This is not the place to come if five star hotels and staying on top of your emails rank on your list of priorities. Here you’re more likely to find beachfront shacks that are simple but charming, with the occasional property offering a touch more luxury, albeit of a more laidback nature.
But if beaches are your thing, then you’re definitely in the right place. On Havelock Island, Radhanagar Beach, also known as beach number seven, is not only renowned for its powder sugar sand and azure waters but also for its spectacular sunsets.
This is also where you can sometimes snorkel with Rajan, an aged former logging elephant, who is still partial to the occasional dip in the ocean.
Head out further with one of the island’s dive operators to discover waters filled with white-tip reef sharks, turtles, manta rays or even dugongs.
The main town of Port Blair is the gateway to the islands and is a good place from which to explore the indigenous and colonial history of the area. A sound and light show brings the Cellular Jail National Memorial, an old colonial prison, to life each evening while the Anthropological Museum offers an insight into the lives of the tribes of the islands.
Places to Visit in the Andaman Islands
- Port Blair
- Havelock Island
- Neil Island
- Barren Island
- Ross Island
Unique Things to See and Do in the Andaman Islands
- Watch the striking sunset at Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island
- Dive and snorkel the waters for a glimpse at a vibrant underwater world
- Hike Saddle Peak – at 725 metres, it is the highest peak in the Andaman Islands
- Discover the colonial history of the islands in Port Blair and Ross Island
- Learn more about the islands’ tribes at the Anthropological Museum
The Vulnerable Tribes of the Andaman Islands
Although the natural beauty of the island chain provides an immense incentive for people to visit, the growth of tourism has had severe consequences, particularly for the tribes that call the islands home. These include the Jarawa, the Great Andamanese, the Onge, and the Sentinelese who are thought to have made their way to the islands from Africa around 60,000 years ago. Other tribes to be found among these and the neighbouring Nicobar Islands are the Shompen and the Nicobarese who are said to be of Asian descent.
These tribes were isolated from the rest of the world for tens of thousands of years, but the arrival of the British in the mid 19th century was disastrous for them. As the British established a penal colony, the numbers of Great Andamanese and Onge were decimated either in conflict, through being subjected to forced settlement, or exposure to foreign diseases. Now, waves of Indian immigration and the development of tourism pose the main threats.
The Jarawa live deep in the rainforests, untouched by the modern world until very recently. But now, there is an illegal road which runs through a reserve which is the home of the Jarawa people. Tours that take this route, branded as “human safaris”, disturb the animals that are hunted by the Jarawa and have been condemned by a number of human rights organisations. Although in 2013, the Andaman authorities promised the Indian Supreme Court that they would introduce an alternative sea route, to date little progress has been made.
There is the threat of resort development in areas close to Jarawa settlements which could expose them to new diseases that could devastate them. Introduction to alcohol is another danger of such developments.
Some have chosen to boycott tourism to the Andaman Islands as a result of these ongoing issues.
Getting Around the Andaman Islands
Fly into Port Blair, and from there you’ll be getting around by boat. There are ferries, both public and private, which go from Port Blair to the main destinations such as Havelock Island and Neil Island, but to get to the smaller islands, you’ll most likely need to charter a boat or join an organised tour.
Did you know…?
The word Andaman is derived from the Malay word for the Hindu deity Hanuman.
Did you ALSO know…?
The most common languages here are Bengali followed by Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
Best Time of Year to Travel to the Andaman Islands
Temperatures are pretty constant all year round, sitting between 22 and 33 degrees Celsius.
But there are two rainy seasons. The first falls between June and mid-September, while the other arrives in November and finishes in mid-December.
The most popular time to visit the islands is from the end of November until the end of April.
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