Andaman and Nicobar Islands India

Birdseye view of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Birdseye view of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.

By Divya Varam

An elephant on the beach in Havelock, Andaman Islands.
An elephant on the beach in Havelock, Andaman Islands.

You might have heard about Andaman and Nicobar islands after they were devasted by the 2004 tsunami that ravaged Asia, especially Thailand.

But today, these spectacular islands have come back, and we just returned from a visit.

The Andaman Islands form an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal between India, to the west, and Myanmar, to the north and east.

Most are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India. Though they are a part of India politically, they are closer to Myanmar and Thailand than to the Indian mainland.

Andaman Island enjoys a tropical climate. Just like Thailand or Bali, on the other side Andaman, with a breathtakingly beautiful coastline, lush forested bed, fantastic diving possibilities and a far-flung location, the Andaman Islands are a perfect place to ramble around or simply chill out on sun-toasted beaches is a year-round destination, where fluctuations in temperatures are minimal and stay pleasant throughout.

However, most of the tourists like to visit Andaman starting from October to March, which is right after the heavy southwest monsoon showers that are over by September.

It probably can be categorized as the busiest season of the year, whereas other months of the year are favored by occasional travelers just like You and Me 😀

The season that you can choose is mainly Summer and Monsoon. Being a tropical island, Andaman doesn’t witness the winter season. Just as mentioned earlier, its the weather of any tropical Island, it’s pleasant, mildly humid and breathtakingly beautiful purple skies sinking into the lazy ocean.

The boutique hotel Min Min in the Andaman Islands.
The boutique hotel Jalakara in the Andaman Islands.

During summers, the clear blue sky and the turquoise water reflect hues of blue, contrasted by the white sands.

Surprisingly, it’s not extremely humid as the other popular tropical destinations in Asia and makes it even more perfect for exploring this hidden beauty in India.

Islands in Andaman & Nicobar:  My Recommendations 

Shimmering turquoise waters are surrounded by primeval jungle and mangrove forest, and its sugar-white beaches melt under glorious flame-and-purple sunsets. The population is a friendly mix of South and Southeast Asian settlers, as well as Negrito ethnic groups whose arrival here still has anthropologists somewhat baffled.

Adding to the intrigue is its remote location, some 1370km from the Indian mainland, meaning the islands are geographically more Southeast Asia – just 150km from Indonesia and 190km from Myanmar.

Comprising 572 islands, only a dozen or so are open to tourists, Havelock by far being the most popular for its splendid beaches and diving. The Nicobar Islands are strictly off limits to tourists, as are the various patches of tribal areas. Also, most of the islands in Andaman are only day trips visits and no stay land.

Havelock Island : 

With sublime silken beaches, twinkling teal shallows and some of the best diving in South Asia, Havelock has the well-deserved reputation of being a travelers paradise. Havelock is the main Island that has the most tourists coming every year to witness its beauty, in fact, it’s the  Andaman to many.

Soak in the natural beauty of the region while you head out for a dive at the beaches here. It is the most popular among the other Islands in Andamans and is the only Island that offers some of the best luxury hotels. It was my first choice too since I am more of a luxury traveler, no other Islands could offer what I was looking for in the stay.

I stayed at a gorgeous boutique hotel which has been voted as the best hotels in Andamans by Condè Nast Traveller. Also, recently Taj hotels have inaugurated their first signature luxury hotel in Havelock, Andamans.

Chill on the white sand beaches in Andaman Islands. Divya Varam photo.
Chill on the white sand beaches in the Andaman Islands. Divya Varam photo.

Highlights:  The Island is very popular for scuba diving, Snorkelling, and swimming. If you don’t know scuba diving, you can get certified by PADI hubs that are available on the Island. There are some very beautiful beaches to name are Elephant beach, where its believed that a wild elephant makes generous rounds on the beach and you can get a picture of him if you fancy.

Local Fruit shop in Havelock. Divya Varam photo.
Local Fruit shop in Havelock. Divya Varam photo.

To watch a breathtaking sunset, goto Radha Nagar beach which will leave you mesmerized with its purple sunsets.

If you are a seafood lover, this place is for you, please ask for a lobster for dinner, and to get a fresh catch, most of the hotels expect you to inform them early so they can make it available for you.

We hired a bike from the hotel, and let ourselves loose on the Island to explore and there’s isn’t anything better than doing that.

RELATED  Great Dane Journeys: Russia by Rail

How to reach: 

Havelock Island is located at a distance of 41 km from Port Blair. Ferries are scheduled to take you to the Island. Check here to book website

Barren Island : 

Barren Island is an islet that sits in the Andaman Sea,  proudly as being the only active volcano in South Asia,  and the only active volcano along a chain of volcanoes from Sumatra to Myanmar.

It is said that the first recorded volcano dates back to 1787 and afterward, there were about ten eruptions of volcanoes. The most recent eruption was recorded in January 2017.

Only in recent times, scuba diving here at Barren Island is treated as sacred. Diving on the periphery of the only active volcano in South Asia is like entering a different planet enclosed within a time capsule.

Undisturbed by human activity the underwater landscape makes the scene set for a drama you will never forget. Check to book here website

How to Reach :

Barren Island is located 135km northeast of Port Blair; the nearest inhabited island is Havelock, which is four to five hours away by boat. Visiting Barren Island is, at best, difficult. The government-run ferries that used to take tourists for a distant glimpse of the volcano have been discontinued now. Landing on Barren Island is prohibited, so no night stay here.

North Bay Island Andaman

This is located in Port Blair and is popular for its coral reef.

Another Island that’s favorite and must visit to catch the bright summer vibe is North Bay Island. The corals at North Bay are majestic and are spread over the extensive region and are beautiful under a gorgeous sunlight in summers.

The water is clear enough for you to spot many fish, a lobster, or even shellfishes on the coral reef. Appreciate the beauty of the whole region while you are on this island.

Elephant Beach in the Andaman Islands
Elephant Beach in the Andaman Islands.

North Bay Island offers individuals with lovely coral reefs appealing to guests who are going by this goal surprisingly. The ocean has talented this island with all the wonder to pull in any ocean cherishing human.

The Coral reefs are perfectly finished by nature to stagger the guest. For the adventure seekers, this island is a paradise. Spend some time enjoying the sights of nature while basking under the sun.

Highlights:  One can indulge in activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea walking etc.

Location:  North Bay Island is located near Phoenix jetty in Port Blair.

Ross and Smith Island

Two secluded islands connected with a golden stripe of a shining sandbar; that’s Ross & Smith Island for you. The island pair stands as a silent reminder of ‘Beauty in Connectedness’.

There is a Marine Sanctuary on the island which makes it an ideal place for spotting beautiful coral reefs and colorful species from the underwater. The beach is surrounded by tropical forests and is a preferred place for trekking and trail hiking by many tourists.

One can also opt for activities like Scuba Diving & Snorkelling. And the clear blue waters add a touch of cleanliness and to the whole experience.

This beach is a popular choice among tourists, however, you could find the most crowd at one time and the other time you could be the only one on this beautiful Island.

You can walk through the sandbar strip to cross one island to the other. If you are a photographer, this is your paradise where the water is crystal blue and with majestic sunsets.  The white sleek sandbar which is found in the island subsides down during the time of high tide and then surfaces up again. This island is also home to Olive ridley turtles.

Long Island 

Boating through the mangroves on the Andaman Islands.
Boating through the mangroves on the Andaman Islands.

As soon as you arrive on Long Island you will know it is different from any other island you have visited. At first, it seems a pretty workaday sort of place. People will be going about their business at the jetty and there are no rickshaws lining up to pick up tourists! Just step away from the jetty, though, and the special quality of the island will become immediately apparent.

No traffic noise! There are two rickshaw trucks and about five motorbikes and no other motor vehicles on the whole island.

So everybody walks, and as they pass they will smile and greet you with a “Namaste.” Local children know at least two words in English: “One Photo”. But no one will try to sell you anything.

RELATED  Beyond Borat: Discovering the Real Kazakhstan

Long Island is a beautiful, unspoiled island, with varied walks around the beaches, village and forests, and one of the loveliest beaches in the Andaman Islands, Lalaji Bay.

You can reach Lalaji by walking through the forest (1.5 – 2 hours), going along the shore at low tide, or by boat. Apart from local fishermen, you will find the beach pretty well deserted most of the time.

Highlights 

The unspoiled beach with almost no pollution and its beautiful coastal line offering beautiful sunsets and snorkeling at its best. Close to Long Island are some wonderful uninhabited islands with lovely beaches, including Guitar Island, North Passage Island and the spectacular Merk Bay, and further afield the intriguing North Button, South Button, and Middle Button Islands.

All can be reached by boat from Long Island. The scuba diving around Long Island is excellent.

Little Andaman Island

Havelock Pier.
Havelock Pier.

If you are scouting for other activities other than scuba diving and snorkeling, then Little Andaman is the perfect place for you to indulge in some exciting activities that are offered on the Island.

Hut Bay in Little Andaman is the entry and exit point and also the island headquarters.

This island offers a perfect mix of white sandy beaches bewitching waterfalls, boating through the creeks, exciting elephant safari, elephant lumbering, elephant calves training, surfing and much more.

Little Andaman

Here, all of the major places of tourist attraction are approachable by the road. This leads northwards from the Hut bay Jetty.

Highlight :

The highlight of this island is the evergreen rainforest which paves way for a very rich biodiversity. Little Andaman is also considered to be the best surfing destination and has great exposure.

Surfing here, particularly on this island is gaining popularity the activity option with small resorts renting out surfboards and arranging for surf camps near Butler Bay Beach.

Little Andaman is famous for Red Oil Palm Plantation and has a large area under the plantation regime. Both these places can be visited on the way to White Surf and Butler Bay.

How to reach: Little Andaman Island is located south of the South Andaman Island. It is at a distance of 120 kilometers by sea from Port Blair.

Planning to Visit the Andamans?  Here is a checklist for you: 

  • The best time to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands is from November to mid-May. Monsoons are however recommended to be avoided because of the high tidal waves, incessant rains, and strong winds.
  • Tickets are usually expensive so plan ahead your trip and keep a constant check for the best price.
  • If you can’t survive without phone be prepared as there’s almost no network on the Islands.
  • Only BSNL works fine, other networks have less or no connectivity on the main Land( Port Blair)
  • You’ll not find any luxury hotels in Port Blair, so don’t expect to great stay in Port Blair.
  • Be aware of the Islands that you want to visit, since some are not permitted and if you are going there are only day permits.
  •  Out of all other Islands in Andamans, Havelock has the best resorts. ( I stayed at Jalakara )
  • Jalakara is a small beautiful private villa hotel, its one of my favorites in the world now. You’ll also be surprised to know that there were only a few luxury resorts on the island.
    Only in the last April, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Booking your stay:
  • If you are a foreigner, you’ll need an Indian Visa to Visit. You can apply this from your country  With a valid India Visa, foreigners can arrive in Port Blair. However, a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to enter the Andamans which can be easily obtained on arrival at Port Blair from the immigration authorities. The permit is free.

Divya Varam writes a luxury travel blog called TravelWithHer, where she shares travel, beauty, and fashion. She lives in India.

GoNomad

If you like the articles we publish, maybe you can be one of our writers too! Make travel plans, then write a story for us! Click here to read our writer’s guidelines.