The Bay of Bengal is home to the Indian union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The islands are renowned for their stunning beaches, luxuriant tropical forests, and abundant marine life. This archipelago contains about 572 islands, but only a few of them are populated.
Activities like sea walking, scuba diving, and snorkelling are very popular on the islands. Visit the Cellular Jail, a former jail used under British colonial rule, or one of the indigenous tribes that still call the islands home to learn more about the history and culture of the islands. As the islands provide excellent opportunities for trekking and bird watching, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also a fantastic destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also called "The Emerald Island".
- How to Reach Andaman & Nicobar Islands
- Best Time to Visit & Climate of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Accommodations in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
- Food & Drink in Andaman
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands Information
- Adventure Sports in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Andaman & Nicobar Islands Tribes
- Tips for Andaman Island vacations
Filled with colorful fish and kaleidoscopic corals, the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea feature some of the world’s richest and least spoilt marine reserves perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. After the initial tumble, the burgeoning tourist scene took following the tsunami, the islands have recovered remarkably well, aided by cheaper and more frequent flights from the mainland. Despite continuing concerns over the fragile ecological and ethnological balances. Many foreigners see the Andamans as something between a final frontier and a lost paradise and have decided to go now before the seemingly inevitable mass influx begins.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also called “The Emerald Island”.
The Andamanese is a collective term to describe the peoples who are the aboriginal inhabitants of the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal. The term includes the Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Onge, Shompens, Sentinelese, and the extinct Jail. Anthropologically they are usually classified as Negritos, represented also by the Semang of Malaysia and the Aeta of the Philippines.
A total of 48,675 hectares of land is used for agriculture purposes. Paddy, the main food crop, is mostly cultivated in the Andaman group of islands, whereas coconut and areca nut are the cash crops of the Nicobar group of Islands. Andaman Forest abounds in a plethora of timber species numbering 200 or more, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial.
Islands in Andaman
For administrative purposes, the Andamans are grouped with the Nicobar Islands, 200km further south and separated from the Andamans by the deep Ten Degree Channel. Foreign tourists are only permitted to visit certain parts of the Andaman group, while the Nicobar Islands remain strictly off-limits to non-Indians and are not covered by this guide. There are approximately 200 islands, of varying sizes, in the Andaman group and nineteen in the Nicobar.
The culminations of a submarine mountain range, the two chains stretch 755km from the Arakan Yoma slopes in Burma (Myanmar) to the edges of Sumatra n the south. Everything except the most remote of these are populated in parts by native clans, whose numbers fell decisively because of nineteenth-century European settlement and, all the more as of late, widespread deforestation. New felling is currently expected to be completely controlled, yet how intently this is stuck to is a matter for guess, and there is the unexpected issue of wood poachers from Burma and Thailand.
The point of arrival for boats and planes is South Andaman, where the predominantly Tamil and Bengali community in the small but busy capital, Port Blair, accounts for almost half the island’s total population. The most beautiful beaches and coral reefs are found on outlying islands and a healthy get-up-and-go spirit is essential if you plan to explore these, as connections and transport can be erratic, are frequently uncomfortable, and are limited in scope, especially on the smaller islands.
One away from the settlements, you enter a world of minimal amenities, where you’ll need your own camping supplies and equipment. It’s also worth pointing out that a surprising number of travelers fall sick in the Andamans.
The dense tree cover, marshy swamps, and high rainfall combine to provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, and malaria is endemic in even the most remote settlements. Sand flies are ferocious in certain places and tropical ulcer infections from scratching the bites in another potential hazard.
Port Blair is the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. A large number of tourists can only visit the island’s southern and east central reaches including the places at Cellular Jail, Corbyn’s Cove, Chiriya Tapu, Wandoor, Madhuban, and Mount Harriet.
Havelock is one of the beautiful islands in Andaman. It is 38 km from Port Blair. Radha Nagar beach is one of the famous beaches in Havelock.
New Names given to 21 Unnamed Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Union Territory of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are in the Bay of Bengal, are renowned for their stunning natural surroundings and diverse wildlife. From a strategic and economic standpoint, these islands are very important to India. They are regarded as one of India’s most significant military outposts and offer a powerful defence against any potential maritime threats.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently named 21 sizable unnamed islands of Andaman and Nicobar after recipients of the Param Vir Chakra on the occasion of Parakram Diwas. The largest unnamed island was given Major Somnath Sharma’s name in honour of the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, who died in combat on November 3, 1947, while repelling Pakistani spies near Srinagar Airport.
The islands have been named in honour of the following 21 Param Vir Chakra recipients: Major Somnath Sharma, Subedar and Hony Captain Karam Singh, 2nd Lt. Rama Raghoba Rane, Nayak Jadunath Singh, Company Havildar Major Piru Singh, Capt GS Salaria, Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa, Subedar Joginder Singh, Major Shaitan Singh, CQMH Abdul Hamid, Lt Col Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Major Hoshiar Singh, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetrapal, Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran, Naib Subedar Bana Singh, Captain Vikram Batra, Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey, Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar, and Subedar Major Retd Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav.
The National Memorial honouring Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, which will be erected on Ross Islands and is now known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, was also unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is a significant step toward acknowledging Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s contributions, who was crucial to the Indian independence movement.
In conclusion, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are very significant to India. Naming the 21 sizable unnamed islands after the recipients of the Param Vir Chakra and establishing a memorial for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made by these gallant soldiers and freedom fighters.
How to Reach Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Both air and sea travel are available to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Port Blair, the union territory’s capital, serves as the primary entry point to the islands.
- Port Blair’s Veer Savarkar International Airport has excellent connections to important Indian cities like Kolkata, Chennai, and Bhubaneswar.
- Flights from various locations in India are offered by a number of airlines to Port Blair.
- Major Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata all offer direct flights.
- Additionally, connecting flights are available from other Indian cities to Port Blair.
- Regular ferries run to Port Blair from Chennai and Kolkata.
- These ferries travel to Port Blair in about 3–4 days.
- Ferries to the other islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also available to tourists, though their schedules and frequency may differ.
- Since the ferries can be completely booked during peak season, visitors should check the availability of tickets and the ferry schedule in advance.
- It is important to note that while foreign nationals need a special permit called a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian citizens do not. These licences are available from Indian embassies abroad or from the Port Blair office of the Deputy Commissioner.
Visitors should also be aware that during the monsoon season, which runs from May to September, flight and ferry services may be impacted by choppy seas.
Best Time to Visit & Climate of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Depending on the experiences and activities you want to partake in while visiting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, you should decide when to go.
The best time to visit the islands is between October and May, when the weather is pleasant and conducive to outdoor activities. The sky is mostly sunny, and the temperature is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. The islands are crowded with tourists during the busiest time of year. This is also a good time for a variety of aquatic activities like sea walking, scuba diving, and snorkelling.
It rains heavily and the seas are rough from June to September, which is the monsoon season in the islands. There are fewer outdoor activities available at this time, and some islands might not be open to visitors. However, because the islands are less crowded, this might be a good time to visit if you’re looking for a quieter and more peaceful vacation. It can also be a fantastic time for nature enthusiasts to explore the mangroves and lush tropical forests on the islands.
In general, if you want to enjoy water sports, it’s best to stay away from the islands during the monsoon season. However, the monsoon season can be a good time to visit if you’re looking for a more sedate and tranquil getaway. Additionally, it’s important to note that the islands are less crowded at this time, which may be advantageous for some tourists.
Accommodations in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Options for various budget levels:
Budget lodging: The islands offer a variety of hostels, homestays, and guesthouses that are affordable. These choices are ideal for travellers on a tight budget because they provide essential amenities at reasonable costs.
Accommodations in the middle range: The islands are home to a number of hotels and resorts in this price range. These options provide cosy lodging with standard features like private bathrooms and air conditioning, and some even have swimming pools.
Luxurious lodging: The islands are home to a number of 5-star resorts and hotels for those seeking a more opulent experience. These options provide first-rate amenities like private beaches, spa services, and upscale dining choices.
Suggested luxury hotels and resorts in Andaman
Sea Shell: Known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, Havelock Island is home to the Sea Shell, a 4-star resort. The resort features cosy accommodations, a restaurant, a bar, and space for participating in water sports.
On Havelock Island, there is a luxurious eco-resort called Barefoot at Havelock. Private beaches, a spa, and a range of water sports are all available at the resort. The resort’s distinctive architecture and beautiful surroundings are well-known.
Sinclair Bay View: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ capital, Port Blair, is home to the 4-star hotel Sinclair Bay View. The hotel has a restaurant, a pool, and comfortable rooms. It’s a fantastic choice for tourists who want to discover the city’s historical and cultural landmarks.
The Fort Munro is a five-star hotel with cosy rooms and suites, a restaurant, a bar, and a swimming pool that is situated in Port Blair. The hotel’s expansive views of the city and the sea are well-known.
It’s important to keep in mind that the availability and costs of these accommodations may vary depending on the season, so it’s advised to check and make reservations in advance.
Food & Drink in Andaman
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a distinctive and varied culinary culture that has been influenced by their history and geography. The regional cuisine combines Thai, Burmese, and Indian flavours. Popular traditional dishes include the following:
Fish curry is a common dish in the region and is typically prepared with a variety of local fish, including mackerel, tuna, and kingfish. Usually, coconut milk and a mixture of spices are used to prepare it.
Andamanese Pitha: This traditional dish is made by combining rice flour and grated coconut, wrapping it in a banana leaf, and steaming it.
Kadamban Curry: Kadamban Fish, a native fish found in the Andaman Sea, is used to make this traditional dish. Usually, tamarind and a mixture of spices are used to prepare it.
Specialties such as seafood:
The main cuisine of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is seafood. Fish curry, grilled fish, and seafood fry are just a few of the many seafood dishes available to visitors.
The prawn fry, squid fry, and crab curry are additional specialties.
It’s best to try seafood in neighbourhood restaurants and food carts because it’s typically freshly caught and prepared there.
C. Top-rated cafes and restaurants that we recommend:
The Full Moon Cafe is a well-known eatery on Havelock Island that is well-known for its pizzas and seafood dishes. The restaurant has a great view of the ocean and is located on the beach.
The Green Sea Restaurant is a well-known eatery with a good reputation that serves traditional Indian food and seafood. It is situated on Neil Island. The restaurant has a lovely garden setting and has a fantastic sea view.
The Sea Shell Restaurant is a well-known eatery with a reputation for serving traditional Indian food and seafood on Havelock Island. The restaurant has a lovely garden setting and has a fantastic sea view.
The Waterfront Restaurant: The Waterfront Restaurant is a well-known eatery in Port Blair that serves traditional Indian food and seafood. The restaurant has a great view of the water and is situated on the waterfront.
It’s important to note that the availability and costs of these restaurants may vary depending on the season, so it’s advised to check and make reservations in advance. Additionally, due to the high demand during the busy season, some of them might be closed.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Information
State Bird Wood Pigeon
Andaman Wood Pigeon is an endemic bird, which is found only in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. This bird is the size of a domestic pigeon with a long tail. This bird has a whitish head with a checkerboard pattern on its neck. The upper parts are dark slate grey in color and the underparts are pale blue-grey Metallic green sheen on the upper side and a reddish bill with a yellowish tip and purplish-red orbital skin are identification characters. The bird lives in dense broadleaved evergreen forest
State Animal Dugong
Dugong, an endangered marine mammal, also known as Sea Cow, is the only strictly marine mammal, which is herbivorous. It mainly feeds on sea grass and other aquatic vegetation. The dugong is distributed in Indo-Pacific Region. The animal is about the three-meter in length and weighs about 400 kg. In India Dugong is reported from the Gulf of Kutch, the Gulf of Mannar Palk Bay, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Within Andman and Nicobar Islands Dugong has been reported from Ritchie’s Archipelago, North Reef, Little Andaman, and parts of Nicobars.
State Tree Andaman Padauk
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Padauk is a tall deciduous tree found only in Andaman. It grows up to a height of 120 feet. The timber is highly prized for making furniture. Burr and Buttress formation adds charm to the tree and is used in making unique furniture.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands forest abounds in a plethora of timber spices numbering 200 or more, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial. Major commercial timber species are Gurjan (Dipterocarpus spp.) and Padauk (Ptercarpus dalbergiodies). The following ornamental woods are noted of their pronounced grain formation
Marble Wood , Padauk, Silver Grey, Chooi, Kokko
Padauk being sturdier than teak is widely used for furniture making. Burr and the Buttress formation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands Padauk are world-famous for their exceptionally unique charm and figure. The largest piece of Buttress known from Andaman was a dining table of 13’ x 7’.The largest piece of Burr was again a dining table to seat eight persons at a time. The holy Rudraksha (Elaeocarpus sphaericus) and aromatic Dhoop/Resin tree also occur here.
The lime caves, full of splendid stalagmites, stalactites, and pillar rocks, can be accessed by a 40-minute boat ride through the creeks the boat passes through a beautiful creek full of mangroves from the Nilambur Jetty, it is a great lifetime experience for incoming tourists. And about 15 minutes trek further through village and forest. It gives an immense sense of adventure to the tourist.
Adventure Sports in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Andaman Water sports Complex at Port Blair offers adventure water sports activities, such as water skiing, sailing, water scooters, speedboat rides, windsurfing, para-sailing, and safe-water sports with paddle boats, Sea Walk, rowing boats, and water cycles, among many others.
There are numerous organizations that offer all kinds of fishing equipment and boats. The sea off the coasts of Havelock Island, Neil Island, Long Island, and Ritchie’s Archipelago offers some of the best catches for fishing enthusiasts.
Forest and Beach Camping
Adventure lovers can pack their tents and camp on some of the best beaches in the world. Or in the forests. The tourism division rents out deluxe and ordinary tented accommodations at Radha Nagar Beach on Havelock Island. Bookings can be done at the Tourism Directorate at Port Blair.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands water offers a fascinating world of underwater marine life, varieties of colorful fishes, rarest of the coral reefs in the world, mysterious remains of sunken ships, etc. All of these can be explored through Scuba Diving. Details regarding the authorized scuba diving centers can be obtained from the Directorate of Tourism.
One can enjoy the underwater marine life and view the rarest varieties of corals by snorkeling near the Andaman Water Sports Complex, Corbyn’s Cove Tourism Complex, Chidiya Tapu, North Bay, Islands in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (Jolly Buoy, Redskin), Cinque Island, Havelock, and Ross & Smith Island.
One can go trekking through the evergreen forest from bamboo flat to Mount Harriet, to Madhuban, Kalipur (Diglipur) to Saddle peak, and in Little, Andaman to experience the life within the lovely, dark and deep forest. There are other trekking routes also.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands Tribes
The Great Andamanese
They are once the largest in population among the various tribes inhabiting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Their estimated population in 1789 was 10,000. By 1901, their number had decreased to 625 and by 1969 their number had decreased to 19 only. According to the Census of 1971, only 24 of them survived, but by 1999 their number had increased to 41. The Administration is doing its best to protect and preserve these tribes.
These tribal’s have been rehabilitated in a small island named Strait Island. The Great Andamanese are foragers. Today, they eat rice, dal chapatti and other modern food articles. They can cook food with the ingredients of spices. At times, they still go in for hunting and gathering. Actually, their traditional food items are fish, dugong, turtle, turtle eggs, crabs roots tubers. Some of them cultivate vegetables.
Onges are one of the most primitive tribes in India. They belong to the Negrito racial stock and they have been relegated to the reserved pockets both at Dugong Creek and South Bay of Little Andaman Island. They live in a remote corner of the country in a small pocket. They are the semi-nomadic tribes and are fully dependent on the food provided by nature. They have no experienced the impact of outsiders.
At the same time efforts at befriending them have proved to be successful. They have been provided with pucca hut-type houses, food, clothes, medicines, etc by the Administration. They eat turtles, fish, roots and jack fruits and etc. They have developed artistry and craft. The Onges can make canoes. A primary school has been functioning at the Dugong Creek settlement of Onges.
They are now friendly and voluntarily seek medical assistance. They do not have good canoes but can make rafts which they build to cross the streams. The year 1974 was a land mark in the history of Jarawas. Dropping of gifts was done in February and March 1974. After establishing this friendly mission with the jarawas, the contact party of the Administration quite often met the Jarawas and gave them gift like banana, coconut and other fruits.
With the passage of time, the behavioral pattern of jarawas has changed. Till the beginning of 1998, they remained hostile, but now they are coming out of the jungle quite often and are becoming friendlier. For nearly a year there is no incidence of killing of villagers by the Jarawas. On the other hand, the Jarwas are coming out from their habitat to mix with the local people. After giving them gift items like bananas, coconuts, etc,. they are being sent out to live in their own natural habitat, with view not to force them to have a taste of the civilized world.
Isolated so long, the jarawas otherwise appear to be healthy, with smooth skin, deep curly hair, long and sturdy hands and legs and sturdy bones. They are physically fit for hunting, fishing. Unlike, other tribes mentioned earlier, the Jarawas are not welfare-dependent people. As nomadic tribes subsisting on hunting. As nomadic tribes subsisting on hunting, fishing and gathering activities, their traditional food articles consist of boar (wild boar), turtles and their eggs, crabs and other shore animals, etc. wild pig fruits and honey.
The Sentinelese is the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island. The area is about 60 Sq. kilometers. They are probably the world’s only Paleolithic people surviving today without contact with any other group or community. They are considered as an off-shoot to the Onge Jarawa tribes which have acquired a different identity due to their habitation in an isolated and have lost contact with the main tribes. The Sentinelese is very hostile and never leave their Island. Very little is known about these hostile tribes.
The residence of Shompens is the Great Nicobar which is the biggest among the Nicobar gathering of Islands. Like the Nicobarese, they have a place with the Mongoloid race. The Shompens have two divisions, the more modest division being known as Mawa Shompens. They possess regions exceptionally near the seaside locale along the waterway valleys. They are extremely bashful. They are very cozy with the Nicobarese and of the significant gathering of Shompens.
The threatening Shompens are living in Alexandria and Galatia waterway regions and furthermore continuous assaults are accepted to have been made on the Mawa Shompens by the antagonistic Shompens. Yet, presently, such antagonism has been halted. It is most likely in light of the fact that they have been to a great extent decreased in number because of different sicknesses. The Mawa Shopens are the casualties of sicknesses and are genuinely exceptionally frail. With the foundation of the settlement at Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar, Shompens have been visiting the pilgrims and they are step by step shaking off their bashfulness and detached demeanor towards the acculturated individuals.
Tips for Andaman Island vacations
A. Directions for navigating the islands:
You can get around the islands using taxis and auto rickshaws.
In the majority of towns and islands, you can also rent bicycles and motorcycles.
Ferries are available to transport visitors to the other islands so they can explore the other islands, but the frequency and timings of these ferries may change.
In order to explore the islands, tourists can also take guided tours.
B. Things to bring:
Sunscreen and a hat are essential for sun protection.
bathing suit and beach towel
Hydration tablets and water bottles
Clothing that is thin and breathable
a pair of relaxed walking shoes
a compact daypack for carrying necessities
To record memories, use a camera or smartphone.
Credit card and cash (ATMs are available in some places, but not all)
C. Safety precautions:
To prevent sunburn and heat exhaustion, visitors should take precautions.
Swimmers should use caution because the current can be strong in some areas of the ocean.
Because the tide can be unpredictable, visitors should avoid swimming or strolling along the beaches at night.
As some areas of the islands are unsafe for tourists, visitors should avoid venturing into the jungle or forest without a guide.
To prevent theft or robbery, visitors should be aware of their surroundings and take safety measures.
Visitors should be aware of and respect local laws and customs.
Additionally, tourists should be aware of the monsoon season because it can disrupt travel and outdoor activities due to heavy rain and choppy seas.
It’s also important to know that while foreign nationals need a special permit called a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian citizens do not.
It is always a good idea to check the most recent travel advice from the governments of your country and India before leaving.