Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman

Tripoto

Ravishing Radhanagar Beach

Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman by Biswanath banerjee

Prologue::

Andaman: Verdant pastures, azure blue sky, pristine waters; in a nut shell a traveler’s paradise. Is it only the exquisite landscape of the archipelago? I guess no. Rather the intermingled existence of the trials& tribulations of freedom movement with this eclectic geography , intrigues the imagination of a vagrant.
I started my professional career as an officer in a pan India PSU in the year Dec’13. Now, either out of God’s grace or sheer luck, I was posted in this beautiful island for next 2.5 years which I guess make me a fit to pen down a travelogue .Its’ needless to mention that compressing a 2.5 years’ experience in a blog that too such a varied one would be grossly inadequate and unjustified. Nevertheless, I would try to make my writing as informative as possible to help the budding itinerants.
I will encompass all the major destinations in this archipelago that must find place in your itinerary to have a veritable smorgasbord of experience before leaving the shores of Andaman Sea. In addition to that a sample 7 day itinerary for all my friends who are dabbling in between passion and profession like me,always running short of holiday.

Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 1/7 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 2/7 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 3/7 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 4/7 by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 5/7 by Biswanath banerjee

How to reach Andaman Islands ::

Port Blair,the capital town of Andaman group of islands ,is directly connected via air with the mainland of India (i.e. from Kolkata & Chennai)

Flight details - Ex. Kolkata and Chennai

Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 6/7 by Biswanath banerjee
Flight Details Ex.Kolkata
Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman 7/7 by Biswanath banerjee
Flight Details Ex.Chennai

Flight fare one side approximately 6500-7500 per person depending mainly on the seasonality.

Ship Details :-

At present five Passenger Ships viz. M.V. "Akbar", M.V. "Nicobar", M.V.”Nancowry”, M.V.“Swarajdweep” and M.V. "Harshavardhana" are plying between Port Blair and Mainland. The sea voyage from Kolkata/Chennai/Vizag to Port Blair takes 3 to 4 days and the Ships normally stay for around 3 days in Port Blair. There are about 3 / 4 sailings in a month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. There is usually one Sailing from Vizag every month. Sailing Schedules are prepared and approved by the A&N Administration one month in advance. Availability and issuing of tickets to the General Public is monitored by the A & N Administration.

For more details -http://www.shipindia.com/uploaded_pdfs/andaman/brochure .pdf

It is recommended to travel by air as journeying by ship would not only take 3-4 days but also physically&mentally very exhausting owing to rolling-pitching of vessels.

Best time to visit the archipelago ::

You can hop around the islands anytime in the year barring monsoons.

During summer temperature soars up to 35 deg mark.The hot and humid condition makes it enervating to travel.

Monsoon is a strict no-no for venturing into the island.Heavy torrential rain along with cyclone lashes this part of the globe making inter island movements difficult.

From Oct-Feb happens to be the best season in the islands.The mercury remains around 30-32 deg celsius with very little or no rain.The azure blue sky,placid waters is nothing sort of a idyllic canvas turning out to be a reality. Indeed,you will get the best deal in lieu of every hard earned money expended.

Go to Places ::

Port Blair is the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India situated in the Bay of Bengal. It is also the local administrative sub-division (tehsil) of the islands, the headquarters for the district of South Andaman.

Aberdeen Bazar happens to be the heart of the town hustling and bustling with restaurants,hotels,shops ,denizens and lot of tourists .A plethora of shops fill up the streets that offer a wide variety of products for shopaholics. From apparels to household items, everything can be bought here. Look out for the coconut shell lamps, bamboo cane craft and jewelry made out of shells, for the ultimate shopping experience. The colorful sarongs, carved wooden furniture, and palm mats are the additional products that you can take back home, to provide it with a glamorous touch.While exploring the nook and corners of the market,you mustn't miss the opportunity to savour the delicacies of "Hotel J " and "Hotel Annapurna" .

Cellular Jail :located at Port Blair, stood mute witness to the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail. The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name ‘Cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement. It originally was a seven prolonged, puce-coloured building with central-tower acting as its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honeycomb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out of the seven prongs are intact. The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, has been declared a National Memorial. The jail museum here draws your memories back to those years of freedom struggle.

Captivating light and sound show takes place in the precincts of the jail every day around 5 pm in the evening.

TIMINGS FOR CELLULAR JAIL & JAIL MUSEUM::

09:00 AM to 12:30 PM, 01:30 PM to 04:45 PM (Open all days except national holidays).

Entry Fee (INR) :30/-, Camera: 200/-, Video Camera:1000/-

Photo of Cellular Jail, Atlanta Point, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee

Marina Park :: A prime attraction, walk able distance from cellular jail, located on the unspoiled shores of Port Blair, the Marina Park and Aquarium is a beautiful little establishment aimed at educating the masses about the marine ecosystem. The aquarium contains impressive displays of the endemic marine organisms and marine habitats. Outside this, lies a well laid park that contains many amusement facilities for children and makes for a very nice picnic spot.

Corbyn's Cove Beach:: At a distance of 6 km from Port Blair Central Bus Stand, the Corbyn's Cove is a serene and unspoiled soft sandy beach in Port Blair. Located picturesquely with the backdrop of lush green coconut trees and majestic sea, Corbyn's Cove Beach is a must visit place for the ones who want to experience nature at its best in Andamans.

Sagarika Emporium::This Emporium,a Govt. run shop, exhibits a spectrum of artifacts made of mother pearl, sea shells, coconut shells and local wood products. Miniatures of Nicobari canoes, palm mats for floors, tables, furniture etc. are exhibited which are also for sale. It is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Timings: 8.45 AM to 6.45 PM.

Chidiya Tapu Beach :: The southernmost tip of South Andaman Island situated at a distance of 28 Kms from Port Blair. Frequent bus service are available from Port Blair. It is famous for bird watching, sunset view, panoramic scenic beauties, and many colours of oceanic view. Swimming can be done at Chidiyatappu But beware of crocodiles.

Wandoor Beach:: Is one of the popular beaches of Andaman that lies at a distance of about 25 kms in the east of Port Blair. It is a pictorial beach and a major tourist attraction that grab visitor's attention and interest.Though Bus services are available(infrequent in nature) from Port Blair but it is advisable to arrange own conveyance to explore the outskirts.

Adjacent to the beach,Marine Interpretation centre is located

Jolly Buoy Island :: One among the most popular excursion from Port Blair is to Jolly Bouy Island from WANDOOR,located at Mahatma Gandhi National park.The normal time leaving to Jolly buoy island at Wandoor beach is at 9.00am. Make sure to reach Wandoor beach before 9.00am. All the ships leave at the same time and come back together. Jolly buoy is a No Plastic zone. Before leaving to Jolly buoy island, people have to submit the list of all plastic items at Wandoor beach.Visitors can enjoy the island upto 2.00pm and the return journey starts around 2.00 or 2.30pm. Jolly buoy and Red Skin island are opened for 6 months alternatively in a year to protect live corals. Before planning your Andaman & Nicobar trip, make sure that Jolly buoy island is open for visitors (if you are planning to see this island). When the Jolly buoy island is closed for visitors, usually Red skin island will be opened for visitors.In this islands no food or water is available,therefore make proper arrangements before venturing out.

Visitors can enjoy the under water coral view through snorkelling or glass bottom boat. As a standard trip, while getting down from the ship and transferring to the island through small boats, visitors will be taken through a ride and will be shown these under water corals through glass bottom, snorkelling is usually included in this trip. Though this is only for a very short duration (5 to 10 minutes). People willing to see more of these can hire a boat independently and enjoy. Additional amount has to be paid for each ride for 30 to 45 minutes.

Mount Harriet National Park::The park is one of the closest wilderness areas to the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair. The park contains some of the highest peaks in the Andaman Group of Islands and is covered with dense evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of outstanding natural beauty.The park is accessible from Port Blair via Bombooflat. From Port Blair by ferry service or by road journey. The ferry service from Chatham and Phoenix Bay jetties take about 15 and 20 minutes respectively. The road link is via Sippighat and Chouldhari and it takes about an hour to cover approximately 40 km distance.From the top of the peak, one can get a magnificent view of the Port Blair city, the Ross Island.

Ross Island:: the then capital of Andaman And Nicobar islands during British period from 1858 to 1942 and 1945 to 1947. During 1942 to 1945, the island was under to grip of Japanese. This island is now under Indian Navy. This is just 20 minutes sea journey from Phoenix bay jetty of Port Blair. Cruises and port charters are available very frequently from Phoenix bay jetty/Aberdeen jetty to Ross island. People can also reach Ross island after visiting North bay coral island. The usual trip will be to travel towards Viper island from Phoenix bay jetty/Aberdeen jetty and from Viper to North bay and then to Ross island. This is a one day package trip.Tickets can be booked from the marina park itself.

In Ross island people can see the ruins of buildings built during British period. Ruins of Church, Printing press, Government offices, Power house, Tennis court, Bakery, pond etc... can be seen. . A graveyard of Britishers surrounded by coconut palm trees is also available here. People can also visit the beaches located at the other side of the island by walk. Fearless deers and peacocks are found in the island. The island is full of coconut and palm trees. There are so many places in the island for the visitors to sit and relax.On the backside of the island,there is a statue of ' The Lone Sailor- Silent Sentinel of Sea in Eternal Vigil' which must not be missed.

Recently a light and sound show is being organized at Ross Island which tells the saga of the islands and its inhabitants in a very creative manner. The tickets of the light and sound show cost Rs 100 only, but advance booking is required due to limited availability.(visit https://www.andamantourism.gov.in/etourist/)

Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross Island by Biswanath banerjee

North Bay Island::North Bay Island is one among the most popular destination at the Andaman Islands. Usually, this trip is covered as part of both North Bay island along with Ross Island. However, you could also select just North Bay island trip as well for that you have to charter a private boat from Andaman water sports complex. Now, the boarding point for North Bay island keeps changing based upon Government regulation. Sometimes it is Andaman Water Sports Complex and Sometimes it is Junglighat jetty. You will have to know where to go to board the ferry before moving to North Bay Island.

North Bay Island offers people with beautiful coral reefs alluring to visitors who are visiting this destination for the first time. Activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, sea walking, glass boat ride, semi submarine are available at the island. Apparently, the light house seen at the back of a 20 Rupee Indian note is from the the North Bay Island.

Neil Island :With its very relaxed vibe and long, deserted beaches is a place to chill out after the "bustle" of Havelock Island. Neil is quite small compared to Havelock. Its widest part is about 5 km in length. You can walk the whole island in about an hour or two.

Natural bridge: A lovely example of natural art work by wind action is exibited

Sitapur beach: Lovely sunrise. Serene beach. Good for a swim.

Ramnagar beach: Beautiful shady beach. Light blue crystal clear water. See corals in glass-bottom boats. Huge coral beds with lot of fish present. Very good visibility. Snorkeling, water scooter, bathing and other water activities can be done here.

Lakshmanpur beach: Lovely sunset. Serene and long beach.

There are two ATMs available but both might not accept your cards, so be sure to bring enough cash with you.

On arrival, there are tuck tucks for about 100 Rs to practically everywhere on the island.

Bicycles can be rented for a price between Rs 100-150 per day. Though not needed they can be useful if you want to travel around Neil in a day.

You can get an auto-rickshaw and go around to see self-declared private 'resorts' to find accommodation.

Two Wheeler Hire: You can hire a two wheeler for Rs 500 per day. This is the best way to explore the island as you have the freedom to go to any place at any time. Definitely much more cheaper than hiring a taxi or an auto. Make sure to fill fuel before 5 in the evening, as you might not find any later. Having a bike would also help you to stop at any part of the beach to click pictures and enjoy the place. Also one can use a two wheeler to explore other resorts for better food, if the food given by their resort is not so good.

How to reach ::(http://www.andaman.gov.in/web/guest/neilhavrangat)

Govt.Ferry ,under the control of Directorate of Shipping Service(DSS), plies regularly in between Port blair and Neil Island.

Photo of Neil Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Neil Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Neil Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee

Havelock Island :: a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and lush green forest. It is one of the populated islands in the Andaman group with an area of 113 sq. km. and is located 39 km of north-east of Port Blair.

How to reach :: Government ferries run by the Directorate of Shipping Services connect Phoenix Bay jetty, Port Blair to Havelock daily. Private luxury boats Makruzz operated by M/s Mak Logistics, Green Ocean ferry tourists to Havelock daily.

Govt Ferry Service :: http://www.andaman.gov.in/web/guest/neilhavrangat

Photo of Havelock Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee

Private ferry service ::

Makruzz :: Daily DEPARTURE FROM PORT BLAIR TO HAVELOCK 8:15 / ARRIVAL 09:45

Daily DEPARTURE FROM PORT BLAIR TO HAVELOCK 14:00 / ARRIVAL 15:45

Daily DEPARTURE FROM HAVELOCK TO PORT BLAIR 16:00 / ARRIVAL 1730

Daily DEPARTURE FROM HAVELOCK TO PORT BLAIR 10:15 / ARRIVAL 13:15 .

Price of ticket is ranging from 1289-2941.

Green Ocean :: Green Ocean is also one of the best transport to visit to havelock Island.The seats are very comfortable and it takes around 2 Hours and 15 Minutes to reach Havelock from Port Blair.

Photo of Diving Deep into the Blues ::Andaman by Biswanath banerjee

Places to see ::

Radhanagar Beach:: lies on the south coast of Havelock Island. It is about 12 kilometers from the Islands ferry pier. Radhanagar is a Grade A beach of outstanding quality. This beach is also rated as one of the best beaches in Asia by TIME Magazine.

Elephant Beach:: One can reach Elephant beach by small cruise boat from Havelock Jetty in about 40 minutes. By road one can go up to the Forest Camp which is 8 Kms from the Jetty towards Radhanagar side and from there by walk to the Elephant beach which will take another 40 minutes.

Kalapathar Beach :: This beautiful silver sandy beach located 12 km from Havelock jetty.

Must Do : Visit to Havelock remains unfinished unless you haven't dived deep into the blue waters of Andaman. Believe me, you won't regret.Its' altogether a different world exists underneath the see.Rejuvenating !!!!!!!

Cost of scuba diving including under water photography is around 3500 per person. Try your negotiation skills.

You can unleash the wings of your dreams with the help of Barefoot Scuba,a PADI recognised centre for scuba diving. (http://diveandamans.com/about-us)

Note :: For intra-island movement it is better to hire a 2 wheeler from the jetty itself rather than depending on the public transport.

To explore the lengths and breadth of the island,spare one full day.

BSNL network is available in the island.

2 ATM 's are there but don't remain dependent on them.Have your pocket cash full.

Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Kalapathar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee

Baratang Island ::

100 kms by road from Port Blair is between South and Middle Andaman and popular for mangrove creeks, mud volcanoes and limestone caves. The prime attraction of the journey to the island through lush green tropical rain forest on Andaman Trunk Road and crossing water channel where boats carry vehicles. The boat ride to the Limestone caves pass through magnificent narrow Mangrove creeks.

From Port Blair to Zirkatang(45 kms.) takes around 1.25 hours by car.Zirkatang to Middle strait is another 45 km which takes around 1.5 hrs. The road snakes through Lush green Jarawa Reserve area. You can spot ‘Jarawa- Ab-initio tribe of the Islands’ standing on the roadside.Any kind of photography/videography/ or action intended to contact these people is punishable offence. It is pertinent to mention that this 45 km stretch doesn’t remain open whole day. Only four times in a day convoy of tourist vehicles leaded by a Police vehicle is allowed from both directions. Therefore, plan your visit in such a way so that you don’t miss the timings.

My advice would be to catch the first convoy of 0630 to reach middle strait and come back by 1430 hrs.

Once you reach Middle strait ,you have to catch a vehicle ferry to cross the backwater to reach the opposite river front known as Gandhi Jetty or Baratang (around 15 min journey).From Gandhi jetty a small boat would take you into the creeks shrouded with Mangroves. 10 min walk from there would land you into Lime stone caves.

Mud Volcano at Baratang which is about 4 km away from the jetty. To reach there you can hire a shared taxi @ Rs. 400/- per one jeep to and fro.

The timings of the convoy is as follows : 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 2.30 pm.

Photo of Baratang, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Baratang, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Baratang, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Baratang, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Baratang, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee

Rangat:: is a 1070 sq. km. large island in Middle Andaman with pristine beaches, waterfalls, and interesting islands.170 km from Port blair ,takes around 6 hours .Two main attractions are Amrakunja Beach and Moricedera Beach located 8km and 12 km from the Rangat town towards Mayabunder.

Photo of Rangat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rangat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rangat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Rangat, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Biswanath banerjee

Diglipur :: Diglipur (325 Kms., approx. 12 hrs by road from Port Blair) Situated in North Andaman Island, Diglipur provides a rare experience for eco friendly tourists. People planning for Diglipur must have three days for this trip.(One day for Reaching,Second day exploring,third day for coming back.One extra day must be kept for travelers interested in trekking )

Ross& Smith Island:: The most beautiful beach I have seen in my life.Ross & Smith islands are actually two islands – Ross & Smith joined together by a sand bar to make a single group of islands. Ross & Smith Islands requires forest permit from the Forest Office at Diglipur. The permission costs Rs 50 for Indian tourists and Rs 500 for foreign tourists and can be obtained on all days (except Sunday) between 6am to 2pm. A fisherman's boat ('dinghi' in hindi) or a speed boat can be hired and the ride would take around 25 mins from the Ariel Bay Jetty in Diglipur. What makes these islands truly beautiful and sets them apart from the rest of the islands is that these two islands are joined by a natural, sand bar. Water is crystal clear and gem green in color. Sun bathing in Ross & Smith Islands is a wonderful experience. During high tide, the sand bar disappears leaving a trail of water between the two islands and during low tide the sand bar appears again making the islands look majestic! There is a Marine Sanctuary on the island which makes it an ideal place for spotting beautiful coral reefs and colorful species from the underwater.

Photo of Ross & Smith Islands., India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross & Smith Islands., India by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Ross & Smith Islands., India by Biswanath banerjee

Saddle Peak:: At a height of 732 m, Saddle peak is the highest point in the Andamans. Located in Diglipur, this peak rises amid thick evergreen jungle, overlooking the breathtaking North Andaman and Middle Andaman coast. As the peak is encircled by a rich bio-diversity natural paradise, it is also known as Saddle Peak National Park. It' s a 5+5 km steep trek to the top of the hill ,going to take around 3 hrs. Make sure to fill your water bottles before starting the adventurous journey.

7 days Sample Itinerary ::

Day 01 :: Kolkata/Chennai to Port blair

Explore Cellular jail and Marina Park in the evening.

Day02 :: Ross/Viper/North Bay Tour

Explore Corbyn Cove beach in the Evening

Day03 :: Port Blair to Neil Island and then Havelock Island (Night stay)

Day 04 :: Explore Radhanagar Beach/Kalapathar /Elephant Beach/Scuba Diving and come back to port blair in the evening.

Day 05 :: Explore Port blair market area /Saharekha Emporium/Wandoor/Chidiyatapu beach

Day 06:: Go to Baratang Island and come back by Evening

Day 07 :: Port Blair to Kolkata/Chennai

Hotels ::

Port Blair : Megapode Resort/Bay Island/Sinclairs/Sea Shell

Havelock : Highly recommended to stay at Dolphin resort run by ANIIDCO.

Photo of Saddle Peak, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee
Photo of Saddle Peak, Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Biswanath banerjee

For bookings contact:

Phone No. 03192-231664, 232380, 232207

Reception (Havelock) : 03192-282066

Email Id: dolphin.aniidco@gmail.com

Barefoot Hotel/Sea Shell/Palm Symphony @Havelock is also standard private properties where accommodation can be planned.

Diglipur :: Pristine Beach Resort

Epilogue ::

Indeed,it was a life time experience exploring the virgin beaches, wowing wilderness of Andamans. Scuba Diving is going to remain 'icing on the cake' .Some of this islands have been ventured solo and some with my colleagues creating a collage of memories.While writing this blog,it was reliving those stories again.

Fellow travelers !!!!!!Come and dive deep into the blues!!!

!!Nature leaves a mark on us but don't leave one behind!!

Be the first one to comment