The dream of a peaceful and enriching island vacation mostly remains unfulfilled with the increasing tourism influx in the world. But, Neil Island of Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands is far from the disappointment you would imagine.
Tucked away at a peaceful corner in Andaman Island, Neil Island now known as Shaheed Dweep boasts dense tropical forest, rich biodiversity, pristine white sand beaches, colourful coral reef and most importantly? a life away from the entire hustle-bustle.
Unlike its neighbouring islands Havelock and Port Blair, Neil Island is an almost untouched land spanning over an approximate area of 14 sq km. Being not so large in area, it gives travellers a chance to explore the entire island on foot and experience the stay like a local. With a small market, a limited number of people, vehicles, hotels that can be easily counted on fingers and three-four lavish resorts located within the proximity of quiet beaches as well as in the jungle, each traveller gets the feel of a private island vacation.
This particular island is also famous amongst newly-wed couples as an exotic honeymoon destination. This gem of an island with almost non-existing internet connectivity and availability of only BSNL signal forces you to go on a digital detox and connect with nature. Neil Island is not only a place to find inner peace, bond with loved ones but also helps you awaken your adrenaline rush through scuba diving, jet ski, snorkelling, speed boat rides, banana and glass-bottom boat rides. You are a ferry away from the busy Port Blair or Havelock Island (SwarajDweep) to all the adventures waiting in tranquil Neil Island.
Once you disembark from the ferry and step out of the jetty at Bharatpur beach to move towards your resort or hotel room you have booked for yourself, rice paddies, fruit, coconut palms and plantations will take over all your attention. The mellifluous vibe of the main bazaar, at Neil Kendra, situated 500 metres south to the jetty, gives you the glimpse of a peaceful hamlet life.
Before heading over to Andaman Island to witness the magic of its long and secluded beaches, you must book your ferry as well as accommodation in advance, as they are sold out fast during the peak season ? between October and April. Though the options in Neil Island aren’t aplenty like its neighbouring Havelock Island and Port Blair, it still has decent numbers of budget-friendly, mid-range, deluxe and luxurious accommodations to suit the pockets of all kinds of travellers.
It does not matter where you stay. Despite being a small island with less population, the island doesn’t disappoint you with its transit facility. Within the island, many cabs and auto-rickshaws are available at your service. You can also hire a two-wheeler or bicycle to explore every nook and corner of the rustic island on your own. Riding through the roads, streets, fields, flora and the localities islanders live in; will be an ideal way to capture the real vibe of the Neil Island.
Every corner in Neil Island has a story to tell and has a lot in store for you to experience the best beach vacation ever. The character of Neil Island stands out from other beach destinations in and outside of Andaman Island. You get to catch the best sunrise and sunset of Andaman here in Neil Island. You get to try some adventure water sports on a quiet beach which cannot be expected in any other part of Andaman Island and India. You also get to see some colourful corals when the tides are low and, all of these are possible while you bask in the sun on the quiet beaches of Neil Island.
When you plan to visit Sitapur beach, set your alarm for before sunrise. Located at the tip of Neil Island, Sitapur beach is famous for its unreal and magical sunrise. The sight of the sun coming from the sea and then painting the sky with different shades of orange is breathtaking. The most common sight you will find at the beach is high tides, and hence the beach is not advisable for swimming. If you cannot stop yourself from swimming then, take a couple of dips and get back to the shore to soak up the sun. Quite and pretty as a picture, this beach is perfect to lie down for a while and think nothing.
A destination for water sports in Neil Island, this beach has trainers that will have you experience scuba diving, snorkelling, jet ski, speed boat rides and several other water sports that you will be unable to forget easily. Here in Bharatpur beach, you do only get to experience the water sports for once but can also take professional training under the guidance of the expert divers. Unlike Laxmanpur, you can here swim in the transparent blue water while you sort some colourful corals, fishes and turtles. Neil Island is the best place to witness rich and unblemished marine life.
You may get confused as you hear about two beaches of the same name. Do not worry! Laxmanpur Beach 1 is a spot where you can spend an entire day reading a book or simply sunbathing. However, sunbathing for long hours is not good for your skin; you can relax and spend some uninterrupted time before you witness the most magical sunset of Andaman Island. Then head back to your den as the beach closes down post-sunset due to high tides during dark hours of late evening and night. Also, the beach is rocky and has dead corals around, which makes it unsuitable for swimming.
The natural rock formation is another attraction point and is in Laxmanpur Beach 2, standing tall since decades. Formed of dead corals, it is a bridge structure popularly known as Howrah Bridge amongst the islanders. This spot is the photographers’ favourite and looks like view straight out of a movie. The best time to visit the natural rock formation is when the tides are low so that you spot various species of fish, crabs, colourful corals, sea urchins and cucumbers, starfishes in the nano ponds made of the seawater during low tides.
After the entire hustle-bustle in Port Blair and Havelock Island, Neil Island is the ideal place to unwind before you get back to your chaotic city life and laptops.
If you plan your visit to Neil Island and have a stress-free vacation, we at Andaman Islands Travels Pvt.Ltd. are at your service to help you with bookings.
It lies 40 kilometres from the capital city, Port Blair. You can only reach here via sea route choosing either economical government ferries or traveller-friendly private ferries. Cruises are also a comfortable alternative. All these run on daily shifts. The journey would only take 2 hours. Due to the island being aloof from other islands, roads are not an option.
The months from October to May would work the best for you thanks to the delightful tropical weather the island boasts of then. The period from December to January remains the peak tourist season. If you are there during this period, you would be in luck to witness the ten-day Island Tourism Festival hosted annually. Avoid the monsoons as the island experiences heavy winds then.
Better known as the Coral Kingdom of Andamans, the white-sand Bharatpur Beach joins the picturesque Laxmanpur Beach and the Sitapur Beach also called the Sunrise Beach, along with the Natural Bridge locally known as Howrah Bridge, on the perfect list of your must-visit spots of the island.
It entirely depends on you. If you are visiting with very little time on your hands, then you could tour for a day, possibly on your way back to Port Blair from Havelock Island. However, if you plan to backpack through this trip, then you would have weeks at a time to soak the island vibes.
A Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is not a requirement for outsiders anymore, given the recent decision of the Indian government to improve the state of tourism in both 11 uninhabited and 29 inhabited islands in the Andamans.
You can either go to one of the two medical care facilities on the island, the Local Hospital located near the Neil Kendra or the Primary Healthcare Center- Ayurveda Dispensary. Them being government-run medical care units, all services here can be availed free of cost. If in need of any speciality healthcare, you must travel to Port Blair. Over there, G.B. Pant Hospital is an affordable and reputed hospital at your service, which is an outcome of modernization in medical services.
Primary Health Center & Ambulance Service: 03192-282627
The network issues may cut you off from the outside world. The cellular networks on the island are more patchy than existent. Best to not rely on the carriers except for BSNL. It is the one with the best connectivity. Frequent call drops, download-upload errors and limited mobile data usage are a common thing. Though no Internet is available on the island yet the lack of it provides you with a rare chance at digital detox.
Only three ATMs run by Syndicate Bank, Axis Bank, and Cooperative Bank are there on the island. Not many hotels or vendors here accept card payment. Furthermore, ATMs can run out of money rather suddenly in peak tourist season, which is why we urge you to keep enough cash with you.