Updated: Jan 14
The bright sunny skies, the turquoise blue waters, the shining white sandy beaches and the lining of palm trees, when you hear all these, the thought in your head might be some exotic islands of some foreign country like Thailand or Maldives. But what if we tell you, that you can experience all the above and more, in our own country's backyard?? Yes, That's Andaman and Nicobar islands for you. Andaman & Nicobar islands are known as India's best kept secret with most popular beach destination islands, Andaman sea teeming with marine bio-diversity with magical underwater waiting to be explored.
We had planned Andaman trip back in March 2020, which had to be cancelled due to the onset of pandemic and the lock-down which followed in India. When the pandemic died down (at least we thought so, when the first wave came to an end), we were planning the Andaman tour yet again, as the Island chain was one of the safest place to visit as there were enough safety measures put forth by Andaman administration to avoid the second wave of Covid-19. Thus, we went ahead with our same plan in 2021 but, in the end, we had to turn back midway and curtail our tour due to the fateful onset of the 2nd wave of Covid-19 in India.
And this is a short blog post on our Itinerary and also a full Itinerary plan of Andaman island exploration which we hope, we will be able to complete in near future.
Day-1: Flight from Bengaluru to Port Blair and Explore Port Blair
We took the morning flight from Bengaluru to Port Blair and upon reaching we had to show our RTPCR Negative report and undergo a Rapid Antigen Test for Covid-19 as well, which was very well managed by the Andaman Administration and the Airline ground crew. We had booked our stay at "The Shelter" overlooking the Phoenix bay, close to the Cellular Jail premises.
We paid a visit to Anthropological Museum to read and understand some basics about the Tribal culture of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. We had a nice brunch at Annapurna Cafeteria which is one of the best restaurants, if you like the south Indian food (Pure Veg).
In the evening we visited the Cellular Jail Museum complex and felt privileged to watch the Light and Sound show, explaining the Freedom Movement and its connection to the Andaman Islands (Especially the Cellular Jail). Before we call it a day, We had a nice dinner at Amaaya (Rooftop bar & restaurant) close to our Hotel.
Annapurna Cafeteria (Pure Veg)
Cellular Jail Museum / Sound & Light show.
Amaaya Rooftop Bar & Restaurant.
"The Shelter" - Dignabad, Port Blair.
Day-2: Port Blair to Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep)
Next day morning, we had our Makruzz ferry tickets already booked for journey to Havelock Island. The journey from Port Blair to Havelock Island was of 1hr 30mins and soon after reaching the island, we hired a two wheeler as planned which would help us explore the island on our own. We had booked our stay for 2 nights at Havelock Island Resort close to the Nemo beach.
Throughout the day, We explored the Havelock Island on our two-wheeler and visited the Kalapathhar Beach at the south eastern side of the island, which is a nice secluded Beach with turquoise blue waters and in the afternoon we also visited the western side of the island for the most famous beach of Andaman, the Radhanagar Beach.
In the evening, we wanted to try some food at local Cafe and we stumbled upon "The Full Moon cafe" close to Vijay Nagar Beach and had a nice candle light dinner.
Full Moon Cafe for Dinner.
Havelock Island Beach Resort - Havelock.
Day-3: Explore Havelock Island - Elephant Beach and Radhanagar Beach
On our 2nd day at Havelock we planned for some adventure and to begin with we went on a short trek on the Elephant Beach trek route with a local guide and ventured into the dense forests of Swarajdweep island. The guide showed and explained to us how the mangrove forests at the edge of the island protected the island during the 2004 Tsunami by putting itself in between the forest and the gushing waves. We could see the remnants of the mangrove forest which are still recovering in the area. After a hike of 30 mins we reached the Elephant Beach area which was filled with many tourists who flock there for adventure activities like jet ski, snorkeling, various boat rides, parasailing and the scuba diving. We tried snorkeling, parasailing and a couple of boat rides and then decided to spend some time swimming in the shores of Elephant beach with its crystal clear turquoise blue waters.
In the evening, we planned for a sunset visit to Radhanagar beach which was a heavenly place and offered us perfect sunset views. So, all in all, the Elephant beach trek and the sunset at Radhanagar was the highlight of our Havelock Island visit. Before, reaching our hotel, we visited the Full Moon Cafe one more time to enjoy the evening dinner under moon light.
Elephant Beach Trek and Water Activities
Radhanagar Beach Sunset Visit
Full Moon Cafe for Dinner.
Havelock Island Beach Resort - Havelock.
Day-4: Explore Havelock Island - Kalapathhar Beach
This day of our stay in Havelock island was supposed to be another adventure for us, simply because we had planned to stay in a Bamboo Hut style homestay close to the Vijaynagar beach area of Havelock Island to get an experience of real native style living in the Andamans. But sadly, the stay we booked turned out to be a deserted area with no one around to welcome us or show us around. We tried calling them on their contact# but met with no response. So, we went to Kalapathhar Beach again, where, there are nice bamboo style huts to sit and enjoy the beach view and we found out one more exciting property close to Vijaynagar Beach when we browsed internet to find us a alternate stay option.
The stay at Silversand Beach Resort was luxurious one with a Swimming pool overlooking the private beach area, which is equipped with volleyball court and hammocks tied to palm trees for relaxation and for a nice view of the beach area. We decided to spend the day having nice food and relaxing in the swimming pool and watching over the endless blue sea on our hammocks until the sun sets over the Andaman seas. In the evening we visited another local cafe known as Saltwater Cafe. The ambiance of the place was really good and the cafe looked like set right beside the bamboo forest so it was a difference experience for us. But the food was average and we ate light and hearty before we end our 3rd night in Havelock Island.
Saltwater Cafe for dinner.
Silversand Beach Resort - Vijaynagar Beach area, Havelock Island.
Day-5: Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep) to Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep)
Our next destination was Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) which is a sleepy little island of Andamans which has many unique places to visit. We took Makruzz ferry from Havelock jetty to Neil island in the morning and our stay "Pearl Park Beach Resort" which was pre-booked was just 2.5kms away from the jetty. This resort is right next to the most famous beach of Neil Island which is Laxmanpur beach which is must visit place for one of the most amazing sunset in the Andamans.
As planned we rented a 2-wheeler again here which would help us explore the island on our own. Even though we did not enjoy the stay at Pearl Park Beach Resort stay, the place surrounding the resort was very peaceful and serene with full panoramic views of the Andaman sea and the beautiful sunset. We visited one more interesting place before sunset which was a natural bridge formation on the southern part of the island which can be easily reached within 10 mins of 2 wheeler/4 wheeler ride and then further 10 mins of walk on the beach but on a rocky terrain which needs to be managed. Then we got back to our Sunset point at Laxmanpur beach, where usually there will be massive crowd at this beach every evening, but due to the travel restrictions there were probably very less people on that day to watch the sunset. The sunset experience at this beach was even better than the Radhanagar beach in Havelock. After enjoying the sunset, we called it the end of the day and went back to our hotel room which was just a 2 mins walk from the beach.
Laxmanpur Beach, Sunset point.
Natural Bridge Rock Formation
Pearl Park Beach Resort, Neil Island.
Day-6: Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) to Wandoor (Close to Port Blair)
On the morning of our 6th day, we heard the news that there were some travel restrictions imposed by the Andaman Administration on the onset of few new covid cases in Port Blair and all the tourist places are now closed for visits, hence it made a complete sense to get back to Port Blair as soon as possible to get a better stock of situation and if needed we could plan to curtail our further trip of Andaman. So, we hastily planned for our ferry out of Neil Island to Port Blair on the same day and before reaching the Jetty, we visited the Sitapur Beach which was completely deserted and that's when we realized that, all tourist places are closed from the same day onwards.
We hopped on our Ferry from Green Ocean and the Ferry ride was uneventful and reached Port Blair in the afternoon. We then made a decision to go and stay at Wandoor which was a secluded town in Western edge of Andaman around 30kms from Poet Blair and we got clear information from the local agencies that, travelling inside the Andaman is still permitted but no visits to public areas like beaches or other tourist attractions are allowed. So, we rented a scooter from Port Blair and made a journey of 30 kms (1hr:15mins) to reach Wandoor and checked into our Resort (Sea Princess Beach Resort, Wandoor). The resort was completely deserted and only one family group have checked in before us.
We enjoyed the sunset views from within our resort premises as the property was right on the Wandoor Beach and then treated ourselves to a nice dinner at our room itself, thinking that this might be our last night stay in the Andamans.
Sitapur Beach, Neil Island
Sunset at Wandoor Beach, Wandoor.
Sea Princess Beach Resort - Wandoor, Port Blair.
Day-7: Wandoor to Port Blair (Corbyn Cove Beach)
The next morning we had a nice breakfast at our resort and then checked out and made a road journey towards Port Blair on our scooter, enjoying the Island villages and beautiful greenery all around us throughout the route from Wandoor to Port Blair. We had decided to look for a early flight options the next day as there was no point in staying in Port Blair till our original booked flight which was still 3 days later. This was due to the clear instructions from Andaman Tourism on closing down the tourist attractions in all the islands.
Upon reaching Port Blair, we booked our stay in Peerless Resort which is a property right on the Corbyn's Cove beach in Port Blair and with a close proximity to the Airport. Once we reached Port Blair, we simply roamed around the different routes within Port Blair on our 2-wheeler and visited Annapurna Cafeteria for our Lunch and evening dinner (We loved the food at Annapurna Cafeteria so much that, we had almost been there around 4 times in our entire tour of Andaman) and then headed directly to our hotel and stayed there for our last night at Port Blair.
Day-8: Return Flight from Port Blair to Bengaluru.
Though we could complete only 60% of our itinerary as planned, it was a sobering experience and we felt privileged to have got chance to visit this Island paradise amidst the pandemic amid all the confusion surrounding it as to whether its logical and ethical enough to travel during the pandemic at all. All in all, we took enough care from our side to maintain the social distancing and following the Govt. advice at all times during the travel.
On our last day, we traveled to the Airport and looked back at our week long journey and the good memories, of the time we spent in this distant Island, as we waited for our flight back home in the Airport Lounge.
We reached back to our home in Bengaluru the same day evening and re-united with our furry friends and the usual life in the city.
Must Visit Places:
1. Cellular Jail Museum & Sound/Light Show, Port Blair
2. Zonal Anthropological Museum, Port Blair
3. Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep)
4. Kalapathhar Beach, Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep)
5. Elephant Beach Trek & Water Sports, Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep)
6. Laxmanpur Beach from Pearl Park Beach Resort, Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep)
7. Sunset at Wandoor Beach from Sea Princess Beach Resort, Wandoor.
8. Aberdeen Bazaar, Port Blair
Best Stay Options:
In our 1-week long tour of the Andamans, we got opportunity to stay in a few different places in different islands of the Andaman. With our limited experience, We found the below 3 stay options to be perfect for our stay. We wanted a hassle free and relaxed/quiet stay without much expectation of Water Sports like Scuba Diving / Snorkelling etc.
The Shelter , Port Blair:
Being the first night stay of our Tour, this was the perfect ice-breaking for us to feel the Andaman Sea (the hotel was overlooking the Andaman Sea - Pheonix Jetty) as we had our entire tour set around this Sea of Andaman. The stay was very good, as we preferred room with the balcony, we got a nice glimpse of the Sea, and the busy fishermen and fish market in the distance. The caretaker was very polite and took care of all our needs.
The main plus point was this hotel was pretty close to the Cellular Jail Museum and also the Jetty where we could board the Makruzz ferry to reach Havelock/Neil Island on the next day.
Silver Sand Beach Resort, Havelock Island:
We had not pre-booked this hotel in our Itinerary and since one of the stay option we booked in Havelock was not available, we booked our stay for a night in this property at the last moment. The property was spacious one and had a nice private beach on the Vijaynagar Beach No.5. It also had a Swimming Pool and nice options like Hammocks/Play Area for a peaceful beach stay. The rooms were spacious/ tidy and clean unlike the other resort Havelock Island Beach Resort (where we spent first 2 nights of our stay in Havelock Island) which was overrated and completely full with visitors yet, cleanliness and service was not up to the mark.
And the main cool thing about this property was its location which was en-route to Kalapathhar Beach and bit away from the noisy surrounding close to the Havelock Jetty where most of the resorts or homestay's are located. And also the quiet and nice cafes like fat martin, Full Moon Cafe, Saltwater cafe are located close to this resort which made our commuting easy.
Sea Princess Beach Resort, Wandoor:
This was the most unexpectedly beautiful location and property where we got the privilege to stay and the journey to reach this place from Port Blair itself was exciting one. The property was a huge one and had a large area as a garden or play area and panoramic views of the Beach area. The Hotel caretaker offered us upgraded room which had a large sit-out balcony area from where we could enjoy the sun setting in over the Andaman sea clearly.
The room was spacious / tidy and clean and the room service / food was really good.
All this made this stay a wonderful one for us, before we wrap up our Andaman Tour.
Best Food Options:
Andaman is known for its sea food delicacies all around the world and tourists are known to like and try their fresh sea food like lobsters/crabs and various fish varieties.
Since we were both pure vegetarians and had very less interest in trying out any specific food options in the Andaman, we opted for regular restaurants which are preferred by the Vegetarians.
Though we did not aspire or search enough food options during our limited time spent in Andaman, here are couple of restaurant we enjoyed the food very much.
Annapurna Cafeteria (Pure Veg), Port Blair:
This restaurant is located in Aberdeen Bazaar area in Port Blair and known widely for its best South Indian food preparations. The restaurant is run by Owners of Tamil origin/background and no wonder the Idli's / Dosa's/Filter Coffee and Sambar varieties are of authentic taste and out of this world. The location of the restaurant/cleanliness and quick service makes this restaurant a goto place for the local's and as well as tourists who visit Port Blair especially for the museum or Aberdeen Bazaar.
The Handi Idli (Potful of delightful Idli's dipped in Sambar) and the Ghee Roast variety of Dosa's along with Filter Coffee is a must try here. We had visited this place atleast 4 times during our stay in Port Blair and we still crave for the Handi Idli even after coming back from Port Blair.
Full Moon Cafe, Havelock Island:
We really liked this place for its setup in an open environment surrounded by Coconut trees and a nice breeze from the beach which is really close. The overall setup of this restaurant is eye-catching.
Coming to the food, we tried their veg starters like Peanut Masala, Veg Kebabs and herb tea (especially the Full Moon Herb teapot) which was the highlight of Full Moon cafe for us and made us visit the same place the next day as well.
Makruzz / Green Ocean Ferry:
For Island hopping between Port Blair -> Havelock, Havelock -> Neil, Neil -> Port Blair, Havelock -> Barathang etc the best option is to hop onto one of the Makruzz or Green Ocean ferry. The tickets have to be pre-booked and can be booked in the websites given below. There are Govt run ferry options as well, but mostly opted by the locals for their daily commute for their work.
For short visits within Port Blair, Airport Pickup-drops or for longer 1-day or multiple day visits to Barathang or Middle Andaman/North Andaman visits the preferred commute option is always the Car Rental or CAB pickup/drops which can be easily booked in Port Blair or by contacting any travel agency in Aberdeen Bazaar.
Also for day visits around Port Blair the Bike option is also preferred especially by Solo or couple travelers. There are many rental agencies operating in Port Blair mostly in Aberdeen Bazaar which is the main business area of Port Blair. The 2-wheeler ride for day trip to Wandoor or Chidiya Tapu Beach or to visit Corbyn's Cove Beach is a preferred one and exciting one too. And on top of this, Havelock Island and Neil Island also offers 2-wheelers on rent which is a goto option, if you want to explore the islands on your own terms. And these rental options are available right at the Havelock or Neil Island jetty where you can pick up the 2-wheeler right after getting down from the Ferry and you can drop them back while boarding the return ferry from the same jetty. The rental charges start from 300rs/Per day and can go up to 600rs/Per day depending upon the season as well as model of the 2-wheeler along with a security deposit of 1000rs which is returned when the 2-wheeler is handed back at the end of the tour/rental period. Please note: Always ask for Helmets for pillion rider as well, and ensure to wear the helmet and check for fuel indicator while starting the journey as Andaman Traffic Police are very strict and Petrol Pumps are very limited in Islands like Havelock and Neil.
Places that can be added to the itinerary to make the Andaman Islands tour a complete one.
All the below places, if added to the itinerary, we would need at least 3 days (or 4 days for relaxed trip) in Addition to our tour plan (No.of Days).
An additional permit is required from the Tourism Dept. of Andaman Administration, to visit Middle Andaman and North Andaman considering the route will traverse between the Tribal Areas of Middle Andaman (Especially the tribal camps of Jarawa Native Tribes of Andaman Islands)
Limestone Caves and Mud Volcano at Barathang, Middle Andaman
Trek to Mount Harriet National Park
Lalaji Bay Beach, Long Island
Dhani Nallah Beach and Mangrove Walkway, Rangat
Cuthbert Bay Beach,
Kalipur Beach from Turtle Beach Resort, Kalipur
Aerial Bay Island, Diglipur
Ross & Smith Islands, Diglipur
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