Known for its snow white beaches, emerald waters, mangrove forests, world class snorkelling and its absolute remote location of being in the middle of nowhere, Neil island in Andaman is like a fantasy come true.
Neil island is an escape from the crowd and its touristy cousin Havelock. Located at a distance of 40kms from Port Blair, this island has enough life and character to it. The island urges us to slow down, relax and take life one step at a time. The lovely unhurried pace of life is magical and the scenic landscape leaves us spellbound.
I was on my seventh heaven for choosing this place for my birthday. The best part about Neil Island is, it’s at a perfect distance apart, for us to explore the entire island on a bicycle. When I was given an option of hiring a rick or taking a cycle to explore the place, I jumped at the word cycle and decided I would rent one to explore the island on my own. I remembered the last time I touched a cycle and it was in my 12th grade. Now, who doesn’t want to get back to their childhood days! Who doesn’t want to relive those memories!
I started cycling through the picturesque villages, exploring the coral reefs, calm beaches and rich wildlife. Unlike most islands in Andaman, Neil had a flat terrain and that’s what makes it an ideal place for cycling.
The settlers named the beaches after the epic Ramayana ( Bharatpur, Sitapur, Laxmanpur) but the weird thing is that they mostly don’t use these names to address the beaches. Instead they address those using numbers from 1 to 5. Numbers don’t go well with me, so I have listed down the names of the places I had visited on this bicycle trip.
This is the beach that is located right next to the jetty. It’s wide and white beach. This is the beach most tourists land in, great place for snorkelling and we could see beautiful corals as well. Glass bottom rides also happen only in this beach in Neil Island. As for me, I sat on the white sands glimpsing into the life of seashells and corals with awe.
It’s a tranquil beach with zero tourists. There are hardly any human signs in this beach. Personally my second favourite as the beach has an impressive natural backdrop and limestone formations. The journey to Sitapur beach itself is refreshingly beautiful as the ride goes via paddy fields and dense forests. Sunrise is said to be stunning but I couldn’t make it for sunrise. If you guys are hitting the sitapur beach, make sure you get to see the sun, rise up.
There are two beaches namely laxmanpur beach I and laxmanpur beach II. I stayed in Tango Beach Resort, on the shores of Laxmanpur beach I which is renowned for its sunset. I slouched on a hammock at the shore watching the white beaches melt under the crimson sunset. This beach is my personal favourite.
Laxmanpur beach II has this natural rock formation that can be seen only when it is low tide. The rock is named as Howrah Bridge. The beach directly faces the east, so one can admire stunning, charming sunrises from here.
This is the heart of the island. On one side of the jetty is Bharatpur Beach and on the other is Laxmanpur Beach. As we walk towards the market village of Neil Kendra from the jetty, the beach that appears before us is in the form of a long arc. Neil Kendra, a gently curving bay of white sand, straddles the jetty, scattered with picturesque wooden fishing boats.
• Bicycles are available on rent everywhere on the island. Costs 100 rupees for a day.
• Not interested in cycling. Very well, you can even walk and cover the island in less than 3 hours. The widest part of the island is only 5km in length.
• As the population of the entire island is less 5000 people (my residence area in Bangalore has more than that) you will meet lot of friendly locals whom you can easily befriend.
Of all the places I had seen in Andaman, Neil Island stays very close to my heart. Travel there to witness yourself why it is so!