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Andaman and Nicobar Islands places to Visit

Discussion in 'By The Sea' started by JJ, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. JJ

    JJ New Member

    I would like to put an itinerary together for my ten days stay with my wife in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The reason behind going to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was because of the great stories heard from people, the actual destination being so popular and of course the sea.

    Please can members provide a list of the popular Andaman and Nicobar islands places to visit, so that I can start the planning for my trip.

    Thanks in advance if I don't get to reply.
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @JJ! Welcome to the forum!

    The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands at the junction of the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. There are about 349 islands in this union territory with about 38 of these islands being inhabited. The capital is Port Blair, which is about 1,190 kms from Chennai and 1,255 kms from Kolkata. The islands are covered with dense forests, which make up for about 86.2% of the total land area. Here are the best islands to visit in the region, along with their attractions:

    1. Port Blair - This is the capital and administrative sub-division of the islands. It is connected to mainland India by sea and by air. The only airport in the islands can be found here, named the Veer Savarkar International Airport. It is home to several museums and a major naval base for the Indian Navy. Here are some of the attractions in this island:
    • Cellular Jail - This is also known as Kala Pani, kali meaning time or death and pani meaning water. This was a colonial prison during the era of the British. Political prisoners were exiled into these islands and were even tortured in the cellular jail premises. The prison complex was built between 1896 to 1906 but the islands were already in use as a prison since the 1857. The building had seven wings, which had a tower in the centre, to serve as watch tower for the guards. There's also a huge bell inside it in case of alarms and emergencies. Each of these seven wings had three storeys each upon completion. Communication between prisoners were impossible with the way the cells were made. Some of the famous activists who were imprisoned here were Sohan Singh, Babaraon Savarkar, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Bhai Parmanand. By 1942, the islands were conquered by the Japanese and so the British were imprisoned in the cellular jails. This was short-lived though as by 1945, the British took control of the islands again. Some of the buildings were demolished though but the three wings and the centre tower has remained and became a national memorial by the year 1969.
    • Anthropological Museum - This museum was constructed between the year 1975 to 1976. It depicts the life, culture and tradition of the Negrito tribes and the Mongoloid tribes. The Negrito tribes are comprised of the Jarawas, Sentinels, Great Andamese and the Onges. They can be found in the Andaman Islands. The Mongoloids are comprised of the Nicobariese and the Shompens. They can be found in the Nicobar Islands. Their developments throughout history are highlighted in the museum.
    • Samudrika Marine Museum - This museum is managed by the Indian Navy. It has five sections, namely: Andaman Islands, Geographical Information, People of Andaman, Archaeology and Marine Life. It aims to spread awareness about the ocean environment and marine life.
    • Fisheries Museum - This is located near the Andaman Water Complex in Port Blair. The museum has exhibits of about 350 species endemic to the islands and the Bay of Bengal. You can view live sharks, polyps and starfishes here. It was initially just a museum but has been converted into an aquarium. Various marine animals preserved in glass jars can also be viewed here along with numerous shells and corals. Other interesting exhibits here are the skeleton of a sperm whale, known for being the largest toothed whale, and a life size display of a dolphin.
    • Jolly Buoy Island and Wandoor Beach - Wandoor Beach is about 30 kms by road from Port Blair. From Wandoor Beach, you need to ride another ferry to reach Jolly Buoy Island. You also need a special permit to visit this island. This island can only be visited during the day and most boats return to Wandoor by 2:30 pm so make sure you leave early to explore the island. Snorkelling is one of the main activities here due to its rich marine and coral life. Scuba diving and glass bottom boating are also other actives that tourists enjoy in this island. The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is also located within the island. The island is off for visitors during Mondays.
    • Ross Island - This was once the location of the administrative head of the island before it was moved to Port Blair due to an earthquake which shook the Ross Island in 1941. The effects of the said earthquake are apparent, with the ruins of the numerous structures in the island. These ruins are the state ballroom, the Chief Commissioner's house, the Government house, a church and the old Andamanese home. There's a daily Light and Sound show held in this island around 5:30 pm. After which, tourists are not allowed to stay in the island and must go back to Port Blair by a jetty. The island is off for visitors during Wednesdays.
    • Viper Island - This is where political prisoners were exiled and tortured before the Cellular Jail in Port Blair was constructed. Its name was derived from the vessel Viper in which Archibald Blair used to reach the islands in 1789. It is believed that the vessel met an accident and it was found near the island. Others believe that the name viper was to signify the presence of snakes in the island. The two-storeyed jail building here is now in ruins but for a long time, this place served as a prison for famous names such as Maharaja Jagannath of Puri and Sher Ali.
    • Chidiya Tapu - This is about 25 kms from Port Blair and can be reached by road. The island is also known as Bird Sanctuary. The Chidiya Tapu Beach is lined with numerous seashells, which are used for handicrafts made by the locals. It is well known for the many species of birds that you can spot in the island such as hanging parrots, emerald doves and white-bellied sea eagles. It is also the best place for viewing the sunset in the island. There's a small guest house here, situated on a hillock, from which you can view the entire village and beach.
    • Corbyn's Cove - This is just about 8 kms from the city centre of Port Blair. This is the nearest beach to Port Blair and so also one of the most crowded ones. There are numerous facilities like hotels, restaurants and changing rooms in this beach. You can opt to stay here or just go back to Port Blair. You can also enjoy many water sports here like jet skiing or snorkelling. The sands here are golden and backed by palm trees, the water has small waves so it's perfect for swimming as well.
    • Mount Harriet National Park - This is the highest peak in Port Blair, which can be reached by ferry (20 minutes ride) or road (1 hour ride). It's well known for its many species of birds, 90 to be exact, 11 of which are endemic to the region. There are also 27 species of reptiles, 12 of which are endemic to the region. Some tourists opt to trek the park through Mannargat to Madhuban Beach.
    2. Little Andaman Island - This is the fourth largest island in the region. It is about 120 kms South of Port Blair. Its entry point is the Hut Bay Wharf, a deep water wharf that can be approached through a coral reef gap, located on the East coast of the island. From Port Blair, it can take you 10 hours to reach this island. It is also the home to the tribe named Onge. Here are some of the attractions of the island:
    • Butler Bay - This is known as one of the best surfing spots in the country. The waves here high and not suitable for swimming, but great for surfing. The sands here are powdery and golden in colour while the water is crystal clear. Snorkelling is possible during low tide only. However, be prepared for the huge number of sand flies in the shores. This is about 15 kms from Hut Bay Wharf.
    • Netaji Nagar Beach - If surfing in the Butler Bay isn't your thing, consider the Netaji Nagar Beach, about 11 kms from Hut Bay Wharf. The water here is more serene and sun bathing is also possible. Snorkelling and other water sports are also enjoyed here. There's a few beach shacks around the area as well.
    • White Surf Waterfall - This is about 7 kms from the Hut Bay Wharf. Unfortunately, after the 2004 earthquake, the waterfall was damaged and is not as big as it was anymore. Its name White Surf was derived from the white, milky water streaming down the hill which formed the waterfall. The waterfall is then surrounded by lush greenery. You can even trek to reach the top of the waterfall, although some locals say that there are crocodiles and snakes here.
    • Whisper Wave Waterfall - This is about 15 kms from Hut Bay Wharf. To reach the falls, you need to trek for about 4 kms, after a 40-minute bumpy car ride. It is best visited during the summer season. During rainy season, the water is deeper and there are numerous insects and leeches in the region. The waterfall is divided into two levels, the first is broad and calm but has the presence of saltwater crocodiles. The second level is safer and even has a freshwater pool.
    • South Bay Lighthouse and Beach - This is about 14 kms from Hut Bay, via Harmender Bay. There's a shallow creek here before you can reach the lighthouse so you need to check the tide timings before visiting. You also need to obtain permission to access the beach and lighthouse as the Onge settlement is very near here. The lighthouse stands at about 41 metres high and has 200 steps. The view from the lighthouse is quite stunning, with the coastline and forest being visible from above. The beach is deserted as well and great for those who enjoy solitude and serenity.
    3. Havelock Island - This is 57 kms away from Port Blair. It is the largest island in the Ritchie's Archipelago in Andaman. It is also one of the most visited island in the region due to the government's focus on boosting eco-tourism here. It has many resorts and hotels for guests to stay in. Despite this, the island has remained pretty clean and well-maintained up to this time. Here are the attractions in the island:
    • Jetty Beach or Beach No. 1 - This is where you'd be arriving whether you come from Port Blair or Neil Island. There are no water sports here or much to do as well. But there are a couple of beach shacks where you can enjoy some fresh seafood dishes. This is also where you'd ride another boat to reach the other beaches of parts of the island.
    • Beach No. 2 - This is about 500 metres from the Jetty Beach. This is a popular diving site, in fact, there are some diving and snorkelling schools here. Some parts here have mangroves which can be a photographer's paradise. Just look out for the sea kraits residing in the area, they are venomous but they don't harm if you don't disturb them.
    • Govind Nagar Beach or Beach No. 3 - This beach has white sandy shores and clear blue water. It is about 300 metres from the Forest Department Office in Havelock. It's an almost deserted beach although it's open to the public. Swimming is permitted here as the waves aren't that strong. There are also some resorts here so you can stay the night and enjoy access to the beach anytime that you want.
    • Elephant Beach or Beach No. 4 - This is about 20 minutes by boat from Jetty Beach. It is also reachable by foot from Radha Nagar Beach. The unique feature of this beach is that the corals here start at a depth of one metre so snorkelling is very much possible even in shallow water. There are limited options for food and drinks here though so do bring your own.
    • Vijay Nagar Beach or Beach No. 5 - This is where the famous Dolphin Resort is located. The beach is surrounded by tall Mahua trees which add some relaxation and peace to the area. There's not much you can do here but enjoy the warm water and white sands. It's more secluded as well compared to the beaches in Port Blair. It is easily reached by a bus ride from Jetty Beach.
    • Kalapathar Beach or Beach No. 6 - This is about 8 kms away from Vijay Nagar Beach. The water and shores have dead corals so it's not suitable for swimming. However, the beach is fairly deserted and one can enjoy the solitude and quiet here. There are no beach shacks nor accommodations nearby so you have to bring your own blanket for sitting and your own food for snacks.
    • Radha Nagar Beach or Beach No. 7 - This is one of the most famous beaches in Andaman. It's known as Asia's Best Beach and the 7th Best Beach in the World (Time Magazine). It has white, powdery sands and clear, turquoise waters, along with palm trees and dense jungles. Although it can get crowded, it's still relatively less populated than the more popular beaches in the country. Walk a little further and you'd notice that the crowds get thinner. There are no water sports here though as a means to preserve the beauty of the beach. Sometimes, you might be able to spot an elephant walking along the shores.
    4. Neil Island - This is also located in Ritchie's Archipelago. The island was named after James George Smith Neil, a British soldier. It is about 40 kms Northeast of Port Blair. It's a relatively small island and you can walk it completely within two hours. Visit these attractions here:
    • Sitapur Beach - This beach has two curved bays and clear blue water. Its other name is the Sunrise Beach as it offers spectacular views of the sun rising along its water. It is also surrounded by palm trees which add some tranquility to the place. During high tide, the beach has stronger currents but you can still swim near the shores. During low tide, you can walk up to the natural caves and explore them.
    • Lakshmanpur Beach - This is white, sandy beach which has lots of dead corals and seashells in its shores. You can reach this by a ferry ride from Havelock Island. There's not much to do here but enjoy the water and the view. The sunsets here are quite beautiful so make sure that you visit before night crawls in. The Howrah Bridge, a natural rock formation, can also be found about 20 minutes away from the beach.
    • Bharatpur Beach - This is the first beach you'd see as soon as you arrive in the Neil Island. It has a nice variety of corals which is why snorkelling and glass bottom boating are preferred activities here. There are also huge trees providing some shades to guests away from the harsh sun.
    5. Barren Island - This is about 135 kms from Port Blair. It is also the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia. The first recorded volcano eruption here was in 1787 and it has erupted since then, at least 10 times, with the most recent one in 2011. The island is best known for its rich marine life, hence it's a favoured site for scuba diving and snorkelling.
    • Barren Island Volcano - Reaching this region is quite difficult. You can arrange for a yacht to take you there but you need to have 6 members and above. You are also only allowed to see the volcano from the boat, no landing is permitted.
    • Diving Sites - As mentioned, the region is rich in marine life and coral reefs. It has numerous dive sites like Purple Haze, Manta Point, Barrem Garden and Coral Paradise. You will be able to spot soft purple corals, manta rays, turtles, sea fans and even sharks in these diving sites.
    6. Interview Island - This is one of the most remote islands in the region and only day entries are allowed. You can hire a private fishing boat to reach the island from Mayabunder Jetty. There's not much to do here but you can visit the:
    • Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary - This is the largest island sanctuary in the Andaman and Nicobar region. It was severely devastated by the 2004 earthquake although it has recovered since then. The sanctuary has a wide variety of plants and animals. It was originally built as a home for the abandoned elephants who were used for carrying logs back then. Now though, aside from elephants, there are spotted deers, squirrels and civets in the sanctuary. Birds like Andaman woodpeckers, Andaman wood pigeons and Andaman cuckoo doves can also be seen here.
    7. Long Island - This is located in the region of Middle Andaman. It is a fairly small inhabited island with little infrastructure. Hence, if you'd like to enjoy the rural life and see the inhabitants living their day to day life, do consider visiting this island. Do visit the:
    • Lalami Bay Beach - This beach is located on the other end of the island. You need to ride another boat to reach it. The beach, due to its location, is deserted and not commercialised. It has white sands and clear water. There's not much you can do in here but swim to your heart's content. Do bring your own food and water as there are no beach shacks nearby.
    8. Diglipur - This is located on the North Andaman region and it is the largest town here. It is about 290 kms North of Port Blair. The only river in the islands, Kalpong, crosses the Diglipur Island as well. Here are some of its attractions:
    • Craggy Island - This is a small island, located about 20 minutes away from Kalipur Beach. You can either swim to reach it or hire a boat to take you there. It's a popular snorkelling spot in the island due to the rich marine and coral life in the island. It's best to be on the lookout for the tide timings before visiting the island though as the currents can be dangerous especially for inexperienced snorkelers.
    • Mud Volcanoes - This is about 40 kms North of Diglipur. These are small volcanoes spitting out muds. Some volcanoes have existed for years already that they have carved out small drainage paths due to their mud eruptions. These volcanoes are created by natural gases emitted by decaying organic matter underground, which slowly push the mud upwards. It's an amazing sight to see and certainly not something you can watch from any other region in the country.
    • Ross and Smith Island - These twin islands are linked together by a sand bar. During high tide, the sand bar can get covered by sea water and it rises again during low tide. The water here is crystal clear and almost greenish in colour. Corals are also rich here although they can only be found in the deeper water.
    • Kalipur Beach - This beach is known as a turtle nesting ground in the island. Turtle nesting usually occurs between December and January. During these months, you can spot turtles nesting their eggs in the shores of the beach.
    • Saddle Peak National Park - This is about 5 kms away from Diglipur. This was established in 1987 and named after Saddle Peak, the highest peak in the islands. The trek to reach the peak is about 8 kms long. The dominant animal species seen here are the following: Andaman wild pigs, water monitor lizards, walt water crocodiles, dolphins, whales, Andaman horseshoe bats and Himalayan palm civets. There are several huts and benches so trekkers can rest along the way. You can also find ruins of temples and other structures along the trek.
    • Alfred Caves - To reach these caves, you need to trek an hour from Ram Nagar. You need a forest guide as well as the paths leading to the caves can be confusing. There are a total of 10 caves in the area but only 3 can be accessed. Some of these caves are too narrow that you cannot get inside them. The caves are home to bats and swiftlet nests.
    9. Baratang - This is about 100 kms from Port Blair. It is one of the less visited islands in the region and as a result, it remains virgin and untouched by commercialism. You can explore its offbeat beaches, mud volcanoes and tropical forests. Here are some of the attractions in the island:
    • Limestone Caves - From Baratang, you need to ride another boat to reach these caves. After which, you need to trek for two kms to reach the caves. The limestones in the caves were formed through a natural process. They are sedentary rocks that were originally formed at the bottom of the sea. They were formed by compression of the gradual deposits of many ingredients such as marine life, shells, skeletons and coral. This process took about a million years to complete. The deposits have different hues, textures and degrees of purity. These formations were pushed above sea level, hence the formation of the limestone caves. You can spot stalagmites and stalactites here, sometimes forming a pillar with each other.
    • Parrot Island - This can be reached through a boat ride from Berating. Its name was derived from the thousands of parrots who gather here during night time. Until now, it's not known why these birds flock to the island but it's quite a unique phenomenon to witness.
    • Mud Volcanoes - These can be accessed through a boat ride from Baratang. Like the Mud Volcanoes in Diglipur, these volcanoes are created by natural gases emitted by decaying organic matter underground, which slowly push the mud upwards. You can skip this one if you've already visited the one in Diglipur.
    I hope this helps!


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