Have you ever been to the Andaman Nicobar Islands? No? No problem. You are in the right place if you are planning a trip to the islands. What do you look for when you want to visit any beach? Obviously the crystal clear water, picturesque shorelines, surreal beaches, the whiteness of the sands comes to our mind and also the big screen plays a greater role in uploading these pictures into our CPU (i.e our brain).
Take the picture of shirtless Daniel Craig who rises out of the bright blue waters or the scenes from Moana, Blue Lagoon and also from our very own Hritik starer ZNMD. No, we don’t have to go very far to experience these exotic beaches nor we have to deep burn our pockets.
The Andaman and Nicobar archipelago has more than 500 islands but only a few are open to the tourists. Away from the mainland, this place is not developed as the bigger cities due to the distance and accessibility and I feel this is where its charm lies.
How to reach?
Most tourists prefer to go by air from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai as it takes less time. You can also board a ship. Passenger ships are available from Vishakapatnam, Chennai, and Kolkata to Port Blair. The voyage takes about 3-4 days. Being a Union Territory and tribal area, permits are necessary to visit Andamans. Indians do not require any permit but Foreign Nationals require a Restricted Area Permit. There are packaged tours for your liking. Also, you can go solo backpacking.
When to go
Though it is a year-round tourist destination, it is recommended to avoid monsoons due to high tidal waves, unceasing rains and strong winds. The best time to visit is from November to May.
What To See?
Take a day at Port Blair, the capital city and head on to the Cellular jail and you can learn about our freedom fighters. Also, don’t miss the light and sound show. You can visit the museums- Samudrika naval marine museum, fisheries museum, and anthropological museum and know about the various tribes of this land.
You can take a ferry from Port Blair run either by the government or the Private Operators. Among the private liners, Makruzz is the popular one with its comfortable seating. This is the most popular island so there will be a tad bit of crowd. You can indulge in water activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, sea walking. But due to its over-commercialization, these activities are overpriced. You can indulge these activities at a relatively lower price in other islands, say in Bharatpur. I would suggest talking to your guide beforehand.
It is the less explored island and home to endangered marine lives, wildlife species, and fauna. This island along with Baratang island is less visited and to visit you need a special permit from the forest department which is difficult to obtain but the hassle is worth it. Once you reached there, you will be enchanted by its serene beauty, with little to no bustle. One can find the mud volcano and limestone cave in Baratang Island.
It is known for its natural wonder especially the beaches including the natural bridge caused by the tsunami. Check out the Howrah Bridge and the dead corals. Drive to Bharatpur beach and take a dip in the ocean or relax under the shade of the trees.
Save the best for the last, enjoy the sunset at the Laxmanpur beach. There is also the crocodile beach or Wandoor beach where tourists are advised not to go near the shore but one can go hiking into the hilltop.
Take a tour of this mini island and witness the ruins of the British office, Japanese bunkers. It is a must-visit if you have kids or even if not. There will be deer, rabbits, peacock around and also you can enjoy the panoramic view of the nearby islands. One can reach Ross island after visiting North Bay island.
You can either stay in shacks which are less expensive or can book exotic resorts with tropical trees around you. There is no uber or private cars. You either have to talk with your hotel manager or book a scooter or car. Besides these, there are more sites to discover like Barren island where you can go surfing.
If it is the peak of summer carry light clothes, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Summer tends to be very hot here. Even in winters, it’s not that chilly. A light cardigan should suffice. Water suits will be provided by them under whom you will be engaging in water sports.
The network will be a bit problematic. Only BSNL and Airtel towers are available but that too is weak. Anyway, it won’t matter as you will be busy savouring in the beautiful sunsets, turquoise, and blue waters, calm beaches, and different activities or taking a dip in the oceans or touring the less exhibited islands. Also if you are lucky you can get a glimpse of the indigenous people but you are not allowed to get close to them. Some have embraced the mainland culture but some still shy away and you can witness them in their own attire.
So what you are waiting for? Go jet skiing, parasailing or hire a scooter, gear yourself up with sunglasses and ride in style like the guys from the movie Faltu.