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The beauty of the Andaman and Nicobar islands is second to none when it comes to beach destinations in India. The fact that it also holds a very significant place in Indian history further fuels the curiosity of many Indians and foreigners alike who want to see and experience the chain of islands — which in many ways, is much different from the India as we know — first hand. However, the fact that there’s not as much clarity about visiting the island chain as there is about most other parts of India makes it slightly tougher (and confusing) for many. I have been asked many a times, questions about visiting the Andaman Islands few of which, and their answers, I share below.
Things to know before visiting Andaman Islands
Do I need a VISA to visit Andaman and Nicobar Island?
Believe it or not but I have been asked this question by my fellow countrymen, much to my surprise. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands is an integral part of India and hence, no visa is required if you are an Indian National. Foreigners, however, require a RAP – Restricted Area Permit to visit the island(s). The RAP can be easily obtained from the Port Blair airport or the port.
How to reach Andaman Nicobar Islands?
Port-Blair is connected to many cities of India by air. There are flights from Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, most of the connecting flights. Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata have non-stop flights to Port-Blair, the entry-point to the Island chain. You can also take one of the five ships that operate from Chennai, Vishakapatnam and Kolkata to Port-Blair which run on tentative schedules and get cancelled depending on the weather. Also worth mentioning is the fact that these ships have basic facilities and are no luxury cruise-liners as we would have wanted them to be.
When is the best time to visit Andaman Nicobar Islands?
The season, the best time that is, is from October through May. The weather remains perfect during this time. This also means that everywhere you go in the islands, in all probability, you will find the places crowded. This also means that the accommodation (if you were lucky to manage one) would be at their highest. My suggestion would be to go just before the season starts and you will be able to enjoy the place comparatively free of the crowd.
How many days are required for visiting the Andaman Islands?
That will very much depend on what actually you want to see or indulge in. But if you want to at-least do the things everyone does, anything less than a week on the islands will mean not even getting to see the place properly. My suggestion would be to at-least spend 10-12 days.
Where to stay in Havelock, Andaman Islands?
During the season, this can get a little tricky. Even though Port-Blair is a capital city, it is hardly like any other in the country. It has limited infrastructure. There are just enough number of hotels, small and big. So if you are planning to visit during the peak season, you better book them a month or two in advance. Even before if you are planning to stay in one of the smaller islands (which you should) of Havelock and Neil. Port-Blair has accommodation for every budget, however, that is not the case with the other two. Havelock has just one budget accommodation.
How to reach Havelock Islands and Neil Islands?
Govt. ferry service exists from Port Blair to Havelock and Neil Islands. Except for days when the weather turns nasty, govt. ferries operate regularly. Their tickets, however, are available only from the counter and no online booking system exists. So, in order to book your tickets, you will have to take the help from your hotel who would happily do that for a nominal charge. During the season, a couple of private boats also operate the tickets of which can be booked online. I, however, would suggest to opt for the govt. ferries. Basking on the deck with the cool breeze kissing your face definitely sounds more fun than sitting in a box and waiting to reach the other end, isn’t it?
Must do things in the Andaman Islands
Apart from the standard fare, the things I would strongly suggest to try the seafood there. The local dishes are mouth-watering as well. Sample as many as you can. Stay at least a couple of nights at Havelock Islands and Neil Islands. Try the food at the many cafes in Havelock (different food from what you get in Port Blair). Don’t, I repeat DON’T miss the oil-fried pomfrets at the dinghy shops at the gate of the Radhanagar beach. Scuba diving in Andaman is one more thing you should not miss, give it a try and you will come out a changed person.
Doesn’t matter if you ever web check-in into the flights you take or no, this is one flight where you must. And be sure to choose a window seat on the left side of the aircraft. Hope for clear skies as you land, look out of the window-shield (don’t forget to use your camera) and yes, you can thank me later once you get back ;).
Is there something, in particular, you would like to know? Do leave me your question below and I will respond at the earliest.