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Sunday 24 December 2023

Andaman Islands - Nature At Its Best

As our flight gracefully circled the Andaman Islands for approximately 15 minutes, the breathtaking sight of the lush, azure landmass invoked a sense of tranquility and serenity within me. Isolated patches of vibrant green islands stood silent, as if harboring untold stories.

Nestled in the cerulean waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman archipelago attracts a multitude of visitors from the Indian mainland between November and April each year. Following a 2 1/2-hour journey from Bengaluru, the undulating capital city of Port Blair (located in the southern Andaman Islands) serves as the embarkation point for any planned exploration.

Port Blair
In Port Blair, the offerings for exploration are relatively limited. Spending two days here allows for a somber visit to the Cellular Jail, where the dark tales of our freedom fighters unfold. Subsequently, a ferry ride from the capital grants access to Ross Island, which served as a Prisoner of War site for the Japanese during World War II.

View of Andaman sea from the cruise steamer

View from the barge

Additionally, one can venture to nearby beaches like Wandaroo and explore a few birding spots around Port Blair. However, a visit to Chidiya Tapu is best timed for specific parts of the day to witness birds, relish panoramic ocean views, or catch the sunset at the southernmost tip of the Andaman Islands.

Sunset at Chidiya Tapu near Port Blair

Swaraj Deep Or Havelock Islands
Following a two-day stay in Port Blair, most tourists opt for a two-day cruise to Swaraj Deep (formerly known as Havelock) islands to experience coral reefs and bask on tranquil beaches. These islands offer opportunities for scuba diving, snorkeling, and sea walks.

On way to Havelock island through cruise boat from Port Blair

Middle Andaman Islands
For those with a keen interest, a journey to the middle Andaman Islands may involve traversing through the forests inhabited by the Jarawa, a tribal community. The destination includes visits to the famous Limestone Caves, dense mangrove forests, Mud Volcanoes, and a ferry ride to the renowned Parrot Island.

A waiting area for passengers travelling on a barge to reach middle Andaman

The pathways for reaching different destinations in middle Andaman

Limestone caves at Baratang

View of Mud volcanoes located in Baratang

However, accessing Middle Andaman requires joining a convoy with time restrictions, necessitating a return to Port Blair by 3 pm.

North Andaman Islands
For the more adventurous and prepared for an arduous journey, exploring the remote islands of North Andaman becomes an option. Rangat, Mayabundar, and Diglipur, though scarcely visited, boast
mesmerizing locations and diverse bird and marine life.

A view of a rocky beach in Rangat islands

A view of the forest area where Jarawa tribal community reside

In the next segment, we will embark on a picturesque journey through various known and unknown destinations of the Andaman Islands, from the south to the middle to the north, and evaluate if it is indeed worth the visit.

How To Get There?
Direct flights from Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Vishakhapatnam, and Mumbai operate to Port Blair. Alternatively, passenger ships departing from the ports of Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, or Kolkata offer an alternative, albeit lengthier, journey taking approximately 3-4 days to reach Port Blair.

Location map:

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