Andaman Islands – An Essential Travel Guide

Elephant Beach

Famous for its turquoise water beaches, enchanting coral reefs and picture-perfect landscapes, the Andaman Islands is an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.

It comprises 572 islands of varying sizes, out of which 37 are inhabited. The Andaman Sea hosts some of the world’s most unspoiled marine reserves.

This archipelago has a close association with India’s fight for its freedom. In 1789, Britishers established a penal colony on Chatham Island, next to Great Andaman (now known as Port Blair).

The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, also called the First War of Independence, saw many political activists uprising against British rule. And Britishers chose to incarcerate such political activists here, far away from the Indian mainland.

Indian freedom fighters were made to clean the land and build their own prison on this island.

The Andaman Islands have come a long way since then. From being synonymous with colonial oppression, it has now become a popular tourist destination. Here is all you need to know to plan a memorable Andaman trip.

A Quick Glance Through

How To Reach Andaman Islands

The fastest way to reach Andaman is by flight. Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman islands houses a domestic airport that has direct flights from Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Take a connecting flight to these cities if you are traveling from any other city.

One more way to reach Andaman is by ship but it takes much longer (more than 50 hours). Ships can be taken from Chennai, Kolkata and Vizag ports. So, travel by ship only if you are on an extended vacation.

Local Transport

Andaman Cruise

Island hopping can only be done through cruises or ferries. You can find taxis and auto-rickshaws to commute within an island. They are a bit expensive. Rent a two-wheeler or a bicycle to roam around in Havelock and Neil Islands.

10 Awesome Things To Do

If you are visiting the pristine Andaman Islands, don’t miss indulging in all the awesome things listed below.

1. Have Fun with Playful Waves

Playful waves at Radhanagar Beach
Playful Waves at Radhanagar Beach

What could be a better way to cool off than getting into the turquoise waters of the Andaman Islands!

It feels so amazingly refreshing to let the playful waves wash over you. Enjoy swimming, splash each other and watch for the gorgeous fishes swimming around. Water is so clean that you can see a lot of fish even in shallow waters.

Staying in the water after 5 pm is not allowed on most beaches. Pay attention to lifeguard instructions. Be cautious and don’t go beyond the permissible limits in the sea.

Radhanagar Beach
Gorgeous Radhanagar Beach – Evening View

Tip: Radhanagar Beach and Elephant Beach in Havelock Island and Bharatpur Beach in Neil Island are some of the best beaches for swimming. Head to these beaches, if you want to swim.

2. Enjoy the Fascinating Undersea World

A Snorkeling Beach in Andaman Islands
A Snorkeling Beach in Andaman Islands

If you have ever thought of watching marine life up close, then this is exactly the place to be. Andaman Islands are extremely popular for scuba diving and snorkeling experiences.

Watching the colourful fishes swimming side by side and the incredible coral reefs, make for a wonderful undersea experience you will cherish lifelong.

Here is a small video captured with an underwater camera during Scuba diving.

No need to worry if you don’t know swimming. You will always be accompanied by an instructor. There is a short training of 20-30 minutes before you go scuba diving.

Snorkeling doesn’t require much training as you are just floating on the water with your face down in an airtight mask.

For those who don’t like dropping into the water, there is a plethora of other ways to enjoy the underwater world of Andaman Islands.

Glass-bottom boats and underwater safari (semi-submarine) rides make for perfect activities if you want to watch gorgeous fishes and corals without getting wet.

North Bay Island, 30 minutes away from Port Blair offers a lot of water sports. It is very popular as a scuba diving and snorkeling destination.

Elephant Beach in Havelock is equally known for snorkeling experiences. But nothing beats the scuba diving experience in the azure waters of Bharatpur Beach in Neil Island. Every experience is unique which makes your trip memorable.

Tip: Underwater safari (Semi-submarine) rides are costlier than glass-bottom boats. Skip this if you are doing a glass-bottom boat.

3. Stroll on The White Sand Beaches

Kalapathar Beach
Kalapathar Beach in Havelock Island – Perfect for A Long Walk

A leisurely stroll on the unspoiled white sand beaches of Andaman can rejuvenate your mind and body.

Keep looking around for adorable small critters like crabs and beautiful seashells. Take pictures, collect memories but you are not allowed to take any sea creature with you, not even a seashell.

I loved seeing them and here is a small video capturing two different types of crabs spotted in Andaman islands.

In the latter part of the video, you can see how a small crab is picking up food with its claw and feeding itself. It was such a rare sighting. I had never seen anything like this before.

4. Watch Beautiful Sunset

Sunset at Lakshmanpur Beach
Soothing and Spectacular Sunset View at Lakshmanpur Beach

Walk along the wide beaches and watch the sun go down. Laxmanpur Beach in Neil Island is counted amongst one of the best places in Andaman Islands to watch sunset light glinting off the sea.

The mesmerizing sunset view at Wandoor Beach, almost 30 km away from Port Blair, was no less captivating. The white sand shoreline and shimmering gold hues in the sky paint a cherished memory of sunset.

5. Indulge in Exciting Water Sports

Water Sports in Andaman
Elephant Beach – Popular for Water Sports in Andaman

While scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular activities for underwater experiences, there is no dearth of thrilling water sports to do on the thumping waves.

Head to the soft-sand gorgeous Elephant Beach in Havelock Island or Bharatpur Beach in Neil Island for fun water activities like parasailing, banana boat ride, Jet skiing and speedboat ride.

6. Trek Through Lush Forests

Trekking in Andaman Islands
Nature Trail – Mount Harriet to Madhuban Beach

Andaman Island’s claim to fame is its beaches and lively marine life. Not many are aware that it is also a trekking lovers’ paradise with relatively hidden nature trails.

One of the most known trekking routes is from Mount Harriet National Park to Madhuban Beach, which is about 15 km long.

Another nature trail, nearly 6 km long, begins from Radhanagar Beach and ends at Elephant Beach. You will pass through dense tropical forests and a small stretch of marsh mangrove land.

A small board not so prominently placed on the way to Radhanagar Beach mentions the trek starting point.

Tip: Hire a guide if you are planning to trek from Radhanagar Beach to Elephant Beach. The directions are not clearly marked along this trail.

7. Go Island Hopping

Stunning Views from the Cruise – Havelock to Neil Island

One of the most amazing things to do in Andaman is exploring their beautiful islands. Out of 572 islands, only a handful can be visited by tourists.

Ross, North Bay, Havelock, Neil, Baratang, Jolly Buoy and Little Andaman are some of the most popular islands.

There are a number of hotels and resorts in Havelock and Neil Islands for overnight stays.

Baratang and Little Andaman Islands are good for day visits with very limited lodging options. In Ross, North Bay and Jolly Buoy Islands, night stay is not allowed.

Tip: Jolly Buoy Island is normally closed from May-June till November-December (almost 6 months) every year. If you planning to visit Jolly Buoy, don’t forget to check beforehand.

8. Visit Natural Bridge in Neil Island

Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge at Lakshmanpur Beach

A bridge-like rock formation known as Natural Bridge is one of the prime attractions of Neil Island. Referred locally as Howrah Bridge, it lies on Lakshmanpur Beach number 2.

The road leading to the bridge passes through rocky terrain and piles of dead corals. But all the efforts get more than compensated when you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the natural bridge in the backdrop of the majestic Andaman sea.

You may also like: 10 Beautiful Islands in India That Will Mesmerize You

9. Visit Historical Sites

Cellular Jail

Cellular Jail Port Blair
Cellular Jail Port Blair

Once a colonial prison, also known as ‘Kala Paani’ (Blackwater jail), the Cellular Jail in Port Blair tells the story of India’s struggle for freedom.

The jail was built in the middle of the sea so that no prisoner could ever escape this penal colony.

Indian freedom fighters imprisoned in this jail were subjected to inhuman treatment during British rule in India. This place has become a famous national monument now.

The major attractions of this place are the museum exhibiting the prison life of Indian political prisoners and, a light and sound show that unfolds the darkest chapter of Indian history. You can book light and sound show tickets online.

You may also like: 12 Best Places in Port Blair To Visit.

Illuminated Cellular Jail
Illuminated Cellular Jail

Ross Island

Historical Ruins at Ross Island
Historical Ruins of Officer’s Quarter

Renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, formerly known as Ross Island, it served as the administrative headquarter of Andaman Islands during British rule. Historic ruins are the prime attractions of this island.

The remains of British-era edifices such as the bazaar, clubhouse, old church and residential complex are slowly being taken over by nature. You can see the roots of banyan trees and other creepers all over these structures.

Ruins of Clubhouse in Andaman Islands
Ruins of Clubhouse in Ross Island

10. Treat Yourself to Delicious Seafood

Crab Curry

Andaman Islands are a paradise for seafood lovers. You will be spoiled by choice with so many seafood delicacies to choose from – a wide variety of fishes, lobsters, crabs, prawns and shrimps.

A majority of seafood preparations are dominated by Bengali, South Indian and Burmese flavours.

Itinerary – 1 Week In Andaman Islands

You can pick and choose places to visit depending on how long is your vacation. Here is a suggested itinerary for a 7-day trip to Andaman Islands.

  • Arrival in Port Blair – Day 1
  • North Bay and Ross Islands – Day 2
  • Havelock Island – Day 3 and 4
  • Neil Island – Day 5
  • Back to Port Blair – Day 6
  • Return flight or ship – Day 7

Day 1

Arrive in Port Blair. Visit Cellular Jail and enjoy the light and sound show in the evening. Stay overnight in Port Blair. Check availability of Port Blair hotels here.

Cellular Jail Andaman Islands

Another option is to go to Havelock on the same day. The last cruise for the day from Port Blair departs at 2 pm. So, you need to reach the Port Blair jetty at least by 1:30 pm. It is a 2-hour journey from Port Blair to Havelock.

Day 2

Visit North Bay Island and Ross Island. Enjoy water sports, watch the fabulous marine life at North Bay and the historic ruins at Ross Island.

Ross Island
Scenic Ross Island

Each of these is a half-day trip. You need to leave Ross Island by 3:30 pm as visitors are not allowed beyond that time.

One more option for those interested in birding and trekking is to visit Mount Harriet, which is also half a day trip. Check Mount Harriet National Park Travel Guide.

In the evening, visit Chidiya Tapu Beach (roughly 25 km from Port Blair) for a mesmerizing sunset view. Return to your hotel in Port Blair.

Day 3

Head to Havelock by cruise. Many private and government cruises (ferries) are available. You can book Makruzz or ITT Majestic cruise. Book tickets for the Government ferries at the ticket counter near the jetty.

Indulge in scuba and snorkeling at beach number 2, which is not a swimming beach but is famous for water sports.

In the second half after lunch, visit beach number 7 (Radhanagar Beach), famous as one of the best beaches in the world.

Radhanagar Beach Havelock Island
The Most Famous Beach of Andaman – Radhanagar Beach

It is a swimming beach with a changing room and locker facilities. Stay overnight in Havelock. Check availability of the Havelock Island hotels here.

Day 4

Start with Elephant Beach in the morning. You can reach there by boat from Havelock Jetty or by trekking from Radhanagar Beach. Lots of fun water sports can be enjoyed at the beach.

Scuba is not allowed at this beach but you can do snorkeling here.

Elephant Beach Andaman Islands
Elephant Beach – Popular for Water Sports

For those who don’t want to get into water, it offers glass-bottom boat rides to enjoy the undersea world.

In the afternoon, visit Kalapathar Beach, which is known for its wide shoreline and magnificent landscapes. Return back to your hotel and stay overnight in Havelock.

Day 5

Bid goodbye to Havelock and take your cruise to Neil Island. The scenic journey takes roughly 1 hour.

Head to the famous Bharatpur Beach of Neil Island. All kinds of exciting water sports are offered here including scuba, jetski and glass-bottom boat.

Bharatpur Beach
The Picture-perfect Bharatpur Beach

A lot of eateries here serve food in open-air facing the picturesque Bharatpur Beach. Enjoy a sumptuous meal of your choice.

Visit Lakshmanpur Beach in the evening for a beautiful sunset view. Stay overnight in Neil. Check availability of the Neil Island hotels here.

Day 6

Return to Port Blair to catch your flight the next day. Even the earliest ferry from Neil to Port Blair will not drop you off before 12 noon. It is better to return a day in advance from Neil Island to avoid missing your flight.

Spend the rest of the day in your hotel relaxing or visit Wandoor Beach, which is almost 1.5 hours drive from Port Blair.

Day 7

Time to take all the beautiful memories with you and say goodbye to the enchanting Andaman Islands. Head to Port Blair airport if traveling by flight or to the jetty if traveling by ship.

Where To Stay

Sinclair’s Bayview and Peerless Resort in Port Blair are some of the nice hotels to stay in. Located in close proximity to the beach, both the hotels offer sea view rooms. Corbyn’s Cove Beach lies just a few steps away from Peerless Resort. They serve a variety of seafood dishes on demand.

Dolphin Resort is one of the best budget-friendly hotels in Havelock Island. It is a huge and well-maintained property run by Andaman Government. Vijaynagar Beach (also called beach number 5) is within walking distance of the resort.

For those looking for a luxurious stay, Sea Shell Beach Resort is a good choice. They have bungalow-type sea view rooms and a nice restaurant named “Urban Tadka”.

In Neil Island, Pearl Park Beach Resort located right at Lakshmanpur Beach number 1 is an excellent place to stay. You can watch a breathtaking view of the sunset from the resort ground itself.

Pearl Park Beach Resort

Best Time To Visit Andaman Islands

The best time to visit Andaman is between October to May with clear skies and pleasant weather.

It experiences a warm tropical climate which means the temperature remains moderate throughout the year. A brief shower of rain is not uncommon even on sunny days.

Over To You Now…

Have you been to Andaman Islands? What did you enjoy the most there? Don’t forget to share this post on your favourite social media. 🙂

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