The Andaman Islands


Just returned today from a week-long trip to The Andaman Islands.

I will surely find some time in the future to publish some amazing photos, but thought it fit to mention a few things in this first post on the islands.

First, it is surely worth a visit for all beach and island lovers, who also are fond of beaching, snorkeling and scuba diving. There is nothing much beyond the sea – it dominates everyday life in The Andaman Islands.

Second, do not go on a package tour – you will miss out on all the fun, and also on some of the most important places to see and experience.

Third, some of the beaches like the Radhanagar Beach in the Havelock Island, and the Jolly Buoy Island beach, are simply world class – still unspoilt : I was surprised at their cleanliness, and the thorough checking on one’s personal belongings to ensure that we do not carry plastic bags. So clean beaches are a distinct possibility in the crowded Indian sea resorts.

Fourth, credit cards are not widely accepted, better to carry plenty of cash around.

Fifth, safety procedures are not commonly and widely followed, so take care of yourself all the time – please note that this is not Thailand or Indonesia or Malaysia. Amenities are basic, locals are simple people, ATMs are rare to find, few hospitals around, not many good eating places, et al. So go prepared for all eventualities.

Sixth, beware of mosquitoes – they are of the real pinching variety : cover yourself and use repellents – again go prepared.

Well there are other points, but I thought it is important to record some of the key points here before proceeding. Also, take note that the airfares to The Andaman Islands (Port Blair) are expensive during the tourist season, due to the low competition they have – just three airlines competing for all the business with high prices, which are costlier than the flights to Singapore !

However, my conclusion after the trip is that notwithstanding some of the downsides, it is really worth a visit. You will enjoy the trip. The itinerary could be Port Blair – Havelock – Port Blair, with day trips to Jolly Buoy Island off Port Blair ; Barathang/Parrot Islands (which I planned to visit but dropped). I would spend more time on Havelock and may be go to Barathang next time, if I can manage one more trip !

While there are more than 550 islands in the Andaman & Nicobar, only less than 40 islands are inhabited. The government has deliberately maintained the others as mostly jungles. While the tourist flow is not comparable at all to even one resort in Thailand, I guess it is better strategy to maintain the pristine nature of the islands rather than barter it away for tourist dollars. I found mostly Indian tourists, with very few Western tourists. So, it appears that the A & N islands remain as one of the most undiscovered parts of India. Even for Indians, I should say !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
14th November 2010
Mumbai

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