Phi Phi Islands are the second most popular tourist destination in Thailand after Bangkok. And by popular, we mean boatloads of tourists stepping into the island every single day – regardless of the weather.
The islands are frequented by Indians so regularly that it has lost the charm of its “foreign tag”. Whether rain or shine, this place is over-crowded at all times of the year and for all the right reasons! It’s on top of every Thailand itinerary that has ever been made. The dirt-cheap alcohol in a remote island, azure waters, beautiful location, and the best party vibe – couldn’t have asked for a better holiday, right? Wrong!
While we are in no way discouraging people to not travel to the Phi Phi Islands, we have some caveats. Undoubtedly, it’s gorgeous. But when a ridiculously small island is painfully overcrowded with tourists, it takes away the joy of travelling, exploring and discovering.
If you are on the lookout for an alternative destination, perfect for an island holiday, then the exotic beaches and turquoise waters of Andamans are a far better alternative. The archipelago is a masterpiece. Virgin beaches, nature trails, rich history, mesmerizing sunsets and barely any tourists; the islands of the Andamans are truly worth a visit.
A little bit about the islands
Andamans and Nicobar Islands collectively comprise of 572 islands, of which only 38 are inhabited. Interestingly, Andamans are closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than to the Indian mainland. The fact that it is accessible only by air or water (a rather long affair) has contributed to its relative unpopularity amongst tourists. This trend is undergoing some correction in recent times, with more and more people travelling to the Andamans every year. Even today, the Andaman islands are fairly unexplored.
There is a sense of mystery in the air, untamed wilderness, with a hint of a lost past and painful history which the island now narrates through the few structures erected by our colonial masters. The Nicobar islands are completely off-limits; crocodile-infested waters and hostile indigenous tribes make these Islands quite dangerous to visit. Furthermore, in the interests of protecting the identity of these tribes, the government has proscribed all outside contact. A recent incident that made it to the news further attests to the dangers of visiting Nicobar. A hapless missionary illegally travelled to Sentinel Island in order to preach Christianity but was instead killed by the indigenous population.
Best time to visit the Andaman islands
The Andamans can be visited throughout the year. However, the best season to visit the island is from mid-November to early March.
1. Water Sports
The waters in this region afford some of the best opportunities to try water sports in India. From jet-skiing, sea walking, speed boats, glass-bottom boat rides to underwater diving and snorkeling; choices are numerous, time is limited. The shores of some of the beaches here offer incredible kayaking and paddling experiences too. You can kayak through the mangrove creeks, which are an absolute delight, and witness a variety of birds chirping from the trees overhead. The laidback Havelock Islands are your best option for scuba diving and snorkeling (beaches 3 and 4 in Havelock should be on your list for scuba diving and Elephant Beach for snorkeling).
2. Best Beaches
Undoubtedly Havelock is one of the most visitor-friendly islands here. It covers about 55 sq miles and is home to some of the most stunning beaches. You can visit the Radhanagar Beach to capture a beautiful sunset and the Kalapathar Beach for a stunning sunrise. You should also include Vijaynagar and Govindnagar Beach in your itinerary. Laze around Elephant Beach. This place is an absolute winner. You can also visit the Ross and Smith Islands, which still sport ruins from the British occupation.
Not only will you fall in love with this ‘life aquatic’, but the Andamans will also surprise you with its rich flora and fauna. It is home to more than 250 species of birds, about a dozen of them, are found only in the Andamans.
The islands here are protected biosphere reserves and there are over 100 wildlife sanctuaries, some of which are also the natural habitat for saltwater crocodiles. Protecting endangered species is a priority here including tree shrews, macaques, Leatherback Sea Turtles, and wild boars.
The rather varied and dizzying topography of the Andamans affords many different types of experiences. But one of the best takeaways from this trip is all the hiking that you treat yourself to. Places like Mount Harriet are easy to scale, making hiking easier for just about everyone.
Other places like Chidia Tapu on South Andaman Islands are a little more treacherous with hilly terrains and thick forests. If you are travelling inland during the rains- BEWARE OF LEECHES. They will stop at nothing to suck your blood; they are determined, slippery and almost impossible to detect.
On Havelock Island, the walks to the beaches are gorgeous hikes themselves. Ditch your usual commute when visiting the Elephant Beach. Instead, walk down to the beach, a hike that will take no more than 45 minutes.
Your perfect island holiday is just a few hours from home. The blue waters with white golden sands and thick mangroves afford a perfect island holiday in absolute peace and serenity. Savaari has no services in Andamans yet, but let that not stop you.