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Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park

Discussion in 'By The Sea' started by ParKam, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. ParKam

    ParKam New Member

    I am going to the Andaman Nicobar Islands, and I would like to find out more about the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park there.

    Some fo the queries which I have about the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park are:

    1. What exactly is the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park?

    2. Is there an entry fee?

    3. Should the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park be something we should visit, is it worth visiting?

    4. Is it a place where would need to carry food with us? There are a lot of places where food and drinks are not available.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

    Brief Overview of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park

    Located about 20 kilometres away from Port Blair, accessible by road, is Wandoor, the gateway to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Before reaching the national park, it's a must to visit the Marine Interpretation Centre in Wandoor. Here, you can find the various information about the rich marine life of national park which includes about 15 islands, comprised of beautiful corals and other underwater animals. Once you have taken a tour of the centre, you can then proceed to the national park, which is a boat ride away from Wandoor.

    What exactly is the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park?

    As the name suggests, the national park was established to protect the rich marine life of the area. The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park has about 15 islands and amidst these islands are creatures such as sea turtles, fishes, molluscs and plenty of coral reefs. Aside from the marine animals, the national park also attracts a variety of bird species, especially during migratory season.

    Varied landscapes dot the different islands, from dense forests, beaches, mangroves and even peaks. The smallest islands are that of Belle and Rifleman, while the largest island is that of Tarmugli. Some parts of Rutland Island are also located within the national park.

    While there are 15 islands, only two islands are actually allowed for eco-tourism. These are the Jolly Buoy Island and the Red Skin Island. It gets even more complicated as these islands cannot be visited at the same time. In fact, only one island remains open while the other remains close during different months.

    But generally, Jolly Buoy Island can be accessed from December to May while the Red Skin Island can be visited from June to November. This allows the other island to recover from the tourist activity. Keep in mind though that the park can remain closed during the heavy monsoon season, from July to September.

    Note - The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park remains closed every Mondays so plan accordingly.

    What can you do around the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park?

    The main activity around the two islands would be marine life spotting which you can do through a glass bottom boat ride. First, you would be riding a normal boat to reach either of the islands. Once you reach either of the islands, you would be transferred to another boat, this time a glass bottom one so you can spot the corals, fishes and other marine life in the underwater.

    The main difference between the Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island is that the former has a high variety of fishes with a mixture of some corals while the latter has many corals along with some saltwater crocodiles. Because of this, the Red Skin Island can be closed at times, in order to protect the tourists from the crocodiles at the region.

    Aside from glass bottom boat riding, you can also indulge in scuba diving and snorkelling. When indulging in these activities, you'd have to pay different fees. Also, you are not allowed to venture too far out from the guides even if you do know how to swim. This is to protect both the marine life as well as the tourists so you must comply with the set rules.

    What are the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park timings?

    The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park has about five daily trips from the jetty to either the Jolly Buoy Island or the Red Skin Island. Just remember that the national park is closed during Mondays and that you cannot access both islands at the same season.

    First TripSecond TripThird TripFourth TripFifth Trip
    8:30 am9:00 am9:30 am10:00 am10:30 am

    What are the entry fees as well as other fees?

    First of all, you need to acquire an entry permit to enter the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. This can be easily acquired before your boat ride to either of the islands. The office counter is located near the docking point of the boats going to the islands. You can acquire the entry permit a day before or even on the day of your trip. Once done with that, you can then pay for the boat ride, just choose any private boat operator near the docking point, they are all approved by the government anyway. At this point, you can also opt to have scuba diving or snorkelling included in your package.

    CategoryIndian NationalForeigner
    Entry FeeRs. 50 (Rs. 25 for Indian child)Rs. 500
    Boating Fee (Red Skin)Rs. 300 to Rs. 350Rs. 300 to Rs. 350
    Boating Fee (Jolly Buoy)Rs. 600 to Rs. 650Rs. 600 to Rs. 650
    Camera FeeRs. 25Rs. 25
    Snorkelling/Diving Fee (With Guide)Rs. 1,000Rs. 1,000

    What are the restrictions around the
    Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park?

    There are no commercial establishments around the two islands, hence you need to bring your own food and water. But yet another restriction is that you cannot bring plastic around the area. If you must, you have to pay a deposit fee of Rs. 100 for each plastic item and once you return to the jetty with the plastic item, you can get your deposit fee. You can also rent out a water jug from the office at the same cost of Rs. 100, which would be returned to you upon retrieval of the water jug.

    You also cannot stay within any of these islands. You can return to Port Blair and stay there or you can opt to stay in the forest lodge operated by the government at Wandoor. Port Blair is easily accessible from Wandoor though and buses ply as early as 6:00 am for this route. But make sure to catch the last bus at 8:00 pm to reach Port Blair, if you intend to stroll around Wandoor after your boat trip to the national park.

    Is the
    Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park worth a visit?

    Definitely! The rich underwater marine life composed of fishes and corals would take your breath away. Some of the beautiful fishes that you can spot here are butterfly fishes, parrot fishes, angel fishes and bat fishes. Coupled with corals such as table corals, cauliflower corals, stony corals and wrinkle corals, the marine life in the islands are very much worth a visit. The islands are not inhabited too, so they remain pristine, untouched by human interference. For the nature and wildlife lover, a visit to the Andaman Islands won't be complete without exploring the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park.

    Jolly Buoy Island in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park