Azure sea, white sandy beaches, clear skies and serene environs – these words pretty much describes a perfect beach destination. Andaman is an epitome of all these and more. Located in the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Islands are an Indian archipelago consisting of about 300 islands. It is a tropical paradise that boasts of having some of the best beaches in the continent, enviably rich tropical rainforests and an interesting history. Whether you are heading to Andaman for your honeymoon or are looking for an adventurous getaway or a serene family holiday, Andaman Islands will amaze you with everything it has to offer.Here are our recommendations on the best things to do in Andaman.
Head to the Beaches
That’s obvious, isn’t it? The Andaman Islands are home to some of Asia’s best beaches. You can choose to head out to Corbyn’s Cove in Port Blair, or the famous Radhanagar Beach and Elephant Beach on the famed Havelock Island. Ross and Smith Island beach, Laxmanpur beach on Neil Island, Lalaji Bay Beach on Long Island – there are so many that you will actually be spoilt for choices. Vast pristine shorelines, silky white sand, and relaxing environment of the beaches in Andaman will help you unwind and rejuvenate yourself. Devote a day for sunbathing and lazing around on the beaches of Andaman Island if you want to experience the Island in the truest sense.
Try Sea Walking in North Bay Island
Sea Walking gives you the opportunity to actually see the underwater sea life really close. The North Bay Island Beach is among the finest places in Asia to try sea walking. The best part is you need not have any swimming skills to try out this activity; it is completely safe and there is no issue of air pressure to worry about. You will need to wear a helmet which will help you to breathe normally while you are under the water. A variety of colourful fishes, coral reefs and all sorts of beautiful looking marine life will be right before you to marvel at, as you indulge in this activity for an experience of a lifetime.
Explore Havelock Island
Home to Radhanagar Beach – voted as Asia’s best beach by TIMES magazine, this island is a gem in the Andamans. Bask in the sun on the beach and gaze at the pristine blue waters. If you are interested in scuba diving and snorkelling, this is among the best places for you to try it. Scuba diving lets you explore the varied and rich marine life – colourful fishes, lovely coral reefs, etc. You can also try snorkelling at the Elephant Beach at Havelock Island. After Jolly Bouy Island in Port Blair, this place is among the most popular snorkelling destinations. No former training is needed for snorkelling. However, if you are a first timer, go for it only under the guidance of a trained professional. November to Mid-April is the best time to dive in the waters of Andaman.
Visit the Cellular Jail
Known as the dreaded ‘Kaala Pani’ in the pre-independence days, a visit to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands is a must. During the British Rule, this jail was used to imprison political prisoners. A good part of the jail was destructed during the World War II by the Japanese. Whatever remained has now been turned into a museum and stands tall today to tell us about the extremities our freedom fighters had to experience when they were put behind the bars here. The jail is closed for visitors on Monday and public holidays. So, make sure you time your visit accordingly.
Trekking in Madhuban
Since Andaman stands out as a beach destination, trekking is not something you would associate with Andaman at first thought. But, truth be told, trekking is among the most popular activities on the island. With an abundance of tropical forests, mangroves, numerous hills, and a wide range of flora and fauna, it is one of the best ways to experience the island. Among the many trekking trails, two are very popular. First is the Mount Harriet to Madhuban trek. It is 16 km long and takes you through the wilderness and gives you some of the most spectacular views on the island. The second is the Diglipur to Saddle Peak (the highest peak in the island) trek. Blessed with rich and diverse ecology, it is home to some native trees, avifauna and insect species. November to April is the best time to trek here.
A visit to the Bird Island or the Chidiya Tapu is a must for all nature lovers visiting Andamans. A treasure trove for bird watchers and photography enthusiasts, it is also a great place to enjoy some exotic sunset views on the island. Situated about 25 km away from Port Blair, this place is easily accessible by road. It is best to visit here during summers when the skies are azure. You can spot emerald doves, parakeets, drongos, sea eagles and so many exotic species of birds here. This place is abuzz with the constant tiny chirping of birds and is a great place to spend some time amidst the glory of nature.
The archipelago of Andaman consists of about 300 islands. Even though very few of them are accessible to tourists, you cannot complete your trip to Andaman without dedicated a day for Island hopping. One of the islands that should be on your island hopping itinerary is Neil Island – also known as the coral capital of Andaman. Explore its beaches, watch the spectacular sunset views or indulge snorkelling here. You can also do a half day trip to Ross Island. This island had a notorious reputation during the colonial times as it was home to the Penal colony that housed political prisoners before the Cellular jail. Now only the remnants of the past remain in the ruins on Ross Island – all thanks to the Japanese invasion and the massive Earthquake that wreaked havoc on the island in 1941.
Visit Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex
Water Sports activities must top your list when you are in the Andaman Islands. Whether you are thinking of parasailing, speedboat rides or to go for the fun banana rides, jet skiing or any other water sports, the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex has got you covered. If water sports are your kind of thing, you must not miss visiting here or you will miss all the fun. Whether you are a pro in these activities or a first timer, be assured that you will be taken good care of by the instructors who will equip with all that you need to know to enjoy these games safely.
Go on a Museum Trail
A museum is that place which makes you walk in the past. If you are interested in knowing about the history and culture of the Andaman Islands, a visit to the museums in Port Blair is a must. Check out the Anthropological Museum that will give you all the information you would want to know about the indigenous tribes of the island – Great Andanamese (a collective term for 10 tribes), the Jarawas, Sentinels and the Onges. Another worth visiting museum in Port Blair is the Samudrika Naval Marine Museum which is maintained by the Indian Navy. It will enlighten you about the ecology and biodiversity.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Sprawling over an area of about 281 sq. km on the South Western Coast of Andaman, the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park was founded in the year 1983 in a bid to protect the marine species of the archipelago. It is also known as the Wandoor National Park and is home to a varied marine life consisting of coral reefs, turtles, starfishes, colourful variety of fishes. Over 270 avifauna species can be spotted here. Red Skin Island and Jolly Bouy Island are the islands worth visiting here. The park is closed during monsoons, so June to August is not an ideal time to go here.
Head to Baratang Islands:
Located 100 km away from the city of Port Blair, Baratang – once a home to the Jawra tribes – has remained largely unexplored by the tourists due to its distance. So, if you want to travel the untrodden and explore something offbeat, this is where you should head to. Dense, mysterious tropical Glen, long stretches of white unspoilt beaches, mud volcano, and the limestone caves are some of the attractions that entice visitors here. If you are a bird watching enthusiast, a visit to the mangrove ecosystem is also warranted. Another interesting place here is the Parrot Island where you can catch glimpse of hundreds of them at the time of sunset.
Boasting of Andaman’s highest peak – the Saddle Peak at a height of 732 meters, the famed turtle nesting sites, Alfred Caves which are Limestone caves, and also the mud volcanoes, Diglipur is located in the Northernmost part of Andamans. It is also relatively less explored area and is great from the eco-friendly tourism point of view. It is known for its diverse marine life, oranges and rice. It is home to Kalpong – the only river flowing in Andaman. If you want a quiet and offbeat holiday in Andaman, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is an ideal place to head to.