pre-book in a government boat. You have to stand in a queue in the morning to book your tickets. Among the private operators, Marcuzz is the best.
We had travelled in both the government ships and Marcuzz. Very obviously, Marcuzz is faster than the government counterparts, but what I liked in the government ferry is that you can simply roam about everywhere in the ferry and can enjoy on the deck watching the endless blue seas.
Within the Islands:
You can hire 2 wheelers at both Havelock and Neil Island to explore the places. Also, you can get cabs if you travelling greater distances. We had hired a scooty at both Havelock and Neil Island to move around.
Water Sports at Andaman:
Andaman is the heaven for water sports. Bestowed with beautiful coral reefs and clear waters, the archipelago boasts of the best underwater activities. You can go for scuba diving, snorkeling and sea walking. Jet skiing, banana boats and glass boat rides are also done there in plenty. The best place for the water sports are Havelock Island and North Bay Island. For Scuba Diving, we will recommend Havelock and Neil Island. For Scuba diving, don’t forget to take the guidance of certified PADI instructors.
Places to stay:
Andaman has plenty of options of hotels and in all possible budgets. For your trip to Andaman, we would recommend you to stop for the night at Port Blair and Havelock Island. If time permits, spend one night at Neil Island too. Port Blair has a lot of options. Andamans is a great place for spending your honeymoon. Infact, we had looked for Andaman Honeymoon packages just after our marriage, but finally went off to Goa. May be, I will write a post about the same later.
Havelock and Neil Island, on the other hand, have lesser options and it is better to book your hotels beforehand.
While at Andaman, it will be a sin not to try the sea food. At Havelock, you will find some great food at Barefoot Bar and Restaurant, Full Moon Café, Black Beard’s Bistro, Red Snapper and Anju-Coco Resto. Neil Island has very limited options.
Permits and Permissions:
Indian nationals do not require a permit for visit to Andaman. But for foreign nationals, permits are required to visit the islands. The permits can be available from Port Blair. You can also get the permits from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Visiting the tribal areas is strictly forbidden for both Indians and foreigners. So if anyone is trying to sell such trips, refuse.
Best Time to Visit Andaman:
Andaman can be visited throughout the year. However, the best season of the island is from mid-November to early March. This is considered to be the best season to visit Andaman.
Some other useful tips:
- Although you will get mobile services, the data connection at Andaman is very poor. Internet and wifi services are quite bad here. Infact, the islands have very poor mobile network connection also. So enjoy the place without internet and wifi. We were quite happy to spend a few days without these so called “essentials”.
- Book your flights well in advance to get cheaper fares.
- While travelling to Havelock or Neil Island, travel one way by government ship and the other way by Private ships.
- Camping at the beaches is not allowed at Andaman unless the resorts arrange it with permission.
That is all from our side for your visit to Andaman. Book your tickets to Andaman for enjoying the most memorable experience. And if you need any help in planning, just feel free to contact us. Believe me, visiting this beautiful island and discovering its secrets is going to be exciting and thrilling.