Cerulean skies, cobalt blue waters, chalk white stretches of sand sprinkled with a generous amount of seashells, dotted with lanky palms and a bucketful of sunshine is what makes an ideal vacation. It begins at Andamans which is more than an archipelago. For nature lovers, adventure seekers, honeymooners, shutterbugs alike Andaman unveils its natural best and one can curate to the need of the hour. Andaman is an archipelago of about 500 odd islands scattered across the Bay of Bengal. It is carpeted with a lush green canopy of rainforests, atlas blue beaches, silky peals of sand. Andaman is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, butterflies, moths and birds. The marine life also includes prized shellfish, clams, green mussels and oysters.
Scuba diving is the top listed activity for those who like some adventure during their holiday. Even for amateur or non-swimmers, a plethora of options are available to try their hand at this and not to mention the breathtaking views of the coral reefs, zigzag waves of pristine waters and the variegated fish and the marine ecosystem that make it a treat to watch. Scuba diving sites are available on many islands including Neil Island, Havelock Island, North Bay Island and Chidiatapu.
For those who prefer to swim and still get a glimpse of the ocean ecosystem, Andaman has numerous options. Havelock island has the best snorkelling spots allowing you to be bedazzled by the rich and diverse marine life, coral reefs and arctic blue beaches. An offbeat choice would be at Neil island. Neil island offers untouched waters waiting to be explored. Stunning visuals of water canyons, crimson coral reefs, fluorescent fish are worth swimming the extra mile.
Folks with Thalassophobia or feeling a little uneasy with snorkelling can hop on the glass-bottomed boat. One can witness the crystal clear waters teeming with marine life and coral reefs without soaking in a drop of water.
Havelock island is a stretch of numerous beaches each with its own mystic charm. Radhangar beach is located about 12km from Havelock island. Soak up some sunshine, lounging about on the beach sequestered with a canopy of trees help in stress relief from the mundane metro life. The sunset on this beach is resplendent with the golden rays gently tickling the cyan waters and dissolving into a blob of citrine.
Elephant beach is another must visit on the sands of Havelock island. Shimmering waters and honey-kissed sand are the key attractions. The idyllic beach is perfect to watch the playful waves, indulge in some water sports and boat rides. Visiting this island at the break of dawn is icing on the cake for you can witness the tangerine sunrise from the admiral waters. Couple this with the mellifluous chirping of exotic birds, the feeling is truly blissful. Swim with elephants on this beach to add a unique experience to your travel diary.
For those who want to explore their inner peace and steer clear of the beaches teeming with tourists, Vijaynagar beach is the solution. Listen to the waves gently brushing the shoreline with an occasional spritz of water that hits you on a lazy afternoon. The sapphire waters, ivory sand coupled with the benign zephyr makes it the ideal picnic spot. Camera addicts can snap away breath-taking pictures for this beach makes the perfect muse.
The cellular was a colonial prison used to exile prisoners in the pre-independence era. It is constructed in a pronged style of architecture. The structures stretch out like spokes of a wheel thereby ensuring that the prisoners could not communicate with each other. This took a total of ten years to complete.
Now a historical monument reminisces the struggle of our freedom fighters like Batukeshwar Dutt and Veer Savarkar. The walls also whisper the various atrocities and torture the prisoners underwent for any crime. The jail also holds a light and sound show in English and Hindi depicting the nation’s combat to break free from the captivity of British rule.
Another activity worth trying out in Andaman is sea walking. For those who want to reach deeper into the waters without knowing to dive or swim, this is ideal. Stroll on the sea bed like it is your garden watching the aquatic life unfold before your eyes.
If spelunking appeals to you, then be prepared to be floored by massive limestone sediment rocks. Watch out for squiffy conglomerate chandeliers hang from the roof of the cave. The inner parts are quite dark and you can enjoy the tranquil by shining a stream of light and watch the shadows bounce off the porous walls and voices echoing with a whispering trail.
If adventure runs in your blood, gently glide across the air catching the mesmerizing bird’s eye view of the coastline, the sandy beaches while submerging in some sunshine. Feel the gentle rush of water across your feet when you approach the boat toward the end of your adventure.
If you thought stars twinkled in galaxies far away, look no further to enchant yourself to a surreal experience in Havelock islands. On dark moonless nights, the oceans gleams in peacock hues like a hidden emerald. The photo plankton is a feast for the eyes while the waves kiss the sandy shores rocking you gently with its lullaby.
Connect with nature by weaving through luscious forests and hillocks of Andamans in tucked away in picturesque locations. Trails to test are Havelock to Elephant beach. Explore the uninhabited Barren islands, the only islet with an active volcano in Southeast Asia. Standing testimony to its name, the island is barren save for a few species of goats, rodents and foxes which manage to adapt and survive in this extreme condition.
Since it is located on the Bay of Bengal, the local cuisine is heavily seafood inclined.
The options range from lobsters, prawn, fish and crab. As an added advantage most of the catch is fresh making it delectable. The sea is mostly cooked in Burmese and Thai styles with generous helpings of coconut milk making it exclusive.
Vegetarians can indulge in delicacies made of guava, pineapple and coconut which are heavily cultivated here.
By air: There are direct flights to Port Blair from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.
Ship: Regular passenger ships are available from Chennai, Kolkata and Vizag. The voyage takes about 3-4days depending on the sea condition