Tucked away in the lap of Indian Ocean, the picturesque Neil Island forms a part of the Andaman archipelago. It is located some 37 km from Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman.
The island is spread over 3.7 sq km only and even the widest part of the island measures about 5 km. From Port Blair, it is accessible by ferry. It was renamed Shaheed Dweep in 2018 by the Government of India.
The island’s major claim to fame is its white sand beaches, dotted with tropical evergreen forests. From exploring the unspoiled coral reefs to water sports, a wide range of activities are offered on the beaches. Go through this post to know what you can see and do in Neil Island.
A Quick Glance Through
- Things To See and Do
- Nearby Places To Visit
- Useful Info For Planning Your Trip
Things To See and Do
The list of things is not mentioned in any particular order. So, you can choose what you want to explore first depending on your itinerary.
1. Natural Bridge
A natural rock formation in the shape of a bridge is popularly known as Natural Bridge of Neil Island. Over a period of thousands of years, the living corals of the sea have formed this spectacular structure. It is also referred to as Howrah bridge by Bengali populace of the island.
Corals grow and expand very slowly. Our guide told us that some of the slowest growing corals might increase only an inch in size in 10 years. Now imagine, how many thousands of years would have gone into shaping this spectacle of nature!
The pathway winding through rugged and sharp corals takes you there. One needs to climb up and down a few times in order to fully explore this place. Elderly and young kids may find the hike too taxing owing to uneven paths leading to the bridge.
Getting a pair of robust hiking shoes with a good grip is recommended for this trip. You should visit here during low tide since the area gets submerged during high tide.
The bridge is visible from two sides. Many visitors catch sight of the front view and go back. On the other side that involves a moderate hike, the entire landscape is even more picturesque. If one can manage to come this far, then it absolutely makes sense to see the bridge from both sides.
Besides the coral bridge, the azure sea in the backdrop is equally captivating. The magical landscape of this place attracts a lot of visitors interested in photography. It is one of the must-see attractions of Neil Island.
2. Laxmanpur Beach No. 1
Famous for its captivating golden sunset, Laxmanpur Beach no. 1 is a gorgeous sandy beach. It is brimful of corals and shells of varying sizes and colours. A quiet walk along the wide shorelines feels absolutely refreshing.
It is popular as a sunset spot and tourists flock to the beach during sunset hours. Watching the sun go down the horizon at Laxmanpur Beach is a sight to behold.
3. Bharatpur Beach
Less than a kilometer away from the Neil jetty is the sprawling white sand Bharatpur Beach. The vast blue sea and the verdant woods in the backdrop make one of the most gorgeous scenes in Andaman Islands.
A wide stretch of the sea is shallow and one can simply walk for a great distance in water. The jubilant waves hitting the shoreline are so gentle that even non-swimmers can go much farther in the sea.
Bharatpur Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in Neil Island that shouldn’t be missed. It offers opportunities to sight a variety of small colourful fishes and beautiful corals with bare eyes.
Swimmers have to go a bit far from the shore to enjoy swimming. A variety of water sports are also offered on the beach.
There are many stalls on the beach selling snacks and coconut water. Plenty of eateries serve food in the open overlooking the sparkling sea. Enjoy some of the seafood delicacies of the island.
You may also like: Andaman Islands Travel Guide
4. Sitapur Beach
A pristine and secluded Sitapur Beach is located about 5.5 km from Neil Island jetty. It is popular as sunrise beach and is locally also referred to as beach no. 5.
Visit this beach early morning to catch a sight of a splendid sunrise. Getting up early is the only precondition to see this beauty. I genuinely had to put in a lot of efforts to haul myself out of bed but thankfully reached there right before the sunrise.
It was a bit cloudy and the sun was playing hide and seek with the onlookers. Nonetheless we enjoyed watching the beautiful sky painted in bright and vivid colours.
5. Diving And Snorkeling
The turquoise sea in Neil island is considered one of the best for exploring marine life. Scuba diving and snorkeling provide opportunities to observe the fascinating underwater world at close quarters.
In scuba, one needs to take a proper dive and stay inside water to see the aquatic life. There is a short training session before you go diving. An instructor briefs on the diving process, rules and underwater hand signals.
A practice dive helps gauge the comfort level of the diver inside water. In case you start feeling dizzy or experience discomfort, there is a choice to pull out after practice dive. But, no refund is given after pulling out at this stage.
Diving experience is simply awesome. All the efforts felt worthy when I stumbled upon the kaleidoscopic corals and beautiful fishes swimming side by side.
Snorkeling requires you to keep your head down in water with your body floating on the surface. One needs to wear a diving mask with a breathing tube, also known as snorkel.
A life jacket is also given so that even non-swimmers can do this without any hassle. Snorkeling provides opportunities to see the enchanting marine life found within 10 meters depth of the sea.
Also Read: 15 Amazing Things To Do in Andaman.
6. Glass Bottom Boat
The glass bottom boat looks like any other ordinary boat meant for boating. And, I couldn’t really gauge the difference unless I boarded the boat. A fully transparent glass shield fixed at the base allows one to observe the exquisite undersea world from the boat.
It is most recommended for families traveling with young kids. Owing to age and minimum weight requirements, many kids are not able to partake in diving or snorkeling.
Nearby Places To Visit
In order to reach Neil Island, you need to get to Port Blair first from mainland India. Spend a day or two exploring famous tourist attractions of Port Blair, including Andaman Cellular Jail, Munda Pahad Beach and Wandoor Beach.
If you are interested in watching birds and colourful butterflies, visit Mount Harriet National Park. Check this post to know more about planning a visit: Mount Harriet National Park – A Complete Travel Guide
From Port Blair, Ross Island and North Bay Island can also be visited in a day trip. North Bay is popular for diving experiences and Ross Island is a historical island with colonial-era ruins.
You may also like: Ross Island – 10 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting
Aside from these, Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep) is also one of the must-visit places in Andaman. It is irresistible with its picture-postcard beaches like Radhanagar Beach and Elephant Beach.
Useful Info For Planning Your Trip
Neil Island is connected to Port Blair by sea route. It takes about 2 hours to reach the island from Port Blair by a ferry.
There are two types of ferries, government ferry and private ferry. Government ferry tickets can be bought from the ticket counter at the jetty, but priority is given to locals. You can book private ferry tickets online and well before your travel date. Makruzz and Sea Link are popular ferry service providers for inter-island travel in Andaman.
The ideal duration for your trip should be 2 days. On the day of arrival, you can explore Bharatpur Beach and watch the sunset at Laxmanpur Beach. The next day, visit the sunrise beach (Sitapur Beach) and Natural Coral bridge.
Over To You Now…
Neil island is amongst one of the most gorgeous islands in India. Have you visited this part of Andaman or it is still part of your wanderlust wishlist? Tell us in the comment section below.
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