There will be always some island to visit and explore, no matter how many you plan in the Andamans. The blue and turquoise sea, and breathtaking seascapes are abundantly available to feast your eyes and soul. Thus, the next day after returning from Neil Islands i.e, on 17th Dec, 2014, we headed to one more blue paradise, the Jolly Buoy Island, famous for rich marine life, crystal clear water, white sands and at last but not the least, the blue seas... We had made advance payments to our innkeeper the night before the trip towards return cab service to a small village at the tip of Southern Andaman called 'Wandoor', some 18 kms from Port Blair. Apart from transportation, we also paid Rs.650/- person towards to & fro boat charges from Wandoor to Jolly Buoy which also included Rs. 50/- towards forest permit. Rs. 25/- extra also was paid against our DSLR Camera. On 17th Dec morning, we got up bit early and were soon ready for our cab to Jolly Buoy. It took some 30 to 40 mins to reach Wandoor. Enroute we had a hefty breakfast at Wandoor for there is no settlement at Jolly Buoy except some life guards who too return to the main island before night fall and we too packed some lunch to have the same at Jolly Buoy.
Inspite of advance payment for our ferry ride to Jolly Buoy to our innkeeper, our cabbie had to stand in the queue for about 1 hour before he could secure the tickets for us. Our ferry ride was at 10: 30 AM. We also had to give up our plastic bottles, wrappers etc...because they are prohibited by the Forest Dept. Alternatively, water bottles are available in lieu of a reasonable security deposit which is refunded upon return of bottles with out any damage. So we just strolled around in the Marine Museum, which proved to be every penny worthy. The most prized display in the museum for us was the life-size model of a Dugong, a species of marine mammal vulnerable to extinction and is also the state animal of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. As usual, we had our own little photoshoot around the sceneries nearby like in the Wandoor Beach which was dotted by rows of fishing boats & ferries, in the premises of the Marine Museum etc... At about 11 am, our ferry docked and soon we were on our way to Jolly Buoy, sailing through the vast scenic lagoons flanked by thick mangrove forests on either side of the waterways with one or other tiny island coming on the way. Safety Life Jackets are mandatory to wear while on the ferry. In fact it is now a regulation which is strictly enforced in Andamans by the local authorities to have life jackets while on any ferry or boat. Well, after a ride of around 1 1/2 hours we reached the marine wonder land called as Jolly Buoy.
Jolly Buoy was nevertheless the most scenic beach of all we visited in Andaman during our 5 days trip. It is a 'No-Man's Land' and doesn't have any facility for changing room nor toilets. It neither has any provision for killing time if you get bored of the blue seascapes, clear water, and white silvery beaches. But this island fills you with enormous peace and is perfect for a break from the hectic schedules of city life. It is as if time slows down here. Mother Nature has bestowed this island with some of the breathtaking sceneries which are pristine, serene and sublime. We were really excited experiencing such wonderful natural bounty in the midst out busy schedules back in the mainland. Now back to our trip, we changed our clothes and ventured into the waters. The life guards posted their have earmarked certain stretch of the beach within which the tourists are allowed to stay so that we remain within their reach in case of any untoward incident. So while strolling on the beach we ensured we remain within these safety limits. Jolly Buoy, because of its clear waters, rich corals and other marine life, is well-known for scuba diving, snorkelling and for those who don't want to dive into the waters, glass bottom boats are available. There are around four coral reefs which can be seen from the glass bottom boats and believe us, it is worth investing every penny ! We went an hour long ride on glass bottom boat experiencing some of the most colourful, diverse marine life consisting of mostly a variety of corals, sea cucumber, beautiful species of fish, eel , blue & black star fish etc. We used to pull over a black plastic sheet on our heads to have a clear view of the magical wonders under sea at each of the coral reefs. Soon we felt hungry. So we had our lunch in a quiet place around they but not that far from the reach of the life guars. We took several snaps while moving in the beach, capturing memories for rest of our lives. Our return ferry reached at about 4pm and soon we were on our way back to Port Blair but not before catching a glimpse of 'Dollar Fish' at Wandoor beach which is mostly exported from Andamans. It is a species of sea fish, red in colour and as per the locals, it is one of the sought after delicacy in the town.
The next day after returning from Jolly Buoy was for some adventure deep in the sea ...Yes ! underwater..Nope not scuba diving but rather an altogether different experience 30 feet deep in the water on the sea bed. In fact we did what is called 'Sea Walking', relatively new activity in India, and it is introduced in Andamans by M/s Sea Link Adventures. Sea Walking can be done either off coast of North Bay, just a 20 mins ferry ride across narrow seas opposite of Port Blair, or at Elephant Beach at Havelock Islands. We reported at the jetty at Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex at 10 in the morning.The day was bit windy and so the sea had gone little rough as a result of which all small boat rides were suspended for some time. The weather disappointed us, for the rough sea would restrict the viewing distance underwater while we go for sea walking. Anyways since Rs. 7000/- per head was already paid in advance for sea walking, we had to venture in. We boarded the ferry to North Bay and just before docking at the beach, we were transferred to a small boat by the Sea Link Adventures personnel to a pontoon in the middle of the sea. Several nets were installed underwater around a perimeter of the pontoon within which we were supposed to do sea walking. Once on board the pontoon, we were given a short briefing about the safety features of the mechanism that will take us underwater, and how to communicate with hand signals their. After changing to appropriate clothing, we, one by one, put on a glass helmet which was continuously supplied with pressurised breathable air that prevented the sea water rise within the helmet. We were climbed down the ladder attached to the pontoon into the sea water, accompanied by scuba divers who were available as a safety measure. Soon we were taken to a depth of over 30 feet below the sea level onto the sea bed and with bit of difficulty initially in balancing the body, we started to sea walk. We came across colourful school of fish, colourful corals ,star fish and other marine life. It was an experience worthy of remembrance. After 40-45 mins of sea walk, we climbed back to the pontoon and before leaving to the North Bay beach, Sea Links Adventures handed over us a CD containing our underwater photographs that they had taken during our sea walk.It was complementary from their side. Upon reaching the shores at North Bay, we changed to dry clothes and had a relishing fish meal. We did a bit of souvenirs shopping on the island, before boarding on the ferry back to Port Blair with beautiful memories and experiences.
The next day i.e, on 19th Dec, we boarded our flight at Veer Savarkar Airport at port Blair for our return journey to Chennai, from where we had our flight for onward journey to Hyderabad. As we were flying over the many small to large islands of Andamans in our return flight , my mind kept on repeating - "Good Bye Andamans....See u again soon, very soon..."