Spread across the Bay of Bengal are the palm lined white beaches of Andaman Islands.
It is a quaint place so there are some things you need to be prepared to expect if you are used to a metropolitan life.
Things to Expect:
– No cellular network except for Airtel and BSNL and absolutely no internet if your hotel doesn’t provide you wifi.
– Rains anytime anywhere.
– Weather conditions to change your plans. Travel between islands is by water. So if weather is rough, boats get cancelled and also water activities are suspended.
– Again as most of the travel is by sea except some sway. Carry motion sickness tablets if this affects you.
– Card transactions are limited so also are ATMs. Carry hard cash with you.
– Also, day starts early by 4.30 am and it gets dark by 5 pm here. So plan your day well.
The capital city of Andaman and Nicobar is just 16 square kms long. At best, you will need 2 days to explore the city completely.
Rent bikes for quicker navigation and do download your maps before hand. The locals can also be asked for directions.
Places to see in Port Blair
The day you arrive in Port Blair, it is better to visit the Cellular Jail.
The Cellular Jail was used as a prison by the British. The name is derived because of its structure. It has a central watch tower and had seven wings spanning across capable of holding 696 prisoners at a time.
The prison is also known as Kala Pani because once a prisoner was brought to the remote island, there would be no means of escape. Prisoners often died due to the brutal treatment meted out on them. The main task in the jail being the oil grinding ‘Kolhu’.
Prisoners were expected to churn out oil in a day that even buffaloes could not and upon failing so were tied to the machine and forcefully pulled along.
The famous revolutionary Vir Savarkar was held prisoner here.
If you are a history buff, you can hire a guide or you can get the whole story told in a very interesting way in the Light and Sound show.
The concept of the Light and Sound show was very unique – the monument speaking to the audience about it’s horrific past – the lights and sounds are amazing but a visual would have added to the appeal.
You need to book your tickets for the show in advance.
The Jogger’s Park offers an airport view. And also a Yoga point.
Better to visit it in the morning as it has no much shade and you don’t want to be caught in the sun.
This Park has a Japanese temple and bunkers built during the Japanese invasion.
Then you could do a museum visit. Club all the museums in one go.
Zonal Anthropological Museum
I would say do visit the Samudrika Museum as it is worth Fisheries and Anthropological Museum combined in one. Plus it allows photos and has an emporium. 😜
Visit the Forest Museum to collect wooden souvenirs and later drop a visit to Chatham Saw Mill.
For the night, we enjoyed a dinner cruise.
Food: The taste of fish is something that doesn’t leave Goans soon. We tried some local fish but the taste wasn’t much satisfying.
Shopping: Aberdeen Bazaar isn’t quite the Bazaar you would want to visit because everything here is imported and quite frankly not something that you would not find from where you came from.
Souveniers here are mostly coral stuff and you will get them along the beaches or in Sagarika Emporium. Cost wise, the Emporium is way more expensive than the local shops.
Places around Port Blair
Chidiyatapu via Cobryns Cove Beach
Hire a four wheeler for this as it outside city limits and through forest reserve area.
Stop by at Cobryns Beach and enjoy water activities.
Proceed to Chidiyatapu and first visit the Biological Park.
Then enjoy the sunset at the Sunset Point at Chidiyatapu beach.
Wandoor beach is situated at Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, around 30 Kms from Port Blair. From here, you can travel to Jolly buoy and Red skin islands. These islands are known for their coral reefs and sea life which is viewed by a Glass Bottom Boat Ride. However, permission to access these beaches is given very less.
North Bay, Ross and Viper Islands
Take a early morning ferry ride from Aberdeen Jetty which is located at Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex to these three islands.
North Bay Island – for water sports
Ross Island – This island once used to be the administrative capital of the British and was a beautifully constructed city until the earthquake that hit the island and left it in ruins.
Again, this island is for history buffs.
Viper Island – Before the Cellular Jail was constructed, the British used to hold their prisoners at Viper Island Jail.
We traveled between Port Blair and Havelock on the Makruzz boat.
Havelock is a beautiful place. I liked it more than Port Blair. Bonus: People here are way more friendlier.
Places to see in Havelock
Elephant Beach – You must visit this beach. It’s a water activities place and it’s like so alive with the buzz. You will have fun, trust me. I did, that too not being a water baby.
It is 7th best beach in Asia. I’m no beach expert but the sand here is so soft and compact and even when waves wash over it, it is left almost untouched. The water is so white and stretches limitless.
Do enjoy the sunset here.
For scuba diving, they say the more early the timings the more clear the visibility. Do try the sport at Govindnagar beach.
Other Islands to Visit:
Neil Island – has beaches known for coral reefs and sunset views. The Howrah Bridge is a natural rock formation. The island is also a sanctuary for turtles.
Baratang Island – known for it’s limestone caves and mud volcanoes.
Other geographic attractions:
Barren Volcano, the only active volcano in South Asia.
Mount Harriet, the second highest peak in Andaman. The picture on the back side of ₹ 20 note is taken form Mount Harriet National Park, which offers a breath taking view of the Port Blair city, Ross and North Bay Islands.
The most frequent question we got asked on this trip was why being Goans we came to Andaman. Well, I’m glad we came here and explored these tropical delights. It’s being home away from home.