Andaman Islands – a large archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, namely between Myanmar and India. It consists of 204 islands, most of them uninhabited and dangerous for tourists, as they are covered with impenetrable vegetation, and insects more closely resemble dangerous predators who are ready to eat their prey. Therefore, the article will focus only on tourist places where decent conditions for a spoiled European tourist are created.
Photo: Andaman Bathing Elephant
Despite the fact that the Andaman Islands are part of India, they still remain the most unexplored object of the Bay of Bengal. Today, more and more tourists discover islands for diving and snorkeling.
Interesting fact! For more than half a century, the islands were completely isolated from the outside world, but then the Indian government decided to allow access to some areas so as not to upset the ecological balance.
The history of the Andamans began rather sadly – it was the territory where Indian criminals were sent. Then, during the Second World War, the islands were occupied by the Japanese army. When India gained complete independence from Great Britain, the government put in place a program to protect the local tribes and the original population of the Andamans, as well as the flora and fauna.
- the archipelago consists of 204 islands;
- area of the archipelago – 6408 km2;
- the population of the archipelago is 343 thousand people;
- the administrative center is Port Blair, 100.5 thousand people live here;
- the highest point is Diglipur;
- only 10 islands are accessible to tourists;
- the Nicobar Islands are also part of the archipelago, but they are closed to tourists.
Interesting fact! Negro people live in the Andaman Islands, they are recognized as the most ancient people on the planet. Adult height, as a rule, does not exceed 155 cm.
Tourists are primarily attracted by the picturesque nature, comfortable conditions for a beach holiday, diving and snorkeling. Also, admirers of ecotourism, silence, tranquility and solitude come here. Please note that the nature reserves of national importance on the islands in India are a closed zone and permission to visit them will be required.
To get to the Andaman Islands in India, you will need not only an Indian visa. Each tourist must issue a special permit, it is issued by representatives of the migration service directly at the airport. Tourists who travel by water can get permission in Chennai or Calcutta. Also, permission is issued when obtaining a visa for Russians to the Andaman Islands in India.
The permit is issued for 30 days, if the tourist does not have confirmation of the reservation from the hotel and tickets for the return trip, the validity of the permit is only 15 days. The penalty for violation is $ 600. Permission must always be taken with you in order to present at the first request and for visiting other islands of the archipelago.
Important! If you want to stay on the Andaman Islands in India for another two weeks, buy your return tickets 14 days after the permit expires.
How to get to the Andaman Islands
Preparation for the trip should begin with the question – how to get to the Andaman Islands in India. You can fly by national airlines. Flights are operated daily from Chennai (formerly the city of Madras), as well as Calcutta. You can make a flight from Delhi with a stop in Calcutta. There are flights from Goa and Thailand with a stop in Chennai.
All air flights are accepted by the airport located in Port Blair.
Important! Book your tickets in advance to save money on your flight.
The average Indian Airlines flight from Chennai and Calcutta lasts about 2 hours. JetLite flights from Delhi or Chennai reach Port Blair in 4 hours.
If you are not afraid of adventures and are ready for them, use the waterway. Ships depart from Chennai and Calcutta, but get ready – the trip will take several days – from 3 to 4. The conditions of the water crossing are much inferior to traveling by air.
There is a ferry service between the islands, and you can also fly by helicopter. Ferries depart only in good weather, the fare is about 250 rupees or $ 3.5. the capacity of the ferry is 100 people, there are air conditioners.
Regular ferries carry up to 400 people, the ticket price depends on the conditions of the trip – from 600 to 1000 rupees or $ 8-14. Tickets are better to buy in the women’s queue, as in the men’s there is always a stir and a lot of people.
Rest on Andaman
All tourists arrive in Port Blair, but do not stay here for a long time, since there are no conditions for a beach holiday. The most popular island in the archipelago is Havelock. Another island accessible to travelers is the Nile, but there is a rocky coast and swimming in the sea is not comfortable.
Important! After arriving in Port Blair, you need to get the ferry to Havelock as soon as possible, otherwise, you will have to spend the night in a guesthouse in Port Blair.
Dreaming of a paradise holiday in the Andaman Islands? Then you need to choose a hotel on Havelock. By the way, here you can rent not only a hotel room, but also a cozy bungalow. It is about India, it is customary to bargain here, so feel free to bring down the price of a bungalow. Many house owners first ask for 1000 rupees, but this amount can be reduced to 700 and even 500 rupees (from $ 7 to $ 10).
Interesting to know! It is on Havelock that one can meet bathing elephants.
Rates on the island are almost the same as on Goa in India. Most housing options are available offline, although the booking service offers several accommodation options. Be careful – if you are offered expensive housing in the Andaman, this does not mean at all that the quality will correspond to the declared price. A room in an expensive hotel will cost from $ 110 per night.
The Andaman Islands in India are one of the few places on the planet where state-run hotels offer good living conditions. Tourists who have been here strongly recommend choosing a room in a state hotel. If you can’t rent a room, try to eat in restaurants at state hotels
There are no problems with this in the Andaman Islands – places where they cook tasty, hearty and inexpensive are quite common, but travelers recommend Port Blair and Havelock Island first of all. Prices do not differ much from the prices for Goa.
Most often, they order curry, saffron rice, carrot halva, semolina and milk cakes. Of the drinks, milkshakes and fresh juices are in great demand. In most establishments, the menu is aimed at European tourists; you can order dishes without hot pepper. Also, products can be bought at the market or in food stalls. A large selection of street food is presented in shekels, they are set right on the beach for the entire tourist season.
An inexpensive lunch for one person costs about $ 3,
dinner for two with alcohol in the restaurant will cost $ 11-14, and a snack in the diner – $ 8.
The best conditions for diving and snorkeling in the Andaman Islands offers Havelock. To enjoy the underwater world, visit the beaches of Vijayanagar and Radhanagar. There are diving centers with the necessary equipment, you can pay for the services of instructors and go on a sea voyage.
For beginners, North Bay, located on MuaTerra Beach, is more suitable. And on Jolly Buoy, tourists are offered excursions on boats with a glass bottom.
Important! The best time for diving in the Andaman Islands in India is from January to mid spring.
In the coastal waters of the archipelago in India, one of the richest reef ecosystems in the world has been preserved. The water is so clear that visibility reaches 50 m.
During the dive, you can see reefs, various species of sharks, frozen lava flows, manti, schools of small colorful fish, stingrays.
Travelers note that the most fantastic dive is next to an extinct volcano. In this place, right on the shore, there are sheer cliffs extending to a depth of 500 m. Experienced divers claim that here is a paradise for diving, you can meet tuna fish up to 3 m long, and flocks of slopes count to fifty. They can be fed and swimming together.
Training courses cost from $ 50 to $ 250. Rates vary depending on the location of the beach, the duration of the training, the number of participants in the group. Several dives cost from $ 28 to $ 48. Diving in a national park will cost $ 7 more.
- Corbina Bay is perhaps the best place for beach relaxation in Port Blair. The coast is covered with white fine sand, palm trees grow. Nearby there is a restaurant, hotel, guesthouse.
- Viper Island is a small island located in the harbor of Port Blair, the coast is sandy, the rest of the island is covered with dense vegetation.
- Vijayanagar and Radhanagar – the best beaches on the island of Havelock, suitable for diving. Nearby in the jungle elephants live.
- Karmatang – located on the island of Middle Andaman, turtles come here to lay eggs.
- Ramnagar Beach is located on Diglipur Island. The place is famous for orange groves, many fish live in the water.
- The island of Rutland hospitably welcomes eco-tourists. Here you can explore corals, walk in the mangroves.
- Neil Island is famous for its picturesque beaches, excellent conditions for snorkeling.
- If you like surfing, visit Little Andaman.
- Unique, pristine nature has been preserved on the island of Baratang.
- Want to feel like Robinson Crusoe, visit Long Andaman Island.
In addition to diving and snorkeling on the islands in India, you can do water sports, while the initial level of tourist training does not matter at all.
Enjoy a beach holiday, admire nature, because it is unique. There are museums on the islands where you can learn the history of the Andaman Islands, the culture and traditions of local residents. And on the territory of the archipelago there are 9 parks of national importance. Another interesting destination for tourists is national cuisine.
If you like noisy parties and night discos, the Andaman Islands will not be interesting.
What else you need to know about the islands
Only 12% of the population of the Andaman Islands are indigenous. Unfortunately, this percentage is constantly decreasing. Some nationalities have completely disappeared.
- Onge – the natives of the Andaman Islands, their population is only 100 people, they live on an area of 25 km2.
- Sentinels – in an aggressive form, resist any external contacts. The number of the tribe is 150 people.
- Andamans – the number of the tribe is rapidly decreasing, today there are only 70 people of the Andamans and they live on Straight Island.
- Jarava – a tribe of 350 people, they live on two islands – South and Middle Andaman, most of the nationality are extremely hostile to tourists.
- Shompen – a tribe of 250 people lives on the island of Big Nicobar. Representatives of the ethnic group avoid territories where they live by immigrants from India.
- Nicobarians are the largest tribe of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The number is 30 thousand people, many adopted Christianity and successfully adapted to modern society. The tribe occupies several islands.
Throughout the year, the Andaman Islands in India maintain a temperature regime of +23 to +31 degrees and humidity within 80%. Almost the entire territory of the islands is covered with dense forests. The climate can be divided into two seasons – rainy (starts in the second half of spring and ends in December), dry (starts in January and lasts until mid-spring).
Important! In the second half of summer, severe storms occur at sea.
Be prepared for what the Andaman Islands World Wide Web networks have not yet reached. At first glance, this will seem strange, but the facts speak for themselves. The fact is that the islands in India are not yet connected by optical cable to the mainland, so the Internet, if there is one, is very slow and unstable.
Good to know! There is no free Wi-Fi in the Andaman Islands, if you need access to the international network, use the services in special cafes, an hour of Internet will cost $ 5.
Useful tips and interesting facts.
- Did you know that in the Andaman Islands, fish die from old age.
- 50% of butterflies and 98 species of plants in the Andaman Islands are found only here.
- The legendary Jacques Cousteau dedicated the film to the Andaman in India and called it The Invisible Islands.
- In the Andaman Islands, huge turtles lay their eggs every year, this species is endangered. There are only four such places on the planet.
- Credit cards are accepted only in Port Blair, for holidays in other places of the Andaman Islands in India you will need cash.
- Bring textiles made of natural silk as a souvenir from the Andaman Islands, the cost of products is from $ 2.5, pay attention to unique spices in India (nutmeg, black cardamom, cumin, tamarind and ajwan). Natural Ayurvedic cosmetics are in great demand, the cost is from $ 1.
- The Andaman Islands do not have Tax Free.
- There are specific rules for moving around the Andaman Islands. Tourists are not limited in movement, with the exception of areas where access is denied to all travelers.
- A visit to the Andaman Islands does not require a vaccination certificate.
- There are certain restrictions on the import and export of goods, products, money. Information on this must be studied before traveling.
- Between the islands of the archipelago in India, there are two types of ferries – public and private. In terms of comfort, it is better to choose a private transport, it is equipped with air conditioning, comfortable chairs. The advantage of state ferries is the ability to go on deck, but no one guarantees the availability of free seats, and there are cockroaches. State ferry tickets must be purchased in advance. In addition, there are no water or food on state ferries; tourists take care of this on their own.
- On some islands of the archipelago, for example, on Long Island, tickets are available for sale only 2-3 hours a day, so you need to take care of the return trip in advance.
- Mobile communication is only in Port Blair, the farther from the administrative center, the worse the situation. Internet is also considered a great luxury, if you are lucky, you can find it in hotels and special cafes, but do not count on good speed.
- Renting a car without a driver is very difficult.
- Many tourists note that the significance of the sights of the Andaman Islands is significantly exaggerated. Just enjoy the scenic views and landscapes.
- Prices are slightly higher than the average for India. Keep in mind that ATMs operate with large interruptions and on some schedule, so try to withdraw as much money as possible.
- Surprisingly, there are practically no insects on the Andaman Islands, spiders and all kinds of moths are rare here.
- The food is delicious here, but the prices are slightly above the average for India. There is no alcohol on the islands, only in Port Blair there are several specialized stores, they open after 15-00.
- On many beaches, entry into the water is complicated by a large number of reefs, but it is very clean and clear water and a sandy bottom.
- The local population is quite friendly, they will smile in response to the smile of a tourist.
Certain restrictions have been introduced for tourists, this is primarily due to the desire of the Indian authorities to preserve the unique nature and ethnic tribes living in the Andaman Islands.
- It is forbidden to leave garbage on land and at sea;
- you can not collect corals and shells, not only in the sea, but also on land;
- all existing narcotic substances are prohibited;
- sunbathing without clothes;
- independently visit islands closed to tourists;
- coconuts in the Andaman Islands – private property, collecting them is prohibited;
- it is forbidden to spend the night on the shore, on the beaches, make bonfires and hunt;
- take photos on the islands where local tribes live;
- many species of plants and animals are poisonous, think carefully before picking up something.
The Andaman Islands are a unique, untouched by man corner of nature, where you can feel isolated from civilization and enjoy the picturesque landscapes.
Overview of the beach, ferry and cafes in the Andaman Islands: