The remote Andaman Islands archipelago stretches like a green and white gleaming necklace along the western edge of the Bay of Bengal, with North Andaman emerging from the Andaman Sea near the Myanmar coast and ending with Little Andaman in 10 Degree Channel, that separates the archipelago from the Nicobar Island chain further south. Over 290 miles (467 kilometers) in length and dotted with over 260 islands, this isolated territory of India is beautiful, unspoiled and picture perfect for vacationing in paradise.
Situated in the warm tropical waters west of Myanmar and Thailand, you will find rocky islands (only a small number inhabited), two volcanos, undiscovered coral reefs and rocky outcroppings perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling. Exposed peaks of an underwater mountain range on the seismically active Indo-Australian plate, these ancient islands have been a place of rugged beauty since prehistoric humans first arrived during the Stone Age. Even now, there are a number of islands that are off-limits to visitors in order to protect several indigenous native tribes still living in isolation from the modern world.
With a wide diversity of native wildlife and different ecosystems, the Andaman Islands have quite a few ecological gems to discover, such as coral reefs, tropical rainforests, beaches, caves, and several mountain peaks. The islands shelter a large variety of birds of all sizes and colors that live in the dense rainforests, and an abundance of flora such as ferns, orchids, palm trees and hardwoods. Whales and dolphins migrate past the Andaman islands, sea turtles and the rare dugong sea cow are found closer to shore, and visitors are amazed at the multitude of colorful sea life to discover in the tidal pools.
Each island offers its own unique experiences to adventurous travelers. There are catamarans and ferries between islands that allow visitors to enjoy different historical sights, different kinds of beaches, and even different kinds of rainforests with unique topography. Many visitors are amazed at the range of activities available, and schedule day trips or overnights to try helmet diving, snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides, or sample Port Blair’s nightlife.
Ross and Smith Island share a scenic sand bar that connect them only at high tide. The largest ‘island’, Great Andaman, is actually three separate islands connected by the Great Trunk Road. On North Andaman Island you can hike Saddle Peak, rising over 2400 feet (731 meters) above the sea. When visiting Middle Andaman Island you can watch sputtering mud volcanoes, cool off in a forest waterfall and explore limestone caves. Visitors will see the amazing sights of busy South Andaman Island spread out below them as they fly into Veer Savarkar airport in Port Blair. On Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep) visitors can marvel at the beauty of the wide beaches and fun activities like sea-walking, swimming elephants and banana boat rides. Nearby beautiful Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) offers a taste of laid-back island life for lounging beach lovers and more adventurous tourists, too. Little Andaman Island offers an elephant safari to a scenic jungle waterfall and breathtaking snorkeling. The journey to reach Long Island is an adventure in itself, with the reward being a diving paradise and a beach lover’s dream vacation.
One could spend a lifetime exploring the Andaman Islands to experience all that they have to offer, but some must-see highlights for visitors would have to include the Cellular Jail, Mount Harriet National Park and colonial ruins in Port Blair, famous Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island, and the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park near Wandoor. Fast catamaran service is available out of Port Blair to Havelock Island to see the lighthouse at Kalapathar Beach or explore the Natural Bridge on Neil Island at low tide. Boat and plane charters are available for private excursions out of Havelock to view the active volcano on Barren Island, but you must remain on board ship for your own safety. Visit North Andaman Island to watch sea turtle hatchlings in the surf at quiet Kalipur Beach near Diglipur or marvel at the colorful pebble beach on Lamiya Bay.
For night owls who want dancing and music, most of the bars and nightclubs are in Port Blair, but on every island the real night life is watching the sun disappear below the horizon, followed by the rising of the moon and stars as you sit spellbound under swaying palm trees. Whether you are looking for a relaxing hammock on the beach, hikes and treks through the tropical jungle, or exploring one of the last true paradises on earth, the beautiful Andaman Islands archipelago will have something for everyone searching for their own magical vacation.