At Land’s End
The island life of the Andamans is waiting for you…
The island life of the Andamans is waiting for you…
Once you arrive in the Andamans, time slows down to allow you to enjoy every moment of every day, from the pastel-tinted dawn morning until deep into the star-filled tropical night. No matter where you unpack your suitcase, there will be cooling trade winds, beautiful beaches, and colorful vistas dominated by the most intense greens and blues you have ever seen. People have been visiting here for thousands of years as mariners on ancient sea trade routes or colonial settlers from England, and now the Andaman Islands are welcoming tourists from India and beyond with friendly smiles and island hospitality.
As a tropical island chain, the Andaman Islands are blessed with abundant sun and rain, which helps to create the amazing biodiversity in the forests. Peak tourist season during winter and spring months sees very little rainfall, while the monsoons in summer and fall bring welcome fresh rainwater to the islands. Regular boat trips between islands may be limited by high winds and rough seas, but many resorts and attractions are open year-round regardless of weather. Rainfall during monsoon season might be heavy downpours, a brief cloudburst in the afternoon, or overcast skies and intermittent showers. If you plan your visit centered around water activities, surfers love February to April, snorkelers prefer January to March, and scuba divers can find calm seas from November through May. To watch the sea turtles nesting or enjoy the sunniest days in a beach hammock, plan your visit between December and April.
Most inter-island transportation is by water on private or government-owned ferries, catamarans and small, colorful dongi boats anchored near the wharfs. We recommend purchasing round-trip ferry tickets so you are assured of easily returning to your home island at the end of your excursion. Ferry and catamaran tickets can be purchased in Port Blair, Havelock Island and Neil Island at the ticket offices or arranged through local travel agencies and larger resorts. When weather is rough, ferries don’t run on schedule, and might be cancelled at the last minute. Traveling by road from Port Blair north along the Great Trunk Road through the Jarawa tribal reserve to North Andaman Island can be by local bus, personal car rental, cab-for-hire, or the popular guided private car and guide service, which usually include any permits and entry fees in the rental price. Mopeds and bicycles are available for rent everywhere and are an affordable choice for sightseeing and day trips on Havelock, Neil and most of the other Islands.
Dining options range from street food to fine dining, and you’ll be able to enjoy fresh seafood, rice, vegetables and fruits prepared to order. There are restaurants in most larger hotels and resorts that offer meals with lodging, and most smaller hotels will offer guests a light breakfast. Many street vendors and smaller spots offer local delicacies like prawns, crab, and grilled fish served with flavorful side dishes. Dining out in the more populated areas of the islands you can find many delicious Chinese, Thai and Indian cuisine, vegetarian options, and even some continental or American favorites, but in more remote locations you may find that the freshest meals are available at the nearest beach shack or in the local market bazaar, where food is prepared for you while you sip fresh coconut water.
International phone calls are available at most larger hotels and resorts or at ISTD booths in village markets. Mobile phone signals are good in Port Blair, but erratic or unavailable on other islands. Internet connectivity is very slow and also unavailable in most locations. Make sure you can access information on your smartphone offline if needed. An international driver’s license is necessary for car rentals, and you should carry Indian currency, traveler’s checks and a major credit card (most locations accept Visa, MasterCard or AmEx). Local banks, currency dealers, the airport and ATM’s will be the best source for exchanging currency or getting cash.
Pack a good pair of beach shoes to swim in, insect repellant and itch medicine, sunscreen and sunburn cream, a rain jacket and lightweight coat for cool evenings, sunglasses and a hat or ballcap. We also recommend you bring comfortable walking shoes, a rucksack or backpack, snacks, bottled water, travel adapter and camera. Beach coverups, a shawl or wrap, and other modest outfits to wear in public are recommended.
Alcohol and smoking may not be permitted in public places, so you are advised that if you bring these items, ask first or just use them in private. Be respectful of local customs and interact with locals as if you were a guest in their home – there will be Hindu festivals and other island celebrations you can enjoy.
Some common-sense safety advice about the Andaman Islands – they are remote and isolated, with few doctors and hospitals, so maintain an awareness of your surroundings when having fun. Never swim alone or after the sun goes down, and avoid any activities near mangrove forests or in estuaries and freshwater streams. Sharks, crocodiles, sharp coral and rip currents in the water are all hazards to avoid. Wear beach shoes to explore the rocky coastline, and when hiking or walking on wooded paths, be aware of snakes and other wildlife that may be sharing the rainforest with you. Carry a flashlight with you for night travel on foot, and remember that the island is home to many different kinds of wild animals as well as humans.