Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lost In The Andamans: Emerald Waters and Ivory Sands (Ch 1/8)

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Almost 1000 kms from the Indian mainland, the islands are much closer to IndonesiaThailand and Myanmar, but retain an unmistakable Indian identity, with English and Hindi being the official languages.

Coming in to land at Port Blair

It comprises two island groups - the Andaman Islands in the North and the Nicobar Islands in the South. The Union Territory's capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blair, and this will usually be your port of entry, whether by ship or by plane.
Out of the 572 islands, only 38 are permanently inhabited. Most of the tourist activity is restricted to a few islands in Andaman, and you need special permits, rarely issued, to visit other areas. Nicobar is usually out of bounds for tourists.
Remote, beautiful islands, dense forests, stunning beaches of ivory sand and emerald waters, and hidden coves offer intimate getaways for love-struck couples. No wonder Andaman is a magnet for honeymooners!

Adventure lovers also have a lot to look forward to. The crystal clear waters in the islands offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling, sea walking and scuba diving, allowing you to gasp at beautiful corals and rich marine life, minus any of the corrupting signs of civilization we are normally used to – plastics and other debris is almost non-existent.

Although a little expensive, tourist hot spots like Havelock and Neil have a number of upscale and midscale resorts. Private as well as government ferries link the bigger islands at a reasonable price, but planning in advance is a must owing to the very low number of trips every day. You miss your boat, and you can stranded on the island overnight! If you are lucky, you can also board a chopper between Port Blair and some of the islands, and it’s really worth the view!

Flying over the islands is such a treat to the eyes
However, to really soak in the Andaman experience, you need to put on your best floaters, slather a generous layer of sunscreen and get out on the beaches, walk in the tiny villages, mingle with the locals and pop into the tiny street-side eateries to taste the local savories with some adrak ki chai!

From walking among the fishes to a drive through Jarawa country, from the ubiquitous coconut water to hot bhajiyas on the beach, from the ruins of Ross Island to the corals of Jolly Buoy, Andaman has so much to offer! Through this 8-post travelogue, I hope to share my experiences with you, and inspire you to travel to and fall in love with these beautiful islands! 

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