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India: Andaman Islands

Herewith a tale of a jungle-tastic, blue watered, super relaxed, sociable haven!

sunny 34 °C
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Port Blair

I flew Mumbai to Chennai and then on to Port Blair.
I had planned to head straight to Little Andaman or Havelock, however all ferries were booked out, so booked for the next day.
Port Blair is a nice, small, bustling friendly town, though you can't swim anywhere near it!

On my way to the ferry bound for Havelock, I stopped at a cafe. Some older local dudes wondered if I was Indian, and even after I explained my gora-ness, they offered to share their samosas with me.
People on the Andamans are very relaxed festive and friendly people - this was my experience across all islands!

Port Blair:

Havelock Island

It was roughly a 2 hour ferry ride to Havelock from Port Blair, stopping at Neil Island on the way.
At Havelock I found Blue Bird Huts, which was the cheapest (and actually nicest) air conditioned option on beach 5.

Havelock Port:

Beach 7 BLISS

I hired a bicycle and rode the hilly 12kms to Radhanagar Beach (Beach 7).
The ride is hard, but great fun. Kids want you to stop to take photos every once in a while and everyone waves.
You cycle past lush green fields, farms, an occasional temple and family homes.
If I return to Havelock, i will get a scooter though - the hills are tough.
The beach itself is AMAZING. White sand, crystal clear blue calm water, with lush jungle behind.
Some poll out there calls this the best beach in Asia. I think that is going a bit far - Nai Harn in Thailand wins that one for me, but this is a close contender.

Beach 7 entrance:


The Andamans are known for their amazing dive sites, and they do not disappoint.
I did my advanced open water with Barefoot (probably one of the best, social and professional companies I have dived with) and did 5 unique and spectacular sites including a wreck (50 metre length sunk coal ship), coral wall, night dive (octopi galore, schools of trevali, glowing plankton) bommies, etc. The sea life is rich and varied, and the surrounding islands are gorgeous!
On our first day we saw a massive leopard shark, and the last we had the largest manta ray I have ever seen circle around us for most of our dive.

The Andaman Islands attracts divers from all over the world, and I met a large international contingent of buddies to dive and hang with.

Chilled, Social Havelock

The Andamans are undeveloped, with hardly any people and as such retains a very easy going, island nature, despite the (albeit light) tourism.
Folks are friendly, there are no hassles, nobody is pushy, there are wide green open spaces everywhere. Food and accommodation is reasonably cheap (but internet is damn pricey).
It's a haven, and pretty hard to leave.

Havelock is probably the most socially conducive place in India I have been to.
It's easy to make friends, as spots to eat and congregate are few and it is usually intrepid travellers who end up here.

Evenings spent by fire on the beach with tunes, heady tales of mainland travel and marvelling at the fact that this place is $%&*ing amazing.

Neil Island

After a week of intense diving and a few late nights I decided to retreat for some R&R on Neil Island.
Neil Island is probably the most remote place on earth.
S p a r s e l y populated where time does not exist. There are only 4 (that I could count) choices for accommodation.
I chose Pearl Park, based on recommendations, and found a nice hut with bathroom for Rp250 (AUD$5) per night.
PP is right on the stunning beach, has a nice restaurant, friendly staff, has bikes and scooters, and has the ambience of a secret, hazy tropical island (which is exactly what Neil is).

I had lunch at the gorgeous Green Park restaurant:

The proprietor grows all of his own fruit and veg, and had fresh fish delivered in the morning.
I think he had a fresh batch of charras delivered too - as once he served my delicious fish and chips, the hazy scent lingered in the air.

I hired a motorbike to ride around. The scenery felt calm yet dramatic:

Like it's sister islands, Neil is lush, sparse, quiet, friendly and feels like a secret best kept.

Bye Andamans

The Andaman Islands were an amazing suprise. They are like no other place I have visited.
As India closely guards them from any landings from closer neighbours Burma or Thailand. The fact also that they are so far from mainland India means that they are, and feel remote.
The ethnic tribes of Northern Andaman are able to sustain their way of life without any interruption and barely any interaction with mainstream society here.
I hope these islands don't open up to development.
There are murmurs about opening Port Blair to international flights from Thailand.
Locals, even in tourism don't seem pleased with the prospect, and are certainly happy with the way things are.

Please enjoy my photos of the breathtaking Andamans here

Posted by SkinnyFists 22:53 Archived in India Tagged havelock india_beaches andaman_islands scuba_diving_india

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