Andaman being a place of pristine beaches, rich coral ecosystems, and among the best dive sites had always attracted me. It was a dream to witness immense beauty of these islands which finally took shape this year in November.
Eleven days, four girls, seven islands of the Andaman archipelago; it was truly a trip of a lifetime and an amazing ‘girls only’ vacation. We set out first to explore the more popular among the tourists, the South Andaman and then bidding goodbye to two fellow travellers, two of us set out to explore the less travelled Middle and North Andaman.
The rendezvous started with Chidiya Tapu, which is around 30 kms from Port Blair. It is a small beach famous for its scenic sunsets among tourists and as the name suggests it has a good variety of indigenous birds.
We then found ourselves exploring one beach after the other during the entire journey but never getting tired of them as every beach was same yet unique. An hour ride by boat from Port Blair is the Jolly Buoy beach. It was one of the most immaculate beaches with minimum human interference and was a part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park.
Jolly Buoy beach had one of the best coral formations and efforts were taken to preserve these by the forest department. Clear waters with a visibility of more than 30 ft in the water, we engaged ourselves in Snorkelling and Glass Bottom Boat ride to see the amazing colourful variety of corals and fishes.
These Islands also have a dark period during the history of India’s freedom struggle and got their name as “Kala Pani”. As we once learnt in our textbooks of history, the freedom fighters were sent to this island as punishment, where they spent torturous time in the Cellular Jail. We related to those tortures as we witnessed the touching light and sound show at the Cellular Jail after returning from Jolly Buoy.
After covering Chidiya Tapu on Day 1 and Jolly Buoy and Cellular Jail on Day 2 while being stationed at Port Blair, the further journey consisted of staying at Havelock (Day 3 and 4) and Neil islands (Day 5). Havelock Island looked like a mini and comparatively less hep version of Goa with shops of all types, markets, fishermen, autos, two wheelers for hire, dive shops and lot of food joints.
We reached this island to stay at a beach side eco-resort in a small independent hut and hired an Activa. This stay was simply memorable for me as I felt like I was living my life in an imaginary world like the “Alice in Wonderland” unlike the typical hotels.
Another part of stay at Havelock Island was our first dive into the sea.Not knowing how to swim, we had a fear of the unknown and were nervous as we reached our dive shop early morning. The people there immediately made us feel comfortable and we engaged with them in conversation. Then after a brief session about how to dive, what to do and how to manage breathing inside water, our instructor took us for a dive into the sea. This was a shallow dive of 14 meters. This experience was priceless! I just cannot describe fairly how I felt to see myself floating among the schools of fish. One look at the life underwater and all our fears were gone!
Havelock Island is home to one of the best beaches of Asia: The Radhanagar Beach with a crescent shaped beach line facing a tropical rainforest. This island also has other beaches like the Kala Pathar beach which we missed due to lack of time.
After spending two nights in Havelock we set out for Neil Island where we stayed for one night. We visited the natural bridge which was a bridge like structure which formed naturally years ago. This can be seen only during the afternoon when the sea retreats backwards giving space for tourists to walk up to the bridge. This also was a wonderful opportunity to see coral formations and sea life trapped in between these coral formations.
The next day evening we spent the afternoon at Bharatpur beach lying idly on the beach and in the evening we took a boat back to Port Blair where we bid goodbye to two of the girls whose trip ended here. And the rest two of us, slept off to give rest to our tired bodies and be prepared for the next part of the trip.
Middle and North Andaman
The rest of the journey was to explore Middle and North Andaman Islands which are less visited by tourists. We set out early morning at 7 am from Port Blair and passed through the Jarawa Reserve; this is a part of the island where the native tribals of the Islands called the Jarawa live. No pictures can be clicked while passing this area. We reached Yeratta at 4 pm to catch our boat to Long Island.
The boat ride was a wonderful journey and we passed through picturesque mangrove forests in the rain. A young village girl volunteered to show us our way through the dark rainy lanes which at that moment seemed endless. We had no clue where we were going and panting to match our pace with that of the girl leading us. This continued for around 15 minutes when suddenly something bit my left foot in the dark and I screamed from shock and pain. After a stunned silence, all of us recovered from this shock and continued our journey further to reach our destination.
Just a few steps away we finally reached our accommodation and just one look at it we felt so happy and relieved to have finally found our place for the day after a long and tiring yet adventurous day. It was still raining and we prayed to the rain God to stop raining as it was now too much for us.
The place where I was bitten was still paining and I was told by the staff that it was the bite of a centipede and they applied some local herbs on the area of bite to ease my pain which nevertheless stayed whole night!
We stayed there overnight and already regretted not having time to stay there longer. Further we moved to Diglipur next day which is the last point till which tourists can go in North Andaman. We visited Ross and Smith Islands the next day. These are two islands connected in between by a narrow strip of land. We walked on that strip and played with the waves in the middle of the sea. This was the last day of our trip with the waves and we captured every feeling related to this experience.
With this our journey came to a close as we returned to Port Blair to catch our flights back to the chaotic lives in Delhi. We just wished to be back here again and be once again with the waves, the sands and the corals. Hope to see you soon Andaman Islands!
Places where we stayed during the trip: Port Blair, Havelock Island, Neil Island, Long Island, Diglipur
From Port Blair: Chidiya Tapu, Jolly Buoy
From Havelock: Radhanagar beach and beach just a few steps from the resort where we stayed
From Neil Island: Bharatpur beach and beach just a few steps from the resort where we stayed
From Long Island: Beach just five minutes’ walk from the accommodation
From Diglipur: Ross and Smith Island and beach just a few steps from the resort where we stayed
Activities: Glass bottom boat and Snorkelling at Jolly Buoy, Shallow sea dive at Havelock Island
Other things to do:
Visit Cellular Jail and see the light and sound show, Visit Anthropological Museum during your stay at Port Blair
Visit Limestone Caves while on a trip to Middle and North Andaman