The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal, are a tropical paradise known for their pristine beaches, lush greenery, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life. With over 572 islands, this archipelago is a part of India and attracts tourists from all over the world. Andaman tourism offers a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, history buff, or just someone looking to escape to an idyllic island destination, the Andamans have something to offer for everyone. Here are some of the best places to visit in andaman and nicobar islands:
A Brief History of the Andaman Islands
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a fascinating history that spans thousands of years. Archaeological evidence suggests that the islands have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Indigenous tribes such as the Sentinelese, Jarawas, Great Andamanese, Onge, and Shompen have lived in the islands for generations, maintaining their distinct cultures and ways of life.
The recorded history of the Andamans began with the arrival of the British in the late 18th century. The British established a naval base in the islands in 1789, and later, the infamous Cellular Jail was constructed in the late 19th century to incarcerate Indian freedom fighters during the struggle for independence.
During World War II, the Andaman Islands came under Japanese occupation, leading to a dark period of suffering and atrocities for the local population. The islands were eventually handed back to British control after the war and later became a part of independent India in 1947.
Best Time to Visit Andaman
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical climate, making them suitable for visitation throughout the year. However, the best time to visit depends on personal preferences and the activities you wish to indulge in. The general tourist season can be divided into two main periods:
Peak Season (November to April): This is the most popular time to visit the Andamans. The weather is pleasant with mild temperatures and lower humidity. The seas are calm, making it ideal for water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and water sports. Keep in mind that this period attracts a higher number of tourists, leading to increased prices and crowded destinations.
Off-Season (May to October): This period is characterized by the monsoon season. While the islands receive moderate to heavy rainfall during this time, it also brings lush greenery and a rejuvenated landscape. The off-season offers a more tranquil experience with fewer tourists, and some resorts may offer discounts during this time. However, certain water activities may not be possible due to rough seas and inclement weather.
How to Reach Andaman
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are well-connected by air and sea. Travelers can reach the islands via:
- Port Blair Airport: Vir Savarkar International Airport, also known as Port Blair Airport, is the main gateway to the Andamans. It is well-connected to major cities in India, including Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai. Several airlines operate regular flights to and from Port Blair.
- Ferry Services: Regular passenger and cargo ferries operate between the mainland (Chennai, Kolkata, and Vishakhapatnam) and the Andaman Islands. The journey by sea can take anywhere from 3 to 4 days, depending on the route and weather conditions.
Top Tourist Destinations in Andaman
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands offer a myriad of attractions that cater to diverse interests. Here are some of the top tourist destinations in the archipelago:
Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India. Located in the Bay of Bengal, Port Blair serves as the gateway for tourists visiting the Andaman Islands. It is a vibrant city that offers a mix of history, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. Let’s explore the key attractions and highlights of Port Blair.
One of the most significant historical landmarks in Port Blair is the Cellular Jail, also known as “Kala Pani.” Constructed during British colonial rule, the Cellular Jail was used to incarcerate political prisoners and freedom fighters during India’s struggle for independence. The jail’s grim history makes it a powerful symbol of the sacrifices made by freedom fighters. Today, the Cellular Jail has been converted into a national memorial and museum, offering visitors an insight into the struggles and hardships faced by the prisoners.
Corbyn’s Cove Beach:
Corbyn’s Cove is a picturesque and popular beach located just a few kilometers from the city center. With its tranquil blue waters, palm-fringed shoreline, and water sports activities, the beach is a favorite spot for both tourists and locals. Visitors can indulge in activities like jet skiing, swimming, and beach volleyball. The beach also offers stunning views of the sunset, making it an ideal place to unwind and enjoy the scenic beauty.
As mentioned earlier, Ross Island is a short boat ride away from Port Blair and is known for its historical significance. The island was once the administrative headquarters of the British during their colonial rule. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and remnants of British buildings, stroll through the lush greenery, and witness the island’s past grandeur.
North Bay Island:
North Bay Island, located near Port Blair, is another popular destination for tourists. It is known for its clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, making it an excellent spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The island also offers opportunities for other water activities like sea walking and glass-bottom boat rides.
Samudrika Naval Marine Museum:
The Samudrika Naval Marine Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the rich marine life and biodiversity of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The museum showcases an impressive collection of corals, shells, and marine creatures, as well as information about the region’s geography, anthropology, and tribal communities.
The Anthropological Museum provides insights into the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It houses a variety of artifacts, handicrafts, and photographs depicting the traditional ways of life of the tribes, including the Jarawas, Sentinelese, Great Andamanese, and others.
Chidiya Tapu, also known as the “Bird Island,” is a beautiful destination for nature lovers and birdwatchers. It offers stunning views of the sunset and is an excellent spot for birdwatching, especially during the early hours of the morning.
Port Blair and its surroundings have remnants of Japanese occupation during World War II. Visitors can find Japanese bunkers and other structures on the islands, which serve as a reminder of the region’s wartime history.
Port Blair offers a range of dining options where visitors can savor local seafood delicacies and a variety of cuisines from across India and the world.
Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep):
Havelock Island, officially known as Swaraj Dweep, is one of the most popular and sought-after tourist destinations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Renowned for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, lush greenery, and vibrant marine life, Havelock Island offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and adventure. Let’s explore the key attractions and activities that make Havelock Island a paradise for travelers.
Beaches of Havelock Island:
Havelock Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Andamans. Each beach has its unique charm and offers a range of activities. Some of the top beaches on Havelock Island include:
Often ranked as one of the best beaches in Asia, Radhanagar Beach boasts white sands, turquoise waters, and breathtaking sunsets. It is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The beach’s calm and serene atmosphere makes it a great place to relax and unwind.
Also known as Beach No. 5, Vijaynagar Beach offers a tranquil setting and is relatively less crowded than Radhanagar Beach. It’s an ideal spot for long walks, beach picnics, and enjoying the pristine surroundings.
Accessible by boat from Havelock Island, Elephant Beach is famous for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. Snorkeling and sea walking are popular activities here, allowing visitors to explore the underwater world up close.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving:
Havelock Island is a haven for snorkelers and scuba divers. The island’s clear waters and rich marine biodiversity make it an excellent destination for underwater exploration. Some of the popular dive sites around Havelock Island include Mac Point, Aquarium, and Barracuda City.
For adventure enthusiasts, Havelock Island offers opportunities for trekking through its tropical forests. The most famous trek is to the Elephant Beach, where trekkers can enjoy the scenic beauty and spot unique bird species along the way.
Havelock Island offers stunning sunset views, and one of the best ways to enjoy them is by taking a sunset cruise. Cruises are available from the main jetty and provide a delightful experience of watching the sun dip below the horizon while sailing on the calm waters.
During certain months, Havelock Island experiences a natural phenomenon known as bioluminescence. The waters around the island light up with bioluminescent phytoplankton, creating a surreal and magical sight at night. Witnessing this phenomenon is a memorable experience for visitors.
How to Reach Havelock Island:
To reach Havelock Island, visitors need to take a ferry from Port Blair. Regular ferry services are available, and the journey takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the type of ferry and sea conditions.
Best Time to Visit Havelock Island:
The best time to visit Havelock Island is during the dry season, which typically lasts from November to April. The weather is pleasant during this period, with calm seas, making it perfect for water activities and beach exploration.
Accommodation and Facilities:
Havelock Island offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts. The island has various restaurants, cafes, and eateries serving both local and international cuisines. While the commercial development is not as extensive as some other tourist destinations, visitors can find basic amenities and facilities to ensure a comfortable stay.
Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep):
Neil Island, also known as Shaheed Dweep, is a beautiful and serene island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. Located about 40 kilometers northeast of Port Blair, it is known for its tranquil ambiance, sandy beaches, lush greenery, and vibrant coral reefs. Neil Island offers a perfect escape for travelers seeking a peaceful and rejuvenating vacation experience. Let’s explore the key attractions and activities that make Neil Island a must-visit destination.
Beaches of Neil Island:
Neil Island is renowned for its pristine beaches with clear blue waters and picturesque surroundings. Some of the most popular beaches on the island include:
Bharatpur Beach is known for its shallow and crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. The beach also offers various water sports activities like jet skiing and glass-bottom boat rides, providing visitors with ample opportunities to explore the underwater world.
Laxmanpur Beach is famous for its stunning sunsets, making it a favorite spot for evening strolls and relaxation. During low tide, visitors can walk on the exposed coral reef and discover small marine creatures in the tide pools.
Also known as Sunrise Beach, Sitapur Beach offers mesmerizing views of the sunrise. The beach is relatively secluded and offers a peaceful ambiance, making it a great place for quiet contemplation and relaxation.
One of the unique attractions on Neil Island is the Natural Bridge. It is a natural rock formation formed by the continuous erosion of the rocks by the sea waves. During low tide, visitors can walk over the bridge and witness the waves crashing beneath them, creating a surreal experience.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving:
Neil Island is surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, making it an excellent destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are various snorkeling and dive spots around the island, where enthusiasts can explore the underwater world teeming with colorful corals and marine creatures.
Cycling and Exploration:
Neil Island is relatively small and can be easily explored on foot or by renting a bicycle. Cycling around the island allows visitors to immerse themselves in the lush green landscapes, paddy fields, and tropical vegetation. It’s a leisurely way to discover the island’s beauty at your own pace.
How to Reach Neil Island:
To reach Neil Island, visitors need to take a ferry from Port Blair. Regular ferry services are available, and the journey takes approximately 2-3 hours, depending on the type of ferry and sea conditions.
Best Time to Visit Neil Island:
The best time to visit Neil Island is during the dry season, which typically lasts from November to April. The weather is pleasant during this period, with calm seas, making it perfect for water activities and exploring the beaches.
Accommodation and Facilities:
Neil Island offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious resorts. While the island has limited commercial development compared to some other destinations, it provides basic amenities like restaurants, shops, and small eateries serving local and international cuisines.
Ross Island is a historically significant destination located near Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Once the administrative headquarters of the British during their colonial rule, Ross Island today stands as a haunting reminder of its past glory. Let’s delve into the history and attractions of Ross Island.
During the British colonial era, Ross Island served as the administrative center of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The island was named after Sir Daniel Ross, a marine surveyor, and was developed into a vibrant settlement with British-style buildings, gardens, and recreational facilities.
Ross Island was often referred to as the “Paris of the East” due to its well-planned infrastructure and luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by British officials and their families. The island boasted amenities such as a swimming pool, tennis court, church, bakery, and a printing press.
Cellular Jail Connection:
One of the significant connections of Ross Island to Indian history is its role in the construction of the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. The labor force for building the Cellular Jail was drawn from prisoners kept on Ross Island. These prisoners, who were mainly political prisoners and freedom fighters from India’s independence movement, endured harsh conditions during their captivity.
Abandonment and Destruction:
Ross Island’s prominence as the administrative capital came to an end after a massive earthquake in 1941, followed by World War II. The island’s infrastructure was severely damaged during these events, leading to its abandonment by the British. After India gained independence in 1947, the British left the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Ross Island was deserted.
Over the years, nature reclaimed the island, with trees and vegetation covering the ruins of the once-thriving British settlement. The remnants of buildings and structures tell a tale of the island’s past glory and the passage of time.
Ross Island Today:
Today, Ross Island is a protected area under the control of the Indian Navy. It is open to tourists who can visit the island to witness the historical ruins and experience a glimpse of its past grandeur. The island is managed as a part of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, formerly known as Ross Island and renamed to honor the freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Ruins of British Buildings:
The main attraction on Ross Island is the ruins of British buildings that once formed the heart of the island’s administrative setup. The Chief Commissioner’s House, Government House, Church, Bakery, and other structures are prominent reminders of the island’s colonial past. Visitors can wander among the overgrown ruins and imagine life during the British era.
During World War II, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands came under Japanese occupation. The Japanese used Ross Island as a strategic base and built bunkers and shelters to defend the island. Some of these bunkers can still be seen today and offer insights into the island’s wartime history.
Ross Island is also known for its friendly population of spotted deer. The deer roam freely across the island, and visitors can spot them in various areas during their exploration.
How to Reach Ross Island:
To reach Ross Island, visitors need to take a boat from the Phoenix Bay Jetty in Port Blair. Regular boat services are available to the island, and the short journey takes around 15-20 minutes
Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island:
Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island are two of the most popular and ecologically significant destinations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. These islands are part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and are known for their vibrant coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and diverse marine life. Let’s explore Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island in detail and understand why they are a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and underwater adventurers.
Location and Accessibility:
Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island are located in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which is approximately 30-40 kilometers southwest of Port Blair. These islands are not open to tourists throughout the year, and their accessibility alternates to protect the fragile marine ecosystem. Only one of the islands is open for tourism at a time, and the decision is made by the authorities based on environmental factors.
Jolly Buoy Island:
Biodiversity and Coral Reefs:
Jolly Buoy Island is known for its stunning coral reefs and diverse marine life. The island’s clear waters provide excellent visibility for snorkelers and scuba divers to explore the underwater wonders. The coral reefs at Jolly Buoy are home to an array of colorful corals, sea anemones, and various species of fish.
Snorkeling and Glass-Bottom Boat Rides:
One of the main attractions of Jolly Buoy Island is snorkeling. The island’s shallow and calm waters make it a perfect spot for snorkeling, even for beginners. Snorkelers can enjoy close encounters with marine life and admire the vibrant coral formations beneath the surface.
For those who prefer to stay dry but still want to witness the underwater beauty, glass-bottom boat rides are available. These boats have transparent bottoms that allow passengers to see the marine life and corals without getting into the water.
Beach and Relaxation:
Apart from the water activities, Jolly Buoy Island offers a beautiful beach where visitors can relax, sunbathe, and soak in the serene surroundings. The pristine white sandy beach is an excellent spot to unwind and enjoy the island’s natural beauty.
Red Skin Island:
Red Skin Island is another paradise for coral lovers. The coral reefs around Red Skin Island are equally captivating and provide a unique opportunity to observe different coral species up close. The island is characterized by its red-colored sandy beach, which gives it the name “Red Skin.”
Guided Nature Walks:
Red Skin Island offers guided nature walks through the dense forest. These walks allow visitors to explore the island’s terrestrial flora and fauna and learn about the various plant species and wildlife that inhabit the area.
Conservation and Ecological Significance:
Both Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island are part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which was established in 1983 to protect the region’s delicate marine ecosystem. The islands serve as an essential habitat for various marine species and play a crucial role in maintaining the biodiversity of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The national park’s strict regulations and periodic closure of the islands for tourism help in reducing human impact on the marine life and coral reefs. Visitors are required to adhere to guidelines and not disturb the underwater ecosystem during their visits.
Best Time to Visit:
Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island are usually open for tourism during the dry season, which extends from November to April. During this period, the weather is pleasant, and the sea conditions are suitable for snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water activities
Baratang Island is a unique destination that offers a blend of adventure and natural wonders. Key attractions include:
A fascinating network of limestone caves awaits on Baratang Island. The journey to reach these caves includes a boat ride through the mangrove creeks and a short trek.
Witness the rare phenomenon of mud volcanoes erupting on Baratang Island. The sight of the mud bubbles and small eruptions is a sight to behold.
North Bay Island:
North Bay Island is one of the popular tourist destinations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal, India. It is known for its picturesque beauty, coral reefs, and exciting water sports. Let’s explore North Bay Island in detail.
Location and Accessibility:
North Bay Island is situated near Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is approximately 15 kilometers away from Port Blair and can be reached by a short boat ride. Boats are available from the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex in Port Blair, and it takes around 30-40 minutes to reach the island, depending on sea conditions.
Natural Beauty and Coral Reefs:
The island is renowned for its natural beauty, boasting lush greenery, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding sea and nearby islands. The presence of vibrant coral reefs adds to the island’s allure, making it a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving:
One of the main attractions of North Bay Island is the opportunity for snorkeling and scuba diving. The underwater world around the island is teeming with a diverse array of marine life, including colorful corals, fish, and other aquatic creatures. Snorkeling and scuba diving here provide a chance to explore the vibrant marine ecosystem up close and personal.
For those who are new to snorkeling or scuba diving, there are trained professionals and instructors available on the island to guide and assist. Safety measures are taken seriously, making it a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages and experience levels.
Sea walking is another popular activity offered at North Bay Island. It is a unique and thrilling experience that allows tourists to walk on the seabed while wearing a specially designed helmet that provides a constant supply of air. This activity is particularly well-suited for those who do not know how to swim or are not comfortable with snorkeling or scuba diving. During the sea walk, participants can observe the mesmerizing underwater world and interact with marine life.
Glass-Bottom Boat Rides:
If you prefer to stay dry while still enjoying the underwater views, glass-bottom boat rides are an excellent option. These boats have a transparent bottom that offers a glimpse of the marine life and coral reefs beneath the water’s surface. It’s a great way to explore the underwater world without getting wet.
Other Water Sports:
Apart from snorkeling, scuba diving, sea walking, and glass-bottom boat rides, North Bay Island offers various other water sports for adrenaline enthusiasts. Jet skiing, speed boating, and banana boat rides are some of the thrilling activities available here.
Best Time to Visit North Bay Island:
Like the rest of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the best time to visit North Bay Island is during the dry season, which typically lasts from November to April. The weather is pleasant during this period, with calm seas, making it ideal for water-based activities.
As a part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, the waters surrounding North Bay Island are protected to preserve the delicate coral reefs and marine biodiversity. It is essential for visitors to follow guidelines and not disturb the marine life or coral formations during their visits.