Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lost In The Andamans: Surviving in the Islands (Ch 2/8)

Before you embark on your Andaman trip, here are a few things you must take care of, to have a hassle free and happy vacation. Life in the islands is, well, a little different!

1.     The islands have very few ATMs, and poor connectivity means credit cards are unusable at most establishments. Cash is still king, and it’s not very cheap, so carry adequate moolah with you.

2.     Most tourist spots lack good, upscale restaurants. Local stalls may provide light refreshments like water, tea, bhajiyas and noodles, but don’t count on it. Carry lots of water, but avoid plastic bottles as much as you can!

3.     Few cellular operators, like BSNL and Vodafone, provide services in the islands, and connectivity is patchy at best. Idea does not work, neither does it roam. Data connections are almost unusable, except for the rare Whatsapp message that might get through. Most hotels do have some Wifi. I suggest you carry a prepaid SIM from BSNL for urgent calls, but try and enjoy the radio silence while you are there.

4.     The weather can be hot and very humid. Sunburn is a serious possibility, especially with the crystal clear air and bright sunshine. Carry lots of full sleeve Tshirts with collars, and be very generous with the sunscreen!

5.     Be on time. Even government ferries are a stickler for timely departures, and missing one can be very painful indeed! Bear in mind, also, that the geographical distance from mainland India means that the islands see sunrise and sunset at least 90 mins before rest of the country – even in summer, sunsets can be as early as 515 pm!

The government ferries provide comfortable AC seating and great views from the deck
6.     Do not litter. The Andamans are squeaky clean, and as responsible tourists, it’s incumbent upon us to keep it that way. Avoid plastics – on some islands like Jolly Buoy, plastics are completely banned anyway.

7.     Do not waste water and electricity. All the electricity on the islands is produced through highly subsidized, expensive diesel generators. 

Traveler Pro Tip
Foreign visitors need a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit the islands. This is easily available from the Immigration Authorities on arriving at Port Blair, subject to having a valid visa. For more, check out

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