In recent times, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, a Union Territory of India is becoming popular amongst tourists. Especially the newly married couples are visiting this beautiful set of Islands for Romantic trips. Technically, you can visit only the main islands, aptly known as Great Andaman which is divided into three parts: North Andaman, Middle Andaman, and South Andaman. It is very rare and difficult to get permission to visit the Nicobar Islands on the territory. These beautiful islands are almost 1300 km far away from the Indian east coast. Geographically, they are closer to Indonesia, Phuket (Thailand), and Myanmar than to the Indian mainland. It's a vast & remote region to explore which doesn't leave much room for error.
Here are some common mistakes that can be avoided while planning a trip to Andaman, saving your time and money.
Even if you want to visit mainstream tourist destinations of Andaman, you should have at least 5 days with you. Minimum 2 nights & 3 days are required to explore Swaraj Dweep i.e Havelock Island. Minimum 1 day is required at Shaheed Dweep i.e Neil Island to chill out after the "bustle" of Havelock Island. There are limited ferries from Port Blair to Havelock and Neil and returning to Port Blair. Your travel plans are hugely dependant on these ferry timings. Including reporting time, almost 3-4 hours travel time is involved while traveling from one island to another. If you want to add a north Andman visit to your plan, it needs another couple of days. There are plenty of scenic destinations nearby Port Blair like Chidiyatapu, Ross Island, Cellular Jail, etc. which need at least half-day duration, and Baratang island, North Andman, etc. which require a full day for exploration. Most of the departing flights on the last day of the tour are scheduled either in the morning or by noon. You have to report at least 2 hours before your scheduled departure. So, you can not utilize your last day of the trip for local sightseeing. In case of bad weather, local sightseeings to various islands get canceled for the complete day. In that case, you should have an extra day to cover the missed sightseeing. Considering all the factors, you should not book your Andaman trip for less than 5 days.
Andaman is far away from the mainland of India. It is almost 3 hours (by air) and 1300 km away from the coastal cities of Chennai and Kolkata. Many times, travelers have to spend a whole night at Chennai/Kolkata/Mumbai/Hyderabad airports to catch their next direct flight to Port Blair if they are traveling from some other part of the world. As of now, only Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad & Mumbai airports have direct flights to Port Blair (The flight frequency per week is different for every airport). If you wish to travel to Havelock or Neil on the same day, you have to travel further for the next 3-4 hours. This hectic travel results in exhaustion even before you start your trip. Also, you may miss your ferry to Havelock and Neil in case of minor delays in arriving flight.
You should book your ferry tickets at least for Havelock & Neil Islands in advance either directly with the ferry operator agency on-call or by email or from a trustworthy travel agency well experienced in arranging Andaman tours. During peak tourist seasons, ferry tickets may get sold out soon. Ferries operated by private companies are air-conditioned and more comfortable and offer a better booking experience too. Unless and until you are on a budget trip, avoid booking govt. ferries.
Havelock Island, Neil Island & North Bay Island host most of the watersports activities on the territory. You can book these water activities one or two days before, once you reach your destination, and personally meet the service provider. Even in that case, do not pay 100% booking amount in advance. Activities may get canceled due to bad weather conditions and various other reasons without prior notice. You may have to lose your money or wait for months to get a refund. In addition to that, you can check even more options with better deals locally. Hence, booking watersports activities on the spot is always a wise choice.
Most of the hotels, homestays, and resorts on the Andaman Islands offer ordinary food at higher rates. You can book Breakfast only meal plan with them and enjoy your major meals outside, in the local restaurants and save almost 50% of the amount. This will give your more flexibility and also, will allow you to explore local cuisine.
The Andaman Islands are one of the most remote locations with limited resources. The locals are still not too affected by tourism. Hence the overall accommodation cost is a bit higher and the services and amenities offered by these hotels and resorts are very basic when compared with their tariffs. If you travel and land without knowing this factor, you may get highly disappointed with your travel planner. Do not fall prey to attractive images and videos of the properties being displayed online. Even the lodges and homestays put 'Resort' in their names. Always book your stay arrangements through reliable travel planners and explain all your priorities and expectations in advance to them.
The quiet beaches of the Andaman Islands are the dreamy home for many, but it is not an ideal place for workation. Mobile network is average and Internet access is slow in Port Blair and poor in the other parts of the territory. The situation is slowly improving. A project for the inter-connectivity of the islands with an underwater international Chennai-Singapore marine cable is under construction. After the completion of this project, high-speed internet will be available on the islands.
Due to limited resources and poor network connectivity, cash is the most reliable mode for making payments to locals. You may face challenges in finding operational ATMs in Havelock, Neil, and North Andamans. Hence, carry a good amount of cash before leaving Port Blair to the other parts of the Islands.
The serenity of the Andaman Islands is at its peak in between Mid-October to March-end And has the best weather conditions to offer. Tourists planning to travel to the Islands mainly for diving activities should travel between Mid-January to mid-May. The monsoon usually hits around May-end and continues with the heavy rains until July-end. From August to November, there are chances of moderate rain. So avoid visiting the Islands in the summer and monsoon seasons.
The Andaman Islands are the home of some of the last uncontacted tribes like Jarwah and Sentinelese. Sentinelese maintains their sovereignty and there is a very rare chance of any direct interactions with them. But you may face interaction with Jarwah tribe people. They are short heightened with black in complexion & reddish eyes. They have a very weak immune system and can not cope up with the alien food and products. While traveling to the Bartang or the northern side of the Andaman Islands, you may get a chance to see them. It is prohibited to offer food and taking photos of them. Follow the rules and keep a safe distance from them.
Secondly, many places on and around the Islands require special permission to enter. Avoid adventuring with unauthorized people like local fishermen just to save money. They may not know anything about rules, licenses, and permissions. This can drag you into huge trouble.
The Andaman Islands are blessed with uncountable natural wonders. From scenic beaches to monuments with immense historical importance, and from world-class diving locations to iconic museums, everything is available here. But unfortunately, most of the travel itineraries include only Port Blair, Havelock Island, and Neil Island in south Andaman. Next time, when you plan to travel to Andaman, consider including some offbeat destinations from the North Andaman, some of them are: Barren Island, Baratang, Mayabunder, Wandoor, Diglipur. These places are more beautiful than our imagination but remain highly unexplored.
Considering all the above-mentioned challenging factors, and the high cost involved in planning, always prefer to book your Andaman trip through a professional & reliable travel planner agency. Due to poor internet and network connectivity in local, you might miss important updates related to your return flights. if possible, book at least your return air tickets with a reliable travel agency and be in touch with them. Hire an authorized local guide wherever it is required. Always check the authenticity of local watersports agencies. Taking chances here can be life-threatening.
Your Andaman trip will be memorable anyway. The above inputs will help you to make your Andaman trip memorable for all good reasons. Avoid experimenting a lot, respect the local conditions, book your accommodations and plan your itinerary wisely.
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