The Andaman and Nicobar Island were surrounded in secret for hundreds of years because of their inaccessibility. These are the paragon of elegance and existing scenery complete with picturesque and stunning elegance. The heavy woodlands which cover these island and the numerous unique flowers and fauna create a highly graceful and romantic environment. The sound of tribe percussion bother the calmness and techni color fish find their way through superior water. Andaman and Nicobar Island are complete of outstanding destinations as the island is endowed with tremendous organic sources. Out of many other destinations, one of the awesome destinations is its beaches.
1. How do I reach the Andaman Islands?
Indian Nationals of India can fly to Port Blair via either Chennai or Kolkata. Foreign nationals will first need to fly into mainland India. The best points of entry would be either Chennai or Kolkata which in turn are connected by several daily flights to Port Blair, the capital city of the Andamans Islands. Ships to Port Blair sail on fixed schedules from Chennai, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam. Tickets must be purchased well in advance and the usually takes 3 days and can be monotonous as the ships have minimal facilities and are not very luxurious.
2. Most visited destination in the Andaman islands?
The most visited destinations are Port Blair, Cellular Jail, Ross Island, North Bay, Chidia Tapu, Wandoor, Havelock Island, Baratang , Jolly Bouy and Mount Harriet.
3. Attractions in and around Port Blair?
Attractions in and around Port Blair includes Carbyns Cove beach, Chatham Saw Mill, Ross Island, Viper Island, North Bay Island, Cellular Jail, Samudrika Museum, Fisheries Museum, Science Centre, Anthropological Museum, Wandoor, Chidiya Tapu, Jolly Bouy Island, Red Skin Island, Barren Island and Rutland Island.
4. How do I reach Havelock Island from Port Blair?
Three ferries are operated between Port Blair and Havelock on a daily basis. Travellers have an option to reach the Havelock island the same day. The government operated ferry is the cheapest among all the ferries. The other ferry operated are faster and a little more expensive. Travellers can choose between the slower, cheaper government ferry and the faster, more expensive new catamaran depending on their arrival time in Port Blair. During peak season getting tickets on the ferry can be very hard and it is suggested to book your ticket in advance. For the catamaran ‘Makruzz’, please ensure that your flight arrives in Port Blair before 0800hrs as travellers on later flights will not be able to make it on time for this boat. From Port Blair to Havelock : Government Ferry: 0600hrs and 1400hrs Duration: 2.5 hrs Catamaran (Makruzz): 0900hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs Kindly note that there is a government ferry that departs from Port Blair at 1230 hrs but it visits another Island before reaching Havelock and the total time taken to reach Havelock is 4 hrs. Hence we do not recommend the same. From Havelock to Port Blair : Government Ferry: 1400hrs and 1630hrs Duration: 2.5 hrs Catamaran (Makruzz): 1600hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs *The above timings can be changed by the administration at short notice and we would request you to recheck the timings a few days before arrival. All sailings are subject to weather conditions.
5. Is it advisable to avail package tour?
Andaman has become a major tourist destination in recent years and it is advisable to book a package tour. Booking just hotels and arriving to the Andaman without any planning might be difficult and also not easy on your pockets. Usually, the major issue a traveller experience is the ferry tickets and conveyance. By planning everything before your arrival is highly recommended. The most you could save after planning a trip all by yourself would be 1000 rupees. The rates offered by the travel operator are very competitive and luring.
6. When is a good time to visit the islands?
Tourist season begins from November to mid-May with the absolute peak season from December to March. June, July, August and September are considered to be off season because of heavy rain in these islands . However, travellers at this time can get great off season prices and discounts. Weather is highly unpredictable in the Andamans. Do also note that even in November and December one could experience light showers. Being tropical islands it is difficult to accurately predict the cycle of rains.
7. Things to note while planning your trip to Havelock island –
* It is advisable to spend atleast 1 night at Havelock in a beach side resort.
* Make booking in advance as ferry tickets to Havelock has high demand during peak season and sometimes difficult to obtain. * You may choose government ferry on one side and Makruzz or similar high speed catamaran on the other.
* Sometimes during peak season the seats are unavailable on government ferry and you might have to travel on the ship deck. It’s safe and fun, though a little uncomfortable for elders. When returning from Havelock to Port Blair, all travellers must spend the last night in Port Blair as there is no ferry from Havelock that brings you to Port Blair in time for your flight the same day. Ferries from Port Blair to other islands are very regular; however there are occasions when bad weather or mechanical trouble can cause them to be cancelled.
* At Havelock it is suggested to avail activities like Scuba Diving, Snorkelling or Sea Walk.
* Carry some cash as there are only 2 ATM’s at Havelock island.
* If you plan to stay for longer duration at Havelock island, it is advisable to rent a bike.
* The prices of the hotels increase dramatically during peak season specifically during December 15 – January 15.
* Carrying Sun Screen and mosquito repellant would be helpful. Travellers can charter a speed boat on the same day as their flight from Havelock; however this is an expensive option costing over Rs.22,000- one way for a maximum of 6 to 8 people.
8. Things to consider while planning your trip to the Andamans –
Foreign National, Valid Indian visa for foreign National. Foreign passports must be valid of a minimum duration of 6 months. If there is a stamp on your visa that reads Not valid for restricted areas (or similar) you will not be allowed to enter the Andamans as it is a restricted zone. Please ensure that your visa does not carry this stamp and if it does, please contact the issuing embassy. All foreign nationals require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) over and above an Indian Visa to enter the Andaman Islands. The Indian Visa is to be obtained in your country of residence prior to arrival in India. The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is easily obtained on arrival at Port Blair. The procedure usually takes 15 minutes, is free of cost and is available to all foreign nationals. Some Indian Visas issued carry a stamp that reads “Entry to restricted areas NOT permitted”. Should your Visa carry such a stamp, please contact the embassy and have the visa re-issued as you will not be allowed to enter the Andaman Islands. Most foreigners arriving at Port Blair are given a 30 day permit. Closer to the time of expiry (about 3 days ahead) this permit can be extended by another 15 days. This extension can only be done at the Immigration Office in Port Blair and you will need to show a confirmed return ticket (for journey within the next 15 days) in order to get this extension. Please note that it may not always be possible to get this extension in a few hours and you may need to stay overnight in Port Blair to obtain the extension. Foreigners holding a valid entry permit into the Andaman Islands are allowed to visit and stay at municipal areas of Port Blair, Havelock, Long island, Neil island, the islands of South Andaman and Middle Andaman (excluding tribal reserved area – 5kms away from Constance bay to Luis Inlet bay – western coast tribal reserve), Baratang, Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur, North Passage Island, Little Andaman (excluding tribal reserve) and all islands in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park except Boat Island, Hobday island, Twins islands, Tarmugli, Malay and Pluto island. Tourists can also visit Jolly Buoy island, South Cinque island, Redskin island, Mount Harriet, Madhuban, Ross island, Narcondam island, Interview island, Brother & Sister islands and Barren island during the day. (Visit to Barren island is restricted on board the vessel with no landing ashore). Do note that the Restricted Access Permit is issued on arrival and is a process by the Immigration department and no one can assist you in getting the same. In case of any complications, you will need to sort it our with the Immigration authorities. We would best advice you to check on the latest procedures and updates from the Immigration authorities to prevent any issues.
9. What is the food like in the Andaman Islands?
Seafood, what else can you expect in an Island. Crabs, shrimp, lobster and fish are available at almost all restaurants. However, do not expect sea food to be cheap here. Demand exceeds supply and costs of seafood although not sky high, does not come cheap either. North Indian, South Indian, Vegetarian, Continental, and Chinese dishes are available at all restaurants here. If you do go for continental food, do not expect anything you would expect at home, expect it with the Indian twist.
10. What is the currency in the Andaman Islands?
The currency of India is the Indian Rupee. It is possible to change all major currencies in India; however in the Andamans it is possible only in Port Blair. You are advised to go through official banks or authorized money changers. Please do note that the rates in Port Blair for changing of foreign currency will not be as good as on mainland India.
11. Is there an ATM at Port Blair & Havelock?
Port Blair has a number of ATM’s, and Havelock Island also has 2 ATM’s. However given the fact that there is no actual bank on Havelock, there are times when all the cash in the machine has been depleted. The ATM’s in Havelock are replenished with funds once every 3 or 4 days. Most other islands do not have ATM’s so do carry sufficient cash with you to pay your bills. Credit Cards (MasterCard and Visa) are not widely accepted in the Andamans, except at larger hotels and resorts. You will most likely be hit with a surcharge and both your passport and your credit card will get photocopied to submit to the bank as all transactions are done offline. Do note that many establishments do not accept American Express cards.
12. What can I expect the climate & weather to be like in the Andaman Islands?
The Andaman Islands, like other parts of the Andaman Sea enjoy a tropical climate throughout the year. The average minimum temperature is around 23°C and it seldom goes much above 30°C. Humidity is relatively high at about 70% to 90%, however with a gentle breeze blowing most the time it is still quite pleasant. You can expect some rainfall towards the end of May before the monsoon season, June and July. There is some rain on and off right through to November, which has its charm of its own and keeps the islands lush and green. Our main season commences in October each year. The southwest monsoon showers are over by September, and the weather presents an interesting mix of rain and sun. The island is lush and beautiful and arguably at its most vibrant in October and November. The farmland has a standing paddy crop on it (the second harvest of the year), the surrounding forest is at its greenest and the island is at its most alive as the villagers shrug off the shackles of the monsoon season. Nature is arguably at its best in these two months: intermittent showers keep the island fresh and green and the temperature remains pleasant, while the waters off our Bay turn calm and flat as by now that the Southwest winds have blown away. However, there yet remains the potential of rain in end November or early December as the Northeast winds blow briefly through the islands. The weather is normally very nice in December and January. Daytime temperatures are ideal. Although sunny, it is still somewhat pleasant, and night time temperatures are cool. In fact a light jacket or full sleeve shirt may be required in the evenings. February and March are very settled, with the weather turning gradually warmer and the sea and sky both are at their bluest and clearest in the period. Summer comes with April and continues through the first half of May, with daytime temperatures reaching 36 centigrade, but cooler in the shade. The Southwest Monsoon normally arrives in the second half of May and continues through June and July and eases off after August/September – these months being very important to the paddy farmers who yield their first harvest then
13. What about health precautions?
Health services are limited on the Andaman Islands due mainly to their remoteness and low population, though there are some good medical services in Port Blair, at the G.B.Pant hospital. There are plans for a Recompression Chamber for Port Blair, which will be based in the General Hospital; however the plans have not yet come through. India is officially a malarial risk area, however on Havelock there are very few known cases. It is best to consult your doctor on this issue and decide for yourself if you would like to limit this risk further by taking anti malaria, which may also have some side effects. We recommend you also check the status of your vaccinations and which ones you are advised to have for your travels. Normal sensible precautions with food should keep you out of trouble, and be sure to drink lots of bottled drinking water to prevent dehydration. DO NOT drink tap water in the Andaman Islands! Also, be sure to wash regularly and wear light, loose clothing made from natural fibres as heat rash and fungal infections for visitors are not unusual in this humidity. Should you injure yourself, please do attend to it immediately by consulting a doctor and/or take antibiotics as well as applying an antiseptic cream regularly. Given the high humidity levels, it is easy for infections to set in. In addition you can check the World Health Organization’s website.
14. Can I make international calls and access the internet?
International dialling is available from most major hotels and ISD is available in the markets. To make an international call, dial 001 plus the country code plus the area code plus the phone number. Services tend to be very reliable and inexpensive. Excellent mobile connectivity is available in Port Blair and in some parts of Havelock however as you travel to the other Islands, you may find that it is present however not excellent. Networks currently available here are BSNL, Airtel, Reliance and Vodafone. Internet is available on Havelock and Port Blair. Connectivity in Port Blair is fairly good with fast connections. However on Havelock the internet is reputed to be very slow as most are on dial up connections. Some places offer satellite internet which is faster however much more expensive. Many islands have no internet facilities at all.
15. Is there a lot of crime on the islands?
There is no real organised crime on the islands. As in almost all countries and tourist areas, pick-pocketing can happen, so watching your valuables in these areas would be wise. Simple precautions will go a long way in your safety. Many hotels offer safety deposit lockers and it is not advised to flash a bundle of notes while paying your bills. If you do encounter any problems, there is a police station on all islands where a complaint can be lodged or help can be sought. Locals too are generally helpful. 16. Can I rent a bicycle, motorbike or a car in Havelock Island and Port Blair? Bicycles can be rented from the market area in Port Blair as well as Havelock, however on other islands is currently not possible. Charges are on a per day basis. These bicycles are very basic models so don’t expect high quality mountain terrain bikes that you can do stunts on. You can easily rent a motorbike for the duration of your stay as well. You can choose between the non-geared and the geared motorbikes and scooters. The shops that rent these motorbikes usually have signs posted in front and will require you to have a license that you can show them before taking the bike on rent. Charges vary and are on a per day basis. Fuel is additional and can be procured in the market area. Please remember to carry your license with you at all times as you could be stopped by police personnel for a sudden check. Wearing a helmet is mandatory (not enough to just carry one) and comes with the bike rental. Police stop tourists that do not have a helmet on and if you are caught a fine will be imposed on you. Cars cannot be rented for self driving purposes although taxi services are available for short distances as well as day hire.
16. Are there sand flies in the Andamans?
Some beaches in the Andamans do have sand flies. It would be wise to carry a good strong insect repellent as part of your beach bag. Sand flies usually come out as dusk, so avoid standing on the beach at this time. Attend to sand fly bites immediately, avoid scratching them, keep them dry and ensure that they do not get infected.
17. Are there endangered tribes in the Andamans and can I meet them?
Untouched and endangered tribes do exist in these beautiful isles and add to their exotic nature. It is prohibited and against the law as well to enter the tribal reserves, meet or photograph the tribals. Should anyone offer you a trip to meet the tribals, please refrain from doing so. Respect the tribes and adhere to the law. You can however visit the Anthropological Museum in Port Blair where you can see a display of their tools and weapons as well as photographs depicting their lives and culture. The indigenous tribes are distinguished in two groups: the Onge, Sentinelese, Jarawa and Andamanese of Negroid descent living on the Andaman Islands and the Shompen and Nicobarese of Mongoloid descent living in the Nicobar Islands. The Sentinelese are the least studied tribe still living in isolation on the North Sentinel Island. Their number is estimated currently at 250. Living in complete isolation for many centuries, the Sentinelese are not clothed while the Jarawa use only adornments of bark and shell, like necklaces, arm bands, waist bands, etc. Most of the tribes are on the verge of extinction. This sad destiny will most likely hit the Andamanese tribe first since their numbers in some cases are as low as thirty. Due to consistent emphasis of the government on progress and its encouragement to the mainlanders to settle in these islands, the local tribes have sadly become a minority group in their own land.
18. Is there any nightlife in Andamans?
Although many hotels in Port Blair and other developed Islands have hotels and resorts that offer a bar, the night life concept has not really caught on in these islands. You will not encounter loud music, disco lights or rave parties here on a regular basis. Nights are usually quiet and most people get to bed soon to wake early and make maximum use of the day light hours. An exception however is during Christmas and New Year on popular tourist islands like Havelock and Neil where you will find parties going late into the night, loud music and a lot of dancing.
19. How expensive are meals in Andaman?
The price of a meal depends entirely on where you eat and what you order. A nice quaint restaurant will cost you between Rs.300 to Rs.500 per person depending on what is ordered. Eating at the local village market will be much cheaper and most islands have a number of small eateries run by locals that work out easy on the pocket. Sea food is more expensive in the Andamans compared to the mainland due to heavy demand and less supply.
20. What do I do in case of a medical emergency?
Most Islands have a Primary Health Centre (PHC); however services here can be limited and poor. It is advisable to go to the nearest PHC first for immediate assistance and as soon as possible move to the G.B Pant hospital in Port Blair which is better equipped. However at this hospital too, the treatment facilities are not what can be expected in mainland India and for any condition that could be serious, life threatening or needing special care, it is advised to fly to mainland India.
21. Are there any dangerous animals in the Andamans?
As such there are no dangerous predatory animals in the forests of the Andamans. So do not come here expecting to see tigers or lions. The forests here are inhabited by animals like wild boar, spotted deer, civet cat as well as numerous species of birds and butterflies. The vast forest canopy provides home to many different species of reptiles as well. Snakes both poisonous and harmless can be seen in the Andamans. Monitor lizards too inhabit these islands and the mangrove creeks provide shelter to ‘salties’ or salt water crocodiles. Tourists are advised to pay attention to sign boards posted on beaches as well as watch their step if walking through dense jungle or mangrove areas.
22. Other annoyances Rickshaws:
Although considered the most convenient and cheap mode of transport, rickshaws or tuk- tuk’s in the Andamans do not follow any tariff cards or running meter policy. They will charge you whatever they feel like and in many cases their demands can be extremely high especially when you do not speak the language or appear as a tourist. Should you be unlucky to arrive at a time when there is heavy rain or a fuel price hike you can expect to be hit by surcharges as well over and above the high asking price. It might be wiser to take a prepaid or fixed fare taxi instead. If settling on a rickshaw then remember to fix the costs before you get into it. The best option of course would be to allow us to organise your transfers as they will leave you relaxed and completely stress free. From start to finish its flawlessly executed and professional. Availability for ferry tickets: Buying a ferry ticket in the Andamans is not as easy as one might think. Demand for tickets is always greater than the number of seats available. There is no internet reservation system in place and tickets are issued on a first-come first-serve basis. It can be a complete nightmare to procure these tickets last minute, with long never ending queues and people pushing and jumping the queue as well. There have been instances of the counter suddenly being closed down for a lunch break as well despite there being many people standing in line for extended periods of time. In absolute peak season the situation is a lot worse given the sheer number of tourists coming in. Organising a ferry ticket for your return leg for example from Havelock to Port Blair, is not easier either. Long queues are eminent and boring waits are in order. Worse, to buy a ferry ticket you will land up wasting the whole morning and won’t be able to enjoy diving or snorkeling or a day at the beach as you will need to stand in line. If you plan to visit the Andamans, it is highly recommended that you allow us to organise your transfers and all your ferry tickets for you in advance so your chances of making it are much better. We do not guarantee that we will at all times get you a ferry ticket, but can assure you that we will do our absolute best to buy them, once you have booked the transfers with us. Although very rare, it is possible that despite our best efforts we are unable to get a ticket for you. However given our experience in this department and our local staff, our chances of getting the ticket are a lot better than the one you have when you arrive and stand in queue last minute. Dog Menace: Some islands unfortunately have a dog problem. Projects to try and get all the stray dogs castrated and sterilized, however the success rate has been minimal. During the day they generally don’t do much other than bark or follow you along the beach hoping for some food. At nights though, they do like to gang up in the villages and on the beach. We advise all travellers to carry a stick to scare off any dogs. In addition, please DO NOT FEED any dogs as this will only encourage them. We understand that you feel sorry for them, but feeding them for the short duration that you are on the island will leave them in a worse situation when you leave. Feeding them will only make them more aggressive to an unsuspecting tourist.