Today’s post and the next few posts will be about why people visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands – for it’s islands and beaches. The first few beaches are those which are close to Port Blair and then we will island hop with interesting beaches and attractions from each island.
Corbyn’s Cove Beach: An unspoiled beach situated around 8 Km away from the heart of the city, Corbyn’s Cove Beach is a local favoutite. This mesmerising beach is dotted with coconut palms and has a turquoise blue sea water which is entrancing in its beauty. Apart from being a natural treasure, Corbyn’s Cove is also one of the best places to enjoy water sports. From Jet skiing to boating, surfing to swimming, there are endless ways by which you can quench your thirst for adventure and water spots here. Corbyn’s Cove beach is situated in close proximity to Snake Island, a place which is supposed to be full of snakes, also also well-known for attractive fishes, colorful corals, and rock faces. Whether you wish to explore the quirky underwater world or soak in the charm of this silent beach, at Corbyn’s Cove you can spend your day the way you want. On the side of the beach at Corbyn’s Cove, you will also get to see several blue colored chairs from where one can admire the ethereal beauty of this place.
Wandoor Beach: A small village in the southern part of South Andaman, Wandoor is most recognized for the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which is among the regions with the richest marine biodiversity. Apart from being a local favourite, Wandoor Beach is famous is its rich biodiversity. Wandoor is easily accessible and is only 1-2 hour bus ride away from Port Blair. This beach is excellent for swimming as well as to enjoy the coral reefs. You can also just sit by the beach and enjoy the clear blue waters and spotless white sand.
Viper Island: Named after the vessel in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to Andaman and Nicobar in 1789 and many years before the Cellular Jail was constructed, Viper Island was used by the British to keep freedom fighters in exile. Another local legend says that the name of the island comes from the numerous vipers present in the island. Today, you can still see the remains of the jail which was built in 1867 by the British. Breathtaking and serene, the island covers an area of 69 acres and is located 23.6 kms west of Port Blair. On the way to the island from Port Blair, visitors come across the main port and the navy ships of Port Blair. From the island, one can get a bird’s eye view of the neighboring islands, the seven-point harbor and the mighty ocean in its splendid shades.
Ross Island: Named after Daniel Ross, a British marine surveyor, Ross Island holds a unique charm in the remants of the former British settlement on the island. In pre-independence India, this island was a British colony where administrative activities were at a peak. It was called Paris of the East’ and even now you can find the remnants of that colonial period. The ruins of a church, the cellular jail, a bakery, and several other buildings are there to be explored too. Today, the Indian Navy maintains the former British Administrative Headquarters and its numerous historic ruins. There is the Smritika Museum (Indian Navy) which is well maintained and the newest attraction for visitors is a sound and light show. It takes place every evening barring Wednesday and major holidays.
North Bay Island: Covered with ash coloured sand and tropical trees; North Bay Island is known for its breathtaking coral reefs and exhilarating adventure activities. There is a picture of the North Bay Island on the back of a 20 Rupee note in the Indian currency. Activities like scuba diving, snorkelling, sea walking, and glass boat rides are what allures tourists the most. The best way to take a tour of North Bay Island is through a glass bottem boat ride which offers visitors ample opportunities to explore the marine world, flora, and reefs. Sea walking is another fun activity that introduces a visitor to the vibrant world of the sea, even if you are not an accomplished swimmer. The islad is situated to the north of Port Blair at a distance of 42.4 km. The beach at the island also houses a lighthouse which offers a spectacular view of the Port Blair skyline and magnificent Ross Island. A trip to this impeccable island will cost around INR 500 and the guide will introduce you to its rich history.
Red Skin Island: Found inside the a Marine National Park, the Red Skin Island may be considered an alternative to Jolly Buoy Island as they are adjacent to each other. The picturesque beach and adjoining forest make for a picture-perfect holiday and the island is a hub for marine life with an abundance of red coral reefs, aquatic animals, tropical plants, white sandy beaches and clear water. A permit is required from the forest department a day before the visit. The island is closed on Mondays and is only open between May and October and tourists visit Jolly Buoy on the months Red Skin is closed. Night stays are not permitted; thus visitors can only do a day trip to this island. The environment of this island is considered to be clean and hopes to stay that way; thus plastic is prohibited here, and tourists are discouraged from using anything of the sort. Activities available are snorkelling which is considered the most popular one by tourists, and glass boat rides at a close second. The enriching marine life with abundant red corals and aquatic animals make for an exciting boat journey. The relatively small beach with shallow water allows tourists to take natural baths with real sea-salt. The island is about 30 km via road from Port Blair. The nearest village is Wandoor, and ferries are available from there. It is an estimated 1.5 hours journey to the island.
Middle Andaman Island
Karmatang Beach: Famous as a Turtle’s Paradise, this beach, with its sparkling sands are best for a relaxing holiday with the lush green trails of mangroves near the beach adding to its charm. At this beach you can learn about the entire birth process of tiny turtles as this beach holds the largest nesting farm for them. Not only that, at this beach, you can also enjoy a plethora of water adventures like snorkeling and scuba diving. It is located just 12 km away from Mayabunder, the beach is easily accessible. As with other Andaman & Nicobar Island beaches, don’t miss out the sunrise and sunset at this beach.
Raman Bageecha Beach: Another secluded beach on Andaman Island, the Raman Bageecha Beach in is the perfect place to take a stroll to watch the sunrise or have a picnic. Lush greenery and many coconut trees surround the beach which is easily accessible from Rangat. You can take a ferry from Port Blair, Havelock Island or Neil Island to reach Rangat, and take a walk from Rangat to Raman Bageecha Beach. Please note that the ferry services do not operate on Sundays.
Long Island: A small island, mostly recognised for its village tourism, Long Island is famous for its untouched white sand beaches, dense natural vegetation that forms the tropical forests and its marine life. The island is also famous for water sports and ocean cruises and the views during sunrise and sunset. The island belongs to the East Baratang Group of islands and is also considered a part of Rangat Taluk. The island is small with an area of 18 sq kms. The forests in the island are a mix of evergreen and tidal swamp forests with the hilly regions covered with dense forests and caves hidden behind the thick vegetation.
Lalaji Bay Beach: Located on the west coast of Long Island, the Lalaji Bay Beach is synonymous with beautiful sandy coastlines and peaceful vibes. The Bay beach is easily accessible by standard ferries from Rangat and Central Andaman. The ferries take you through the unique Mangrove creek lined on your way to the beach that puts together a different experience. The sparsely crowded beach also endows you with beautiful carroty sunsets and dolphins hurtling their way back to the sea. You can also hire a dunghi or take a trek which takes about 2 hours leading through the jungles to reach the beach.
Baratang Island: Also known as Ranchiwalas Island, Baratang Island is a beautiful little island in the North and Middle Andaman Administrative district and is situated about 100 kilometres away from Port Blair by road. The island is well-known for its mangroves, limestone caves which needs permission from the forest department at Baratang to explore and India’s only mud volcanoes. Unlike Havelock Island, Baratang Island is not as developed for urban tourism and mostly serves as a hub for natural sightseeing. You can reach Baratang island via the government ferry service that runs between Port Blair from the Phoenix Bay Jetty as an ideal offbeat one day trip. Popular activities at the Batarang Island include boating through the mangrove forests and limestone caves, light treks and hikes and bird watching. The beaches here are untouched and offer a quiet experience for those who shy away from crowds.
Baludera Beach: Located 9 Km from the Nilambar Jetty, the Baludera Beach is a less visited beach on the eastern end of Batarang Island. The serenity of the beach attracts those who shy away from large crowds and wish to laze silently at the beach. The waters are particularly clear on bright sunny days and offer a good swimming experience. One can find huts and small treetops to laze at. To reach the beach, the most preferred way is to take a boat to the Nilambar Jetty from Port Blair. Alternatively, buses and private taxis are also available from Port Blair making for a great road trip as well.
Parrot Island: Parrot Island, home to thousands of fluttering parrots, looks like a whole new empire of wilderness born out of the salty waters of the Indian Ocean. Every day, hosts of green parrots arrive at the island as a part of their daily ritual, which is a spectacle to behold. Parrot Island, one of the islands in Baratang is a restricted area where visitors can’t go without prior permission and can only be visied by a convoy of forest rangers and officials. Most of the islands here are inhabited by the Jarawas, which means there are even stricter rules about public admission. However, Parrot Island, which is completely uninhabited can only be enjoyed from your vessel which you can get to from the Baratang jetty through small boats locally known as Dunghi thirty minutes away. On your way to this Island, there is yet another worthy of halting destination called Jarawa Tribal Reserve. This region is inhabited by the Jarawa community.
Limestone Caves: The naturally-formed limestone caves near the Baratang island are a short walk of about 15-minutes, from the boat jetty. Sedimentary rock has formed in all parts of the cave with limestone is hanging in magnanimous chunks from the ceiling of the cave. Some formations that are found here are speleothem, flowstones, stalactite, stalagmites, and columns, but mostly stalactite and stalagmites. The structures have taken hundreds of years to appear this way. The caves, although beautiful, are not that easy to reach. One has to take a convoy through the Jarawa Forest land and ferry ride to Baratang Island before you can reach Limestone Caves in Andamans. It is advised to carry flashlights as the denser the caves get, the darker they become.
North Passage Island
Merk Bay Beach: Located in the North Passage Island, close to Strait Island and Long Island, Mark Bay Beach is another less crowded beach. Since North Passage Island is an uninhabited island, the beach retains it clear blue water with an enchanting view of a variety of colourful fish underneath and creates a beautiful contrast with the clean white sand for miles. Boat safaris to and from the beach are a popular activity including marine life spotting such as dolphins. The waters are generally clean and clear for most of the year, and some light swimming and snorkelling close the shore can be done. The Merk Bay Beach is also the perfect setting for memorable pre-wedding photoshoots and instagramable vacation photographs. The forests surrounding the beach may look intimidating at first, but the cool interiors are perfect for a nice long walk. Due to limited human reach, the beach is also home to a number of exotic birds in all seasons. You can spend hours listening to the mesmerising call of birds along with the crashing of the waves.
Guitar Island: Of the numerous, exquisite but uninhabited islands of the islands that make up the Andaman and Nicobar group, the Guitar Island has brilliant blue water all around and a tropical greens core, which makes this island a stunning day trip from the main Long Island by a 15 minutes boat ride. The small patch of green in the azure blue of the ocean is named so because of its shape. An aerial view of the island will reveal that it looks exactly like a guitar from up there, complete with a small sound hole of water in the middle, the long neck and even the headstock. This island is completely uninhabited and there are no shops or facilities for accommodation here. Because of this, night stays are not possible, and it is safer to come back to Long Island while there is still light. From Guitar Island, you can see another smaller island a little distance away. This island is called the Small Guitar Island. During high tides, the gap between the two islands is covered with seawater, but when the tide ebbs, it leaves sandbanks between them which connect the two. You can ask your boatman to take you on that island as well. Although it is much smaller and has more or less the same ambiance, it is still worth a visit.
There are more islands waiting for you, so keep watching this space…