Guide to Island Hopping in Andaman, India

Sunday, November 25, 2012


If untouched stretches of white sand beaches, gigantic forests that look straight out of Jurassic era and exquisite marine life is your thing, then Andaman might be the destination for you! Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of 572 islands in the waters of Bay of Bengal closer to Thailand than to Indian mainland. The islands are at a distance of approximately 1200kms from mainland. Blessed with immense natural beauty, friendly people and relatively low cost of travel makes Andaman a backpackers’ paradise! Of the 572 islands, only about 38 are inhabited and out of them very few are accessible in Andaman while Nicobar is completely out of bounds for everyone other than locals of Nicobar and govt. servants posted in these islands.

This list doesn't cover all the islands, for instance there is no mention of Havelock here. Most of the information is available online but for remote islands and logistics for backpacking. This post covers those aspects.

Complete Itinerary : Andaman, India
2 Weeks in Andaman - Photos of Tropical Paradise

Photobucket
Right Click open to see the map large.


Let’s get to the details then

1. Port Blair
The largest town in Andaman, this would be the entry point to the islands. Apart from few museums, water sport complex, cellular jail etc there isn’t really a beach here. All the ferries would leave early in the morning so if you get here by afternoon, you need to spend the night in Port Blair and head for the other islands the next morning.

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Where did I stay?
Coorg Niwas Home Stay
H. No. 106/1 J.N. Road | Opp. Delanipur Petrol Pump, Port Blair 744102, India

This is a clean, simple homestay close to the jetty and the harbor. The market is a bit further away and there isn’t much to see close by but if you are in Port Blair just for the night, makes for a good place to stay. Room costs INR 1000 and above.

2. Neil Island
The lesser known island compared to Havelock, Neil is a 2 hour ferry ride away from Port Blair. Neil is a place that still has retained the charms of an unspoilt island yet manages to give enough comfort for the traveler. Explore the fields, the rock bridge, Sitapur Beach, Ramnagar Beach and Bharatpur beach. 

Getting there and getting out:
The speed boat (something between a ship and a boat) leaves from Pheonix Bay jetty every morning at 6.30am. During the peak season, book your ticket in advance as the same jetty goes to Neil, then Haelock, proceed to State Island and Long Island. There is no ticket counter at Neil, to get out, board the ferry in the morning and take the ticket once aboard.
Ship Ticket price from Port Blair to Neil - INR 195

Facilities available:
Bikes can be hired for as little as 250 INR a day to ride around the island. 
For those who wish to snorkel with assistance, Niel has options at Bharatpur Beach for about 300INR. 
Boating and Fishing can be done too, ask at the resort.

Where did I stay?
Tango Beach Resort, Laxmanpur
Phone No - +91 9434270454 / +91-9474212842

A lovely beach front resort, Tango is a perfect place to relax. The beach is just a minute away from the bamboo huts and the sunset point, the southernmost point of the island is just about 20 mins walk from the resort. Bamboo huts are available for 1000INR and cottages are available at a higher price. I would say this is the best property on the island so far.

3. Long Island
Far away from the tourist crowd, Long Island is as remote as an island can get. Apart from two tempos for carrying goods and 5-6 motorbikes, there are no other vehicles. You have to walk around the island through narrow roads and forest paths. It has no tourist infrastructure and visit this island only if you want to experience life in a remote island, dense forests and one good beach. Lallaji Bay is a beautiful unspoilt beach on the other end of the island and you could either walk through the jungle or by the beach for 2-3 hours or hire a boat to get there. Chances are high that you could be the only tourist on the island.
Ship Ticket price to Long Island - INR 195

Getting there and getting out:
I boarded the ferry at about 8 in the morning and reached by 1 pm. It takes a long 4-5 hour ferry ride from Neil, Havelock and Port Blair to Long Island only on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday (not from Neil) and Saturday. The boat to Port Blair leaves on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Every morning a ferry leaves to Errata Jetty, if you wish to proceed towards North Andaman, to Mayabunder or Diglipur.

Facilities available:
Blue Planet does offer snorkeling, boating trips and Scuba diving at Long Island and nearby uninhabited islands too, but you might have to pay more because it will be organized exclusively for you, unless you find more travelers to form a group.

Where did I stay?
Blue Planet Resort
Phone No - +913192215923 / +919474212180

Don’t be fooled by the word resort, Blue Planet is an eco friendly property built around a tree using bamboo the traditional way. The rooms are very basic and separated by bamboo walls, even the flooring is bamboo. Book in advance during peak season as this place is famous with foreigners for its remoteness and Blue Planet is the only accommodation available here apart from forest resthouse. Rooms are available at 1000 INR which can be reserved online and 350INR which are for people who drop by without reservations. 

4. Kalipur, North Andaman
Kalipur, is a small village 25kms from the largest town in North Andaman, Diglipur. Come here if you want to trek to Saddle Peak(732m) , the highest peak in Andaman, watch the turtle nesting, experience unhurried village life, visiting Ross, Smith and Interview Islands. Again, this place doesn’t feature high on the tourist grid owing to the taxing journey to reach here, but it is a nice place to explore for those willing to take the journey.

Getting there and getting out:
From Long Island, ferry reaches Eratta Jetty. Buses/autos ply from Errata to Rangat, 30 mins journey. From Rangat, you can get buses to Diglipur. Kalipur is 25kms away from Diglipur, buses ply every 30 minutes and drops you right in front of the resort. 
From Port Blair, buses ply every day to Diglipur. No overnight buses are available as the Andaman Trunk Road passes through the Jarawa Reserve. 
To get out of Diglipur, there are buses which ply everyday no later than 7.30am and overnight ferry service also exists few times a week. The road journey takes about 12 hours.

Ship Ticket price from Long Island to Erratta - INR 40 (I think)
Bus ticket from Erratta to Rangat - INR 9
Bus Ticket from Rangat to Diglipur - INR 200 (approx)
Auto from Diglipur to Kalipur - INR 250

Bus ticket from Diglipur to Port Blair - INR 300 (approx)

Facilities available:
Snorkeling, Scuba diving, trekking guide to Saddle Peak, fishing, guided night walks to witness Turtle Nesting

Where did I stay?
Andaman Pristine Resorts, Kalipur
Phone no - +913192272532 / +913192272532 / +919474286787

Run by the very friendly folks of Alex and his family, Andaman Pristine Resorts is located right by the beach in Kalipur and has all deluxe cottages and comfortable bamboo huts. The cottages can be booked before hand, the bamboo huts ranging from 1000INR, 600INR and 300INR can be availed after landing at the resort. 

5. Little Andaman
If unexplored islands, really long stretches of beaches, pristine unspoilt beauty, breathtaking blues of the ocean, waterfalls and lagoons are your thing, then look no further than Little Andaman. There is practically no tourist infrastructure and very few make it this far but it is completely worth the effort. Devastated in the 2004 Tsunami, the island has returned back to normalcy and hides some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Andaman. This is a huge island, with a lot of people residing here. It even has two SBI atms and airtel, bsnl work like a charm. It is far but in no way undeveloped.  This place is still famous for the swell and lot of foreigners visit here with the intent of riding the waves. Beware of crocodiles in several of the creeks joining the sea. The jetty is located in Hutbay.

Getting there and getting out:
Samsun, a cruseliner leaves from Haddo Wharf in Port Blair everyday at 7am. Tickets have to be booked earlier because locals do travel a lot to and from Port Blair to Hutbay. Another ship Campbell Bay runs between Hutbay and Port Blair, starting in the afternoon at 2pm which doubles up as a sunset cruise too. It takes about 5-6 hours. Speed boats are available too. Ships get cancelled frequently, so do plan on leaving two days before from Hutbay to avoid missing your flight from Port Blair.
Ship ticket - INR 260, cheaper for smaller boats

Facilities available:
Bikes can be hired for about 250INR a day, thanks to the foreigners who have made it here much before us.
Muthu, a local rents surfboards and teaches surfing at times. 
Share autos to travel in the island. 

Where did I stay?
Sea and Sand Hotel, 1km from Hutbay Jetty.
Blue View Resort, 8kms from the Jetty. Phone No - +91 9734480840

Sea and Sand Hotel is a very simple and basic lodge mostly for locals who visit on business. Room rates start from 300INR upto 700INR. Very close to the jetty but far from Butler Bay beach and Kala Pathar Lagoon.

Blue View Resort is nothing more than few shacks and a common toilet for all built across the road near the beach. Room rates are at 300INR and 500INR. Right across the

General Details

Who lives in the Islands?
Most of us might have conjured up images of aborigines with spears and arrows inhabiting the remote islands but the reality is far from that. Sad truth is the aborigines have been pushed to the very far corners and migrants from mainland are the ones living in most of the Andaman Islands currently. There is large number of Bengali, Tamil and Telugu population living here. 

Can I meet the tribes?
It is fortunate for the tribes and unfortunate for the tourist, but as of now no one can visit the tribes. They tribal areas are off limits and human safaris illegal. So if anyone tries to sell you such a trip, decline. 

What language do the people speak?
Hindi is spoken and understood largely, in the remote areas, one of Bengali, Tamil or Telugu languages will work. English will work with some difficulty in most of the islands where tourists are allowed. 

Can I use my hammock instead of staying in resorts?
I haven’t tried it but I have heard that for a very nominal amount such as 60 -100INR, resorts will let you sleep in your hammock within the resort property and let you use the restrooms. If that is true, 

Can I visit Nicobar?
Unfortunately no! Nicobar still being inhabited only by tribes, entry is restricted. However, entry to Nicobar can be obtained by applying for a tribal pass with valid reasons. But the tribes are not weapons yielding naked hunters or something like that, they are developed.

Can I camp on the beach?
Officially it is not allowed unless the registered hotel or resort arranges for camping with permission.

Useful Links
http://www.go2andaman.com/
http://www.and.nic.in/transport/index.php
http://www.and.nic.in/tourism/howtoreach.php

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39 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information,this will help lots I guess. Can you share the total expenses for this whole trip starting from Bangalore and getting back?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shoaib. I don't have an exact number, besides apart from the accommodation and transportation charges, all other costs will vary significantly from person to person.

      Delete
  2. Good sharing,Want to say more but I will hold back for some other time.

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  3. lovely detailed post with so much information. Really useful, Neelima.. for when I eventually go there..

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  4. A Andaman wiki i can say..the list of beautiful locales and every minute information about logistics, food, stay makes this post a perfect guide for this superb piece of Islands. Great work Neelima.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Srikanth, hopefully it will be helpful.

      Delete
  5. well this is so informative...thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to give all the info that I had. :)

      Delete
  6. great detailed post. Will be useful for Andaman trip.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very informative. Thanks for sharing this.

    http://www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
  8. Brilliant Piece Neelima. Thanks for sharing such exhaustive information on Andaman Beaches.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for linking in my website. Glad it helped you. Would love to know what additions can I make on the website to make it a better portal :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a very informative site, keep up the good work! :)

      Delete
  10. Hi Neelima, I am very interested in going for a holiday in Andamans. we have about a weeks time. can u please help me plan my visit please, with so many islands to choose from i am a bit confused. we are looking for adventure activities and water sports, scuba diving etc. we want one day at port blair for sure but rest i cant figure out. please help. and can u please tell me whether January visit is apt for water sports there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shweta, January is a good time to visit the Islands.
      Like I mentioned in the post, most of the islands I visited are more for the backpacker or someone who wants to visit the more remote places. While diving and snorkeling in the islands I mentioned could be great, it is more for the independent traveler without the need for someone to organize these things for him.

      Havelock, North Bay and Jolly Buoy islands close to Port Blair have all the facilities for tourists and water activities. I'd suggest Havelock or Jolly buoy if time permits, else you can go to North Bay if time is a constraint.
      Please check this link - http://www.go2andaman.com/
      It has very good information on which island has what facilities. Hope this helps. Have a fun trip.

      Delete
  11. Hi Neelima,

    Great article.. helping us alot in our andaman trip planning. unfortunately we dont have 2 weeks to spent in andaman. when it comes to scenery, which one would choose between Neil island and Long island?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Umm, Niel island I guess would be the better choice considering both time and ease of accessibility. In Long Island, there is only one beach far away from where you will stay. So you'll have to trek through the forest for 2 hrs to get to the beach or hire boat to go to the islands around. If you like to explore unexplored areas, then Long Island is better, else Neil is easy and comfortable for snorkeling and stuff.

      Delete
  12. Hey the place seems awesone and this post truly explains it in an comprehensive manner... good work neelima... actually i had written about this place and while writing it has appealed so much that its on top of my list of travel destinations... i feel the place is a must visit for the following reasons i poated in my blog.. if anyone thinks that there is much more than what i have here do let me know http://www.travelguidemag.com/andaman-islands.html

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  13. Blue View Resort, Little Andaman is extremely hostile to Indians especially Indian Women. Azad or "Baba" the proprietor, is a Bengali man who likes to serve only white people. This is surprising as the history of the island and Kala Pani seems to have faded from the consciousness of the Indian migrants.

    After being in business for nearly 5 years me and my companion were the first Indians that were "allowed" to stay there since there were no other new customers that day.

    Baba also beats the dogs on the property relentlessly and encourages the other tourists to do the same. He serves all the dogs together and has no idea that there will obviously be fights for the food. This place has very average food and is terribly over priced.

    Gina lodge next door is way better more beautiful and definitely more respectful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry about the terrible experience you had at Blue View. I myself didn't find it anything special, but given the complete lack of acco options, there isn't much choice at the moment I suppose. Just the location is a plus.

      Delete
  14. Hi i am Amita, Such a nice blog very good information for andaman tours Andaman is amazing… Beautiful.. Awesome… It totally rocks.Andaman and Nicobar Islands are definitely the most beautiful Islands in Asia and its beaches are Most Famous. read more on our website for detailed information.
    www.lifelinetourism.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. its a good guide..i did havelock too ...and it it was fun!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wonderful post Neelima! I am planning a trip to Andaman but dont want to go through package tours and like. Do you know how we can rent a vehicle with a guide to go around Andaman? I cant bike and so its not really an option for me :( Your inputs would surely help :)

    Thanks,

    Priya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well it's bad that you can't bike then. Most of the islands only have bike rentals, not sure about car rentals. :(

      Delete
  17. Hi Neelima very nice Information.

    Can you please tell me how did you travel to Andaman...do u need special permission ?

    ReplyDelete
  18. hi
    i will be going on a trip to the andaman and the nicobar islandson 4 th may 2014
    i wanted to know the conditions for scuba diving like is it necessary to know hot to swim for going for scuba iving and what is the age limit

    ReplyDelete
  19. It is a very awesome post...I liked it very much...Got many new things to know...

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  21. I am happy that I found your post while searching for informative posts about the resort. It is really informative and quality of the content is extraordinary.

    Resorts In chail

    ReplyDelete
  22. Did u travel solo? If yes was it safe?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Amazing post about Andaman. Thank you for sharing your experience. Port Blair is the entry point for visiting Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With various places to visit in Port Blair , Andaman is one of the famous tourist destination.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow thats a superb and a great piece if i of you have. I am planning to visit andaman to celebrate my one year of new job and my bday celebrations too. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow thats a superb and a great piece if i of you have. I am planning to visit andaman to celebrate my one year of new job and my bday celebrations too. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is fantastic! Thank you very much. Was looking for more info about the islands and found your post. Thanks for sharing will follow your suggestions.
    So excited to get there soon!

    ReplyDelete

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