Is Port Blair worth visiting? If yes, then how many days should you spend there? – This question always crops up among tourists when they decide to travel to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The capital of the union territory is known for its rich history along with natural beauty. So many travellers think whether they should skip it and head directly towards Havelock Island or Neil Island to see gorgeous beaches or spend some time here as well. We would recommend you to make up your mind to stay in Port Blair for two days at least. Ultimately, apart from knowing about the historical events that this place has witnessed, you will also see a fair share of nature and beauty. Most importantly, you can witness an interesting phenomenon that occurs in an unusual place. You should definitely add it to your itinerary, but let us tell you in advance that it requires more time and money. But it is totally worth it. It definitely deserves a place in your travel bucket list. So, what it is? Find out yourself in this full-fledged travel guide for Port Blair.
Port Blair, the capital city, is the entryway to the rich expanse of beauty and serenity that the islands have to offer. Here, you can visit various museums, explore flora and fauna along with the rich marine life, and take a stroll at Marina Park to enjoy the tropical breeze. When in Port Blair, you can walk past the Japanese bunkers, go for exciting water sports, see the island’s high peaks, and know about its rich culture and diversity. Spending a couple of days here is the cherry on the cake of your beach vacation.
A glimpse of Port Blair
Veer Savarkar International Airport is the Andaman’s only commercial airport located in Port Blair. Thus, it serves as the only entry and exit point into the islands. It is connected to various islands by ferries. The Phoenix Bay Jetty and the Haddo Wharf are the most reliable harbors. North Andaman (Diglipur, Baratang, Rangat, and Mayabunder) is connected to Port Blair by road. Internet is available in Port Blair but it is quite slow. If you are interested in knowing about the culture and heritage of the Andamans, then Port Blair is your one-stop destination.
Best time to visit Port Blair
The best time to visit Port Blair is between November and March. The monsoon season falls between June and September. However, you should expect light showers even during other seasons as well since it is a tropical island.
Reaching Port Blair
You can reach Port Blair via two ways- by air and by sea. Veer Savarkar International Airport, the only commercial airport of the Andaman Islands, is located in Port Blair. Direct flights to/from Chennai, Kolkata, and Bangalore are available easily. Flights are faster and more comfortable. Thus, it is a preferred option. Ships are cheaper but general passenger ships are more troublesome. However, if you want to experience a voyage on the sea, then we recommend a ship journey. It is an unusual adventure in itself.
Getting around in Port Blair
Commuting by local transport in Port Blair is very convenient. Roads are well-built and you will not get lost as every spot is just by the road. Moreover, the locals are also very helpful. You can carry a map or an offline map here as the internet doesn’t work properly here. Some of the recommended options for getting around Port Blair are as follows:
- Tourist taxis- You can rent a tourist cab from anywhere in Port Blair. The drivers will be waiting at the jetty. It is the best option for getting around. You can book a cab in advance from Andaman Island Travels in order to save your time and effort.
- Bike rentals- Bikes can also be hired in Port Blair on a daily basis at around Rs. 500 per day. Petrol pumps are not opened till late at night here. So, keep the tank full. During monsoons, avoid renting a bike as roads can get slippery.
- Auto rickshaws- Auto rickshaws are available for short and long rides at affordable rates.
- Public transport- Budget travellers prefer commuting via public buses in Port Blair. However, it may get a bit exhaustive for you. It is not advised as the best mode of transport for tourists.
- Airport/hotel pick-up and drop off- Andaman Island Travels is the best platform to book a taxi for your airport/hotel transfers or sightseeing on the island. The pre-arranged transportation will be provided to you between the airport and your final destination, whether it is a hotel, cruise port, or another local point of interest. You can also book the transfer at the end of your trip when you have to head back to the airport.
Transfers – Port Blair to other islands
All other islands that are open to tourists are connected to Port Blair by land and sea. Transfers between islands are possible in the following four ways:
- Private ferries- These ferries connect Port Blair, Havelock, Baratang, and Neil Island. It takes nearly 1.5-2 hours to reach the respective island. A bit expensive, ferries are the most convenient and preferred modes of transport in the Andaman Islands. Some of the cruises available are Makruzz, Coastal Cruise, Green Ocean, etc. These ferries operate daily and offer easy accessibility to the islands.
- Government ferries- These ferries connect Port Blair to Havelock, Neil Island, Little Andaman, Diglipur, and Nicobar (not accessible to tourists).
- Helicopter- Pavan Hans flies from Port Blair to Havelock, Diglipur, Hutbay in Little Andaman, and Neil Island. However, the service is mainly for government officials and medical emergencies. Travellers are allowed to fly only on very rare occasions.
- By Road- Only North Andaman comprising Baratang, Rangat, Mayabundar, and Diglipur are connected via road. The national highway connects Port Blair to Diglipur. Cabs and buses are also available. Before ferry services started to Baratang, this was the only way to reach there.
Top places to see and things to do in Port Blair
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.
Timings and fees for Cellular Jail and Jail Museum (Open all days except national holidays):
- 09:00 am to 12:30 pm
- 01:30 pm to 04:45 pm
Entry Fee: Rs. 30, Camera: Rs. 200, Video Camera: Rs. 1000, Film shooting per day with prior permission: Rs. 10000
Son-et-Lumiere (Sound and Light Show) at Cellular Jail
The show presents the saga of the heroic freedom struggle. The entry fee for kids is Rs. 25 and for adults, it is Rs. 50. You can choose any of the following timings to watch the one-hour show:
- 05:30 pm to 06:30 pm
- 06:45 pm to 07:45 pm
- 08:00 pm to 09:00 pm
- 09:15 pm to 10:15 pm
Port Blair is famous for the historic Cellular Jail that was built by the Britishers in ten years. It was constructed as solitary confinement for Indian political prisoners. This was the most dreaded and grueling colonial jail, which was also referred to as Kala Pani. It has witnessed the most atrocious punishments imposed on innumerable freedom fighters of India. Open to the public as a national memorial, you can see the whole place soaking in the misery and pain of the revolutionaries. You can climb the stairs, walk through the corridors, get inside the cells, and see the gallows where executions were done by hanging.
Corbyn’s Cove Beach
You can go there on the first evening of your trip. After a long day, all everyone wants is to take a leisurely stroll surrounded by peaceful beach vibes. One of the most famous beaches in Port Blair, people come here for boating, water scooters, and jet skiing as well.
Veer Savarkar Park
This park is located right in front of the Cellular Jail. You can come here to get some rest after your visit to the jail or while you are waiting for your chance to attend the light and sound show. You can witness the pride of the past in the form of a really good collection of statues of our freedom fighters. Refreshments like green coconuts and tea are sold by vendors there. The park also has a few rides for kids.
Located centrally in Port Blair, this temple offers a religious excursion to its visitors. It is the biggest pilgrim site of the Andaman Islands, which is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva. The temple displays Dravidian architecture at its best. If you want to witness a grand occasion, then you should plan your visit to the temple during festival time. Don’t forget to try the delicious vegetarian or the non-vegetarian platter around the temple complex. Authentic food from different cultures is served there which is surely worth a try if you are a foodie.
Samudrika Naval Marine Museum
A perfect blend of historical and modern Andaman, this museum greets its visitors with the skeleton of a massive blue whale as you enter. You will see there an aquarium with fish of all shapes and sizes ranging from a parrotfish to the rare and venomous species of stonefish and corals. The place is an ideal visit for kids. If you love collecting souvenirs while travelling, then you can buy a lot of interesting stuff from the gift shop for your loved ones back at home.
Having a cruise party in Port Blair is a unique yet preferable option as it offers an extravagant experience that is less likely to be found in any other kind of party. The feeling of being on a voyage while sipping wine like you are on top of the world is totally worth your money. There are so many cruise packages in the Andaman Islands and you can choose any one of them as per your budget. From the right venue to the right menu- a cruise party has everything you desire. Partying on a cruise amid the natural beauty of the Port Blair is the best idea. The cruises offer various facilities to plan a shipboard or shore side party here. A cruise party would be unforgettable for everyone.
Reminiscent of World War II, these relics of the bygone era can be easily spotted across Port Blair tourist places. They attest to the time when a siege on these islands was attempted. A popular place to be visited in Port Blair, these bunkers are situated on the way to Ross Island and Corbyn Cove beach.
Unwind at Qua Spa
Pampering yourself at this spa is one of the best ways to unwind from the daily hustle of life. This luxurious spa in Port Blair offers a wide range of services. Qua Spa is highly recommended if you want to just relax and unwind. Its Balinese massage is quite popular in the Andamans. It operates from 11 AM to 9 PM. So please plan accordingly.
Chatham Saw Mill
Chatham Saw Mill displays the rustic beauty of the pre-independence days. A well-known wood processor in Asia, the British administration set up this mill in 1883. Among so many places to visit in these cluster islands, Chatham Saw Mill is quite an attraction for everyone.
You can buy so many lovely and interesting items in Port Blair. The main roads are dotted with various small shops that offer trinkets made of bamboo, seashells, and the local mahua wood. You should visit Sagarika also which is the largest government-run handicraft store in the Andamans.
This village is located in the southern region of the Andaman Islands that is known for its rubber plantations. It offers stunning views of natural beauty including a stream that flows through the village. The rubber plantation covers an area of 60 acres, and it is the major source of income for the locals. You can learn about the plantation process, from seed to extraction and production level, during your visit to this village.
Enthralling activities in Port Blair
Port Blair is a hub of water adventure activities. You can try jet skiing, glass-bottom boating, and seaplane ride here. If you love doing adventurous activities, then Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex is the perfect place for enjoying different exciting water sports. Here, you will find paddleboats, rowboats, parasailing, speed boats, banana boats, and a lot more. The best time to visit the complex would be summers so that you can enjoy being in the water even more.
- Banana boat rides are known to have the perfect blend of fun and adventure. This splendid and exciting activity is a must-try in Andaman Island. These boats are shaped like a banana and are tied behind a speed boat to gain speed. A total of six people can ride on these boats, and that includes an instructor as well. It is absolutely safe as everyone is given a life jacket. Don’t hold yourself back and go for this activity when in Andamans. It is counted among the best sports here.
- Parasailing is an incredible water sport that anyone can enjoy in Andaman Island. It offers a fantastic combo of water and airborne adventure. While harnessed in a parachute, you are tied behind a motorboat with a rope. As the boat speeds off into the sea, you start flying like a kite in the sky! You may get to dip into the water as well. The whole experience is extremely enthralling! This activity is something that you should not miss at any cost in Andaman Island. And yes, wear clothes in which you can move comfortably.
- Jet skiing definitely stands out among all the water sports in Port Blair. However, it depends on weather conditions. It should not be done during a heavy downpour or a storm; otherwise, it would be highly dangerous. Therefore, before heading out to enjoy this superb activity, don’t forget to check the weather conditions first. And for your own safety, don’t stand up while driving the jet ski.
- If you are someone who wants to be in the waters but doesn’t want to get in, then this activity is particularly for you. By speed boating, you can experience the thrill but still be completely safe. This is the perfect water sport for you. While the speed boat splashes through the waters at a fast pace, you will be inside, safety and in your life jacket. Swimmer or otherwise, you just cannot miss this water activity when in Andaman Island.
- In glass-bottom boating, you have to be in a tiny boat with the bottom made up of glass. As it sails through the sea, you can have a glimpse of the water. This is very popular in Port Blair. One can enjoy glass-bottom boat rides from Water Sports Complex to North Bay Coral Island or from Port Blair to Jolly Buoy Island. You have to wear a life jacket. One of the finest sea sports, it is a magical experience for sure. When in Port Blair, do not miss this activity.
- Want to have an awesome experience of being in a commercial seaplane? Port Blair is your one-stop destination to fulfill this dream of yours. One of the best adventure sports, a ride in a seaplane should not be missed by you at any cost. These planes carry a total of nine passengers at a time and take you from Port Blair to Havelock Island. In just 15 minutes, you will reach your destination which otherwise takes two hours via ferry. Just check the weather forecast before going for the adventurous ride.
Excited to try these water activities? All you have to do is contact Andaman Island Travels to make all the bookings for you. Its experienced tour operators will take care of all your travel requirements including accommodation as well.
Other places to explore around Port Blair
If you have got more time in hand, then you can also explore the following beaches and islands from Port Blair:
- Chidiya Tapu
- Ferar Beach
- Parrot Island
- Katchal Island
- Amkunj Beach
- Rutland Island
- Cinque Island
- Diglipur Island
- Butler Bay Beach
- Karmatang Beach
- Lamiya Bay Beach
- Little Andaman Island
Where to stay in Port Blair?
There are tons of hotels in the capital city of the Andaman Islands but only a few offer sea-views. Staying at a prime location in Port Blair would be a good decision. You can book a hotel at Foreshore Road, Aberdeen Bazaar, Junglighat, Goal Ghar, Middle Point, Dollygunj, or Phoenix Bay. The hotel tariff is on a higher-end at these locations but you have the option to go out and explore the place locally.
Whether you are on a budget trip or a luxurious vacation, properties in Port Blair cater to all requirements when it comes to accommodation. Depending on the tourist seasons, tariff varies between peak and low. It is highly recommended that you make your booking in advance as the prices may shoot up during peak season and the best places will get full.
Low Budget- INR 500- 3000 (per night)
Mid-range- INR 4000- 8000 (per night)
Premium stays- INR 9000- 12000 (per night)
Some of the best hotels and resorts in Port Blair are mentioned below:
Top Hotels & Resorts in Port Blair
- Hotel Kavitha Regent
- Hotel Shreesh
- Hotel Rhishabh
- Sun Sea Resort
- Hotel TSG Emerald View
- Hotel NK International
- Hotel Holiday Inn
- Hotel Blue Sea
- J Hotel
- Hotel Blue Mmarlin
- Hotel Aparupa
- Hotel Sentinel
- Peerless Sarovar Portico
- The North Reef
- Hotel Silver Spring
- Hotel TSG Grand
- Hotel SR Castle
- Hotel Luxor Grand
- Sea Shell Resorts
- ITC Fortune Resort Bay Island
- Keys Select Hotel Aqua Green
- Sea Princess Beach Resort
Where to eat in Port Blair?
There are a number of restaurants and food outlets in the capital town that cater to all kinds of tourists. Whether you are looking for a fine dining place or a pocket-friendly outlet that serves good food, you are sure to get here what you are looking for. Some of the highly recommended restaurants and food outlets in Port Blair along with their highlighting feature are as follows:
1. New Lighthouse Residency- Extra points for ambiance
2. Annapurna Restaurant- Perfect for vegetarians
3. Ananda Multi Cuisine Restaurant- Indulge in diverse cuisines
4. Rola Costa Restaurant & Juice Center- For healthy juices
5. Gagan Restaurant- Complete worth for money
6. Icy Spicy family Restaurant- Perfect for family lunch
7. Sea Food Delight- The best seafood
8. Tandoor- North Indian dishes also available
9. Cafe Down Under- Perfect spot for friends
10. TRIO – The family restaurant- Feel the Majestic Ambience
11. Bella Bay Dinner Cruise- Food on the cruise
12. Anju Coco Family Restaurant- Perfect for big families
13. Rajasthani Dhaba- For authentic Rajasthani dishes
14. Happy Belly- On-wheel restaurant
15. Gem Continental- For scrumptious food
Things to know while visiting Port Blair
- Weather- Port Blair witnesses mainly three seasons- summer, tropical winter, and monsoon. Located in the Bay of Bengal, it experiences heavy winds during the monsoon and a tropical climate otherwise. The best weather can be enjoyed in the islands from early November to mid-May. The capital city is situated at a slightly elevated area, and thus experiences a little lower temperature as compared to the other islands.
- Communication and internet- Network is a luxury in Port Blair, especially the internet. Only BSNL network works here, and the internet is extremely slow. Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels do provide WiFi facility but that is often disrupted. If you are thinking of buying a local number in the islands, then buy a BSNL sim card that will be easily available there.
- Safety- The efficient Andaman and Nicobar Police take care of the discipline department in the union territory of Andaman. You can get in touch with them in case of an emergency.
- Supermarkets and bazaars- The most developed markets and bazaars in the islands are present in Port Blair. They are not so fancy but all the necessary items are available there.
- Fruits and vegetables- If you want to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, then the Sunday market lining the Junglighat Jetty is the best place. You can also purchase these from the shops situated in Gandhi Market.
- Hardware, electronics, groceries, and spices- You can buy these from small wholesale and retail shops located in Ratnam Market.
- Large departmental stores- The departmental stores in Port Blair offer everything ranging from cosmetics to medicines and packed food to milk, bread, and other daily requirements.
- Clothing and apparels- Most of the garment shops in Port Blair are owned by the locals. Now some branded clothing shops such as Fab India and Raymonds have also opened outlets here.
- Language- Port Blair is a blend of various religions, cultures, and linguistic groups. Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil are the most commonly spoken languages here. English is less preferred. Getting around here is very easy if you know any of these languages.
- Airport and port facilities- Port Blair is home to the only airport of the Andamans–Veer Savarkar International Airport. There are direct flights from Chennai, Kolkata, and Bangalore.
Port Blair has the following three main ports aka jetties:
- Phoenix Bay Jetty connecting Port Blair to Havelock Island, Neil Island, and Rangat. All private ferries leave from here.
- Aberdeen Jetty connecting Port Blair to Ross Island, North Bay Beach, and Viper Island
- Haddo Jetty connecting Port Blair to long-distance islands like Little Andaman and Nicobar
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Port Blair
Question: Is Port Blair worth visiting?
Answer: Of course, it is! The capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair is your entryway to this paradise. It is also called Mini India owing to its diversity. Port Blair has immense historical significance in India’s freedom struggle and is a good place to catch a glimpse of the unique culture in the Andamans. You can visit places like Cellular Jail, Ross Island, Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Jolly Buoy, etc. when vacationing here.
Question: What is the best time to visit Port Blair?
Answer: The best time to visit Port Blair is the winter and summer months- from October to May. It is also the dry season. At this time, the weather is pleasant and perfect for water sports and outdoor activities. June to September is the rainy season and the offseason in Andaman. You should avoid this period as it witnesses heavy rainfall, cyclonic weather, and strong winds.
Question- How can I go to Port Blair?
Answer: You can reach Port Blair either by air or by sea. The best option would be the flight as it is faster and more convenient. Direct flights are available from Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. It takes nearly two to three hours to reach there depending on your departure location. On the other hand, ships plying from Chennai, Kolkata, and Vizag take nearly three to four days. These are not popular among tourists. If you are in the planning stage of your vacation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, then contact Andaman Island Travels to make all your bookings. A well-known and trusted tour agency, it is located in Port Blair and is committed to help you in planning the holiday of your dreams as per your budget and requirements. Whether it is your accommodation, any adventure activity that you want to do or hire a car, it will take care of all your needs in the best way possible.