White sand beaches with azure ocean views, gorgeous monuments, lush tropical nature, and adrenalin-packed water sports; the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the last great examples of indefectible island life in India. If you have a week in hand and don’t want to burn your pockets going to Koh Samui, these islands nestled in the Bay of Bengal are a perfect getaway.
GHOSTS OF THE RAJ
Andaman and Nicobar islands are sometimes referred to as ‘the land of tribals.’ Tribals inhabited the islands for centuries till the British colonised them in the late 1700s. Subsequently, the islands were used for penal settlement. The Cellular Jail in Port Blair and the Viper Island Jail are fine examples of the punishment meted out by the British for defiance of their regime. The remnants of the old British Raj at Ross Island suggestive of the colony life, still stand in a decrepit condition to fascinate history buffs.
INTO THE WILD
For centuries, these islands were untouched by civilization, mainly due to their inaccessibility. Due to the late arrival of the western world, a large area of the 500-odd islands that form Andaman and Nicobar are covered with dense forests. They are abound with exotic bird sanctuaries, stunning aquatic life, and flora and fauna. One such sanctuary is the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, formed by several big and small islands, golden beaches, and crystal clear seas.
Andaman is a haven for the adventure sport enthusiasts. One must take advantage of this world-renowned scuba diving location. Take a tour on a glass-bottom boat from Wandoor, less than 30km from Port Blair. There are innumerable spots on many of the islands for snorkeling, diving, trekking, and camping. The Andaman Water Sports Complex should be one’s first stop. Here you can enjoy waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing, and safe water sports like paddleboats and a sea water swimming pool. Corbyn’s Cove Tourism Complex and Havelock Island are superb locations for snorkeling. Among the many trekking routes, the nature trail from Mt. Harriet to Madhuban is the most awe-inspiring. The Andaman Teal House is a great place for renting good quality and reasonable equipment.
WHERE TO STAY
Two islands are a must-visit on your trip: Port Blair and Havelock Island. Most other smaller islands are accessible from these two as day excursions. There are a myriad of accommodation options here to suit every budget. The best of the lot are the Fortune Resort Bay Island in Port Blair and the Barefoot Resort in Havelock, which also offers PADI certification. Both these hotels are ideally located and have a rustic charm that is reminiscent of island life.
For obvious reasons, seafood is the greatest highlight for foodies on Andaman and Nicobar thanks to the untainted waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Vegetarians need not worry either as there are a number of cuisine options for everyone. Mandalay Restaurant, Sentinel Restaurant and Bar, Corbyn’s Delight Restaurant and Bar, and Roof Top restaurant and Bar are some great multi-cuisine options.
Other than the monsoons, anytime through the year is great to travel here. With moderate temperature throughout the year, it’s the perfect destination for a winter break. There are daily flights by Air India, Kingfisher and Jet Airways from Chennai and Kolkata to Port Blair. There are also options to arrive by sea, but flying is preferable. These islands are the ideal destination a hassle-free, no planning needed kind of vacation.
- Foreign nationals need a permit
- Sunscreen is a must
- Dive only with internationally certified instructors (PADI, CMAS, NAUI)
- Must-visit beaches are Radhanagar and Harminder Bay
- A weeklong trip with airfare and reasonable accomodation excluding activities costs about Rs. 30,000
Volume 1 Issue 1