Amazing Andaman!

23rd Feb 2019
Photo of Amazing Andaman! by Sugandha Saxena
Day 1

My Andaman trip was with my family. The four of us had quite a difficult time finding common, free dates, but since February is supposed to be the last of the tourist season we all made adjustments to travel in the last week of the month. We were not too keen on booking a package and being dictated to move at someone else's speed, so did some research, asked friends who had already been there, and got down to do our own bookings and plan the itinerary. This was the first time I had flown off mainland, and the scenes below were beautiful. Don't forget to grab a window seat on your flight, to enjoy the preview of Andamans.
And without further ado, let's get onto the day wise account, starting from 23rd Feb, 2019.

Flying from Delhi and Hyderabad to Port Blair, we met at the destination airport at around 1.00p.m. The airport is pretty small, and there is no AC at the arrivals. We left for our hotel in the taxi that we had already booked. Our stay was around 3.5km away, at a hotel called Royal Palace (reviewhere). We then set off on sightseeing.
-Anthropological Museum: Depicts the evolution and lifestyle of the tribes.
-Fisheries Museum: Place for marine biology enthusiasts.
-Cellular Jail: Doesn't need any introduction. The premises are emptied around 5p.m., and the re-entry for light and sound show starts 15 mins prior to show. (They are at 2 timings: one around 6.15pm, and the around 7pm). In all honesty, and without meaning any disrespect, the show is not that spectacular. It has its moments, but except for the stories, nothing binds your interest.
-Marina Park: To while away the time we had, during which we waited for the re-entry to start, we walked down to this park. There are a few eateries, and some artifacts to get you pictures.

We returned and had dinner at our hotel itself, and called it a day.

Day 2

Our morning began a little early, as we had to catch our 8am ferry to Havelock. There was a long queue at the port for a mandated baggage scan, and then, for the boarding. So be prepared to reach an hour before time. Our Havelock stay was barely a kilometer from the jetty, and it was a beautiful resort called Havelock Island Beach Resort (review here). Post lunch we went to Kalapatthar beach and Radhanagar Beach. The former was quite quiet and relaxing, while the latter was buzzing with tourists. There is a line of street food vendors right outside the Radhanagar one, and it is a popular sunset point. After enjoying a beautiful dusk here, we retired to our hotel rooms. The dinner, again, was at the hotel restaurant.

Day 3

I and my brother went for scuba early in the morning. The scuba dive was an amazing experience! We got to see corals and various kind of fishes. All this was completed by 8a.m.! After a hearty breakfast, we left to catch our ferry to Neil. The jetty at Neil is nothing short of horrible. The path is long, devoid of any shade, and quite broken. We felt almost exhausted by the time we reached our rooms in Coco-N-Huts resort (review here). With the thought of having lunch outside, we reached Bharatpur beach. From one of the small eateries we had our meal, and then set off to wander. This beach is mainly famous for water activities. We took the glass bottom boat ride. It takes you quite far from the beach, and we got to view marine life like no other! After whiling away for some time, we left for Lakshmanpur beach. A part of it is very peaceful and almost serene, while the other one, is too ruckus-y. We watched the sun go down and then left for our hotel.

Day 4

From an angle, the beautiful sunrise was visible from our hotel. Post breakfst, we checked out, and went to visit the place I was very keen on seeing - Coral Bridge. A few steps from the parking, a winding trail, and a few crooked steps down, you come to a rocky (actually, coral-y) stretch, that has come up because of low tide during the night. Carefully walking for few meters brings you to this wonder. Too bad, it was thronged by too many people to take proper photos. But it is a wonderful sight to behold. After this, we took our ferry to Port Blair. Our second stay at Port Blair was the most cost effective one - Hornbill Nest (review here). After freshening up and heaving lunch, we set off to visit 2 beaches. The road to Wandoor beach is really beautiful. You get to see the city, the suburbs, and life beyond tourism. Not only that, it has some hilly roads, that make you forget where you are. The beach is almost empty, and we stayed only for some time. Next, we went to Chidiya Taapu beach. The sunset was again a mesmerising sight, but the place sounded better in descriptions. Had we been not tired, we would have loved to spend some time on Corbyn Cove. It looked so lively! Though it was just a 15 mins walk away from our hotel, we chose to let it go.

Day 5

We just strolled at the cove (not that great an idea, because of the heat), after checking out from the hotel, and then left for the airport. Thankfully, the departures area (post the security check) is all air-conditioned.

Key Points
-CONVEYANCE: We had already booked a taxi to roam around Port Blair (before the start of the trip). The same guy had arranged for taxis on the other islands as well. But this may not be required, as you can get scooters almost everywhere for rent, right from the jetty. Our concern point was comfort, and hence we had booked the cab. Cost us about INR 10,000, but we were carefree for the entire 5 days as we had a vehicle at our disposal. (Also helps if you have a lot of luggage)  

-CELLULAR JAIL: Light & sound show tickets to be booked in advance. Check with your hotel or driver beforehand, if you plan to attend it on the same day as your arrival.

-FERRIES: All our inter-island travels were on Makruzz ferry. (Booking linkhere). There is no travelling on the deck. That can be done in the Green Ocean ferries. We had booked for one, but the trip was cancelled due to vessel being under maintenance. The entire amount was refunded within a week (depends on your mode of payment). 
Pro-tip: 1. Be alert while collecting your baggage after getting down, because there is no proper dispatch system. 2. Do NOT keep your ferry and flight on the same day. A delay in one, may lead to you missing the other.

-SCUBA: We booked for Scuba after checking in at Havelock. The hotels have tie-ups with the clubs that organise these. But these activities are better done at North Bay Island, near Port Blair.

-COST: Per person cost of this entire trip came to be around INR 32,000, which includes stay, taxi, ferry and flight charges (to and from Hyderabad). You may get it done in cheaper, if you book much in advance (all our bookings, including flights, were done with less than a month to go for the start of the trip) and if you go for scooters.

-NETWORK: Vodafone is flimsy. Airtel works decent. Neil has no reception whatsoever, except probably, BSNL. Carry a BSNL or Airtel sim for survival.

-SUGGESTION: I had assumed that Port Blair would be boring, but if feasible, I would advice a longer stay there. You can utilise one day for North Bay and Ross Island, and one more for Baratang. The latter has an active mud volcano, and you go there with a government convoy, which makes you meet the tribal people as well.