The memory of the Andaman Islands is still so vivid in our minds, it seems like it was only yesterday when we visited.
Day 1: Port Blair
We reached Veer Savarkar International Airport at Port Blair in the morning and was greeted by our cab waiting outside the airport. Before starting our adventure, we dropped our luggage at TSG Emerald View Hotel that we had booked beforehand. With Andaman’s warm tropical weather, it is advisable to get a room with air conditioning to ensure a good rest at night.
We went to the famous Corbyn’s Cove Beach in the evening to catch the sunset. There were several historic sites and monuments — the remnants of the WW II, making it a scenic ride along the coastal road. The beach itself was quite swarmed by people as it was the only beach escapade you have in Port Blair. You would find a neat row of coconut palms lining the beach, creating the perfect shades for people to chill and relax while enjoying the cooling breeze.
After catching the sunset, we visited Cellular Jail, one of the many historical pieces of the British colony in the past.
Since we came here after catching the sunset at Corbyn’s Cave Beach, we were late for the Cellular Jail tour. However, we got a chance to watch the Light & Sound Show that told us the story about India’s struggle in getting freedom in the past. That would be an eye-opening show for foreign tourists who want to know more about India’s history during the colonisation period. Do take note of the visiting hours so as not to repeat our mistakes!
Cellular Jail: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Light and Sound Show: 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm
Day 2: Three Island tour
The second day was what we were looking forward to the most — island tour! We embarked our full-day cruise trip to Ross Island, North-Bay Island, and Viper Island from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex. A complete package tour included cruise trips between islands, a vegetarian lunch, and a ride in a glass-bottom boat to see the beautiful corals at North Bay.
Ross Island, our first stop, was the old capital of Andaman. Today, it is mostly ruins and relics of old days, but it still holds the beauty and glory from the past. The ruin of the church gave me goosebumps as I felt transported into the past.
Our second stop was North Bay Island, famous for its breathtaking underwater coral and beautiful fishes. This island is famous for its snorkelling and scuba diving activities, but the interesting one is the underwater sea walking, which was what we did. We got into a boat anchored to the bed of the blue sea and were given air masks before we jumped into the water. It was a one-of-a-kind experience! I had never imagined setting my foot on the sea bed to witness corals, sea anemones, and other exotic sea animals around me. Hundreds of colourful fishes swam their way around us, and some came near because they knew we had food in our hands. For those who are scared to try this due to safety reason, it is good to know that the whole experience is done within massive strong nets that keep larger sea creatures away.
In the afternoon, we proceeded in a harbour cruise. The cruise showcased the panoramic view of seven points from the sea: Andaman harbor, floating docks, Chatham Saw Mill, etc. before we finally reached Viper Island — an execution ground during the British colonisation era.
Day 3: Havelock
We checked out from our hotel and would be moving to another island nearby, Havelock Island. Our journey there started pretty early in the morning after our breakfast. We secured a place in the open deck, instead of the mundane indoor cabin, where we could enjoy the view and breeze. We were surrounded by a spectacular view of the vast blue ocean with large shoals of flying fishes playing near the ship. Slightly far off, we could see several dolphins joyfully playing around. Do yourself a favour by applying some sunscreen before getting on the boat, especially if you are going to sit on the open deck like us.
The three-hour ride was blissful as we enjoyed the sights of marine life and as soon as we got off the boat, we were greeted by our cab driver. A narrow winding road through coconut plantations and paddy fields on both sides took us to our resort, Symphony Palms Beach Resort.
With a private beach and calm atmosphere, this resort is a perfect place to get some quiet time away from the city life. The fine white sand and crystal emerald water were so stunning that we decided to spend our evening away in the resort.
The only problem with staying in such a small island is the limited option for food. While the food we tried was mostly mediocre, we did find a hidden gem beside the resort, attached to a person’s home. Such restaurants are pretty common in India and is called Gharguti in Marathi. They served fantastic home-cooked food, and my favourite was their shallow fried fish!
Day 4: Radhanagar Beach
We decided to spend our morning away in the resort and only went out to Radhanagar Beach. This beach is no stranger to locals and tourists as it earned the title of “Best Beach in Asia” by TIME in 2004. The beach was mostly flat with a small gradual descent and was surrounded by sparkling clear water. Of all the beaches I have visited in India, this is definitely the best so far!
Day 5: Port Blair
We headed back to Port Blair after enjoying the peace in Havelock Island. It was time to visit all the remaining places and shops we had yet to visit.
The first stop was the Cellular Jail that we missed on our second day. The jail has a Panopticon architecture with all the seven prison wings connected to the center ‘tower’. The mega structure was used as a solitary confinement in the past, but as the time passes, it has worn out. During our visit, the remaining three wings had been converted into galleries and exhibitions. We were in awe of the massive size and structure that we spent most of the time walking in silence, pondering the story behind every cell and exhibit.
Day 6: Jolly Buoy
Our last destination was Jolly Buoy that could be reached through Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor. A small boat took us through winding canals with thick mangrove on both sides. Beyond mangroves, we could see the tall rain forest with towering trees, as tall as 50m. Once we passed through the canals, we couldn’t take our eyes off the small island in the distance — Jolly Buoy Island.
The small island was a perfect spot for scuba diving and snorkelling for its magnificent stretch of exotic corals, colourful fishes, and extraordinary underwater marine life.
I could not miss the chance to snorkel here! The island is only the tip of an underwater mountain. While snorkelling underwater, I could see the submerged cliff that seems like a bottomless abyss — beautiful, breathtaking and thrilling at the same time. Just make sure that you have booked the snorkelling package beforehand because they hardly accept walk-ins, and please bring your ID card too!
Andaman was known as the paradise of India with its white sand and clear water, but Port Blair was a great surprise too! We did not expect to learn so much about the history and culture of India while visiting Andaman. It was time to say good bye, but we knew we would return here soon!