We planned a short vacation to the Andamans Islands in Diwali festivals – 2015. After exploring various options online, we settled for the tour package of Andaman Bluebay.
Andaman Bluebay typically Andaman family tour packages of 5 nights, which includes 3 nights in Port Blair and 2 in Havelock Island. We decided to cut one night in Havelock. It was not a bad decision.
Andaman – Nicobar is a chain of more than 530 islands (some very badly damaged in the 2004 tsunami) in 700 km, about 1500 km from Chennai / Kolkata. Only about 36 islands are inhabited. Port Blair is the largest city in the Andaman. Nicobar is much less frequented by tourists. Port Blair can be reached by plane via Chennai or Kolkata. Boat service is available, but takes too much time and is not a preferable condition.
We reached Port Blair around noon via Chennai after two hours of flight. MakeMyTrip had arranged for all our local transport and hotel accommodation. Their service was courteous and recommended. .
An important aspect of any Indian travelers to Andamans – also known as “Kala Pani” – notorious for the inhumane treatment given by the English for ‘rebels “(in fact freedom fighters) in India.
After a short break we were taken to Viper Island by boat – a trip of about 30 minutes. On the hill is the place where freedom fighters were hanged – after perhaps a staged trial. There is a “right” place down near the coast.
This was followed by ‘Light and Sound’ show at the cellular level prison in Port Blair. The comments of the show could have been crispier. It failed to generate the right atmosphere. Boat-man to Viper Island had done a better job.
Havelock Island – 54 km into the sea. The 90 min walk in the cruise boat with ‘Makcruz “was excellent. It is a 280 seater AC vessel.
Post lunch, was the visit to Radhanagar Beach. It is said to be one of the finest in Asia, perhaps rightly, with white sand stretches a long distance into the sea. One plus point here is that the food and other vendors are not allowed near the beach and there is no camel ride, seen in many of the beaches in India. Natural beauty and cleanliness is maintained. Bathing facility is available on the beach.
In the Andamans, Sun sets in early – at 5:00 (in November). And if you do not drink or dance, today practically over at 5 to 5.30.
Next day morning, there was another boat trip to Elephant Beach in Havelock where water sports, including snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat ride, water scooter, etc. are available. Near the beach, coral seen and one can even touch the colorful fish in 4-6 ft of water. Although coral is not very rich in variety, almost a dozen varieties of fish can be seen. Bathing facilities are NOT available on the beach.
In the Indian context, water sports activities are quite expensive (at Rs. 600 for a 5min event per person). One should check what the sport is included in the “tour package” and which one is not.
Returned to Port Blair at Makcruz the evening. Sea was rough.
Visit two islands were scheduled for day-4: North Bay Island and Ross Island. At North Bay once again a variety of water sports are available, including ‘sea walk “. Water sports in North Bay is cheaper than Havelock. Ross Island was used by the British as their Head Quarter in Andamans. Both trips were canceled due to bad weather and heavy seas.
This is a big problem in the Andamans. Although tour operators claimed that such cancellations are not frequent, for an individual, it is a great loss and great disappointment to lose a day. You have to be philosophical that it happened for only one day. We could have lost all four days. Just the previous week, a cyclone had hit the islands.
If you spend an extra day, you can visit the museum, cellular jail during the day time and aquarium in Port Blair.
What’s good about Andamans:
. Natural beauty – perfectly preserved – untouched.
• Good beaches – although few in number.
• The water sports and boat rides in crystal clear water.
• No crowds of tourists.
We had reduced the trip Andamans by one day to accommodate a visit to one of the richest temples in the world – Tirupati! If you are interested please visit the relevant page.