If you’ve ever wanted to get away from the city life and get in touch with nature, look no further than the exotic Andaman and Nicobar islands. With a mysterious historical, multicultural heritage, legendary beaches, world-class diving and far-flung locations in the middle of nowhere Andaman and Nicobar islands attract tourists every year from all over the world. Famous for its lovely opaque emerald waters which are surrounded by primeval jungle and mangrove forest, and snow-white beaches that melt under flame-and-purple sunsets, the natural beauty makes you feel as if you have entered into a dreamland. While the archipelago comprises of some 300 islands, only about a dozen or so are open to tourists, with the Nicobar Islands as well as the reserved tribal areas being strictly off limits to both Indian and foreign tourists. Adding to the intrigue is its remote location; the Andaman Islands are situated more than 1000 km off the east coast in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, connected to the mainland by flights and ferries from Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam. It’s located some 1370 km from the mainland, meaning the islands are geographically more Southeast Asia – 150 km from Indonesia and 190 km from Myanmar. Thickly covered by deep green tropical forest, the archipelago supports a profusion of wildlife, including some extremely rare species of bird, but the principal attraction for tourists lies in the beaches and the pristine reefs that ring most of the islands. Filled with colorful fish and kaleidoscopic corals, the crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Sea feature some of the world’s richest and least spoilt marine reserves – perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. The population is a friendly mixture of South and Southeast Asian settlers, as well as Negrito ethnic groups whose arrival here still has anthropologists baffled. It is a dreamland for those who yearn to find solace in the exquisite beauty of nature.
Andaman Islands are very popular tourist destinations in India. The best time to visit Andaman is during the winters when the weather is cool and ideal for sightseeing. Usually the peak tourist season is from October to May. If hot and humid climate doesn’t put you off, summer season can also be one of the best times to travel to Andaman, with warm and pleasant breeze providing the perfect relief from the humidity and ample opportunities for sightseeing and tourist activities. Another good season to visit Andaman is during the monsoons, when tourist intensity is low and hotels give attractive discounts. One can enjoy both outdoor and indoor activities. This top tourist destination is favored throughout the year. Most tourists reach the Port Blair through flight which are only connect to Chennai and Kolkata presently, and journey across the islands on ferries and ships. One can book rentals cars as well though that is really not an economical option. Here is an ideal tour guide for an unforgettable vacation to the Andaman so that you can make the most of the trip. Listed here are the most popular tourist spot and activities with a common itinerary.
Day 1 Land at Port Blair
Flights from Chennai to Port Blair reach early in the morning by 6 am. So you will have the entire day to explore this iconic town with its unique cultural and historical significance. You can’t miss the historic Cellular Jail when you are in Port Blair. The Cellular jail or *Kala Pani* is where the Britishers would keep the freedom fighters. Today it is a memorial for the brave souls who spend their lives under torture for the crime of trying to free their country from the tyrannical British Empire. The lives of the prisoners, the torturers visited upon them, famous freedom fighters and many other facets of history which you learn at here. The main attraction here is the light and sound show in the evening which will take your breath away. At a small distance from Port Blair is Ross Island which can be reached by regular ferries. It was once the power seat of the Britishers from where they governed the Cellular Jail. Today it has remains of the old building such as Church, bakeries and other buildings which have fallen into ruin. You can even visit bunkers which were built by the Japanese. Another great attraction here is Corbyn’s Cove beach which is one of the most picturesque sea-beaches, is ideal for sea bathing and sun-basking. You can also visit Rajiv Gandhi Water sports complex where you can partake in various adventure activity which includes Scuba-Diving, Jet Ski, Kayaking, Snorkeling etc. though there are better facilities available for such activities at Havelock Island.
Day 2 – Leave for Diglipur
It is the northernmost town of Andamans and has some of the best places to visit in whole of Andamans. From Port Blair you can travel to Diglipur with a Ferry from Phoenix Bay Jetty of Port Blair or travel by a Bus. The main attraction of Diglipur, the Ross & Smith Islands are situated just 20 minute’s boat ride distance from Arial Bay jetty of Kalighat. These two islands are connected with a 50 meters narrow sand bar and its seashore bordered with thick tropical forest including lots of flora and fauna. There are some beautiful corals around the islands and the water is clear and safer for snorkeling. You can witness turtle nesting here at Ram Nagar Beach which is an experience of a lifetime. With permission from Forest Department, you can walk around the Diglipur National Park which is a dense tropical forest bordered by Lamba Bay Beach. It offers trekking opportunities in the Jungle to explore and find out many rare species of trees.
Day 3 Diglipur to Rangat
Rangat also boasts of some picturesque beaches. Long Island also falls in the area of Rangat. Lalaji Bay Beach of Rangat is quite attractive. Rangat to Diglipur is well connected with no “roll-on” and “roll-off” ferries. It’s majorly a coastal route which sometimes gets into an inexorably thick jungle. Lush green journey of 10 hours through tropical rain forest of Andaman is a favorite among adventure seekers and those interested in plants and rural life of these islands.
Day 4 Rangat to Neil Island
After a day of sightseeing at Rangat, leave for Neil Island through the boats which travel from Rangat to Havelock quite early in the morning at around 6 – 6:15 am. By this boat, you would reach Neil Islands by 9 am. Happy to laze in the shadows of its more famous island neighbour, tranquil Neil is still the place for that added bit of relaxation. Its beaches may not be as luxurious as Havelock’s, but they have ample character and are a perfect distance apart to explore by bicycle. There’s a lovely unhurried pace of life here; cycling through picturesque villages you’ll find friendly people and a hospitable environment. The main bazaar has a mellow vibe and is a popular gathering spot in the early evening. Famous for its clean and serene beaches, some famous beaches are Bharatpur beach, Sitapur beach, Laxmanpur beach and Howrah bridge. Bharatpur beach is nearest to jetty with just half a kilometers and popular for swimming and few of water sports such as snorkeling, glass bottom boats for coral viewing, the vegetation along the beach is simply soothing. Natural Rock formations in Laxmanpur-11 beach are locally known as Howrah Bridge. Visiting this place during low tides provides a marvelous sight as the retreating sea leaves behind many a secret from its treasure trove. Sitapur beach is exposed to the open sea and thus prone to higher tides, this beach is best suited to watch sunrise in the backdrop of natural vegetations and limestone formation. Overall this Island is much less crowded and visited than Havelock Island but good option to spend time with oneself for some serenity.
Day 5 Start for Havelock
Havelock Island, the most famous Island and tourist destination in Andaman, takes around 2 hrs by ship and there are frequent ship services that connect Havelock to Neil. Premium scuba diving and snorkeling are the highlights of the gorgeous Havelock Island, the most popular of the Andaman Islands. One of India’s prettiest and most famous stretches of sand is the critically acclaimed Radhanagar. It’s a beautiful curve of sand fronted by perfectly spiraled waves, all backed by native forest. It’s on the northwestern side of the island, about 12 km from the jetty. Late afternoon is the best time to visit to avoid the heat and crowds, as well as for its sunset. The further you walk from the main entry the more privacy you’ll get. Elephant Beach is further north from Radhanagar and is popular with Indian tourists. It is a great place for Sea walking which is an activity which allows you to walk on sea bed at a depth of about 10 meters. No swimming skills are required and people from age 7 to 60 years can avail this activity.
Scuba diving is the main activity on Havelock island other than chilling out, lying on the beaches or hammocks and eating seafood. Glass-bottomed boats provide a similar up-close marine life experience. Jungle treks and camping are popular land activities. Refuel with fresh coconut milk and succulent, just-caught seafood, which dominates every meal.
Day 6 Back to Port Blair
After exploring the wonders of Havelock islands it is time to return to Port Blair. You can take 9 am government ferry from Havelock to Port Blair. Private boats leave at 4 am, sometimes 11 am. It would take around 2.5 hours for the journey. Return to Port Blair and you can spend the visiting local sights such as Government Saw Mill Chatham which was the largest saw mill in Asia at the time of built. Most work of logging and cutting of trees are reduced due to climatic issue. It is part of most of the commercial travel packages. This saw mill witnessed heavy bombardment by Japan Air Force during World War 2. Different type of wood is displayed here and there is also a forest museum inside the Mill. Visit the bird sanctuary and Chidiya tapu in the evening which is located 25kms from Port Blair in the southernmost tip of South Andaman. It’s a small village with lush green mangroves, tranquil islands, and forest bestowed with numerous chirping birds, making it an ideal picnic spot. Well known for its rich collection of birds, white spotted deer and orchids, it draws many visitors, and is a perfect place for nature lovers. There is a forest guest house located atop the hillock that offers a panoramic view of the entire village as well as islands beyond. It is a feast for the eyes and the perfect place to go crazy with your camera.