Neil Island is best known for its unparalleled biodiversity and unexplored span of dense tropical forests and greenery complemented by white sand beaches and rich coral reefs.
Currently known as the Shaheed Dweep, this is a small island that spans over an area of 13.7 Sq. KM. only, most of which is covered with forest.
Due to the lack of vehicles, markets, fewer resorts, and less population, Neil Island is best suited for people who’d like to have a laid-back vacation in Andaman, far from the city noises and into the wonderful world of complete serenity.
The roads are thin and long and connect the island's jetty to all major attractions. The trip to the destination is quite mesmerizing as the roads are surrounded by long banana plantations, paddy fields, and other agricultural greenery.
Moreover, the island has non-existent internet connectivity and patchy cellular network which usually cuts off your outside communication and helps you detox yourself from the digital world and into the lap of nature, breathing fresh air.
This makes it a completely different and soothing place to be when compared to other nearby islands like Havelock and Port Blair.
AERIAL VIEW VIDEO OF NEIL ISLAND (By: PixelDo Media)
Needless to say, due to its size, flat area, and the peace of mind you get when traveling in Neil, its better explored by either a rented bike or bicycle.
Apart from this, the hotels in Neil further commend the vibe of the island. Most of the hotels and resorts here, are located near the beaches or in the jungles, which is hard to find anywhere else in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The island is not visited as much by tourists, being overshadowed by the neighbor- Havelock Island. Needless, to say, a lot of people miss out on this hidden gem of the Andaman Islands.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT NEIL ISLAND:
Bharatpur Beach is located really close to the Neil Island Jetty and is a decent place to visit on your trip. The beach is surrounded by a cyan-colored sea, which looks amazing in every way.
The shoreline is really wide and filled with both personal and commercial boats, as it is located right next to the Jetty. Although, the beach isn’t one you can play whole day on, its a great place to relax with some snacks and drinks.
The most intriguing thing about this beach is that, it is the only beach in Neil Island where water sports is available.
There are a lot of shops nearby for easy access to everything you need. The distance between Bharatpur Beach and Laxmanpur Beach is 2.2 KM via road, which takes around 5 minutes to cover by a cab and around 20 minutes to walk.
The cab will take you to the nearby parking lot from where you will have to walk for around 200 Meters to reach the beach.
Laxmanpur Beach is hands down the best beach in the island for sightseeing and takes the 2nd position in Andaman for the best beach, after Radhanagar at Havelock.
The beach has a really wide shoreline filled with deep white sand that grabs your feet as you walk on it.
One side of the beach is surrounded by a dense forest canopy while the other opens into the mesmerizing sea. The forest side has a lot of small benches and huts where you can relax and feast your eyes.
The best thing about Laxmanpur Beach is that it is triangular in shape and once you stand near the point, you can gaze on the deep horizon as far as the eyes can see.
One of the best places in Neil Island to relax, have fun and take your next amazing photograph.
Located near Laxmanpur Beach 2, the Natural Bridge is one of the best place to awe in the mystery of nature and take some amazing clicks.
Also known as the Howrah Bridge locally, it was formed by years and years of water flow from the rocky hill nearby.
The natural bridge is not visible from the beach and you will have to take a left from the Laxmanpur beach shoreline to reach there. The bridge is only accessible during low tide as the pathway is covered by wild waves during high tide.
Guides are available for hire at the starting point who can take you to the location with ease. The usual charges range from INR 400-500. The guide can also help you with taking pictures with the family.
Overall, a great place to visit, when you are already exploring the Laxmanpur beach.
People who have some additional time to spend near the beach can also explore the Natural Bridge 2 by taking a left from the shoreline.
Sitapur Beach is located at the other end of the island, almost 4.6 KM away from the Jetty and is one of the best places in Andaman to view the sunrise.
The beach is quite peaceful with a curved shoreline that expands all the way and is surrounded by tropical trees and hilly rocks on the sides that traps the water in the middle and opens up into a wide view of the horizon.
Although the shore is pretty rocky and the sea is not swimmable due to dead corals underwater, the beach is still pretty famous for the fresh breeze of air and warm sunlight in the morning.
Moreover, there are a lot of great hotels like: The Aura Resort, Emerald Gecko Resort, and the famous Summer Sands Beach Resort, located near the beach.
Overall, a great place to be in the morning.
Ramnagar Beach is the least visited tourist attraction in Neil Island which deserves a bit more attention than it gets. The beach is located in an off area near the Sitapur Beach and is mostly taken off as a private beach by the resorts but it still counts as one of the attractions on the island.
The beach is close to the Atreya Mangrove Point and has a lot of stay options nearby, like: Spot On Garden View and Capital O Deep Sea Resort.
Overall a decent place to visit, if you are staying in Neil for 2 or more days.
Neil Islands only spans for around 7 KM, so all the attractions are easily accessible.
Distance of Popular Destinations from the center of the Island's city:
BEST TIME TO VISIT NEIL ISLAND (Weather):
You can reach Neil Island by taking a ferry from Port Blair or Havelock Island. There are both government ferries and private ferry/cruises that operate on a daily shift, connecting the islands.
A ferry usually takes around 60 to 90 minutes to reach the island.
The island is also connected to other islands via a Helicopter, which allows for much faster travel.
A Govt. run helicopter service called Pawan Hans is operational currently that flies from Port Blair to Neil Island and returns. It was introduced a few years back to provide better, faster, and safer travel to the inter islands for Govt. officials and medical emergencies.
The helicopter can easily travel between the islands in 15 minutes making it one of the fastest ways to and from Neil Island to other nearby islands like Havelock, Diglipur, HutBay, Ross & Smith and Wandoor.
Regular Govt. Ferries are available to commute from Port Blair to Neil. Although, Govt. Ferries are cheaper, locals are given the first preference for bookings and the booking has to be made 3 days before the departure. Moreover, the tickets have to be booked from the STARS office on the respective island by standing in a queue and are only provided until all seats are filled out.
You can request your tour operator to book the tickets for you, but it may incur some additional charges. Mostly it is best to commute to and from the island via private ferry so you can easily get the confirmed tickets, months before the departure date and can travel in peace.
It is always advised to not leave ferry bookings for the last moment, as the queue starts forming early in the morning and the tickets sell out pretty fast.
Private Ferry and Cruise:
Regular Private ferries are available from Port Blair and Havelock Island that takes you to Neil Island faster and deliver a better travel experience.
The tickets for these cruises can be easily booked online by following a simple procedure. Different ferry operators offer varied pricing and experience for your travel. The most common operators are: Makruzz, Green Ocean Cruise, and ITT Majestic.
Transfers from Neil to Different Islands and How to save more:
Ferries operate from the following routes to Neil Island and choosing the right one can help you save more.
Most of the tourists visiting Andaman visit Havelock so it’s always advised going to the Neil Island via the Havelock Route i.e Port Blair-Havelock, Havelock-Neil, and Return.
This is because the tickets are usually cheaper when compared to a direct commute and you can easily save one wasted trip back to Port Blair. This will not only help you save more on one side tickets but give you more time to explore other islands in Andaman.
You can learn more about the routes, tickets, and pricing here.
Apart from the tourist attractions, the stay experience in the Neil Island is what brings a good chunk of tourists here. With luxury resorts boasting padauk interiors, to Eco huts and budget stays, the island has it all.
Cheap Stay with Eco Huts (INR 500 to 1000)
For the budget traveler that loves to explore, the eco-huts are build to provide a comfortable stay without breaking the wallet. The rooms come with all basic amenities like attached bathroom and bed along with chairs. Even cheaper options are available for people who don’t mind sharing a bathroom with fellow travelers.
Although room service and breakfast are not provided usually in these huts, they can be a good place to stay in terms of the price they charge.
Top eco huts in Neil Island:
Budget Stays with Lodges and Hotels (INR 1500-3500)
Budget stays are the best option if you are looking for a place to stay between INR 1500-2000. These hotels and lodges provide better than decent service, amenities and stay experience.
A relaxing stay with a nice bed, clean bathroom and room service, these hotels are better options to stay with your family than eco huts without much price difference.
Top Budget Hotels in Neil:
Mid-Range Hotels in Neil: (INR 4000-10000)
For people who are looking to get a great stay experience here, mid-range hotels are a treat. The hotels come with nice and tidy rooms, with great interiors and excellent room service, that makes your stay worth remembering.
Here are the top mid-range hotels in Neil:
Luxury Hotels in Neil Island (INR 6000-25000)
Neil Island has some of the most unique luxury hotels in Andaman. From private beach resorts with attached pools to stay-cations in the middle of the jungle, there's always a room for you.
Although, there are a close to 10 luxury hotels throughout Neil, here are top 5 ones:
Neil Island is the vegetable bowl of the Andaman Islands, considered one of the largest agriculture-based islands in Andaman.
From roadsides to attractions, wherever you see an open area, there will be fields of vegetables, fruits, and other agriculture.
Moreover, the main occupation of most of the people in the islands is fishing, so you can expect a wide variety of fresh fishes that are made into mouth-watering cuisines by the restaurants. The best part is- it’s always fresh.
Although the restaurants in Neil are pretty basic and geared more towards the locals, serving simple dishes, you can always try out the street food near the bazaar area, for a treat to remember.
Residents in Neil are from different parts of India, so expect to see different variations of the same dishes through the eat. The most common ones would be: Samosas, Vada, Pakodas and of course, Jalebi.
People who are looking to try our exquisite dishes, can book the hotels mentioned in the “Luxury” section above and try their in-house restaurants, which has a wide variety of both Indian and continental cuisines, made from the fresh produce of Neil Island. The most notable one would be Seashell Restaurant in Laxmanpur.
Moonshine Café in Neil Island is one of the best places to eat for its raw vibe and delicious sea-food. The restaurant also has a bar for beers and other light drinks. Some of the most notable dishes in this restaurant are Malai Kofta, Prawn Curry and the famous and must try : Coconut Crab Curry.
Some other notable restaurants:
BREAKFAST, LUNCH, and DINNER:
For a great start to the morning with an awesome breakfast, you can try out the room service provided by the hotel you are staying in, as most eateries in Neil open at around 8 A.M.
Local restaurants mostly serve South-Indian breakfast in the morning, which is something you can try out during your tour.
If you have arrived to Neil via a ferry just now and looking to have some breakfast, you can easily get some at the Jetty Canteen or Yatri Dhaba before moving for your tour.
Most of the restaurants are open for lunch from 11 AM. Most restaurants close before 9:30 P.M, so make sure to have your dinner before that.
CANDLELIT DINNER IN NEIL ISLAND:
For people who are looking to spend a romantic beach-side evening with their loved ones and enjoy great food, candlelit dinner is a must-have on the island.
Sitting there near the ocean on the private beach with no distractions and great Indian and continental cuisines, complimented by the slow breeze of fresh air, makes this experience one of the best in the islands.
The best thing about having a candlelit dinner here, instead of other popular destinations in Andaman is that, due to the lesser number of tourists visiting Neil, you can enjoy the whole dinner without any disturbance or gazes.
Some of the best hotels that arrange this are:
NIGHT LIFE IN NEIL ISLAND:
Neil Island doesn’t have “NightLife” by definition, as the shops close at 9:00 P.M and Bars close at 11, but there are some restaurants and bars open throughout the night at the luxury hotels.
With separate rooms for parties, meal orders and music, you can enjoy your time if you choose the right resort.
During the peak tourist season, some hotels throw small parties for their guests, either beachside or by the pool, but there is no fixed timing for that. With live music and cuisines, you might have to get a ticket to enter the event and enjoy the rest of the night.
HAVELOCK ISLAND vs NEIL ISLAND:
Havelock is the most popular tourist destination in the Islands and houses the much-awarded, Radhanagar Beach, making it one of the most visited places in Andaman.
Havelock is usually crowded and filled with tourists throughout the year, especially during the peak season, so it's hard to even get a room there. While Neil Island is more on the quiet and serene side with a low population density, lesser tourists and less developed areas when compared to Havelock.
Most of the forests in Neil are protected and hotels and resorts are limited but usually enough for the tourist who are visiting there. Although these two have the same type of geography, Neil offers a much-secluded vacation, apart from the city life and into the deep forest canopies.
Along, with the fact that the network is really patchy in Neil, it's safe to say that its the best place for people who are looking for a secluded vacation to connect with nature and enjoy their peace.
Q. How many days are enough to explore the Neil Island?
A. Neil Island is small and can be explored in a day without rushing anything, so we recommend staying for a 1 day in the island and go on exploring other islands.
Some people only visit for the day trip and return back to Port Blair or Havelock before the evening.
If you are looking to relax and enjoy the nature of Neil, you can stay for more.
Q. How much will it cost per day in Neil Island?
A. Neil Island boasts both budget and luxury properties and has restaurant of every type, so you can be sure that you will be able to visit here on a budget.
If managed properly, with budget hotels and local restaurants it will cost around Rs.1000/Day on the island.
If you are looking for a better stay experience and looking to enjoy different cuisines, it can cost around INR 5000 to INR 30,000, depending on the hotel you choose.
Q. What is the best time to visit the island?
A. The best time to visit the island is between November to March. This is the time where the weather in Andaman is at its best.
Q. What's the best itinerary that includes Neil Island?
A. The best itinerary for Neil Island would start at atleast 3 days and ideally include a tour of Port Blair, Havelock and Neil Island.
Here are the day-wise details:
You can easily add more destinations to this trip by increasing the number of days. Its usually advised to visit Andaman on a 5 Day tour atleast.