Some one asked me how many days can one spend in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The answer is simple. They are so good, you could spend your entire life time.
I have written about some islands close to Port Blair (the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands) in Part I of my blog on the Andamans: http://indianbureaucratsdiary.blogspot.com/2007/12/andaman-and-nicobar-islands-i.html
In this Part II, I am writing about some distant places north of Port Blair;
about the NicobarIslands and about the only active volcano in India.
Places to see
Andaman Islands – North of Port Blair
The bulk of the 239 Andaman Islands comprise of North, Middle and South Andamans, which along with Baratang and Rut-Land form one landmass known as the Great Andamans.
Volcano on Barren Island (135 Kms. from Port Blair)
Barren Island is the only active volcano in India.
The 3 kms. island has a big crater abruptly rising from the sea, about half a kilometre from the shore, and about 150 fathoms deep.
Can be visited on board vessels.
Neil Island (36 kms. from Port Blair)
This is a beautiful island with lush green forests and sandy beaches.
It is the vegetable growing bowl of Andamans.
Neil Island is an ideal holiday place for eco-friendly tourists.
You can enjoy village life here.Hawabill Nest guesthouse of the Directorate of Tourism is situated here.
It is connected by boat from Port Blair four days a week.
There are beautiful beaches at Laxmanpur, Bharatpur, Sitapur and the
bridge formation on the sea-shore (Howra bridge) are major attractions.
Long Island (82 kms. from Port Blair)
This island has an excellent sandy beach at Lalaji Bay, unpolluted environment and evergreen forests.
Lalaji Bay is 6 kms. from the boat jetty and is accessible by a 15 minutesjourney in dinghies or trekking through the forest.
The sea around the island is frequented by schools of dolphins.
It is connected by boat four times a week from Phoenix Bay Jetty.
The Directorate of Tourism offers island camping during season.
Rangat (170 kms. by road / 90 kms. by sea)
You can enjoy the quiet village life and solitude of virgin nature here.
You can also breathe unpolluted air, a rare commodity for the city dweller.
Cutbert Bay beach (20 kms. away from Rangat bazar/jetty) is a turtle nesting ground.
You can view the nesting of turtles during December - February season.
Hawksbill Nest, the guest house of the Directorate of Tourism, is near Cutbert Bay beach
and the Turtle sanctuary.
On the way to Cutbert Bay, you can visit Panchavati waterfall and Amkunj beach.
You can travel north to Mayabunder and Diglipur from here.
Mayabunder (242 kms. by road / 136 kms. by sea)
Mayabunder is situated in the northern part of Middle Andaman.
It offers excellent scenic beauty and beautiful beaches.
Mayabunder is populated by settlers from Burma, East Pakistan and ex-convicts.
It has developed a distinct culture.
The Beach at Avis Island (30 minutes boat journey from Mayabunder), Karmatang beach
(13 kms.) and the mangrove lined creeks are worth seeing.
Karmatang beach is also a turtle nesting ground.
You can view nesting of turtles during December-February season.
Swiftlet Nest guest house of the Directorate of Tourism is near the Karmatang beach.
You can go north to Kalighat (for Diglipur) by boat from here.
Diglipur (290 kms. by road / 180 kms. by sea)
Diglipur is situated in North Andaman Island.
It provides a rare experience for eco-friendly tourists.
It is famous for its oranges, rice and marine life.
Saddle Peak, 732 metres, the highest point in the islands is nearby.
Kalpong, the only river of Andaman flows from here.
Ram Nagar beach (15 kms. away from Kalighat) is famous for Turtle nesting during December - February season.
You can also visit Ross and Smith, the twin islands joined by a bewitching sand bar.
Andamans Islands – South of Port Blair
Little Andaman Island (120 kms. by sea)
This island to the south of Port Blair has a beautiful beach at Butler Bay,
a waterfall and plantations of oil palm trees.
There are several sandy beaches all along the coastline of the island.
The break waters at Hut Bay offers an excellent view.
Little Andaman is the vegetable bowl for the Nicobar group of islands.
The Onge tribals live in this island, so do Nicobarese and settlers from
erstwhile East Pakistan and other places.
However, entry to tribal areas is restricted.
The sea journey from Port Blair to Little Andaman takes about 8 hrs.
Harminder Bay Beach (100 kms. from Port Blair)
This beautiful beach is situated at Hut Bay island.
The Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands comprise of 28 Islands with an area of 1,841 sq. kms.
13 of the Islands are inhabited by about 12,000 aboriginal tribesmen most
of whom live on Car Nicobar, the northern most of the archipelago.
The Nicobar Islands are separated from Andamans by the Ten Degree Channel.
Car Nicobar (270 kms. by sea)
Car Nicobar is the headquarters of Nicobar District.
It is a flat fertile island covered with coconut plantations and enchanting
beaches with the roaring sea all around.
The unique Nicobari huts are built on stilts with an entrance through the floor.
Entry is by means of a wooden ladder.
The sea journey from Port Blair to Car Nicobar takes about 16 hrs.
Katchal (425 kms. by sea)
Katchal is a tiny island in the Nicobar group.
This island has beautiful beaches at East bay, Jhula and West Bay.
It is this island, which heralded the new millennium in India, with the earliest sunrise on
1st January 2000.
Great Nicobar (540 kms. by sea)
This is the southern end of the Nicobars.
At its southern most point is Indira Point (formerly Pygmallion Point) - the southern
most tip of India (remember the southern most tip is not Kanyakumari).
The beach near Galathia is the nesting ground for Giant Leather Back Turtles.
This island also has biosphere reserve areas.
The sea journey from Port Blair to Great Nicobar takes 50-60 hrs.
Nicobar – unique flora and fauna
The Nicobars abound in coconut-palm, casuarina and pandanus.
The Great and Little Nicobar have the Giant Robber Crab which can climb up a
tree, break open a coconut and drink its contents; monkeys with long tail;
endemic Nicobarese Pigeons; and Megapode, a rare bird which is found only
in Great Nicobar.
Distances by Air
Kolkatta to Port Blair 1303 kms.
Chennai to Port Blair 1330 kms.
There are several flights a day.
There are also regular sailings between Port Blair and Kolkatta and Chennai (and also Visakhapatnam).
But it is far more convenient to travel by air.
Foreign nationals can stay in the Andaman group of islands for 30 days.
This can be extended by another 15 days.
But they are not allowed to visit the Nicobar Islands.
Indian nationals do not need permit to visit the Andamans.
However, permits are required to visit Nicobar Islands and other tribal areas,
which are given in exceptional cases.
Exotic Islands and Beautiful Beaches
I have given some of the best locations.
But there are many, many more islands and beaches which you can explore.
And if you have the time and inclination, travel by road from Port Blair to Diglipur,
the northern most place.
It will be one journey you will never forget.