Once infamous as the “Kala Pani” for its black waters and as the location of the cellular jail where criminals who are outcasted from the country were sent to suffer in pain, the islands of Andaman and Nicobar have quite an intriguing history. Andaman and Nicobar islands are distinguished by the 10th parallel North circle of Latitude – Andaman is in the north of this latitude while Nicobar is in the South. The Andaman Islands are the dwellings of the forlorn aloof paleolithic community – the Sentinelese people, who are totally confined to their own region and have no contact with any other human community.
With such a history, one would imagine Andaman and Nicobar islands to be a place full of history which would only interest historians. Though the “interesting” aspect of it is entirely true, it is for its beaches, seafood, and picture-perfect shorelines that Andaman and Nicobar islands have been on the must-visit lists of many Indian and international tourists. A beach lover’s safe haven and a foodie’s paradise, Andaman is not only known to be one of the top summer vacation destinations in India but is also preferred by many natives as the most ideal honeymoon location.
Coming to Andamans, you essentially arrive at the main airport in Port Blair but very few tourists like to spend more than a day here- it has its charm but it’s not where the party is! Havelock Islands, on the other hand, is totally the epicenter of Andaman’s beach life. The Havelock islands are known to be a favorite amongst backpackers’ for its lovely snow white beaches, endless beach huts, and one of the best diving spots in Asia. While here, you can also indulge in jungle treks, bird watching, and Sport Fishing which are activities arranged by some exclusive resorts in Havelock. Radhanagar Beach at Havelock is the most popular beach stretch here. If you come here during the high season, you can experience elephant rides, or if you have a hidden stash of money then splurge on swimming with Barefoot Resort’s elephant – Rajan. Government operated ferries run few times a day between Port Blair and Havelock. It is best to book your tickets one day in advance.
Neil island is Havelock island’s quiet neighbor and is perfect for lazing and relaxing away from all the tourist activities of Havelock Islands. The best way to explore the island is by a bicycle. Like anywhere else in Andaman and Nicobar islands, Neil Island also has its own share of marine sports to offer such as snorkeling on Beach 1, or scuba diving with Dive India. Please note, Neil islands have no ATMs, so bring sufficient cash with you and keep some aside as emergency cash (just in case you run out of your ‘sufficient cash’). Ferries from Port Blair to Neil islands run twice or thrice daily. There are also a couple of ferries which operate between Havelock and Neil Island.
Apart from its many beautiful beaches and islands, these are some of the most popular spots in Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
Accommodation in Andaman and Nicobar island is never a problem as it has plenty of Luxury resorts and countless beach huts. You can get beach huts for as low as INR400 a night or a resort for as much as INR12000.
Vir Savarkar International Airport is the main airport of Andamans located in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Daily flights to Port Blair from major cities of India such as Kolkata, Delhi, and Chennai are easily available. Unfortunately, there are no international flights connecting Port Blair to SE Asia.
You can also take a vessel either from Kolkata or Vizag or from Chennai. But, expect delays and long days at sea. (definitely not for those who have sea sickness or are limited on time). In Chennai, you can book the tickets through Andaman Shipping Office, and for Kolkata and Vizag, contact Shipping Corporation of India. There are no ferries between Andaman and Thailand, however, if you have your private yacht, you may get clearance to sail across.