Since I have remembered, I have always been a sea-person. It’s as if the sea calls out to me and I get carried away to it. But anyway, because of my water love I have always dreamt of having holidays in Hawaii. Not until this year that I got some time out for a family vacation and found myself in a dilemma of choosing Andamans over Hawaii. Well, I’m someone who believes in lots of research before deciding on something, and to be honest, I was slightly skeptical about going Andamans. After all, it’s that part of India that everyone goes once in a while and never come up with anything new to say about. But since my parents wanted to visit Andamans rather than Hawaii, I finally had to take the call. But then again, I hardly knew then that it was all predestined!
Okay, I know I have been going on about myself rather than this out-of-the-world, Robinson-Crusoe-ish place that is both breathtakingly beautiful and lesser-known about. Let’s dig into the facts and places, shall we?
Andamans has over 572 islands out of which only 32 are inhabited and believe me, in the first look itself your eyes would make you believe that you’re in the Caribbean. Turquoise blue waters, pure white sand and endless coral reefs (Nemo Reef) are the first thing that you’d notice as you set your feet on this island which is about 70 km deeper into the sea from Port Blair.
Home to the Time’s Best Beach in Asia, Radhanagar beach is sure to rob you off your senses the very minute you set your eyes on it. Complete with hilly landscapes, soft white sand and boulevard of trees, this is the place to be for those perfect sunsets. I know right, no sea holiday is complete without some watersports. Well, the best part about Havelock is it’s a quiet and small town with equally peaceful people, but it’s brimming with the passion for deep sea diving and underwater sea walk. Situated at 10 km from Havelock, there’s a beach (Elephant Beach) that must have been where the Garden of Eden used to be after the world was made.
It is the epicentre of all water activities like snorkelling, scuba diving and many more including water-bikes and glass-bottom boats. Please note that parasailing or other aerial activities are forbidden in Andamans because of the presence of Indian Naval Bases in each island. The natives speak Bengali since they are mostly refugees from Bangladesh settled under the Government of India initiative after the partition of Bangladesh and West Bengal and share food habits with that of the Bengali Cuisine. Wide roads, softly lit pavements, warm sunsets and beachside cafes are the signature of this precious island.
After a two-hour long cruise ride to this yet another jewel of an island, Neil Islands are what synonyms of ‘cosy’ stands for. Quiet, scenic and absolutely serene, this island is the home to the reefy Bharatpur and Laxmanpur beach which appears to be situated where the skies meet the sea.
Embedded with small houses, schools, temples and church this island has some breathtaking resorts and villas for tourists to relax and relish right on the shoreline. Perfect for fishing and lying around with your favourite book, this place has a charm that would take you back to it.
The capital of Andamans is also cradled in the beautiful scenic beauty of hills, ocean and skies. Apart from the natural elements, Port Blair also has a historical feel to it. Home to the colonial Britishers till 1940’s and the merciless Japanese in 1945’s – The Ross Islands (situated at 3 km into the sea from Downtown Port Blair), now is an Indian Naval Base post named INS Jarawa that has ivied ruins of the colonial times’ bungalow, church, bakery, quarters, lighthouse etc.
Spotted deer and wild peacocks roam freely throughout the island and is a huge tourist attraction as the human settlement is barred by the navy on this island. Then there’s Kaala Pani or The Cellular Jail that was once known for its fortitude and tortures, now known for its light and sound show. The walls of this jail have been transformed into a museum where if you listen closely, you can still hear the echoes of pain and loud slogans of the revolutionaries of colonial India. Few people know that there’s a Banyan Tree right in the middle of the grounds of the jail that even after continuous storms and uprootings, continues to thrive much like the spirit of those revolutionaries.
The best way to wrap the trip would be with a visit to Chidiya Tapu – a compact beach best for bird-watching and perfect photoshoots in a crocodile wildlife preserve.
Honestly, after writing this, I wish I could somehow go into a time-loop to those colourful sunsets and calm blue waters of Andamans where everything is calmly beautiful!