Island hopping with rich corals and aquatic life #Andamans

Tripoto

The bird inside me was craving to broke off the four walls and fly again. Been long I travelled to one of my bucket list destination, finally the knee has recovered to the extend that I can travel but not stress it much. After a long quest we concluded with Andaman and Nicobar Islands, one of the seven union territory of India situated at juncture of Bay of Bengal and Andaman sea. As of now there are 850+ islands with only 38 inhabited.

A lot of time was spend planning the tour and looking for places to stay, finally we concluded with 7day itinerary but due to changes in flight timing we now have 8days n 7nites.

Let me pen down here so you do not waste much of your time when you plan out to Andaman. This place is unpredictable, any of the place or activity may be closed with notice just a day prior so be prepared and have a backup plan.

We started for Havelock with Makruzz, the ship sailing amidst blue water and here we were at white sand beaches with mangrove trees. Believe me you will fall in love with this place at first sight, different shades of blue, color changing as you go deeper in sea. We spend some time on the resort’s beach before checking in. Later in the day we headed to Kalapathar beach, this sparsely crowded beach is ideal for swimming and watching corals. The beach side is covered with colourful dead corals from orange, blue, turquoise, transparent, different patterns and shapes.

Next we headed to one of Asia’s best beach Radhanagar beach for sunset view, the place was overcrowded and seems to have lost its worth. We walked a bit further on right to find some peace. But the dismay was compensated by the beautiful sunset, the water and sand beneath the red-orange sky was reflecting the same shades of sunset.

Elephanta beach- one for snorkeling/seawalk can be either reached by trekking or by sailing from jetty. We didn’t covered this place owing to the hot and humid afternoon, try going to this place early in morning.

Today we head out to Scuba diving, I got the slot already booked with DiveIndia. We got the morning 7:30am slot, after reaching the DiveIndia we got into our dive suits, took gears and headed to Govindnagar Beach also known as Nemo Reef. After a brief instruction, we were ready to explore the underwater life. This was my second dive, so I was much confident. As we started descending and going deeper in the ocean, the water got clearer and variety of corals were to be seen. Many variety of small and big fishes were swimming across and as the reef is named after Nemo, we noticed several nemos on the corals. We spotted an octopus sitting on seabed and sea urchins.

We relaxed in our resort, surfing via the weak wifi that was available before heading to jetty to get on to our 1430hrs ferry to Neil island. As I have already said the place is unpredictable, on reaching jetty we got to know that our ferry is cancelled due to technical reason and we were pooled in Makruzz.

After reaching Neil we headed directly to Natural Coral bridge at Laxmanpur II Beach. We hired a guide, after a little walk you can see the Arch from Windows screensaver. The island rose up after 2004 Tsunami along with rich corals. Due to exposure of sun mostly the corals are dead on surface but the water pools between them has fishes and live corals. Our guide explained about variety of corals and spotted star fish and sea cucumber. As the sunset was approaching, we headed back to check-in our resort which has sunset point at Laxmanpur beach I. We witnessed another speculating sunset.

Day 4

As we move on our trip, the beauty of Andaman doesn’t let us sleep, today we got up by 4am to see the sunrise at Sitapur beach. There were two tea stalls offering tea/coffee and biscuits and the bunch of dogs asking every tourist for biscuits. The sky was covered with clouds so it took time for sun to rise up. We strolled around the beach before starting back to hotel. Our ferry to Port Blair was again rescheduled at 1030hrs, we headed to Bharat Nagar Beach which is just next to jetty. We opted for Glass Bottom ride; a day before we have seen the sea world from inside, now it is time to view it from top. We spotted three tortoise, many variety of fish and corals. After spending time on beach, we started to walk via a shortcut to the jetty.

After reaching Port Blair by 1pm, exhausted…we headed directly to our Airbnb stay and to rest and gear up for evening light and sound show at Cellular Jail. The show tells the saga of all freedom fighters who were tortured and incarcerated in this jail. An eternal flame of Freedom-Swatantrya Jyoti has been erected in the vicinity of the Cellular Jail in memory of all freedom fighters and martyrs.

Our host cooked us yummy fish curry for dinner on demand. Our stay has been great, the host made sure we feel like home.

Today’s day was on leisure, we left it to be decided a day before depending on our exhaustion. I truly believe that on a long trip a day has to be left free or you should plan only for half day, giving yourself time to soak into the culture and just stroll by the area and re-energize for the following days.

We decided to go to Ross and North Bay island, after reaching jetty we came to know that Ross island is closed on wed and we could only visit North bay. We took the tickets and waited for our ferry. The speed boat named Marine II took us the the island, we walked past the forest to reach the light house, the view from here is the one depicted on Rs20 note. We descended to the beach and did snorkeling and rest of the time was spent dipped in salty water by the sea side. After reaching back, we went to Cellular jail to see it in day lite. For today’s dinner we choose Milky Way, lately it became our fav in Port Blair, they have options for snacks and dinner both with milkshakes and ice-creams. We even got a Panini packed for our late nite Baratanga Trip.

For Ross and North Bay island, the ferries are available from Arbedeen Jetty from 9am, the island gets closed by 2pm so make sure you start before 11am to have sufficient time.

At 2.30am, we were ready to start for Baratanga Limestome Caves. It took us an hour to reach Jirkatang check post; here you need forest permission to pass through Jarawas Tribal Reserve area. The vehicles pass in four conveys in a day at an interval of 3hrs starting from 0630hrs. Ours was fourth vehicle in row; pretty sure that we are gona reach first and can avoid the sun and crowd. There are small stalls that server freshly cooked breakfast and have water and snacks. We witnessed another picturesque sunrise from Kali Mata Mandir. Photography is prohibited in reserve area, the convoy started by 0630hrs and in 2hrs passing the lust green forest we were at Middle Strait. Here we boarded a big ferry to reach Baratang island along with two buses and trucks.

From Nilambur Jetty the caves are half an hour boat ride through a wide creek of Mangrove forest and then a 1km walk to the sedimentary rock. The cave is 100m wide, only 40m is open for public to see. Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed at the bottom of the sea. It is formed by the compression over millions of years of the gradual deposits of many ingredients such as marine life, shells, skeletons and corals. Depends on your imagination as our guide said, you can figure out shapes of deities, flowers, human faces and animals here.

Mud Volcanos are 1km from Nilambur Jetty and can be reached by road. As the mud is pushed upwards by the gas, it deposits and hardens above the ground. As more mud oozes out and spills over the edge it grows in size, gradually forming a miniature volcano with rich, creamy mud crater at the top. At Nilambur Jetty, there are shops for snacks. We boarded the ferry back to Middle Strait and waited for 12:30noon convey to start back. Reaching back we collapsed into our bed and relaxed till our stomach grunted and went rushing to Milky Way for dinner.

It may sound tiresome waking up at 1.30 and reaching destination after 9hrs, waiting 3hrs for the convey to start . But as said the journey is more beautiful than destination, we enjoyed passing through the lush green forest, hopping from car to ferry to speed boat, sailing along the mangrove trees. Indeed the journey was more beautiful than destination.

Day 7

Wandoor and Chiditya tapu are closed for swimming due to crocodiles attack. We thought to just drop by, the places are scenic and it was more of a photo shoot mode for us. Starting by 10am, we were back to our homestay by 3pm. It was a quick wind up for our last day here. Later in evening we saw the last sunset of our Andamans trip from the Room Balcony.

This has been a wonderful trip and I love each element of Andamans. The reason it makes the place special is its still natural and untouched by humans, the people there are helpful and doesn’t argue on caste and religion as in Main land.

We depart from Andamans with a promise to return back to cover more islands and swim within corals and fish.

Places to stay:

Port Blair: The Port Vista/ Ocean Terrace (Airbnb)

Havelock: Symphony Palms Beach Resort

Neil: Summer Sand

Places to eat:

Port Blair: Milky Way- loved it/Annapurna / New Light house Rest/ Ananda

Havelock: Symphony Palm beach/ Full moon Café- amazing food, the cheapest bill we paid in our whole tour/ Something different

Make sure to carry comfortable clothes as its hot and humid throughout the year, a change of clothes and towel when going to beach, sunscreen is must but still you can’t avoid getting tanned, a packet of biscuits to feed the hungry dogs.

Network is weak or mostly not available only BSNL and Airtel works, so save the tickets/confirmations copy before you land. ATM may have cash but not always, so carry cash along for the whole trip. The place is save, away from crime so need not to worry.

Happy Vacationing!!!

Havelock

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto
Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Kalapathar beach

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Radhanagar sunset

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Windows screensaver

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Sunrise at sitapur beach

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Sunset at lakshmanpur beach

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Chidiya tapu

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Sunset from our homestay

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Friendly dogs of andamans

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto
Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Limestone caves

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto

Mangrove forest

Photo of Chidiya Tapu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Apeksha Mahto
Day 1

Landed at Port Blair at 1600hrs, our agent advised us to book left side seats in flight to get a better view of islands. True to his words, I was mesmerized to see group of islands and blue tranquil water with white sands shining with different shades of blue. Being we reached a day before to our destination, the evening was spend strolling around cellular jail and Aberdeen Bazar. Later in nite, we spent some time discussing with our host about life and culture in Andamans and also he guided us as to more islands which we can cover in our next trip.

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