The Andaman Islands form an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal between India, to the west, and Myanmar, to the north and east. Most are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India, while a small number in the north of the archipelago, including the Coco Islands, belong to Burma.
India's most remote state, the Andaman Islands are situated more than 1000km off the east coast in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, far closer to the coasts of Myanmar and Thailand. Thickly covered by deep green tropical forest, the archipelago supports a profusion of wildlife, including some extremely rare species of bird, but the principal attraction for tourists lies in the beaches and the pristine reefs that ring most of the islands. Filled with colourful fish and kaleidoscopic corals, the crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Sea feature some of the world's richest and least spoilt marine reserves – perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Although parts of the archipelago still see few visitors, the Andamans are now firmly on the tourist circuit.
Covered in tropical rainforest, only four of the Andamans are inhabited and all are practically untouched by any form of foreign influence. Parakeets, emerald doves and fairy bluebirds fill the airspace with noise and colour, blessing the islands with a strangely poetic and romantic atmosphere. This fantasy island chain can be perfectly explored by private yacht, sailing the romantic waters on an island-hopping adventure that can include anything from first-class snorkeling and barefoot walks to indulgent massages and sunset drink
Though both geographically and politically with the Nicobar Islands to the south, the Andamans are accessible and the fledgling tourist industry is being promoted by the government, the Nicobar's on the other hand are totally off limits and yachts and non-Indian nationals cannot visit – even Indian nationals require special visas to do so . The islands chain consists of 550 islands.
The Island chains are geographically remote and with nearly all commercial activity centered on the capital Port Blair. Once away from the city the islands have beautiful beaches and anchorages most are uninhabited, there are a couple of 'tourist' islands but the majority of the inhabitants on the four inhabited islands are indigenes tribes – some having had not exposure to the western lifestyles.
Vast marine wealth and exclusive beaches, cozy coves, green hills and magnificent mangroves – a perfect package for adventure tourism.
Cruising through the creek at Yerrata and the sunset view from Long Island can attract any nature lover to these places. Long Island is also a paradise for birding. Due to commercial fishing being banned the fish life is second to none and fishing with rod and line from Schooner Dallinghoo either at anchor or trolling while underway will guarantee an amazing catch.
Diving and Snorkeling on many of the reefs are world class offering clear, warm water with one of the largest variety of coral and fish life anywhere on the planet.
Port Blair - The Capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Port Blair is the capital of the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It is located on the east coast of the South Andaman Island. Port Blair is the gateway to the pristine islands.
Port Blair is also an Island town offering water based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-cruises, and glimpses of the history and culture of the region. The Aberdeen Bazaar forms the centre of the town. Most of the restaurants and hotels are around this area. The main bus station is just west of the bazaar and the Airport 4 Kms. to the south west.
A sanctuary with rare corals and under-water marine life, Cinque Island has fine sandy-beach and sand–bar connecting North and South Cinque Islands and tropical rain-forest. There is no scheduled ferry service to Cinque Island. Chartered boats of permitted category are allowed from Port Blair and Wandoor. To visit, one may contact private boat operators in Port Blair to hire a boat with due permission from the Forest Department.
Havelock is a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and lush green forest. It is one of the populated islands in the Andaman group with an area of 113 sq. km. and is located 39 km of north-east of Port Blair. This island, with beautiful sandy beaches fringed with green canopy of the rain-fed forests beckons everyone to enjoy the frolic and fun at the azure sea.
Neil is a tiny but beautiful island located 37 Kms. to the south of the Andaman Islands. With unexplored coral reefs, brilliant bio-diversity, white sandy beaches and tropical forest and vegetation, it is one of the hot tourist spots in the Andamans.
Neil Island is known as the 'vegetable bowl' of the Andamans. The settlers named the beaches after mythical characters of the epic Ramayana (Bharatpur, Laxmanpur, Sitapur, Ramnagar etc.) The island, with its very relaxed vibes and long, deserted beaches is a place to chill out after the "bustle" of Havelock. The widest part of the island is about 5 km in length. You can walk the whole island in about two hours
Long Island, just 47 nautical miles from Port Blair, having an area of about 18 sq.km., is a modern village with population of around 2000 having many plus points and facilities generally not available in other villages of Bay Islands. It has its own power-house, a well-equipped Boat Building Yard, Senior Secondary School, bank, wireless facilities, hospital, Range Forest Office and even police outpost. Long Island is a dreamland settlement without any road network. Only four feet wide concrete footpath connects different parts of the 'Panchayat' area starting from the jetty. Casurina trees make pleasant avenue astride the footpath leading to Government School and to Police Outpost area. Islanders cover these footpath kilometers several times just to reach work place, school, Range Forest Office or temple
This island between South and Middle Andaman has beautiful beaches, mangrove creeks, mud-volcanoes and limestone caves. Andaman Trunk Road to Rangat and Mayabunder goes through this island. Limestone cave can be explored with the permission of Forest Department at Baratang and proper local guidance.
The only active volcano in India is located in Barren Island. The volcano erupted once in 1991 and again in 1994-95, after remaining dormant for about 177 years. This island is about three kilometers in diameter and has a big crater of the volcano, about half a kilometer away from the shore. The island can be visited by chartering boats and with the permission of Forest Department. Foreign nationals are restricted to be onboard the vessel only and landing ashore is not allowed.
For a heart-stopping elephant safari, Little Andaman is not to be missed, worth a day trip for its blindingly-white beaches, bewitching waterfalls, rich rainforests and top surfing. The island is also an ideal place to see four of the world's seven species of sea turtles nesting on the warmth of the beaches. e evening.
From November through to April the Andamans are easily reached from Thailand and can be sailed with Schooner Dallinghoo in about two days.
The Andamans main airport is Veer Savarkar International Airport also known as Port Blair Airport (IATA: IXZ, ICAO: VOPB), located 2 km (1.2 mi) south of Port Blair. At the time of writing however there were no international carrier serving the Andamans, Malaysian Airways had planned to but pulled out due to political restrictions. The airport is well served by domestic carriers and there are a number of daily flights arriving from and departing to many of the major Indian cities where onward connections can be made.
Visa rules for India change on a regular basis and must be investigated before travel – as it currently stands all visitors tot eh islands must have an Indian tourist visa and these must be endorsed for the 'Special Areas of the Andaman & Nicobars Islands'. Visa used to be available from the Indian Embassy in Bangkok but they have stopped issuing them for non-Thai nationals and it is always best to arrange the visa well before travelling. There are many visa agencies that specialises in obtaining Indian visas for their clients so a trip to your local Indian Embassy may not be necessary.