Andaman Islands

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, also known as Kalapani is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in India.

They include a whooping 572 islands in total out of which only 50 are inhabited by people where rest are either too small, come under forest reserve or used by Indian military as their base.

The islands have been the favorite tourist destination for a while now and offer one of the most out-of-world, exquisite vacation spots in India.

The weather here is moderate and doesn't follow the trends of India. When there is summer all over the mainland, Andamans just start out with monsoon and therefore offer perfect break from the harsh sun.

The glistening clean white sand beaches, wide shorelines and crystal blue waters offer a perfect place to take a dip or enjoy water sports throughout the day.

Top Tourist Destinations in Andaman Islands:

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are famous for their white-sand beaches and palm lined shorelines along with one of the greatest underwater biodiversity housing corals and sea dwellers.

This makes it an all around tourist attraction. Here is the list of all islands in Andaman you can visit:

  1. Havelock Island
  2. Port Blair
  3. Jolly Buoy
  4. North Bay
  5. Neil Island
  6. Ross Island
  7. Baratang
  8. Cinque Island
  9. Diglipur
  10. Red Skin Island
  11. Mayabunder
  12. Barren Island

Other lesser visited tourist attractions in Andaman:

Things you need to know:

  • There are 572 islands in Andaman and Nicobar group of islands.
  • Out of these 300, only 37 are inhabited by humans.
  • The capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and largest city is Port Blair.
  • Almost half the population of Andaman and Nicobar lives at Port Blair.
  • Port Blair is ranked 28th compared to the area of other islands.
  • Port Blair was established in 1 Nov 1956.
  • The islands are most famous for their palm-lined, white-sand beaches along with tropical rainforest and mangroves.
  • Havelock Island is the most visited tourist spot in the island, followed by Port Blair.
  • You will need atleast 1 day to explore each island, except Ross Island and North Bay, which can both be explored in a day, together.
  • Must-visit islands in Andaman are Havelock Island, Neil Island, Port Blair and North Bay.
  • North Bay Island, Jolly Buoy, and Red Skin Island are best suited for people looking to enjoy water-sports.
  • Havelock Island is considered the best in both sightseeing and water-sports.
  • Trips to Ross Island and Viper Island is more suited for heritage and history lovers.
  • Best islands for sightseeing are Havelock Island, Port Blair, Neill Island, and Baratang.
  • Best islands for offbeat sightseeing are Baratang, Rangat, Long Island, Hut Bay, Diglipur and Cinque Island.
  • Most of these offbeat islands have basic stay and general facilities at best.
  • Special permits are required to go near Barren Island.
  • You are not allowed to set foot on the Barren Island under any circumstances.
  • Ferries & cruizes are only available for Havelock and Neil Island, other islands have to be visited by a boat.
  • The last sea-plane in the islands was discontinued in 2017.
  • Inter-Island helicopter services are only available for medical emergencies and Govt. officer transportation.
  • The islands are divided into three districts, North Andaman District, South Andaman District and Nicobar District.
  • Within these 3, you are only allowed to visit the first two. The whole Nicobar District is off limits for tourists.
  • Most indigenous islanders live in remote islands, where visit is not permitted.
  • Most of the forests in Andaman Islands are protected.
  • The state animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is Dugong (Sea Cow).
  • The state bird of Andamans is Andaman Wood Pigeon.

Top Beaches in the Andaman Islands:

Things you need to know:

  • All of the beaches in Andaman are free of any entry fee.
  • You can easily cover any 2 beaches on any island in a day.
  • The only beaches in Andaman where water-sports is available are Corbyns Cove Beach, Elephant Beach and Bharatpur Beach.
  • Drinking is prohibited at all beaches in Andaman.
  • Bars are available only at the Corbyns Cove Beach and Wandoor Beach only.

Museums and Historical Attractions in the Andaman Islands:

  • Cellular Jail
  • Samudrika Museum
  • Anthropological Museum
  • Fisheries Museum
  • Chatham Saw Mill

Which attractions to visit during your Andaman Trip?

With more than 12 Islands open for general public to visit, Andamans has a lot of amazing destinations to offer.

Full tour of Andaman would take over 25 days to complete due to extensive travel and permissions required, but most of the people visiting here go to the most popular destinations because it both saves time and keeps you from painful traveling to see mediocre places.

There are some destinations that offer amazing sceneries perfect for sightseeing and some offer a great place for some Water Sports, therefore we will break this list into two sections:

  1. Best Places for Sightseeing
  2. Best Places for Water Sports

1. Best Places for Sightseeing:

Here are the best places you can go in Andaman to explore, relax and spend time with your family.

  1. 1.
    Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island, AndamanRadhanagar Beach

    Located in: Havelock Island

  2. 2.
    Carbyn's Cove Beach, Port Blair, Andaman IslandsCorbyn's Cove Beach

    Located in: Port Blair

  3. 3.
    Cellular Jail, Port BlairCellular Jail

    Located in: Port Blair

  4. 4.
    Elephant Beach, Havelock IslandElephant Beach

    Located in: Havelock Island

  5. 5.
    Laxmanpur Beach, Neil island, Andaman IslandsLaxmanpur Beach

    Located in: Neil Island

  6. 6.
    Sitapur Beach, Neil IslandSitapur Beach

    Located in: Neil Island

  7. 7.
    Ross Island, Andaman and Nicobar IslandsRoss Island

    Located in: Port Blair

  8. 8.
    Wandoor Beach, Port BlairWandoor Beach

    Located in: Port Blair

  9. 9.
    Limestone Caves, Baratang, AndamansLimestone Caves

    Located in: Baratang (Far)

  10. 10.
    Kalapathar beach at hutbay, Andaman IslandsKalapatthar Beach

    Located in: Hutbay (Far)

  11. 11.
    Ross and Smith Island, Aerial View, North Andaman IslandsRoss & Smith

    Located in: North Andaman (Far)

2. Best Places for Water Sports:

The second best thing about a vacation in Andaman would be the water sports you can do here in crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and the blue sky.

There are multitudes of activities suitable for both adventure seekers and families.

There are more than 10 places where you can find these activities during your vacation, but for easy choice, we have compiled a list that will help you decide faster.

  1. 1.
    Elephant Beach, Havelock Island, AndamansElephant Beach

    Location: Havelock Island

    Available Activities:
    Scuba, Sea Walk, Snorkeling, Speed Boats

  2. 2.
    Far View of North Bay, Near Wandoor Beach, Port BlairNorth Bay Island

    Location: Near Port Blair

    Available Activities:
    Scuba, Sea Walk, Snorkeling, Speed Boats, Semi Submarine, Dolphin.

  3. 3.
    Aerial View of Jolly Buoy, Port BlairJolly Buoy

    Location: Near Port Blair

    Available Activities:
    Scuba, Snorkeling, Speed Boats, Dolphin Boat Ride.

  4. 4.
    Carbyns Cove Beach, Port BlairCorbyn's Cove Beach

    Located in: Port Blair

    Available Activities:
    Scuba, Snorkeling, Speed Boats, Jet Skis.

Available Water Sports in Andaman Islands:

Things you need to know:

  • Elephant Beach at Havelock Island is the best place for water-sports, closely followed by North Bay.
  • North Bay Island is close to Port Blair and is mostly visited for water sports activities.
  • Corbyn’s Cove Beach at Port Blair, offers Sea Kart, which was debuted in 2019.
  • Havelock Island is the best place for Scuba Diving in Andaman, done in a dive location called Nemo Reef.
  • Other great places to Scuba Dive are North Bay Island and Neil Island.
  • The coral density of Andaman Islands are healthy and hordes of colorful fishes can be seen underwater.
  • There are over 750 species of fish in one reef alone.
  • Trigger, angel, and parrot fish are easily spotted near the shorelines along with reef sharks, manta rays, and loggerhead turtles in the deeper seas.
  • Some corals near the Barren Island are unique to the area, existing only on cooled lava and ash beds around the island, underwater.
  • You can only snorkel at specific places in the Andaman Islands, rest require prior permission.
  • Activities like Scuba Diving, Sea Walk, and Parasailing cost INR 3500 on average.
  • Other casual activities like Jet Skis, Sofa Rides, Glass Bottom Boats etc. range from INR 500-1000 on average.
  • All water-sports in Andaman Islands, including Snorkeling is done with an instructor in sight at all times.

More about Andaman and Nicobar Islands:

Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Aerial View
Aerial view of Andaman Islands

Brief History of Andaman Nicobar Islands:

There is history in every corner of these islands. Every place engulfs a harsh or glorious past that brings out struggle we made and the hope we lived for.

Cellular Jail in Construction in year 1940
Cellular Jail During Construction

One of the most vital points why Andaman has a print of history with it is because of the British rule. The island came under the power of Britishers in the 19th century and has a close relation with the struggle for independence.

Important Historical landmarks to visit:
  • Cellular Jail which was also known as Kalapani Jail, where freedom fighters were incarcerated.
  • Ross Island which was the first settlement of britishers in Andaman.
  • Viper Island, where the torture of female and male prisoners took place.
  • Chatham Saw Mill, where Indian workers were slaved to cut wood.
  • Hopetown
  • Mount Harriet

Facts and things you need to know:

  • Old archaeological pieces suggest that the islands were inhabited somewhere around 800 BC.
  • This time was sometime during mid Paleolithic age.
  • The earliest mention of Andaman Nicobar Islands was found in Ptolemy’s geographical treatises of the 2nd century AD.
  • The islands were mostly home to tribes including Great Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Shompens and Sentenelese.
  • In its early days, Andamans were used by Chola dynasty as a naval base for expeditions to Sriwijiya Empire, located in Indonesia.
  • Soon after, it was occupied by the Danish and renamed as Danish East India Company.
  • The islands were prone to sudden outbreaks of epidemics, most common being malaria.
  • After the Danish abandoned Andamans, British started their colonization.
  • British bought the islands from Danish and tried to set-up a colony here.
  • British Lieutenant Archibald Blair chose Port Blair as the site for the penal colony in 1777.
  • The colony was successfully established in 1858.
  • The Andamans Islands were used to isolate political prisoners in Cellular Jail by the British.
  • Political prisoners of 1857 mutiny, were forced to build their own prison on the island.
  • Total of 773 prisoners were brought to Andaman Islands, out of which 292 either died, escaped or were hanged in less than 2 months.
  • By 1864, the number of prisoners grew to 3,000.
  • The prison was active till 1945, after which it was discontinued and still stands today as a reminder of the past.
  • Cellular Jail was also known as Kalapani, as escape was nearly impossible.
  • Amidst the 2nd World War, the islands were occupied by Japanese forces.
  • It was one of the most ruthless times in the history of Andamans, where 100's of indigenous tribals suspected of collaborating with the British were killed.
  • Bombings and sudden raids, targeting the Great Andamanese and Jarawas were common during this period.
  • Soon after independence, British left Andamans and it became a part of India in 1950.
  • The islands were declared a union territory in 1956.

 

Natives and Isolated Tribes of Andaman Islands: (Jarawas, Sentinels & More)

  • The indigenous tribals of Andamans are divided into 2 categories, eramtaga and ar-yuato.
  • Eramtaga are known to live in the jungle and ar-yuato lived by the coast.
  • Asian-looking Shompens with Mongolian features are suspected to have arrived from east and north Asia.
  • Origins of Black Population in Andaman, who are suspected to have African roots, are still a great mystery.
  • Alfred Radcliffe-Brown conducted fieldwork and research on the Andamanese in 20th century, but the origins of tribal population still remains unknown.
  • The first tribal inhabitants were threatened by Chinese, Japanese, and British traders and colonizers.
  • The tribal population was decimated by tree-falling, addiction to alcohol & opium, and introduction of diseases.
  • Natives of Nicobar Islands, called Nicobarese have adopted modern culture, and mostly adopt Christianity.

 

The Sentinels:

  • The Sentinels live on a secluded island with no outside contact at all.
  • The island itself is called Sentinel Island, located in Middle Andamans.
  • They are hostile towards outsiders and do not allow anyone to enter their island.
  • There have been numerous recorded cases of hostility, most recent was in 2018.
  •  Boats coming to the shore of Sentinel Island are usually attacked with spears and bows.
  • Till now, the information about them seems to be less.
  • It is not allowed to visit Sentinel Island or go near it.

 

The Great Andamanese:

  • The Great Andamanese were the largest group during the time of colonization.
  • Now only 50 Great Andamanese are known to survive.
  • In 1860s Rev Henry Corbyn set up a home on Ross Island and insisted they learn English reading, writing, and wear clothes.
  • In 1864, 5 children and 3 adults were taken to Calcutta for sightseeing.
  • Within 3 years, most of the population was dead, because of diseases and addiction.
  • Recently, Great Andamanese were made to settle on Strait Island, located in the Middle Andamans, as a breeding centre.
  • They are now forced to rely on Indian authorities for food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Great Andamanese spoke their own language known as “Bo”.
  • The last tribal to speak Bo, died in Jan 2010.

 

The Jarawas:

  • Jarawas were the natives of Port Blair, and were shifted to off-areas when Port Blair was built.
  • Around 300 Jarawas are alive and live in remote areas of South and Middle Andamans Islands.
  • The Great Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) was build through their lands.
  • During 1980s and 1990s, land enchrochments for road building and settlements was met with anger by Jarawas, and small skirmishes costing tribal life, were common.
  • The government has increased the Jarawa Lands by 190 Sq Km.
  • After 2002 Supreme Court Order to cancel the ATR (Andaman Trunk Road), it was opened again in 2013 by legal reversal, allowing tourists and civilians to access the road.
  • The journey to Baratang and other attractions in Middle Andamans, has to be done via ATR road, which goes through the Jarawa lands.
  • Despite numerous efforts to minimize the contact between Jarawas and locals, the Jarawas sometimes visit nearby settlements and cities.

 

The Onge:

  • Onge’s are also known as Gaubolambe.
  • They are thought to be of Mongolian descent, coming from the North and West side of Asia.
  • The relationships with the Onge’s have been really peaceful throughout the years.
  • They are mostly secluded from civilization and are settled on Little Andaman.
  • They can be distinguished by white-clay and ochre body paint.
  • The Onge reserves are strictly off-limits to both locals and foreigners.
  • Only around 100 Onge’s are alive to this day.
  • Their hunting skills, believes and rituals was studied by Vushwajit Pandya.
  • This enthographic study can be be found in his published book: Above the Forest.
  • Onge’s rarely make contact outside their reserve, mostly visited by anthropologists.

 

Geographical Facts, Flora, and Fauna:

  • There are a total of 306 Islands and 206 rocks and islets in Andaman and Nicobar.
  • The tropical rainforests here are home to 6400 species of marine and terrestrial fauna.
  • These also include over 240 types of both indigenous and migratory birds.
  • The rainforests also house 3000 species of plants. Most common being palms, mangroves, and timbers etc.
  • Andaman Islands are one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in itself.
  • It is also home to a total of 9 national parks.
  • The coral population in Andaman Islands are thriving and is one of the major tourist attracting feature.
  • The corals are protected by forest department, along with shells and rocks found near the shorelines.
  • To travel back with a souvenir of shells, rocks or any other sea ornaments, you will need to show a proper bill from a Govt. recognized handicraft shop in Andaman, at the airport.

North Andaman:

Located at the northern part of the Andaman Islands, the North Andaman consists of large groups of small islands which include many other attractions. Due to its remoteness and distance from the Airport, it is only visited by travelers who are really enthusiastic about exploring Andaman. Its all natural, less developed areas provide a scenic beauty that provides a sense of calmness, far from the bustling life of the city.

  • North Andaman is the least populated region in Andaman group of Islands.
  • Most of the region is covered in forest, and the region lacks any roadways.
  • The whole district is one of the largest forests in Andaman, running from Austin Strait in the southwest to Cape Price in the northernmost point.
  • Only a single road cuts through the area, where most settlements are Bengali.
  • The largest town here is Diglipur, located at the Northernmost part of North Andaman.
  • There is only one large market town in Diglipur, known for its bus stand.
  • Aerial Bay is one of the most known locations here, located 9 KM in the northeast direction from the town.
  • You can catch a boat to the Ross and Smith Islands from the port of Aerial Bay.
  • The Kalipur Beach is yet another attraction here, located 18 Kms from the town.
  • Kalipur Beach is mostly deserted and covered by green forest from all sides.
  • Due to its remoteness, very few tourists actually reach the beach.
  • The sea near shorelines at the beach are rocky and its not recommended to swim here.
  • You can find reefs with decent coral population almost 500 meters from the shore, but it may require permission from authorities to snorkel there.
  • One of the major attractions here is Saddle Peak, which is the highest mountain in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 737 meters.
  • Most of the peak and the pathway leading there is covered with dense forest.
  • It takes around 3-4 hours to climb the Saddle Peak.
  • You will also need a permit to climb the peak, which can be obtained by visiting the forest checkpost and contacting the Range Officer.
  • It is crucial that you hire a guide and make proper provisions for food and water before you climb the Saddle Peak.
  • One of the most famous attractions here are the Limestone Caves, located 12 Kms from the Ramnagar beach.
  • You can easily get a boat to the caves from the Kalipur Beach.
  • The only decent hotel in North Andaman is the Pristine Beach Resort.