Port Blair is the gateway to these enchanted islands that is on the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean. The capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is relatively small in size and today in the 21st century, is a melting pot of people from all parts of India who have come to adopt these Islands as their home. Port Blair is the seat of Civil Administration and also hosts a Tri-Service Command of the Armed Forces. Apart from tourism, fishing and paddy (rice) cultivation form the chief occupation for the locals. Port Blair is a land of tranquility where settlers from all parts of India live in complete harmony. The serenity of these islands was unfortunately disrupted in 2004 by the tsunami that caused a great deal of damage in the Nicobar Islands. However the populated areas of Port Blair and Havelock were unscathed and all geological indications report that the islands are safe.
PLACES TO SEE IN AND AROUND PORT BLAIR
North Bay Island
North Bay Island in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a gem in the Bay of Bengal and attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year. The leaflets of history and geography explain the Andaman & Nicobar Islands is an archipelago of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal. It is a Union Territory of India and is famed for its white sandy beaches and the turquoise coloured sea to scintillate every visitor. North Bay Island is known for its breath-taking natural beauty, magnificently beautiful coral reefs and close view of the underwater marine life. The coral reefs are the most prized treasures of this island and a major tourist attraction too. That is why this island is also called the Coral island. Water Sports activities are the main and only thing to do at North bay Island. This list of Water Sports activities includes Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Glass Bottom Boat Ride, Dolphin Boat Ride, Semi Submarine to name a few. To reach North bay Island, one has to take a sharing/charter boat from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex / Junglighat Jetty as per where the trip is operating. North Bay Island tour is usually done as a clubbed tour with Ross Island. If one wants to visit only North Bay Island, then they will have to charter the boat. It is important to note that both islands are closed for sightseeing on Wednesday.
Kalapani Museum is a private museum which exhibits exploring the history of the Andaman &Nicobar islands through photos, paintings & models and having a collection of rare photographs and original historical document that give you a different picture of the pre-independence era on the islands.
Baratang is located in the center of the Middle & South Andaman Islands and the distance from Port Blair is 101kms which can be covered in 2-3 hours which have a dense tropical forest area spanning for 53kms, that comes under the Jarawa Reserve. This calls for an amazing road trip. To enter Baratang you will have to get past the guarded check post (Jirkatang Check post) at the start of the journey. The check-post clearance is done at 0600hrs, so you will have to leave early, preferably at 0330hrs - 0400hrs from Port Blair. There are small shops and stalls for refreshments, where you can enjoy some snacks at the start of the road trip. You will drive in a convoy through the Jarawa Tribal Reserve and you can see dense forest surrounding the road from both sides and might be able to spot Jarawas. Please note that photography, talking and offering food to the Jarawas is strictly prohibited. As soon as you reach the end of the forest road you will reach the Baratang Jetty, which has another checkpost. Here you can wait for the vehicle ferry to arrive to cross the creek to visit Limestone Cave. It is to be noted that Baratang is closed on Mondays.
Aberdeen Bazaar is the busy central hub of the city and is situated approximately 4 kilometers from the airport. A compact and well-connected city, visitors can get to any hotel or tourist spot, within the confines of Port Blair in under twenty minutes by road. Visitors can choose any one of the hotels recommended in our 'Hotels' section. A hotel located in the city will prove advantageous as you can make good time when visiting the local attractions listed below.
Cellular Jail is a national monument that remains an important symbol of Indian nationalism even today. The UNESCO has nominated it a 'World Heritage Site'. Cellular Jail was constructed at the turn of the 20th century, when discontent against British rule was rife amongst the locals and many of them were incarcerated here. The jail is a mammoth construction consisting of seven distinct wings and three levels, radiating from a central watchtower that is patterned on the spokes of a wheel. The structure was designed to eliminate communication between the prisoners. The architecture of Cellular Jail is based on the design of the 'Panopticon' an idea set forth by acclaimed English sociologist Jeremy Bentham wherein, a single guard could preside over the entire prison. The revolutionaries and nationalists imprisoned here lived under the harshest of conditions in solitary confinement. The prison was eventually closed down in 1938 after intervention from Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore. A visit to the Cellular Jail is simply mandatory for all tourists.
The Light & Sound Show at Cellular Jail
Do not miss the 'Light & Sound Show' in the evening; tickets sell out fast! Adults are advised to exercise discretion if young children are accompanying them, as the show can get a little explicit about the struggles of our freedom fighters. The saga of the revolutionary struggle for independence by the Indian freedom fighters incarcerated in Kaala Pani is presented in a touching 'Son-et-Lumiere' or the 'Light Show', twice daily. We request you to check with our team on the timings, days of operation and whether the language of the show on a particular day is in English or Hindi.
Much has been researched and written on the indigenous inhabitants of these beautiful isles. The native tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (including the world's only remaining Paleolithic people) were virtually lost to the world until the British stumbled upon these remote islands off the coast of the Indian subcontinent in 1858. Even if anthropology does not pique your interest, this museum is well worth the visit and would not take more than a few hours of your time. The reason why this venue must not be missed is that it offers some unique insight into the origins and lives of these mysterious tribes. From their clothes, cooking utensils and hunting weapons of choice, tourists have an opportunity to get an insight into their ancient way of life. There is also a bookshop at the premises where literature on these tribes is also available. Children, especially those who enjoy social science in school would find this museum very stimulating.
Chatham Island & Saw Mill
The Chatham Saw Mill is one of the largest saw mills in Asia. The mill is situated at Chatham Island, about 4 kilometers from Port Blair Bus Terminus. The sawmill is located on an island and is connected to Port Blair by a 100-meter trestle. Tucked away at one end of the island, this is definitely worth a quick visit. This sawmill functions as a storehouse for timber like Padauk, Gurjan, Marble, Satine wood, etc. A location of historical significance in the Andaman Islands, the mill was established in 1883. A notable spot at the mill premises is the large bomb crater that reminds one of the Japanese air strikes during World War II. There is also a wood workshop, a museum and art gallery where one can view hand-crafted wooden masterpieces, stunning photographs of wartime and witness the whole process of logs being cut into usable planks.
Samudrika Naval Marine Museum
The Samudrika museum is another popular tourist attraction showcasing the geography, history and biology (marine life) of these magical Islands. Children of all ages would love to visit the museum and benefit greatly from the knowledge they can gain. The skeletal remains of a blue whale greet visitors at the entrance – something that most children find fascinating. The museum is divided into five rooms that familiarize visitors with the treasures of the deep blue. From corals to fishes and shells, the marine museum will introduce young and old to the delights of the surrounding seas. There is also a small section in the museum devoted to the indigenous tribal life of the Islands.
Andaman Water Sports Complex
This is a government-run sports complex for water sport activities. Very popular amongst tourists and locals alike, it has seasonal facilities like water skiing, water scooters and speedboat rides. Since it is a government venture, the cost of the tickets are subsidized. The Sports Complex is not open during monsoons and we request you to check with our team for operational time.
Head to Chidya Tapu, the acclaimed beach located on the southern-most tip of the South Andaman Island for a mesmerizing sunset. Chidya Tapu is approximately 25 kilometers south of Port Blair and is 45 minutes by road. With its peaceful beach and spectacular view of the sunset, tourists are sure to be enthralled. Chidya Tapu is also known as 'Sunset Point' and 'Bird Island'. The small beach is flanked by lush green mangroves and is an ideal location for tourists from big cities and dusty towns who are looking to escape the humdrum. Chidya Tapu is also famous with nature lovers for its varieties of birds, white spotted deer and seasonal orchids. A forest guesthouse that is situated atop a hillock provides a gorgeous view of some of the remote, uninhabited islands. Boat trips can also be arranged from here to the nearby Cinque Island.
Jolly Buoy Island
The early bird catches the best seat on the bus or boat to one of the Island's prettiest vistas. The 'Jolly Buoy' aptly christened for its spotless white sands and clear blue waters artfully decorated by vibrant corals, is certain to induce great delight. Only one of the two islands open to tourists within the confines of Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Jolly Buoy is also a divers' paradise suitable for both experienced snorkellers and beginners. A tourist center at the entrance to Jolly Buoy provides ample information to enable you to plan your activities. Jolly Buoy is an eco-tourist haven that is unspoiled by pollution; do therefore pay close attention to keeping this national park clean. There are also opportunities for guests to indulge in jet skiing. This is one beach where you can hire a glass-bottomed boat and head out into the ocean for an enchanting glimpse into the underwater paradise. A fun family outing to be had as well, if everyone is fit and up for these fun activities.
Red Skin Island
Red Skin Island also forms an integral part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park offering a nice beach and spectacular view of corals and marine life. The island is very popular with tourists for excellent swimming, scuba diving and snorkelling sites. This unpolluted island is a great day trip from Port Blair for those looking for a fun day at the beach. Tourists are not permitted to stay on this island after day light hours.
One of the most unique spots on these isles, Ross Island was the headquarters of the British penal settlement during their imperial rule and still bears the remains of colonial empire. Be sure to enjoy the sea breeze as you catch the boat to Ross Island from the Aberdeen Jetty. A perfect place for both amateur and ace photographers, Ross Island offers many stunning shots of nature and its own special variety of domesticated 'wildlife' such as deer, rabbit, birds and more. There is also an unspoiled beach at the far end of the island, not known to many. It is advisable to pack food for this trip.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park Wandoor
Another pristine secret on the Andaman Islands, Wandoor is a popular beach visited by tourists. Coral lovers and those on the lookout for a quiet, peaceful vista of lush mangroves should head here. Located approximately 29 kilometer from the centre of Port Blair, this charming beach has a provision for glass-bottomed boats for exploring the underwater magnificence. This national park makes an idyllic spot for a family picnic and it is advised to carry packed lunch.
Mount Harriet National Park
Mount Harriet National Park is named after Harriet Tytler, the wife of the chief supervisor of the British penal settlement in the Andaman Islands. Robert Tytler, the chief supervisor was also a well-known naturalist and photographer. Mt. Harriet is the third highest peak on the archipelago and offers a breathtaking view of the Islands. Located approximately 50 kilometers from Port Blair by road and 15 kilometers by ferry, it is home to a delightful variety of sea creatures including saltwater crocodiles, robber crabs and turtles. Tourists are advised to steer clear of any wild pigs that maybe sighted. Visiting this national park will give tourists the perfect opportunity to observe wildlife and marine life in their natural habitat – serene and content.
Enter the lush forests of the Madhuban and you are certain to step into a new and enchanting world. Predominantly a trekking and camping location, these green groves are located approximately 75 kilometers from Port Blair and can also be reached by ferry. Madhuban is another stunning location for wildlife lovers and naturalists to observe exotic birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. One can also view the elephants that are used for lumbering work.
Sippighat is a sprawling government plantation that covers close to 100 acres on the island. Under the supervision of the CARI (Central Agriculture Research Institute), research on the cultivation of rubber and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, beetle-nut and pepper are carried out here. A visit to the farm is best combined with a day planned for the beach – either Jolly Buoy or Chidiya Tapu. However, it may be noted that Sippighat is only open until 1430 hrs.
The enthralling beauty of the beaches on Havelock Island is so legendary and its impact so potent, that many tourists end up spending most of their time on these picture-perfect beaches. Like many of its sister islands peppered across this stunning archipelago, Havelock is named after General Henry Havelock of the British Army. Located in Ritchie's Archipelago, Havelock is approximately 57 kilometers north-east of Port Blair and is well-serviced by three ferry departures ex-Port Blair through the day. A tourist paradise, the island offers a plethora of activities including scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming and camping. It is one of the first locations in India where the government is actively promoting eco-tourism. Havelock Island was virtually unaffected during the 2004 tsunami and no casualties were reported on this sparsely populated paradise inhabited by approximately 5000 people of Bengali and Bangladeshi origin.
PLACES TO SEE IN DIGLIPUR
Ross & Smith Island
This is one of the most beautiful places in Andamans. Ross & Smith Islands are joined by a sandbar that is visible during low tide but gets submerged during high tide. The sand bar in the form of a crescent is the main attraction of the place. Water is crystal clear and gem green in color. The beach is surrounded by tropical forests. Ross & Smith Islands are home to the Olive Ridley turtles; one can even witness the turtle nesting in the season. Sunbathing in Ross & Smith Islands is a wonderful experience. It ensures that one side of the sand bar, where the boats approach, has calm waters thus making it ideal for swimming for children and even for adults who are not too sure about venturing into the sea. The depths are also shallow to a large distance away from the sandbar so kids can enjoy themselves completely. For the more adventurous kinds, the other side of the sandbar has waves that are not too fierce and easily manageable. Ross Island is accessible by the sandbar, a short ten-minute walk. The beach along Ross is also rocky and unfit for swimming.
Kalipur beach lies behind the tranquil village of Kalipur, and can easily be reached by taking a local bus from the main Diglipur bazaar. Primarily known for turtle nesting, it is one of the few beaches in the world, where four species of sea turtles (Olive Ridley, Leather Back, Hawksbill and Green Turtles) come to nest their eggs. For this purpose, the government has built a hatchery there and if lucky you can witness turtles laying their eggs (late at night) or baby turtles being set free into the sea (early morning). The beach has volcanic grey colored sand and crystal-clear water. This makes it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. During low tide, the beach looks sullen with dead corals breaking the surface and some mangrove trees embracing the shore. Jellyfish are also found in abundance.
PLACES TO SEE IN NEIL ISLAND
Snuggled in Laxmanpur Village (2 kilometres from the jetty), Laxmanpur Beach, also known as the sunset beach is an effortless blend of calmness and serenity. It is one of the exquisite Neil Island beaches known for its drool-worthy sights. The silken blonde beach with shallow waters and dead corals offers the perfect setting for a memorable beach holiday. Laxmanpur Beach is filled with surprises. During low tide, tourists can witness a different side of this beach. Aquatic animals and corals will greet you with their sheer beauty. Keep an eye for the sea anemones that are ornately colored and looks perfect for your Instagram feed. Laxmanpur Beach has the reputation of being one of the best snorkeling points in the Andaman Islands. Not only the tranquil water is brimming with colorful aquatic species but you might also spot a friendly sea cow (dugong) feasting on the seagrass. The beach is also popular for its purple sunsets whose beauty is beyond words. The fading sun rays painting the sky with varying hues are not only admirable but also one of the highlights of your Neil Island trip. There are numerous shell shops and tea stalls on the beach where people can be found shopping or sipping a hot cup of tea while relishing the tranquil sea. From Lakshmanpur Beach you can spot Havelock Island.
Located at the tip of the island, Sitapur Beach or Beach 5 is one of a kind. It is a jewel in the list of Neil Island Beaches. Sitapur Beach is popularly known as the ‘sunrise beach’ because every morning, it rewards visitors with jaw-dropping sunrise views. This beach has earned accolades for its shimmering water, silvery sand and limestone formations that will prompt you to go for a swim. Sitapur Beach is the ideal place to relish nature’s quietness amidst the shady palms and striking blue sea. The sound of waves splashing against the large rocks is music to the ears and the setting is grand, to say the least. Sip on a piping hot cup of tea from the nearby vendor and sink in the intimidating sight. Everything is therapeutic to the mind and soul. Hence, Sitapur Beach is one of the notable places to visit in Neil Island.
Fancy getting to a beach painted in varying shades of blue and white? Bharatpur Beach will make your dream come true. It is often regarded as the best beach and one of the magnificent places to visit in Neil Island. Half a kilometer away from the main jetty, Bharatpur Beach has earned praises for its postcard-perfect views and thrilling water sports. The shallow water and the gentle waves caressing the shore make the beach ideal for a family holiday. The fluffy cotton clouds enveloping the blue sky contrasting the greenery is rejuvenating to the eyes and mind. From scuba diving, snorkeling to glass-bottom boat rides, pick one or all and let the process unfold before you. The shallow water is filled with countless multi-colored fish and growing corals that redefine charm. Bharatpur Beach is a visual delight and will compel you to be poetic in your way. It is one such beach that should be on your bucket list!
Natural Bridge is one of the best-kept secrets in Neil Island. The rocky formation stands on Laxmanpur Beach and frequented by visitors during low tide. It is commonly known as the Howrah Bridge, as named by the Bengali community living in that area. Natural Bridge is not just a simple structure but a spectacle to watch. Thus, it often tops the list of the attractions in Neil Island. To reach the Natural Bridge, tourists have to climb up a path and walk through a jagged terrain packed with dead corals and rocks and the best places to unwind and relax and take some selfies and photographs. Not recommended for Senior citizens. This place has a unique specialty in itself and a must place to visit.
PLACES TO SEE IN AND AROUND HAVELOCK ISLAND
Radhanagar Beach (Beach No.7)
Rated as one of the most scenic beaches in Asia by Time Magazine, the sunset at Radhanagar Beach is a sight to behold. Beach No. 7 with its crystal clear waters, pristine white sands, a cornucopia of vivid corals has much to offer. One of the few beaches in India where the waves are perfect for 'dawn patrol' – which means surfing at dawn. The expanse of bountiful greenery from the adjoining forest that abruptly comes to a halt at the pearly sands offers an unforgettable experience. The beach is well maintained and is ideal for sunbathing. The only disadvantage is that this beach being rather popular, tends to get overly crowded at times.
The Elephant Beach on Havelock promises to take visitors to a different world with its enchanting beauty. Azure blue waters filled abundantly with all sorts of marine life, colourful corals and silky white sands all melt into this worldclass beach. A host of water sports and nature activities are on offer at this beach including snorkelling, undersea water walking and jet skiing. For those who aren't natural water babies there is still plenty of opportunity to take in the beauty of the corals with rides in a glass-bottomed boat and on a water scooter. There is also a walking trail nearby for the more adventurous. The beach however is small, so tends to get crowded and there is no food available so it is best to carry your own. Be warned that there are also no facilities for the toilet or changing rooms.
Vijaynagar Beach (Beach No.5)
Vijaynagar beach, also known as Beach No.5 is located north-east corner of Havelock. This beautiful beach with pearly white sands has several palm trees proffering shade to those who want to spend the day there. The waters around the beach are quite shallow and therefore not ideal for swimming or other water sport activities.
Kala Pathar Beach
This is another quaint beach located about 5 kilometers from Vijaynagar beach (Beach No: 5). The waters here are not as shallow as those in Vijaynagar beach (Beach No: 5) and therefore suitable for swimming. A few seafood eateries can also be found close to the beach. The beach gets its name from the large black stone ensconced in the sea.
Neil Cove at Havelock is located northwest of Radhanagar beach. This picturesque blue lagoon is much recommended for those who want to take in the beauty of the islands without having to run into an excessive number of tourists. As it is relatively pristine, the soft sand here is clean and unfettered. Swimming is prohibited at dusk and dawn and it is best to pay attention to any warnings about saltwater crocodiles.
Neil’s Cove is an extended part of Radhanagar Beach. Walk northwest for around 10 minutes and you will end up in a gorgeous lagoon straight out of a postcard. The shallow and calm waters of the lagoon is perfect for snorkeling. The area is also packed with diverse flora contrasting the shimmering water of the sea. However, Neil’s Cove is frequented by saltwater crocodiles. Hence, it is strictly prohibited to visit the attraction after sunset. Kindly note, we do not advise you to swim here. It is again the most scenic place which is best for photography.
OTHER ISLANDS TO VISIT
Cinque Island is an uninhabited island located 26 kilometers south of Port Blair and is divided into North and South Cinque connected by a sandbar. This island is surrounded by pristine coral reefs, fine sandy beach and inviting blue waters. The islands can only be reached by boat and are approximately 3 hours ride away from Chidiyatapu and Wandoor. These islands have some magnificent underwater diving spots but special permission from the Forest Department is required to visit them. Subject to receiving a formal and timely notice from your end, our team will be happy to arrange necessary permission and charter a boat to facilitate your visit to Cinque.
Neil Island is situated 36 kilometers east of Port Blair and 18 kilometers south of the Havelock. This
pretty island is the easternmost inhabited island in the Andaman & Nicobar group of islands. Neil island
is connected to Port Blair via daily ferry service.
Neil Island remained uninhabited until the late 1960s when the Government of India decided to use this island to settle the refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan. Like Havelock, the vast majority of settlers at Neil island are Hindu refugees of Bengali origin.
Neil is a much smaller island than Havelock. It is a comparatively flat island, and much of the landmass has been transformed for paddy cultivation. Unfortunately, as a result of this, very little forest cover remains at Neil making this island a notch warmer than Havelock. The forest cover in this island is mainly confined to reserve forest on Neils' northwestern side. The jetty and main village are at the center of the west coast of Neil island.
Located approximately 80 kilometers from Port Blair, Long Island was uninhabited until 1970s when
Government of India initiated the program to colonize them. Long Island can be reached from Port Blair
through three times a week ferry service of approximately 7 hours duration. This part of Andaman is
predominately covered with stunning forest and coconut plantations. The lone village in this area with a
population of under 1500 people boasts of a school, police station and basic health Centre. The island
lacks necessary infrastructure to support large influx of tourists and is a good walking distance from
the jetty. Long island is home to a secluded lovely sandy beach at Lalaji Bay as well as a cove that is
6 kilometers trek from Long island jetty and perfect for sunbathing and snorkelling.
There are a number of excellent diving spots in and around this island and Faraway Tree would be happy to facilitate a trip of our esteemed guests to this destination.
Barren Island (area 10 sq. Kilometers) at a distance of 135 kilometers from Port Blair, is the only active volcano in South Asia. The island, situated at the cross of the seismically active Indian and Burmese plates, is estimated to be 1.8 million years old. Dormant since 1803, with an unconfirmed eruption in 1852, it has been actively intermittent since 1991. The volcano last erupted on 19 Jul 2009 and continues to occasionally spew smoke and ash till date. The island is uninhabited, but a small population of feral goats, birds, bats and a few rodent species are reported to be surviving the harsh conditions of the island.
South Button Island
South Button Island forms a part of Rani Jhansi Marine National Park and is located southwest of Havelock Island; roughly 2 hours by motor boat. The total area of this protected space is about 5 square kilometers and has some very popular diving/ snorkelling spots. Apart from incredible marine life and stunning healthy coral reefs, you are likely to see schools of fish like Snappers, Barracuda, Trevally, Sweetlips, Groupers, Angel fish and Butterfly fish whiz around. On a lucky day, one can even encounter Turtles, Devil Rays and Manta Rays.