A union territory of India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands consist of as many as 572 islands. Of these, only 38 are inhabited. The island is at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Nearly 150 kilometers north of Aceh in Indonesia, the territory is separated from Myanmar and Thailand by the Andaman Sea. Two island groups are comprised in it— the Andaman Islands (partly) and the Nicobar Islands. The 150-kilometer wide Ten Degree Channel (on the 10°N parallel) separates them.
Port Blair is the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The total land area of the islands is around 8,249 square kilometers. It is divided into three districts:
Geographically, the Andamans are located in the east of the mainland of India. Featuring secluded beaches bordering the azure cobalt ocean, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are blessed with the best of nature. The islands of this union territory of India are proofs of God’s vivid imagination. The golden and white sands of the beaches meeting the turquoise waters of the ocean and the green shades of lush forests creating scenery in the archipelago is beautiful beyond anything else!
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprise gorgeous islands. The best among them are as follows:
You can visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands all around the year. Having its own charm in each and every season, there is a lot to explore in the island destination. The Andamans are popular for the green-blue waters, pure beauty, along with the mental peace it provides to the travellers. A majority of the tourists visit Andaman during the months from October to May. At this time, the downpour has its own charm. The natural beauty is absolutely mesmerising. The calming waters and lush greenery further accentuate the beauty of the tropical island.
You can pick any season to visit the beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
Just make sure that you have packed accordingly.
If you are an Indian passport holder, then you do not need a permit to visit and stay in the populated areas of the Andamans. However, if you are a foreign national, then you would need a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) over and above an Indian visa to enter the islands. You will be required to obtain the Indian visa in your country of residence prior to your arrival in India. One can easily obtain the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) on arrival in Port Blair. It is free of cost and is available to all foreign nationals. The procedure doesn’t take long.
You will not be allowed to enter the Andaman Islands if your visa has a stamp that reads “Not valid for restricted areas” (or similar) as the island is a restricted zone. Please contact the issuing embassy if your visa carries this stamp. You will be required to get your visa re-issued.
Foreigners travelling to Port Blair are issued a 30-day permit. This permit can be extended by another fifteen days closer to the time of expiry (around three days ahead). This procedure can be done only at the immigration office in Port Blair. All you have to do is show a confirmed return ticket for the journey within the next fifteen days for obtaining the extension. There is a possibility that you may not get this extension in a few hours. In this case, you will be required to stay overnight in Port Blair for getting the extension.
Foreign nationals having a valid entry permit in the Andamans are allowed to visit and stay in the municipal areas of the following places:
The Restricted Access Permit is issued on arrival by the immigration department. No other authority can help you in obtaining the same. You will have to sort it out with the immigration authority if there is any problem. In order to prevent any complications, check the latest procedures and updates from the immigration authorities.
Three ferries ply between Port Blair and Havelock Island on daily basis. All the flights reach Port Blair in time so that travellers can catch a ferry to Havelock Island and reach on the same day. You can choose between the slower and cheaper government ferry and the faster and expensive new catamaran on the basis of your arrival time in Port Blair and your budget.
Please note that getting ferry tickets can be a little difficult and tiresome with long queues. Procuring tickets last minute can be extremely hard and even impossible if there is a rush. Therefore, we advise you to buy the tickets in advance.
You need to have enough time in hand to get to the appropriate ferry. Boarding stops fifteen minutes before sailing. If you have to board the catamaran ‘Makruzz’, then make sure that your flight reaches Port Blair before 8 AM. Passengers on later flights will not be able to board this boat.
From Port Blair to Havelock Island
Government Ferry: 6 AM and 2 PM (Duration- 2.5 hours)
Catamaran (Makruzz): 9 AM (Duration- 1.5 hours)
A government ferry departs from Port Blair at 12:30 PM but it visits one more island before arriving at Swaraj Dweep. So the total time taken to reach Havelock Island is four hours. Thus, we do not recommend this one.
From Havelock Island to Port Blair
Government Ferry: 2 PM and 4:30 PM (Duration: 2.5 hours)
Catamaran (Makruzz): 4 PM (Duration: 1.5 hours)
The administration can change the above timings at short notice. We would recommend you to recheck the schedule a few days before your arrival. Also, all sailings are subject to weather conditions.
In the Andamans, the main tourist season is from November to mid-May. However, the absolute peak season is between December and March.
The months from June to September are considered the rainy season. However, you can enjoy great off-season prices and discounts at many accommodations during this time period owing to the lesser tourist influx. In June and July, rain peaks and one can experience pleasant weather in the months of August and September with a little luck. The weather is highly unpredictable in the Andaman Islands. One can experience light showers even in November and December. It is quite tough to accurately predict the rain cycle as it is a tropical island.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, then you should know that for scuba diving, the best time to dive in the Andamans is February and March. During this time, visibility is excellent, the wind is almost absent, and the sea is at its flattest. From June 1 to July 31, the diving remains closed in Havelock Island and they reopen on August 1 for the new season.
The temperatures in Andamans during different months can be checked below:
What should you do while vacationing in the Andamans totally depends on your interest areas. Most people spend a day or two in Port Blair, the capital town, visiting nearby tourist attractions, and after that head to Swaraj Dweep for gorgeous beaches and exciting water sports.
If you just want to relax and spend quality time in nature’s lap, then you should consider proceeding straight to Havelock Island. If you are more of an explorer, then you have the option of visiting other islands such as Rangat, Baratang, Diglipur, Neil Island, Mayabunder, Long Island, etc. However, you should know that these islands have much more basic facilities than those in Port Blair or Havelock Island.
While holidaying in the Andaman Islands, there will never be a dull moment as you have the choice of being a total beach bum just chilling and enjoying the serenity or explore various islands over many days.
However, the majority of the tourists visit Port Blair as a port of transit to other islands but the capital city has so much to offer than it has been credited for. The place has it all ranging from historical museums to water sports.
The top places to visit in Port Blair are as follows:
If you have got more time in hand, then you can also explore the following beaches and islands from Port Blair:
You should keep the following things in mind while planning your trip to the Andamans:
India has standard 220 volts with sockets that are a mix of three-pin (round pins) and two-pin (round pins). Travellers should bring at least one travel adapter with them.
The Andaman Islands is popular for its authentic seafood owing to the staple food of Bengali settlers, who arrived here. All restaurants serve crabs, shrimp, lobster and fish. However, seafood is not cheap here as demand is more than supply. Also, the cost of seafood is not that sky high but it is not cheap either. North Indian, South Indian, Vegetarian, Continental, and Chinese dishes are available easily here. And if you order continental food, then expect it with the Indian twist.
The Andaman Islands is known as a foodie paradise. It serves a wide range of mouth-watering cuisines especially seafood. Offering varieties of delicacies at your service, there are a number of sea-facing food joints across the island. Even if you are a vegetarian, you will have a lot to choose from in restaurants. Nemo Café, Waves, and Pink Fly should be in your itinerary if you are looking to chill with live music by the seashore.
A mix of different religions can be seen in the Andamans. Thus, almost all festivals of mainland India are celebrated here such as Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Eid, and Easter. However, Durga Pooja is the biggest festival here due to the number of Bengalis on the island.
he Andamans is quite a chilled out place and the rules are very simple. Just act with respect and follow the decorum. Dress appropriately, especially when you are away from the beach. And before taking photographs of the local population, always take permission.
Despite being a beach destination, the locals of the Andaman Islands are not used to seeing women in revealing swimwear. Kindly be sensitive to their traditions and cover up when you are in such areas where locals are present (village markets, jetty areas, etc.).
This union territory of India is a remote place. Although people here are friendly, travellers should not expect the level of service and comfort that you would expect at a resort or hotel in mainland India.
The Indian Rupee (INR) is the currency of India. You can exchange major currencies only in Port Blair here. It is recommended that you go through authorized money changers or official banks. Please note that the rates of exchanging foreign currency in the Andamans will not be as good as in mainland India.
When in the Andaman Islands, make sure that you stay at a beachfront property to make the most of your holidays. The names of the best beach resorts, which are well-equipped with all the modern facilities, in the Andamans are as follows:
The only networks that work in the Andamans are Vodafone, BSNL, and Airtel. You can buy an extra sim, so be on the safer side. But there are several places where there is zero signal connectivity no matter whichever sim you use. These are Radhanagar Beach, Elephant Beach in Havelock, and Jolly Buoy in Port Blair.
All across the island, efficient health care facilities are available. In case of an emergency, prompt aids are available with speed boats to your rescue. Doctor’s assistance, medication from the pharmacy, hospitalisations, operation, and nursing are included in the healthcare facilities.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to a lot of tribes as well as a vast population. It is known for its rich topography and culture. The total population was 379,944 as per the census of 2011. Hindi and English are the official languages of the island. Bengali is the most spoken and dominant language. Other spoken languages include Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Nicobarese.
There are ATMs in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are two ATMs in Havelock Island as well of late. But you should know that there is no actual bank in Havelock. So there are times when the machines don’t have any cash left. The ATMs there are replenished with funds once every three to four days. You should carry sufficient cash with you to pay your bills as other islands do not have ATMs.
Apart from big hotels, resorts and some diving facilities, credit cards (MasterCard and Visa) are not widely accepted in the Andaman Islands. You will be required to pay surcharge and your passport and credit card will get photocopied for submitting to the bank. This is because all the transactions are done offline. Moreover, American Express cards are not accepted by many establishments.
Shorts and t-shirts are acceptable everywhere. Some resorts accepts ‘smart casual’. For your comfort, carry flip flops. Carry a towel and extra clothes when going out for excursions. In the evening, wear something light with long sleeves and light trousers as mosquitoes come out. Carry a mosquito repellent at all times. The mosquito problem is only during evening and reduces after that. When visiting a temple, you should dress conservatively. Cover your shoulders and wear dresses or trousers below knee level. Take off your shoes before entering.
Please note that India is country of mixed religions. Thus, topless/nude sunbathing or nude swimming is not appropriate at all. To respect this sentiment, you should cover yourself even of you are alone at a beach. Wear cool cottons and fabrics that absorb sweat. This will reduce the chance of heat rashes.
Like other parts of the Andaman Sea, Andamans also enjoy a tropical climate all around the year. The average minimum temperature is around 23°C and it rarely goes much above 30°C. The humidity level is quite high at about 70% to 90%. However, it is still quite pleasant as a gentle breeze blows most of the time.
Towards the end of May before the monsoon season, June and July, some rainfall can be expected. Some rainfall is there through to November. This has a natural charm of its own as it keeps the island lush and green.
The main tourist season begins in October every year. The southwest monsoon showers are over by September. There is a mix of rain and sun at this time. The island is at its most lively in October and November. It is lush and gorgeous. The farmland has a standing paddy crop. The forest is extremely green and the island is the most vibrant after shrugging off the shackles of the monsoon season. Nature is at its best here during these two months owing to intermittent showers. Andamans is fresh and green and the weather remains lovely. As the Southwest winds have blown away, the waters off the Bay turn calm and flat. As the Northeast winds blow briefly through the island, there may be rainfall in end November or early December.
In December and January, the weather is usually quite pleasant. Daytime temperatures are ideal. It is sunny and pleasing. Nighttime temperatures are cool. In the evenings, you may need a light jacket or full sleeve shirt.
The weather in February and March is very much settled. It slowly turns warmer. The sky and the sea are at their bluest and clearest at this time. It is summer season in April and it continues till the first half of May. The daytime temperatures reaches 36 centigrade but it is in the shade. From the second half of May till June and July, the Southwest Monsoon can be witnessed. It eases off after August/September. Paddy farmers yield their first harvest then.
Due to the remoteness and low population in the Andamans, health services are limited. However, there are good medical facilities at GB Pant Hospital, which is located in Port Blair, the capital town. India is a malarial risk area. However, there are very few known cases in Havelock Island. Consult your doctor and decided whether you want to reduce this risk further by taking anti malaria, which may have some side effects. You should also check the status of your vaccinations and decided which ones do you need for your travels.
Follow normal sensible precautions with food and you will be out of trouble. Drink a lot of bottled drinking water for prevention of dehydration. Do not drink tap water. Wear light and loose clothing made from natural fibres. In this humidity, heat rash and fungal infections for tourists are not unusual.
In case you get injured, consult a doctor and/or take antibiotics and apply an antiseptic cream regularly. It is easy for an infection to set in as the humidity level is high.
India is known for having unity in diversity. It is home to mixed religions, cultures, and traditions. In the Andamans, Hinduism is the most popular religion here followed by Christianity and then Islam. Most of the times, the Hindu festivals are the most celebrated ones here but you will also see big colorful stars available in the market and small processions with Santa Claus around Christmas Day.
The whole of India falls under the same time zone. The local time is GMT + 5½ hours throughout the country year round. Life in the Andaman Islands begins a little earlier in the day as it is geographically closer to Thailand than India.
Generally speaking, Indian postal services have a good reputation for posting domestically as well as internationally. But the service is not that reliable in the Andamans. In the past, there have been cases of parcels and letters not reaching their destination. Thus, you should use postal services on mainland India rather than on the island.
Major hotels and ISD available in the markets offer the service of international dialing. Dial 001 plus the country code plus the area code plus the phone number if you wish to make an international call. The service is reliable and not that costly. Port Blair and some parts of Havelock Island have excellent mobile connectivity. In other islands, you may find the service but it will not be that good. At present, BSNL, Airtel, Reliance, and Vodafone are available there.
Port Blair and Havelock Island have internet facility. Connectivity in the capital town is quite good with fast connections. In Swaraj Dweep, the internet facility is very slow as it is on dial up connections. The facility of satellite internet is available in some places that is faster but more expensive. So many islands don’t have internet services at all.
There are no duty free shops or malls in the Andamans as it is still a bit under-developed and is not for any shopping. But if you love souvenir shopping, then you are going to love it here. You can buy lovely handicrafts and souvenirs in Port Blair, mainly in Aberdeen Bazaar as well as at Sagarika that is an outlet of the cottage industry. Havelock Island has jewellery shops selling handmade coconut jewellery items. There are many shops here from where you can buy bags and clothes that are brought in from the mainland.
There is no as such organised crime on the island. Watching your valuables major tourist areas would be wise as just like in almost all the countries, pick-pocketing can happen here as well. Just follow simple precautions as they will go a long way in your safety. There are many resorts that offer safety deposit lockers and it would be wise if you don’t flash a bundle of notes while paying your bills. In case you face any problem, then you can file your complaint at a police station and seek help. Police stations are present on all islands. Generally, locals are also very helpful as well.
When in Port Blair or Havelock Island, you can rent a bicycle from the market area. However, it is not possible on other islands. Charges are on a per day basis. The rented bicycles are very basic. You will not get high quality mountain terrain bikes here on which you can do stunts. A motorbike can also be easily rented for the duration of your stay. There are options of non-geared and the geared motorbikes and scooters. The shops renting these bikes will ask for your driving license before you take anything on rent. Charges vary and are on per day basis. You have to bear the fuel charges on your own.
You can be stopped by police personnel for a sudden check. So keep your license with you at all times. Wearing a helmet is mandatory and you will get it with the bike. You will be fined if police stops you and you are not wearing your helmet. Self driven cars are not available for rental but taxi service can be availed for short distances and day hire.
There are some Andaman beaches that have sand flies. So you have to carry a strong insect repellent in your beach bag. Avoid being on a beach at dusk as sand flies usually come out at this time. If you get bitten by sand flies, then attend to it immediately to make sure that you do not get infected. Do not scratch and keep the affected area dry.
The island is home to canopied rainforests that harbor three thousand species of plants including mangroves, epiphytes (130 ferns and 100 orchids), palms, woody limbers, timbers (teak, mahogany, Andaman paduk) and along with diverse varieties of tropical fruits. The marine fauna is broad as well comprising an extensive variety of corals and tropical fish. The flora and fauna here is diverse and unique, and the eco-system is fragile in nature. There are as many as 96 sanctuaries spread over 466.218 square kilometers and nine national parks spread over 1153.938 square kilometers in the Andaman Islands.
Most are bio-diversity hotspots, as per the island’s environmental team. More than a quarter of the flora and fauna is endemic (only found in the Andaman Islands). Out of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, four nest on these beaches including the endangered leatherback turtle, The extensive mangrove swamps are homes to giant monitor lizards and salt water crocodiles.
You should be responsible while travelling to these islands. Be sensitive to the issues concerning physical environment of the beaches, rain forests, and marine life.
There are untouched and endangered tribes in the beautiful Andamans. Entering the tribal reserves, meeting or photographing the tribals is prohibited and against the law. Please refrain if anyone offers you a trip to meet the tribal people. Adhere to the law and respect the Andamanese tribes.
However, you should visit the Anthropological Museum in Port Blair to have a look at their tools, weapons, and photographs showing their lives and traditions.
There are two groups of the indigenous tribes—The Shompen and Nicobarese of Mongoloid descent living in the Nicobar Islands and the Onge, Sentinelese, Jarawa and Andamanese of Negroid descent living on the Andaman Islands.
Still living in isolation on the North Sentinel Island, the Sentinelese is the least studied tribe. They are nearly 250 in number. They are not clothed as they have been living in total isolation for many centuries. Adornments of bark and shell, like necklaces, arm bands, waist bands, etc. are used by the Jarawa.
Havelock Island is a great party destination as well and offers an exciting nightlife and dining experience. There are several restaurants and clubs that host happening events and parties. The vibrant nightlife of the Andaman Islands can be best witnessed in Havelock Island. Andaman entertainment is not too loud and offers a unique experience. In case you want to experience more than the tranquility of this island, then this is your one-stop destination.
Top nightlife spots in Havelock Island
Best restaurants & food outlets in Havelock Island
To help you in making an informed decision, we have listed here the best hotels and resorts across Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep). We have compiled this list after considering a number of parameters such as location, amenities, and distance from the beach (if any), to mention a few.
The scenic beaches of Neil Island boast of white sands and uninterrupted views of the clear blue skies. It is slightly less developed, but those deciding to stay here are rewarded with untouched beaches. The best hotels and resorts across the island are mentioned below: