How do I get there?
By air: The Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair is well connected to Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Visakhapatnam. The connectivity depends on which airline you choose. There are also connecting flights from Delhi and other cities.
By ship: Cruise ships take passengers from Chennai to Port Blair. It's a 2 and a half day journey, but will be worth the experience.
How do I get around?
The islands of Port Blair, Havelock, and Neil all have autorickshaw facilities. You can exchange phone numbers with the driver, who will pick you up from one site and drop you to the next. Most resorts on these islands offer private cars for transportation.
Port Blair also has public buses for transportation. They might be a little inconvenient for tourists since they are not very frequent.
In Havelock, you can also choose to get around by a 2-wheeler or by cycle. It's the most preferred choice among tourists as the island's beauty is best experienced this way. Some resorts may offer 2-wheelers and bicycles, and there are several rental shops on the islands that you can contact.
(Note: because of the high demand for rented transportation on the island, it's best to pre-book your vehicle)
Transportation between islands is via government or private ferries and cruises.
When is the best time to visit?
The islands are blessed with a pleasant climate all year round, but the best time to visit is November to May.
It's best to avoid planning a trip to the islands during the monsoon as it gets windy, the sea gets choppy and waves get higher. Watersports might get suspended during this time.
What are the main attractions?
The capital of the union territory, Port Blair is the most populated island of the magnificent archipelago. Because this is where the airport is, most tourists start their holiday here. Cellular Jail or Kaala Pani is one of the most popular places to visit in Port Blair. It stands testament for the cruelty Indian freedom fighters faced during the British reign. Walk along the long corridors of the uniquely constructed jail and take a peek into what the lives of those imprisoned here must have looked like. Another attraction here is the sound and light show that happens within the premises of the jail.
Mount Harriet National Park is a bird-watcher's paradise. With lush foliage, marine turtles, elephants, unique species of moths and reptiles, and innumerable species of birds, this national park is a must-visit if you want to feel connected to nature.
Chidiya Tapu is known for stunning sunsets and great bird watching opportunities. A number of species of birds from all over the world can be spotted here. It's best to come here in the morning when the birds are most active. From Chidiya Tapu, you can hike about 3 kms to Munda Pahar Beach where you can swim in the calm and clear water of the sea. You can also lay on the beach and take in the view of other wooded islands in the distance.
The Anthropological Museum is the place to visit if you want to learn more about Andaman and Nicobar Islands' tribal history and culture. From models of their different living spaces, to exhibits of weapons, utensils, and cloth made of wood, and a number of photographs - you'll find it all at this museum.
The Samudrika Marine Museum is run by the Indian Navy. In this museum, you can see an interesting collection of species of fish, corals, shells, and more, up close, so you can really admire their beauty and uniqueness.
Ross Island was the British headquarters in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Remains of 18th century colonial architecture covered with roots of massive trees speak for the antiquity of this island. Controlled by the Indian Navy today, the only inhabitants here are birds, squirrels, and deer. A guided tour around the island will give you better insight into its history.
After sunset, stay for the sound and light show. With the colonial bakery as the backdrop, you can watch the saga unfold before your eyes.
Because of the clear waters, Neil Island is often mistaken to be named after the colour of the sea ("neel" means "blue" in Hindi). Neil Island is known for the shades of blue sea around the island. Bharatpur Beach, Laxmanpur Beach, Sitapur Beach, and Ramnagar Beach are the beaches here. Also visit the Howrah Bridge - a natural rock bridge. Behind this bridge, there is a smaller rock bridge, which you can reach after a hike on rocks and soft corals.
Havelock is where you can indulge in different watersports - scuba diving, sea-walk, snorkeling, jet-skiing, and more. Beaches like Elephant Beach and others allow you to have an underwater experience like no other! The sea around the island is rich with corals and fish, which make visiting these places a must! There are several dive centers and reliable adventure sports centers that you can go through. Radhanagar Beach, one of the best beaches in Asia, is a must visit at Havelock.
Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island:
These islands are part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and are the only ones open for tourism. Many tourists visit these islands to experience snorkeling and take glass-bottom boat rides and learn more about the rich marine life of these islands. Plastic bottles are not allowed on these islands.
What to eat, and where?
Being a popular holiday destination by the sea, the cuisine in Andamans is mixed - Indian food - especially Bengali and south Indian cuisine, Chinese, and Continental. Most restaurants serve seafood like fish, lobster, prawn, crab, and squid.
In Port Blair, Lighthouse Residency, Excel Restaurant, Bayview, SeaShell, and more, offer a wide variety of seafood, Indian and Continental meals.
In Havelock, Full Moon Cafe, Anju-Coco Resto, Rony's, B3- Barefoot Bayside & Brasserie, Blackbeard's Bistro, are great places to dine. The food is multi-cuisine, and the ambience is informal and pretty. Golden Spoon is a small shack which doesn't have the fanciest set-up, but is known for the lip-smacking seafood served here.
In Neil Island, Blue Sea, Sea-view Chand Restaurant, Moonshine, Garden View Restaurant serve multi-cuisine and seafood.
There are several roadside shacks in and around beaches that sell coconut water, fresh cucumber, and fresh fruit juices - perfect for a day at the beach!
What to take back?
The Aberdeen market, the museums and the Cellular Jail all have gift shops where you can buy items and accessories made of wood, shells, and corals. You can even but real pearls here. Havelock Island has several souvenir shops, too.
- Languages - English, Tamil, Bengali, Hindi
- Best service providers- BSNL, Airtel. No data connection.
Wifi is available at most resorts, either complementary or at a minimal charge.
- Tourists are not allowed to carry shells, corals, etc. with them back to the mainland.
All purchases on the islands should have a receipt as proof of ownership.
- The sound and light show has versions in English, Hindi, and Tamil. Make sure you make bookings accordingly.
- Foreigners and NRIs need to get a Protected Area Permit (PAP) on arrival which is valid for 30 days in Port Blair.
- Always keep hard cash with you. Not all places accept cards.
- Because of the popularity of watersports, always pre-book a slot if possible.
- Before planning your itinerary, make sure the weather conditions are favourable during your stay.
- Leave a 2 day gap between your scuba diving experience and the next flight.
- Check if the ferries between islands are commuting as per schedule.
Always keep a buffer time before any journey by ferry or by plane.