In the proximity of Bay of Bengal, lies the archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar Islands – a Union Territory of India. In 1945, the islands became the first part of India to be declared independent. This exotic destination is enriched with evergreen forests, exotic varieties of flora and fauna, blue shores, spotless stretches of white sands, coral reefs, volcanoes, and a lot of culture & heritage. There is something for everyone here; from intrepid travelers to luxury tourists, and adventure enthusiasts to solitude-seekers. Undoubtedly, these reasons makes it one of the most popular tropical paradise in the world.
Table of Contents
• Brief about A&NI
• How to reach Andamans?
• What are the visa and passport requirements for Andamans?
• What is the best time to visit Andamans?
• What are the 7 major tourist attractions in Andamans?
• What are the 5 major recreational activities in Andamans?
• What are the famous cuisines of Andamans?
• Which are the best accomodations in Andamans?
• How to commute in Andamans?
• What are some lesser know facts about Andaman?
“We Travel Not To Escape Life, But For The Life Not To Escape Us” Anonymous
Brief about A&NI
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is spread over an area of 8,249 km sq with a population close to half a million. It has a total coastline of 1962 km alongside its 572 islands; of these, about 38 are permanently inhabited. Port Blair is the largest city & capital of the island territory. Eighty six percent of the its total land area is occupied with forest cover. Tourism is the major industry in the Andaman islands (northern group) that receives 4-5 lakh travelers every year. The Nicobar islands (southern group) is mostly inaccessible to tourists.The Port Blair city & the Havelock Island have fully developed tourist infrastructure, and can accomodate a large number of tourist simultaneously. Crystalline blue waters, pristine beaches, and dense rainforests are some of its many lures. Since water abounds, water-related activities are extremely popular in all the major beaches. The Radhanagar beach was voted as the best beach in Asia by Time Magazine in 2004 and is now considered one of the top 100 beaches in the world. City tour of Port Blair includs British-era colonial buildings, museums, World War II bunkers, etc to visit. The capital city also hosts a colonial prison named Cellular Jail which was established in 1906. During the struggle for India’s independence, many notable activists were imprisoned here. Today, the complex serves as a national memorial monument.
How to reach Andamans?
The island can be reached only via the Indian mainland. Therefore, foreign travelers need to reach the Indian mainland before heading towards the island. Once you are in the mainland, you can reach the Andaman & Nicobar Islands via the air route or sea route.
• Air route: The Veer Savarkar Airport, located in the capital town of Port Blair, is the gateway to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is well-connected with Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Vishakapatnam, Bhubaneshwar, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Bhubaneshwar via flights. Some of the flights from these source cities are direct, and some have an intermediate stoppage.
• Sea route: Budget travelers with no time-constrain and don’t mind roughing it may consider leisure voyages by boat. The Shipping Corporation of India operates passenger ship services from Kolkata, Chennai & Vishakapatnam. Port Blair is 1,255 km (780 mi) from Kolkata, 1,200 km (750 mi) from Visakhapatnam and 1,190 km (740 mi) from Chennai. The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hours during fair weather.
What are the visa and passport requirements for Andamans?
• Indian citizens: No passport is required for Indian citizens visiting the Andaman & Nicobar islands. However, a permit is required, if you are visiting Jolly Bouy Island, Redskin Island, or Cinque Island.
• Foreign citizens: Foreign citizens visiting the Andaman & Nicobar islands should have a valid visa. Citizens of Afghanistan, China, and Pakistan additionally require Restricted Areas Permit (RAP) which is provided on arrival at the Veer Savarkar Airport, Port Blair. Nationals of USA, Canada, British, EU & Australia require a machine-readable passport valid for at least 180 days and with at least two blank pages. Nationals of Bhutan, the Maldives and Nepal do not require a visa unless entering India via mainland China. Nationals not referred to in the chart or the aforementioned information are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for India.
What is the best time to visit Andamans?
The island has a tropical climate with an average mean temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). Island has moderate summer, mild winter, no water clogging, or traffic jams; light rains are expect even during non-monsoon seasons. Thus, making the islands conducive for tourism year-round.
• General tourist: October to February has mild winter & most people plan their Andaman trip during this time of the year.
• For Scuba-diving: December to April is the most suitable time.
• For other water activities: Feb and March are considered the best time for activities like boating, swimming, snorkeling, due to low tides and better visibility.
• For Nature lovers: May to December is the prime time when the forest is lush green and waterfalls are at their best.
• Bird watchers & Turtles nesting: November to Febuary is the most suitable time to watch most of the Avian species & turtle nesting.
• For moderate weather: To find relief from the scorching heat or chilling winter, visit the island from May to July or December to January respectively.
What are the 5 major tourist attractions in Andamans?
National Memorial Cellular Jail
Location: Atlanta Point, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Trip duration: 2-3 hours
Timings: 9:00am-1:00pm & 2:00pm-5:00pm (Closed on Mondays)
Fee for Indian citizen: 30INR (Entry Ticket of Cellular Jail) & 150INR (Light & Sound show)
Fee for Foreign Citizen: 100INR (Entry Ticket of Cellular Jail) & (Light & Sound show)
The Cellular Jail, (also known as Kaala Paani) was a colonial prison in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The construction of Cellular Jail started in 1896 and completed in 1906. The Jail was used to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. Because of its involement in the struggle for India’s independence, it has a historical significance.The Cellular Jail beholds the pain and sacrifice of the freedom fighters. The Government of India declared the complex as a national memorial monument on 11th February 1979. Spread as seven spokes of a bicycle wheel, this unique three-storied structure was the first of its kind in India as it had 693 prison cells specially built for solitary confinement of the prisoners. The extraordinary feature of the Jail was the total absence of communication between prisoners housed in different wings since the front of the row of cells faced the back of the other.
• Photos and Exhibit: The entrance block of the National Memorial houses Freedom Fighters Photos and Exhibition Gallery on the ground floor.
• Art Gallery & Library: The first floor of the building has an Art Gallery, Netaji Gallery, and a Library on freedom movement. A gallery on the First War of Independence and another gallery with a rare collection of old photographs has also been set up in the premises.
• An eternal Flame: “Freedom-Swatantrya Jyot” The eternal flame that has been established in honor of the soldiers and martyrs who gave their lives to the freedom movement.
• Sound-and-light show: One hour long sound-and-light show is also run in the evenings narrating and showcasing the trials and tribulations of the inmates. It is available in English and Hindi.
Havelock Island belongs to the Ritchie’s Archipelago, and is named after a British general, Sir Henry Havelock, who served in India. In December 2018, it was renamed as Swaraj Dweep as a tribute to Subhas Chandra Bose. The island can be reached from Port Blair by government-operated ferries and private cruises in about two-hours to reach Havelock Jetty from Port Blair. Swaraj Dweep is a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and lush green forest. The island beaches have the most breathtaking sunsets and mesmerizing sunrises. There is a lighthouse at the northern point of the island, near Govinda Nagar, established in 2005. Laze around on its secluded beaches, or explore its dense and serene mangroves; swim among exotic corals while you indulge in scuba diving or go out there and explore the wilderness on long jungle treks – Havelock has it all! Havelock is also popular amoung couples for candle-slight dinners.
• Radhanagar beach: Radhanagar Beach, is one of the most popular beaches on Havelock and was named Asia’s best beach in 2004. This 2 kilometers long beach is situated on the western coast of Havelock, and is famous for its crystal clear waters and pristine white sand. It is also ideal for scuba diving, snorkelling, and deep sea diving. It is perfect for nature lovers wanting some solitude, photographers longing for that perfect shot, or honeymoon couples looking for a private spot. There is no entry fee to visit Radhanagar Beach. The beach is open between sunrise and sunset.
• Elephant beach: Elephant Beach is located just at a distance of 2.2km from Radhanagar beach. There are several public buses and rickshaws connecting the two beaches but if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you can try hiking for 6 km trek through the forest trail from Radhanagar Beach to Elephant Beach . Elephant Beach is the hub for water activities, from snorkelling to scuba diving, jet-ski and more. Tourists can also bask in the sun while grabbing some snacks and refreshments.
• Vijaynagar beach: Vijaynagar beach is located towards the north eastern part of Havelock Island. There are to and fro services of AC bus and auto rickshaw from Havelock Jetty to Vijaynagar Beach. The distance between the two places is approximately 9 km. This beach is mostly visited for beach exploration, bird watching, fishing, trekking and thrilling water sports like snorkelling, surfing, sailing and swimming. There are an enormous number of coconut trees and mangrooves trees along the beach.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island
Location: 3 km east from Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Trip duration: 4-5 hours
Travel time from Port blair: 1 hrs of travel
Budget: INR 1500 to INR 2500 per person.
The island is situated about 3 km east from Port Blair. The historic ruins are a tourist attraction. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island has thick forests. To any onlooker it may give the impression that it has no “life” — in the sense that there is no human habitation. Spotted Deer and Peacocks are mostly found in the island and the island is full of palm and coconut trees. There is a pathway up to the northern end of the Island, where the new concrete 10 m high circular lighthouse. The island had community buildings like a church, tennis court, printing press, hospital, cemetery, secretariat, open-air theater and much more to add.While wandering on the island you can spot peacocks, eagles, and parrots moving around. The island has a good population of deer, who are accustomed to seeing humans. You can click some wonderful pictures of the historical places, birds and the beautiful scenery the island has to offer. As there is no accommodation to spend the night in the Island, the visitors are to exit on completing the trip and stay at Port Blair.
• Smritik Museum: Once the seat of British power and capital of these Islands, it stands now as a ruin of the bygone days with the old structure almost in debris. The museum holds photographs and the other antiques of the Britishers relevant to these islands.
• Lighthouse: The Tower was constructed in 1977, on an offshoot rock about 50 metres away from the shore line. The tower is approachable during the low tide. It was at this lighthouse that photo voltaic panels were introduced for the first time in India, to charge the batteries for the operation of light.
• World War II remains: The Japanese bunkers and cannons brought in by the Japanese during World War II can also be seen along with the other historical remains.
• Light and Sound Show: The light and sound show depicts the island’s historical events that happened during the pre-independent era, set up of the first administrative settlement and insight about various other historical events that took place on the islands.
Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex
Location: 1km from The Cellular Jail, Port Blair.
Trip duration: 2-3 hours
Timings: 5:30 AM, to 9:00 PM
Budget: No entry fees however, charges are for water-activities starting from INR 500 onwards.
This spot is appropriate for all age gatherings and is perfect for families as it has a mix of water sports reasonable for children and grown-ups play zone for youngsters, space for unwinding and running. This mind boggling place holds the landmark of the Battle of Aberdeen which was battled between the British and the individuals of Andamans in 1859. Additionally, there is a sculpture of Rajiv Gandhi in the two pathways. The way where the complex is built is extraordinary for going for easygoing strolls or running. Guests can enjoy a few snacks from the little shops around and invest some quality energy with their family in this ocean side park encompassed by lavish greenery. The best an ideal opportunity to visit this mind boggling cum park is after 3 PM when the sun shrouds away and the climate is cool for the guests to go around and appreciate the spot.
• Jet Ski: It is a bold water ride that is finished with a smaller than normal stream like vehicle that gives the rider a sentiment of riding a bicycle on water. Proceed to encounter fly skiing among the waves as it is an astounding action that must be attempted. Vacationers matured 10 to 55 can take this ride.
• Speed Boat Ride: These speed vessel rides offer the most exciting encounters ever. These daring rides take on the furious waters on a super-quick speed which is magnificent and feel the ocean breeze all over as you appreciate this stunning ride. Travelers matured 10 to 55 can take this ride.
• Banana Boat Rides: These rides are taken on a banana-molded air-expanded vessel that is attached to a speed pontoon. Six individuals can take this ride on the double; the riders will be situated on the pontoons with the life-jackets on. When the ride begins and the speed pontoon begins moving over the ocean, the vessel flips and tosses the riders into the water and the rides attempt to jump on to the pontoon again and this proceeds till the finish of the outing.
• Semi-Submarine Coral Safari: The Semi Submarine Coral Safari is stand-out and is accessible just the North Bay Island. It is structured so that the travelers can get the opportunity to encounter the submerged marvels through the glass fitted windows and it can hold up to 100 travelers on a solitary excursion. This ride is reasonable for youngsters and senior residents as it is protected and agreeable.
Mount Harriet National Park
Location: 45-50km from Port Blair.
Area: 46.62 km² Established: 1979
Trip duration: 2-3 hours
Timings: 9 AM, to 4 PM
Mount Harriet National Park, established in 1969 is a national park well-known for a variety of flora & fauna species. The park, covers about 4.62 km2 of area & the Mount Harriet (383 metres), is part of the park, is the third-highest peak in the Andaman and Nicobar. The park is named in commemoration of Harriet C. Tytler, the second wife of Robert Tytler, a Superintendent of the Convict Settlement at Port Blair in the Andamans from April 1862 to February 1864. Mrs. Harriet is remembered for her work in documenting the monuments of Delhi and for her notes at the time of the Revolt of 1857 in India.
Geography: Mount Harriet National Park was originally a reserve forest which was converted into a national park in 1979. It encompasses mountain ranges and the marine ecosystem on the eastern coast. The mountains in the park are aligned in a north-south direction with the ridges and spurs originating from it aligned in an east-west direction. The eastern face of the park has steep slopes, and the beaches here are also formed of rocks interspersed with small sandy areas. The park experiences marine climatic conditions, and hot and humid conditions in view of its proximity to the equator.
Flora: The park has evergreen primary forests, and at Chiriyatapu the forest type is mixed deciduous, a combination of primary and secondary forests. The three types of forests are categorized as tropical evergreen, hilltop tropical evergreen and littoral. Overall 134 plant and tree species are reported, including 74 native and 51 introduced species.
Fauna: There are 28 reptile species recorded which are mostly lizards and snakes. The amphibian fauna reported are 6 species; 2 species of Andaman bull frog and Andaman paddy field frog are endemic. The aquatic fauna reported from the streams consist of 16 species; some of these species are eel, catfish, gobies, sleepers and snakeheads.
What are the 3 major recreational activities in Andamans?
Scuba Diving: Scuba diving is one of the most loved adventure sports for those adrenaline junkies. It may be performed for a number of reasons, both personal and professional. Recreational diving is done purely for enjoyment and has a number of technical disciplines to increase interest underwater, such as cave diving, wreck diving, ice diving and deep diving. Underwater tourism is mostly done on scuba and the associated tour guiding must follow suit. Scuba diving is perhaps the best way to explore the fantastic underwater world, getting up close with the wonders and the secrets of this marine universe, with its breathtakingly colorful and diverse inhabitants
Trekking: Trekking or Hiking is a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails or footpaths in the countryside. “Hiking” is the preferred term in Canada and the United States; the term “Trekking” is used in these regions for shorter, particularly urban walks. It is a form of walking, undertaken with the specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery. Trekking is a form of walking, undertaken with the specific purpose of exploring and enjoying the scenery. It usually takes place on trails in areas of relatively unspoiled wilderness.
Seakart & Jet Ski Ride: Many of us likely had an introduction to the thrills of jet skiing whilst on holiday, but it’s not just the beaches of the Caribbean or some other exotic location that are the places to go. Jet skiing is a high speed water sport that is great for developing your balance and coordination skills as well as your leg muscles. There are many great locations where you can get a great introduction to jet skiing. Of all the water sports, jet skiing is probably the easiest to pick up. It’s also probably the fastest, and it’s the adrenaline attached to that speed that attracts thousands of people to the sport.
What are the famous cuisines of Andamans?
Food in Havelock, though more expensive than Port Blair is still very affordable. A basic meal for 2 would cost around INR 400 and at a luxury resort about INR 1,400. A candlelight dinner for two costs about INR 5,000.
Anju Coco: This place is very well known for its Barbeque. Try their big breakfast and grilled BBQ fish here right by the beautiful sea.
Bo No Va: This place has something for everyone. This a cafe and a pub which offers delicious seafood, dance floor and an evening DJ party inside the popular seashell resort. Time peacefully in the midst of nature while feasting on delicious food from cafes selling all sorts of cuisines ranging from traditional to global.
Full Moon café: Run by an Indian-Irish couple, this thatched roof café is busy through most of the day and is known for its extensive menu, which includes Indian, Italian, Mexican, and other global dishes. The food here is cooked with local flavours, and is one of the few cafes serving seafood in diverse styles.
Which are the best accommodations in Andamans?
Hoteliers in Andamans offer attractive discounts during monsoon seasons. One can opt for small beach huts which cost around INR 1000 per night to luxury cottages and villas that range from INR 9,000 to 25,000 per night. Mid-budget accommodations are also available which range between INR 3000-5000.
Havelock Island: The island has a great range of option while choosing accomodations from basic ammenities to luxirious ammenities.
Taj Exotica: Located on the RadhaNagar Beach in Havelock, this place needs no introduction. Luxurious rooms with beautiful views and amazing restaurants in the property is the best way to pamper yourself.
Munjoh Ocean Resort:
Popular with families and honeymooners, the Munjoh Ocean Resort is the best for those who want a relaxed and pampered vacation. This luxurious resort on Beach No. 5 is nestled between coconut and betel tree groves that surround a little fresh water pond. A well-designed reception greets visitors, with a free lending library available for guests.
How to commute in the Andamans?
There are no full service cruise available to commute across islands. Ferry Cruise operates between Port Blair to Havelock, Havelock to Neil Island and Neil Island to Port Blair. Charges depend on availability. Mostly it will cost around Rs 1500 per person. Within island, there are a lot of options available including rent cars, scooters, tuk-tuk, bicylcles among others. All theses modes of transport are budget-friendly & does not put much burden on your wallet. You may select the right mode for your commutation dependinhg upon the number of travellers, desination & time.
Bike rentals: The easiest local transport in Havelock Island is by renting a scooter. You can hire them on a daily basis at approximately INR 500 per day. Fuel Stations shut by 5 pm, please make sure you have enough fuel. Avoid during monsoons as roads can get slippery.
Cab: You can either take a cab or hire a car with a driver. This works best if you have an itinerary planned and you are traveling in a larger group.
Car: You can rent a car and travel to the jail if you want to travel leisurely at your own schedule.
Scooter: Scooters are also available for hire, and they are also more economical, so if you are traveling in small groups, then we recommend renting a scooter.
Tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuk rickshaws are the most common and cheapest mode of transportation on the islands, and you can easily get a rickshaw on any of the streets in Port Blair. The drivers all speak English pretty well and you will have no trouble reaching the Cellular Jail.
Auto rickshaws: Auto rickshaws are also available and cost around INR 50 to 200 for short rides & 700-1000 for a trip to Radhanagar Beach.
Public transport: Budget travellers can opt for shared jeeps and public buses for the commute within Swaraj Dweep(Havelock Island).
What are some lesser know facts about Andaman & Nicobar islands?
Volcanos: The chain of islands also has an active volcano (Barren Island) & a dormant volcano (Narcondam island), which are however, restricted for visits. The only volcano in India, Barren Island, is located in Andaman and Nicobar. It is an active volcano and had last erupted in 2017. It also has a mud volcano situated in Baratang island, These mud volcanoes have erupted sporadically, with recent eruptions in 2005 bird eye view of the magnificent island.
Tri-Service Command: The Andaman & Nicobar islands occupies a strategic position in the Andaman Sea region due to its proximity to the Southeast Asian countries & the Strait of Malacca. The 750-km long Andaman and Nicobar archipelago is located about 1200 km from mainland India, but is merely 90 km from Indonesia and 45 km from Myanmar, 160 km from Indonesia and 550 km for Thailand. Therefore, the island hosts India’s first & only tri-service command, the Andaman & Nicobar Command, created in 2001. This gives the Indian Armed Forces an upper hand while conducting surveillances & patrolling.
Uncontacted people: The North Sentinel Island is home to the Sentinelese people, a tribe of uncontacted people. They are among the last tribal people to remain virtually untouched by modern civilisation. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act of 1956s prohibits travel to the island and any approach closer than five nautical miles (9.26 km) in order to prevent the resident tribes people from contracting diseases to which they have no immunity. The area is patrolled by the Indian navy. Visiting to tribal reserved areas in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is prohibited.