Table of Contents
- About Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Things to do in Andaman and Nicobar
- How to Plan a trip to Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Places to stay in Andaman and Nicobar
About Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, or colloquially, Andaman Nicobar is a union territory and a coveted beach destination on the Indian ocean, off the eastern coast of India. The capital city of the territory is Port Blair. It is also the region’s administrative headquarters and the largest Andaman & Nicobar city.
Andaman and Nicobar are divided into three districts – Nicobar with Car Nicobar as the capital, South Andaman with Port Blair as its capital, and the North and Middle Andaman district with Mayabunder as the capital. With beautiful beaches, marine life, indigenous culture and history, this island cluster has evolved into a delightful tourist destination over the years.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located in the Indian Ocean, at the junction of the Bay of Bengal on the west and the Andaman Sea on the east. The Andaman Islands are separated by the Nicobar Islands by the 150KM wide Ten Degree Channel. The total number of islands here is about 572, of which, 38 are inhabited, while the others are still virgin territories or inaccessible.
Being in the middle of the ocean, the region experiences a classic tropical island climate with hot and humid weather all year round. Summers are very hot while winters are pleasant, cool, and breezy. Hence, the best time to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands is between October and March. Monsoons in the islands are very heavy so it’s better to avoid the rainy season.
[Also Read: Why the Andamans > Phi Phi Islands]
History & Culture
The earliest evidence of human life in the Andaman & Nicobar area dates back to 2200 years. But research also says that the native Andamanese people might have been from the Middle Paleolithic era, about 30,000 years ago. The region has seen the change of many rulers. From the Rajendra Chola of the Chola Empire in the 11th century to the Danish East India Company, Austria, Italy, and finally the British East India Company, before it became a part of the Indian Republic as a UT in 1956.
The heritage of this place is deep-rooted in its ethnic communities. Presently, there are six tribal groups, namely, Jarawa, Onge, Shompen, Great Andamanese, Nicobarese, and the Sentinelese who are the native inhabitants. However, many generations of colonial occupation on the islands have also influenced the region’s culture and created a cosmopolitan hub that we see today.
[Also Read: Travel Begins at Home – Dekho Apna Desh]
Apart from the popular tourist places, these fun facts define the region’s significance –
- The Barren Island, off the city of Port Blair, is the only active volcano found in all of South Asia.
- Bengali is the most widely spoken language in the entire region, followed by Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, and Hindi. The local traders also use Andaman Creole Hindi – a blend of Hindustani, Bengali, and Tamil.
- India’s largest sea turtles are found here – Leatherback, with 1000 turtles currently inhabiting the islands.
- The North Sentinel Island is home to the most isolated human community – the Sentinelese tribes, who are said to be direct descendants of the first human race emerging in Africa, 60,000 years ago.
Things to do in Andaman & Nicobar
Andaman tourism has more to the popular sightseeing places. Include these activities among other Andaman & Nicobar visiting places –
- Scuba diving in Andaman & Nicobar is one of the must-do things. You can get a short lesson from local diving schools and explore underwater life.
- Also, try snorkeling. Easier and quicker than scuba, snorkeling gives you a peek into the corals and other marine life, varieties of fishes and plants under the clear surface of the water.
- Enjoy a ride on the dolphin glass-bottom boat. The dolphin-shaped carrier glides over the waves giving you a view underneath.
- Try mangrove kayaking in Mayabunder and sail through dense forests of mangrove and spot exotic birds and rare plants.
Places to visit in Andaman & Nicobar
There are many places to visit in Port Blair and other islands of the region. Visit the forests, islands, and beaches of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands for a complete experience.
Cellular Jail – Also known as Kala Pani, this historical prison is located in Port Blair. It was constructed by the British army to exile political prisoners after the revolt of 1857. You can explore the memorial museum housing photographs, memorabilia, and statues of freedom fighters. The premises also host a light and sound show.
North Bay Island – This is a scenic island off Port Blair, known for beautiful coral reefs and water sports. Try snorkelling, scuba diving, glass boat rides, sea walking etc. You have to take a ferry to reach the island.
Mount Harriet National Park – Of all nine national parks in Andaman and Nicobar, Mount Harriet is the most popular and most easily accessible. It’s located in Ferrargunj district, off Port Blair city and boasts the third highest peak of the territory. The vast natural enclave is home to many rare and endangered species of birds and animals.
Chidiya Tapu – Also known as “Bird Island”, this is a picturesque locate, sitting 25KM from Port Blair. Along with bird watching, you can also do pearl hunting, boating, scuba diving, snorkelling etc. The island is also famous for its most unforgettable sunset and sunrise views.
Unexplored places/ Hidden Gems of Andaman & Nicobar
Besides the famous Andaman tourism places, these hidden gems of the islands will leave you in awe.
Baratang Island – Located 100KM away from Port Blair by road, this remote island is well-known for its dense mangrove forests, limestone caves, and mud volcanoes, the only ones found in India.
Beaches of Andaman
- Corbyn’s Cove – Dotted with coconut groves and beach shacks, this luxuriant cove is the most unspoiled one of all Port Blair beaches.
- Radhanagar Beach – With crystal blue water and soft white sands, it is considered to be Asia’s Best Beach.
- Bharatpur Beach – This clear-water beach is known for rich coral beds and exotic marina flora and fauna.
- Kalapathar Beach – An isolated beach with rocky shores and white sands, in Havelock island, this is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet time.
Beaches of Nicobar
- B-Quarry Beach – Located near the Campbell Bay bazaar, this beach is good for unwinding by the sea or spending a day.
- Laxman Beach – A beautiful, C-shaped beach, this is located a 5-minute walk from Campbell Bay town. You can take a boat ride to a small islet nearby.
Places to visit nearby
You can also visit the Nicobar Islands as a part of your Andaman tourism packages. Except for the urban and easternmost parts of the Great Nicobar Island, you will need a Tribal Permit which you can avail of from Port Blair. With your Andaman & Nicobar package, you can also visit these places –
- Campbell Bay – A small village located in the Great Nicobar region; Campbell Bay is known for the southernmost tip of India – at Indira Point.
- Nancowry – Located in the central part of the Nicobar Islands, this is a secluded island with dense tropical forests and virgin beaches.
Places to eat in Andaman & Nicobar
The food of these Islands is predominantly exotic island fare. Check out these restaurants –
- Nemo Café – The Beach Bar
- Sea Dragon Restaurant
- Something Different – A Beachside Café
- Ginger N Spice Restaurant
- Fat Martin
- Café Salt Water
- Anju Coco Resto
- Bonova Café & Pub
How to Plan a Trip to Andaman & Nicobar Islands
How to reach Andaman & Nicobar
Since the cluster of islands is isolated from mainland India, the only options to reach here is via waterways or airways. The trip cost starts from INR 5000 and can go up, depending on your travel plans.
The islands are not accessible by train.
There is no land connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands from mainland India. Instead, there are ships from Chennai, Kolkata, and Vizag to Port Blair. The sailing time is approximately 60-70 hours and is available 3-4 times a month.
The entire union territory is served by Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair, 2KM away from the city. There are no other airports in Andaman and Nicobar at the moment.
Andaman & Nicobar Hotels & Resorts
The best resorts here are either located on remote beaches or within the city of Port Blair. Depending on your travel goals, you can choose from the exotic resorts or state-of-the-art hotels in these Islands. Check out these places to stay at, on your tour –
- Symphony Samudra Jungle Beach Resort
- Taj Exotica Resort & Spa
- Hotel Palika Palace
- Barefoot at Havelock
- Hotel Value Luxury Stay
- Aquays Hotels & Resorts
- Symphony Summer Sands
- Sea Shell Neil
- Seaview Residency