Picturesque beaches with hypnotic virtue, twinkling turquoise water with the pristine jungles, white sands with scintillating sunsets and history with a bit of antiquity, Andaman Islands is the paradise of India.
1400 km away from the east coast of India, tucked between the Bay of Bengal & Andaman Sea, the very popular Andaman & Nicobar Islands are India’s archipelago consisting of 572 islands out of which only 36 are colonized and a small part is open for tourism.
The crystal clear waters, multicolored fishes, rich marine reserves and psychedelic coral reefs, Andaman Islands are perfect for water adventures like Snorkeling, Scuba Diving & Sea Walking.
With various activities and experiences, Andaman attracts all kinds of tourists, be it, family, honeymooners, solo travelers or adventure enthusiasts. You have an option to either give a knock to your adventurous soul and explore the throbbing coral reefs and marine life through scuba diving or laze around the mesmerizing beaches and enjoy the charismatic sunsets.
With more than 300 islands, Andaman is divided into 5 categories:
- Great Andaman (Port Blair, Ross Island, Viper Island, North Bay Island)
- Little Andaman
- Ritchie’s Archipelago (Havelock & Neil Islands)
- East Volcano Islands
- Sentinel Islands
Below is my 10 days itinerary or rather I should say my experience in the most vibrant part of India:
Day 1 & 2 – Port Blair
The capital city, Port Blair is the entry point for the Andaman Islands. It is a 2-3 hours flights from major cities of India and approximately 3-4 days by sea from Kolkata, Chennai & Vishakhapatnam. Port Blair is connected to almost all the islands via ferry.
Evenings, in particular, are very lovely at this place as you can stroll in the Marina Park and relish the sea breezes.
Your 1st day will mostly be spent on traveling and booking tickets for a further excursion. I will suggest you take an early morning flight from your place so that you can reach Port Blair by noon and settle down in your hotel. After some rest, you should visit the Port Blair Tourism office, also known as the IPT office and get all the tickets and permits pre-booked. Tourism office timings are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, so plan accordingly. It is always good to keep all the required permits and tickets handy for smoother transitions, rather than rushing at the last moment.
Following are the tickets and permits you might need according to your plan:
- Jolly Buoy ferry ticket and permit
- Port Blair to Havelock Island ferry ticket
- Havelock Island to Neil Island ferry ticket
- Ross Island excursion ticket (if included in your itinerary)
- North Bay Island excursion ticket (if included in your itinerary)
Don’t worry! I have elaborated on each and every place mentioned above. Just read along to know about the places and how you can plan.
Once you are done with all your tickets, you can head for the Light & Sound Show at the Cellular Jail and then, end your day by taking a stroll at the Marina Park and enjoy the sweet sea breezes.
Cellular Jail, aka, Kālā Pānī, is the most cringe and brutal prison built by Britishers to apprehend Indian political prisoners. All the prisoners were kept in the individual cells for the solitary confinement and were subjected to brutal torture and made to work in chains. Then, the Japanese took over this prison during World War II and took torture to another level.
Originally, it was seven prolonged buildings with a tower at the center acting as a patrolling station. In due course of time, the building got damaged and left with only three buildings. However, the jail has now been converted into a National Memorial and its museum gives a glance at the struggle of our freedom fighters.
The timings for the museum and prison tour are from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM and then the ticket counter for light & sound show opens at 5:20 PM for 6:00 PM Hindi show and 7:00 PM English show subsequently.
Usually, people take a tour of the museum and prison in the morning and then go for a light & sound show in the evening to cover it on the same day. But here is a pro tip for you – Watch light & sound show in the evening first and then next day visit for the prison tour. That way, you will know the history and stories behind this gruesome prison during the show which you can literally feel and relate during your prison excursion the next day.
With half-day (of Day 2) still in your hand, you can visit any of the below places you want. I personally feel that you will get to visit many beautiful beaches and islands during your trip, hence, Mount Harriet National Park would claim to be a unique option. Or, you can stay back in Port Blair for 1 extra day and cover all these places if you want. As there is a lot to do and see in Andaman, I will suggest you leave it for now and see if you have some time while returning back.
Ross Island, officially known as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island was a British Headquarter. Now, it has the ruins of British Headquarters and Japanese bunkers. You can experience the Light & Sound show here and indulge in the history of Indian freedom fighters’ struggle. Just 15 minutes away from Port Blair, you can get plenty of ferries from Marina Park.
North Bay Island
North Bay Island is famous for the Light House, which, apparently can be seen at the back of the older 20 Rupee note. Other than that, North Bay Island offers various water sports activities, which I feel are not good enough as compared to other Islands of Andaman, so you can hold on to your adventurous soul.
You can also hire an Island hop boat for Ross and North Bay both from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex which will take you to Ross Island first, then to North Bay Island and will drop you back to the same place. The total time required for both islands is approximately 5 hours.
Note – The Boarding point for both the Islands keeps changing based on Government regulations, so please check beforehand.
Corbyn’s Cove Beach
Famous for its evenings, Corbyn’s Cove Beach is just 5 km from Port Blair. This beach is also famous for Jet Ski and Speed Boating. A harmonious beach full of coconut trees is a perfect place to laze around and watch the sunset.
Mount Harriet National Park
The third highest peak in the Andaman archipelago, Mount Harriet National Park is covered with lush forest. The picture on the back-side of the older 20 Rupee note is taken here with North Bay’s Lighthouse seen at the distance. Avoid it during hot weather.
The distance between Port Blair and Mount Harriet is 55 km by road and 15 km by sea. You can reach Mount Harriet in 2 hours by road with taxi/auto via Ferrargunj or from Marine Jetty to Hope Town by sea and then further by road. You need to get a pass to visit Mount Harriet which you can get at the entry point itself.
Day 3 – Jolly Buoy or Red Skin Island
Mesmerizing underwater coral reefs, endearing marine reserves, colorful fishes and crystalline turquoise water make this place a must-visit.
Jolly Buoy is an experience that you can not get in any other part of the Andaman Islands. You can get enchanted by the ocean views, thick forests and underwater corals of various kinds.
Jolly Buoy and Red Skin Island both are located at the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Only one is accessible for tourists at a time, giving time for corals of the other Island to re-grow. However, the route and the price for both are the same, so, you don’t have to worry about anything.
Jolly Buoy was accessible during my time, so, I will be talking mostly about that.
Two mediums to experience underwater corals here are snorkeling and glass-bottom boat ride.
The ferry ticket includes a complimentary glass-bottom boat ride of 5-10 minutes and you can explore further by paying extra. A unique adventure of snorkeling can be experienced at a price of Rs 300, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 depending on the distance. You can start with 300 Rupee one and can continue to 500 and 1000 depending on your interest. When in Jolly Buoy or Red Skin, snorkeling is a must-do activity.
To reach Jolly Buoy or Red skin Island, one has to come to Wandoor which is about 30 km from Port Blair and takes around 45 minutes by road. Buses from Port Blair to Wandoor are easily available from bus stand (enquire about the timings beforehand) and then from Wandoor, you will get into a ferry which takes around 20 minutes to Jolly Buoy. The ferry drops you at some distance from the island from where you are taken to island by glass-bottom boat which is included in the price. Ferry from Wandoor Beach to Jolly Buoy Island is priced Rs. 500 and Rs. 50 extra for the permit (which you would have already arranged on your first day).
Few things to remember while visiting Jolly Buoy or Red Skin Islands:
- Carry ample water, as, Andaman has a tropical climate and you will need a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Both the Islands are plastic-free zone, hence, plastic bags and bottles are not allowed. However, you can rent jute bags and water bottles for Rs. 5 with Rs. 100 Security deposit (from Wandoor Jetty).
- Carry any Govt ID proof which is needed at the Wandoor Beach.
Day 4 – Chidiya Tapu (Scuba Diving)
Chidiya Tapu, a picturesque little Island is famous for its wide range of birds, gleaming hues of sunsets and vibrant underwater life. This place is a heaven for bird-watchers, nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Chidiya Tapu is also a gem of ravishing views of the ocean and thick forests.
Scuba Diving and Sunsets are the two things one should not miss in Chidiya Tapu. Here you can experience the rich variety of underwater world, beautiful reefs, a whirlpool of various kinds of fishes, crystalline water and if you are lucky like me, then you may see an octopus. Yes! I am not kidding, I was lucky to see a purple colored octopus.
Usually, people and tour operators choose Neil Island to indulge in water sports activities (maybe for cost-cutting) but trust me on this and try scuba diving in Chidiya Tapu. It is a bit pricey here and to be exact we paid Rs 4500 for a 45 minutes session, whereas, the prices in Neil Island were around Rs 2500. But the experience, diving equipment, and trainer’s knowledge you will get here will be of high quality. This being a once in a lifetime experience, I would suggest you spend that extra bucks.
After scuba dive, don’t miss out on the sunsets of Chidiya Tapu because the colorful hues around the sky are not a sight to be missed. Sunsets here are one of a kind and can take your breath away with it’s diverse and distinct shades.
30 km from Port Blair, it takes almost an hour to reach Chidiya Tapu. The road is very scenic and passes through many forests. You can book an afternoon session of scuba diving so that you can witness sunsets in the evening and can return back to Port Blair after that.
Lacadives and Infinity Scuba are the two major giants in Chidiya Tapu. We did it through Lacadives and it was an amazing experience. You should consider pre-booking them due to their busy schedules.
Munda Pahad (Black Mountain) is another attraction of Chidiya Tapu which can be accessed by trekking only. The trail passes through a dense forest that starts from the shore of Chidiya Tapu beach. Since not many people visit this place, the trails are in their raw form with no eatery shops in between. So, carry your food and water and you should consider taking a guide as well.
Day 5 & 6 – Havelock Island
Havelock Island, officially known as the Swaraj Island, is one of the largest Islands in Ritchie’s archipelago. With gorgeous white-sand beaches, glittering turquoise water, and thick forests, Havelock is favored as a paradise for travelers.
Havelock is one of the places in the Andaman archipelago where the government is encouraging development and promoting tourism. In fact, now Havelock is what attracts the major tourists and has become the most visited Island of Andaman & Nicobar.
Two major attractions of Havelock are Radhanagar Beach on the western coast and Elephant beach on the northwest coast. Other beaches visited by tourists are Vijay Nagar Beach and Kalapathar Beach.
Rated as one of the best beaches in Asia by Times, Radhanagar Beach is a white beach surrounded by tall lush green trees. The combination of white sand, teal water, and green trees make it outstanding and must-visit beauty. Ranked as a Grade A beach, Radhanagar is popular for its beautiful sunsets too.
Take a day-break, laze around this beautiful white beach with coconut water and enjoy the sunset (I think you can imagine the scene now :D).
It is 12 km from the havelock ferry pier and takes around 20-25 minutes by taxi or auto to reach. If possible you can also rent a bike or scooter and stroll around the town at your own pace.
Another gem of Havelock Island, Elephant Beach is rich in coral reefs. Entering this Beach, you can witness the ruins of trees lying on the shore of the beach, which itself makes a picturesque scenery. This is one of the few places where the coral reefs are actual increasing, unlike other islands where reefs are depleting day-by-day.
Many water sports activities are available at Elephant Beach like speed boating, jet skiing, and snorkeling. If you have already experienced snorkeling in Jolly Buoy Island, you won’t enjoy it here, however, 5-10 minutes of snorkeling is complementary with the ferry tickets.
Two options to reach Elephant Beach are either by speed boat from Havelock Jetty or by a short hike of 1.8 km through the jungle. Most people choose to enjoy the boat ride instead of a trek. A boat takes approximately 40 minutes to reach Elephant Beach, which can be booked from a stall near Havelock Jetty. You have to fill the reservation form to purchase tickets. Various tour agents and operators make a long queue to book tickets for their guests, therefore, I will suggest you reach there early in the morning.
How to Reach Havelock
Many government and private ferries ply from Port Blair to Havelock on a daily basis. Below is the time table of various services as per my knowledge. Please note, that the timings keep on changing as per the govt regulations, therefore, please confirm before booking.
|Ferry||Departure Time||Arrival Time||Price|
|Government Ferry||6:20 AM||9:00 AM||INR 500|
|Government Ferry||2:00 PM||4:30 PM||INR 500|
|Green Ocean||6:45 AM||9:00 AM||INR 1250 (Royal), |
INR 900 (Executive),
INR 1000 (Luxury)
|Makruzz||4:15 PM||6:00 PM|| INR 1350 (Deluxe), |
INR 1050 (Premium),
INR 2050 (Royal),
INR 1150 (Premium Window)
|Makruzz Gold||8:00 AM||9:45 AM||INR 1350 (Deluxe), |
INR 1050 (Premium),
INR 2050 (Royal),
INR 1150 (Premium Window)
|Makruzz Gold||1:00 PM||2:30 PM|| INR 1350 (Deluxe), |
INR 1050 (Premium),
INR 2050 (Royal),
INR 1150 (Premium Window)
|Green Ocean 2||6:45 AM||8:45 AM||INR 1150 (Deluxe), |
INR 950 (Premium),
INR 1050 (Luxury)
Day 7 – Neil Island
Neil Island, officially known as Shaheed Island, is only 45 minutes away from Havelock Island and 1.5 hours from Port Blair.
Though its beaches are not as mesmerizing as compared to Havelock Island, it has its own charm of coconut trees, fruit plantations, and rice paddies. Neil Island is also called the vegetable bowl of the Andaman Islands due to the fruits & vegetable cultivation in abundance. An interesting fact about this place is that most of the beaches here are named after the characters of Ramayana, like Lakshmanpur Beach, Bharatpur Beach, and Sitapur Beach.
Neil Island 3 Point Tour
Neil Island has majorly 3 beaches and a natural rock bridge formation and hence, the trip is known as 3 point tour. Tour starts with visiting the Bharatpur Beach, continues to natural rock bridge and ends with the gorgeous sunset at Lakshmanpur Beach. You can also include Sitapur Beach in your plan which is famous for its dramatic sunrise.
0.5 km from Neil Jetty, this place is full of corals. You can hire a glass-bottom boat and enjoy the corals. Vegetation along the beachside is very soothing to the eyes.
2 km north of Neil Jetty, Lakshmanpur Beach is famous for its spectacular sunsets. White shell sand and coral formations are spread throughout the beach. Sunbathing and swimming are a few options to be enjoyed here. Natural Rock Bridge is the main attraction here.
Natural Rock Formation
Locally known as the Howrah Bridge, it is famous for its natural formation of rocks which looks like a bridge. Visit this place during low tides.
5 km from the Neil Jetty, Sitapur Beach lies at the tip of the Island and is famous for its sunrise. The route from Jetty to the beach itself is very amazing with green fields and vegetation throughout the route. Try to reach as early as 5 AM to get a sight of sunrise.
Day 8 & 9 – Ross & Smith Islands
Most people end their trip at Neil Island and move back to Port Blair but the real journey starts from here. So, check out the below link to explore the unexplored for the next 2 days.
Day 10 – Baratang
Baratang, an Island between South & Middle Andaman is known for its Mangrove Creeks, Mud Volcano, and Limestone Caves. Baratang is also a home for The Jarawa tribes, an indigenous people of the Andaman Islands.
Limestones are the dense rocks formed by the compression of many marine reserves like shells and corals. These naturally formed limestone rocks take millions of years of ingredients accumulation and abstraction. Some grow from the ground and some hang from the top, constantly evolving in shape and size.
Limestone Caves, Baratang is half an hour boat ride from Nilambur Jetty, Baratang Island and then 1.5 km walk through the dense tropical forest. The route passes through a wide sea and then enters into a very narrow mangrove creek which itself is an ultimate experience. While returning, you can take a different route which requires you to walk through a boardwalk of 240 meters long. Passing through this boardwalk, you will get a chance to experience the entangled mangrove creeks from very near. You will need a torchlight to see the different shapes and patterns carved by limestones inside the cave.
You need a permit to enter Limestone Caves Baratang which you can easily get at Baratang Island. The boat ride will cost you approximately Rs 600 and a guide will accompany you throughout the excursion. The total time required for the Limestone excursion will be around 2-3 hours.
Another wonder of nature, Mud Volcano is created by natural gases, by decomposing organic matter underground that pushes mud upwards. It is a small hole emitting mud that deposits and hardens on the ground. As more and more mud is pushed upwards, it is deposited on the edge and hence, creating a small mud volcano.
7.5 km away from Nilambur Jetty, Baratang, you can take a shared taxi till Jarawa Creek which takes approximately 20 minutes to reach. From here it is 10 minutes of a walk towards the mud volcano. Personally speaking, there is nothing much to see and may disappoint you as it is a very tiny volcano and mud doesn’t always oozes out of it.
Jarwa(Jarawa) Tribes, also known as, Jarawas were the original residents of the Andaman Islands and still, Baratang is the home to the few tribes left. The area is controlled by the government to protect the tribes. The government also provides them with medical aids to protect them from any diseases. The Jarawa Tribes live within their own community with no interaction with the outside world. They are numbered between 200-400 which is decreasing day-by-day.
If you are lucky, you can get a sight of Jarawas while going back from Baratang to Port Blair. Since this is a protected area, the vehicles are allowed to move in convoys within specific timings i.e 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm and 2.30 pm only. Stopping the vehicle in between, interacting with the tribes, offering food and taking pictures are strictly prohibited.
You have seen and experienced almost everything the Andaman Islands has to offer. So, this is the day when you can return back with lots of memories.
Best Time to Visit Andaman
Although Andaman can be visited throughout the year, I will personally advise you to avoid Summers and Monsoons. Visit Andaman in Winters to enjoy the best weather and crystal clear waters. So, November to March is the best time to visit Andaman and experience the pristine beaches of Andaman and to further drill down, December and January are the most appropriate times.
Andaman offers a varied range of accommodations for various types of tourists like honeymooners, families, backpackers. You can get rooms ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 25000 as per your pocket and the kind of experience you want.
Seafood is the main cuisine of Andamanese making it a paradise for seafood lovers. Other Indian food options are easily available throughout the Andaman. You can get South Indian food almost everywhere that too at a very nominal price and good taste. Overall, the cost of food is very nominal.
- Taxis and autos can be hired to roam within Port Blair city.
- Government buses or private taxis are available to visit nearby locations from Port Blair like Wandoor, Chidiya Tapu, Baratang, Diglipur.
- Government & private ferries are available to go from one island to another like Havelock, Neil, Long Island, Rangat.
BSNL, Airtel, and Vodafone work best throughout the Andaman Islands. However, you won’t find internet connectivity in most of the places. Port Blair receives internet signal but that too 2G only.
The best part about a trip to the Andaman Islands is that you can define your own budget according to your occasion. If you are a honeymooner, you can hire private taxis & ferries and book beach villas and resort and your budget will cross over a lakh. If you are a backpacker, you can book lounges and take government buses and ferries and your budget will be dirt cheap.
We were 3 backpacker friends and our total budget was Rs 40,000/head only, including flight, accommodation, food, transport & Scuba.
So this was my experience in the beautiful and pristine part of India called the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Hope you liked the itinerary, please share it with your friends who are planning a trip to this amazing place. Also, please let me know in the comments if you want some more information about it.
Keep traveling and keep sharing experiences!