Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal has been on my “must visit” list for a long time. But recently, when I checked out pictures on social network of friends who visited that place, I grew a little sceptical.
It looked quite similar to Goa. Beaches and more beaches and … err nothing else. And then my husband went on to book a 10-day holiday in the Isles. I am so glad he did, because we got a chance to explore Andamans the way none of our friends have. This Union Territory is a natural paradise, relatively untouched and breath-taking beautiful.
A 3-4 day trip to the Isles is useless in my opinion. If you are gonna cross the Bay of Bengal to come all the way here, then you might as well stay for a minimum of 7 days…10 would be ideal. We stayed there for 10 days and thanks to an awesome guide, we had a very enriching experience of life on the island.
Just spending a couple of laid-back days in Havelock Islands is just not enough. The beaches there are stunning and incomparable. But that is not all this place has to offer. Get comfortable with the forests and various islands there. Each has a speciality, go explore that. The marine life is fantastic, but you need to see its beauty thoroughly in order to appreciate it. If you’ve done scuba diving at one spot, don’t think of yourself as a tees-mar-khan. Go for the cheaper option of snorkelling at every place where it is done, as every island has a different underwater charm.
Get a taste of the life here, eat the local seafood, travel in the ferries, indulge in some serious island hopping, explore the jungles, visit the museums (you heard me) to know more about the tribal since no one is allowed to meet them in person.
It took me 10 days to realise that tourists rarely have to worry about their stuff going missing from public places, even if you leave it unattended for sometime. Imagine the same situation in the mainland– specially in bigger cities, where the unattended bag would either get stolen, or trigger a bomb scare.
Just because I value the time you are wasting reading my blog, I am going to make it up to you. Here are some tips for your Andaman yatra:
1. Carry sunblock, loads of it.
2. You can hire a two wheeler (Motorcycle or Activa) in Port Blair for Rs1000 per day and in Havelock for Rs 350 per day. Bicycles are available for Rs200 per day. Negotiate during off-season.
3. In Havelock, try to arrange for accommodation in beach facing resorts, preferably on Beach No.5.
4. Motion-sickness and sea sickness can come as a rude shock for many. Carry medicines.
5. Enjoy the seafood, and the road-side dhabas will serve you the yummiest fish fry.
6. It is a very safe place for women. So do not hesitate in roaming around in shorts or noodle-straps, even if you are not on the beach. It can get hot, so wear loose and comfortable clothing.
7. I saw some women wear heels on trips where you are required to walk a lot in the wild. Seriously! You couldn’t find any flats or floaters?
8. Carry lots of photocopies of you photo ids. You will need to furnish those at booking counters of ferries and some check posts.
9. Confirm your ferry bookings at least a day in advance to check up on cancellation or change of time.
10. Sun sets early here (compared to rest of India) and shops shut early. So plan your day accordingly.