Being a travel enthuse, Andaman Islands was always on my bucket list. I wanted to explore the islands but not through the tour operators. My colleague, Tina and I planned a 5 days trip to Andaman Islands with the help of locale from Port Blair (Pavan), who was currently working in our Mumbai office.
He was more than glad to plan and assist our itinerary. His help was a true blessing. He suggested good guest house, a trustworthy driver and plan our days, to ensure we explore the maximum in these 5 days.
We were blessed with a long weekend of Mahashivratri. And we added 2 days of leave with the long holiday. Thus, giving us 5 day to explore the islands.
We booked our flights from Mumbai to Chennai and Chennai to Port Blair. Inspite having direct flight from Mumbai operated by Go Air, we ensure that to have a cost-effective trip, hence we flew via Chennai.
Day 1: Landed in Port Blair.
We reached Port Blair at 2 pm. Andaman and Nicobar Islands follow the Indian Standard Time, however the geographical distance from the mainland results in early sunrise and early sunset.
We checked in at a guest house, Costal Breeze, in Port Blair. The guest house was recommended to us by our colleague, Pavan. The guest house was neat, clean, comfortable and relaxing. We were booked for 2 nights. Once we freshen up and relaxed, we decided to explore Port Blair. We started with Chidiya Tapu, which is 30 to 40 mins drive south of Port Blair.
The drive was extremely scenic, we could not resist ourselves to stop the car and capture the beauty in our cameras at most of the location.
The name Chidaya Tapu means “Birds Island,” and If you are lucky you get to spot various species of the birds here. The beach is isolated and didn’t have much of tourist. We spent an hour here, walked through the beach and clicked a few photographs. The beach is spectacular which got us some great pictures.
Post Chidaya Tapu we left for Corbyn Cove Beach in Port Blair. Corbyn Cove is in the eastern side of the island and has a good sunrise view.
We head to the light and sound show at the Cellular Jail. The light and sound shows are organised in both Hindi & English. We were recommended for the Hindi show as the narration is done my Late Mr. Om Puri. The show is for 50 mins. After the show we headed for dinner.
We had a delicious dinner at New Lighthouse restaurant. Again, this was a recommend restaurant. Post the dinner we headed straight back to our guest house. We had a big day planned for Day 2.
Day 2: Baratang Islands
We planned to visit the Baratang island and witness the limestone caves and the active mud volcano. It takes at least a day to visit this place and return to Port Blair. We started the day at 4 am. One must travel through road in the Jarawa tribal reserve (forest area) and cross the sea at Baratang jetty. There are specific timings to cross the forest reserve and 6 am is the first time of the day. We did ensure to cross the forest reserve at the 6 am batch timing itself. Crossing the forest reserve of the Jarawa tribe was as adventures as depicted in the movies.
The Jarawa Tribe are very antisocial and have been violent toward tourist, who have tried to click their photographs. We did spot a lot of the tribe men, women and kids. We had been warned not to offer them food and click any pictures of the tribes.
After crossing the Baratang Jetty we had to reach to Uttara Jetty. From Uttara Jetty one travels in a diesel boat. We were offered with life jackets during the boat ride. This journey is nearly 30 to 40 mins from Uttara jetty. The boat passes through the narrow mangroves for nearly 1 kilometre to reach the limestone cave. Once the boat is parked at the end, it is a 1 to 1.5 km walk to limestone cave. The walk-through mangrove and the tropical forest is an experience. There are small huts to take rest and to have refreshments nearer to the cave which offers tender coconut, snacks, lemon juice, cucumber. There are only few local people staying nearer to this place. A forest guard has been appointed to take care of mischief which may happen due to people visiting the cave.
The limestone caves of Baratang Island are a striking natural wonder. These have been formed by centuries of water action. The limestone caves include beautiful natural formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, calcite rafts and columns. Hanging from the roof of the caves, these structures look wonderful. The interior of the caves is dark and can be viewed by means of a torchlight.
From the Limestone caves we headed to the active mud volcano. I understand the disappointment that the other tourist had after visiting the site. However, we did want to check more about the mud volcano. Baratang Island is the only place in India where the active mud volcano are present. This just added your enthusiasm to visit the site.
Post these sites, we left back for Port Blair. The journey is very exhausting and long. We reached Port Blair back by 4 pm. Evening we just relaxed at the guest house.
Day 3: To Havelock island.
We had book Makruzz Gold cruise tickets till Havelock Island. We opted for the first cruise in the morning which is of 9:15 am. The cruise travel is of 1 hour and 30 mins. After reaching the drop of pint at havelock, we headed to our resort. We were booked for 1 night at the Sea Shell Resort. The resort is peaceful with serene views. Once we got checked in, we decided to go explore the small beach which was attached with the resort. It was like having a small private beach with an awesome view.
We headed to the main street for lunch. Havelock offers a wide variety of cuisines. Tina and me both relish seafood. And we were in a major treat with the offerings.
We headed to the Radhanagar Beach in the evening. Words fall short to express the beauty of Radhanagar Beach. The sunset at the beach was mesmerising. It turned the entire sky and the ocean in a vivid colour of pink. The beach is manned by life guards, who warned the tourist to step out of the sea post the sunset. The government has taken the maintenance of the beach meticulously.
We headed back to the resort for the dinner. The resort does take prior booking for a special candlelight dinner for couples by the beach.
We just enjoyed wine at the private beach of the hotel before dinner. Resort was quite and peaceful. We really enjoyed sipping to our wines with the sound of waves crashing on the beach.
Day 4 Havelock Island.
We had booked a session of Scuba Diving at the island. The session starts early morning by 7 am. They suggest having the scuba diving done in the morning before the boats ruins the water movements which in turn affect the underwater visibility.
I am always very excited for a scuba session even if this was not the first experience.
The sunlight was just perfect for underwater clarity. The coral was intriguing. We did spot a lot of species of fish and coral.
We were due to check out and requested a late check out. Since the cruise from Havelock was at afternoon 2 pm.
In the evening we were back to Port Blair. Since this was the last day in Andaman, we decide to stay in one of the oldest and famous property. We were booked at the Sinclairs Bayview.
Day 5: Back to Mumbai
We had yet to cover the Cellular Jail. All we did was visit for the light and sound show post the sunset. We planned to visit the same in the morning before we leave for the airport, our flight was at 2:45 pm, which gave ample time cover the Jail. The cellular jai was built by the British Raj to exile the political freedom fighters. A walk through the corridors take you back to one of our darkest chapters of colonial rules. It depicted how these freedom fighters endured pain and trail to free India from the British rule.
We did some local shopping of the souvenirs from the market after covering the Cellular jail.
Andaman offer tourist a wide range of pearls and semi-precious stones jewellery. You will also find range of handicraft products. With its unique heritage of aboriginal tribes, Andaman Islands are rather famous for its handcrafted items made with bamboo, seashells, coconut shells, and wood.
We headed back to Mumbai and again we had opted for flight via Chennai.
Andaman Islands are true beauty and it offers the travellers beyond expectations. The more you explore, the more Andaman will surprise you!!
PS: Havelock Island – has been renamed as Sawraj Deep in 2018.