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The Mesmerizing Andamans

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are perhaps not the first destination that comes to mind when talking about holidays by the sea, and it is not some where you can drive to, but it is definitely a unique experience and well worth the journey.

The Andaman islands are quite well connected by air, with daily flights available from all the big metros. You land in the capital city of Port Blair, and this is perhaps the least impressive part of the islands. Port Blair, for all intents and purposes, is a normal, crowded Indian town. The main tourist attraction of the place is the Cellular Jail, which has a sound and light show in the evenings.

Things do get better just a 10 minute boat trip from Port Blair, to the nearby Ross Island. The small island is home to some ruins, and makes for a nice change of pace. Indeed, it is a place where one can easily spend a couple of hours walking. The real stars of the island, however, are the local deer and peacocks. They are everywhere you look, and you can't walk a few steps without running into one of them. They normally tend to avoid humans, but if you have some snacks handy, you might just tempt them into being more friendly to you.

Of course, you do not come all the way to the Andamans just to stay at Port Blair. You come here to explore the other islands. The way to travel via the islands is by government ferry or private cruises. The government ferries are cheap, but rusty and uncomfortable, and are definitely not recommended for anyone elderly, or with children. Much better to spend a few hundred rupees more and go for the private ferries with air conditioning.

There are many islands to visit, but the star of the show for me was Havelock island. Justly famous after being mentioned in TIME magazine as one of the 100 best places to visit in Asia, Havelock island is a large island with a well developed tourism infrastructure. There are plenty of beach facing resorts, restaurants and water sport activities available. In fact, scuba diving classes are available for beginners at affordable prices, and are definitely worth trying out.

Havelock Island is most famous for Radhanagar Beach, a white sand beach whose surface glistens during sunrise and sunset like a mirror, reflecting the hues of the sky. It is a large beach, and while crowded, you can find your own quiet corner just a few hundred metres away from the crowded entrance.

Of course, apart from the sights, the Andaman islands are a seafood lovers paradise. You will get good food wherever you go on the islands, be it at your hotel or the innumerable shacks near the beach. I had a particularly delicious pomfret, fried whole as well as a huge crab cooked in the local spices.

One unique sighting I found at the islands were the presence of sparrows. Due to the lack of people and cell service, they seemed to have thrived here on the islands, a spot away from the madness of modern city life.

So, why should one go to the Andamans? Well, if you want a unique experience by the sea, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets and amazing seafood, the Andamans it the place to be. I would recommend visiting between November to March when the hot weather tones down a bit.

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