Getting to Andaman Islands
Foreign visitors will have to first reach India and then from there, can reach Port Blair - capital city of Andaman Islands - by flight. The two best options at India are Chennai and Kolkata - the two Indian cities with a limited number of daily flights to Port Blair to reach Andaman Islands. Port Blair is also connected by air from New Delhi. Though this flight stops for a while at Kolkata there is no need for passengers to disembark or change the aircraft.
Passengers can fly direct to Port Blair from Kolkata, Chennai or New Delhi, taking any one of the flights.
By ship: Another leisurely but slow way of reaching Port Blair is by ship. But journey time is about 3 days and lacks many of the facilities available on board a luxury cruise liner. Passengers can book the tickets prior to sailing only from the booking offices located at Port Blair, Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakapatinam.
What time zone Andaman Islands fall under?
All of mainland India and Andaman Islands have one single time zone - with the local time at GMT + 5½ hours all through the year. Since geographically Andaman Islands are nearer to Thailand than India, sun rise occurs earlier than in India - sometimes as early as 0500 hours and sun sets also early around 0530 hours. Daily activities start rather early in Andaman Islands because of this.
What currency is used in Andaman Islands?
As in mainland India, Indian Rupee is the currency used here.
Port Blair is the only place to change all major currencies in Andaman Islands. Please go to an authorized money exchanger or nationalized and other banks for changing foreign currencies.
Mainland India has better rates and better facilities than Port Blair for changing currencies.
As we are authorized money changers, we can help you do the needful changing whatever the currency you have.
Do Port Blair & Havelock have international ATM facility?
There are a number of ATMs present in Port Blair and you will have no problem using your card. Two fully functioning ATM machines have been installed in Havelock Island. Since the ATMs in Havelock are stocked up only twice a week, sometimes they run out of cash.
Also except at Port Blair and Havelock Island, other islands do not have ATM facility. So it may be better to travel forearmed with some ready cash to all other islands to avoid any inconveniences to you.
Credit Cards (both Master Card and Visa Card) are not much used or popular in Andaman. Only large hotels, some diving institutions, and resorts will accept Credit cards. Even when accepted, along with surcharge fees, it will be a time-consuming and long-drawn process. Your passport and credit card may be photocopied for submission and transactions are mostly offline. Most of the establishments will not take American Express cards as well. Almost all prefer cash payment.
When is the best time to plan my visit to the islands?
The tourist season starts generally from November and extends until Mid-May.
The peak time to visit will be between December and March.
Andaman Islands are tropical islands and receive the bounty of both the monsoon seasons that bring torrential rains to Indian Peninsula. Though June and July are the months that receive heavy showers, it is difficult to accurately foretell the rain cycle. Light showers may happen in November and December.
Monsoon rains happen in June, July, August and September, and Andaman receives heavy showers and generally there are less tourists visiting Andaman during these months. Because of this, we are able to offer special off-season packages. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best time and season to enjoy the bountiful showers from the monsoon and take pleasure in the rain-drenched highlights of the Islands, its pristine coastline and the abundant green cover - that are nature's best gifts to Andaman Islands.
From June 01 to July 31, every year, diving activities are closed and the new season starts on August 01. But if you are a scuba enthusiast, you must choose a time between February and March for visiting Havelock, as you can be assured of excellent and exhilarating views of under-sea marine life thanks to a flat and smooth sea with no wind and near-perfect visibility. During the heavy monsoon months June and July, diving activities are closed in Havelock and the new season starts in only August.
What are the important points to be considered while planning my trip?
You have to keep in mind quite a few points when you are planning your trip to Andaman Islands.
For foreign tourists:
1. If you happen to have foreign passport, it must be valid for at least 6 months duration.
2. If you are not Indian by nationality, you must have a valid Indian visa.
3. Andaman Islands are restricted zone. If your visa has a stamp that says "Not valid for restricted areas" or something similar, you may not be allowed to enter Andaman Islands. In case you have such restriction, the immigration officer may or may not allow you or they may advice you to contact the issuing embassy and remove such restriction. Till such time you may be deputed to mainland India.
As per Indian standard time, sunrise is generally between 0500 and 0530 hours and sunset is at 1730 hours. Since Andaman and Nicobar Islands are very near the equator line, they have early sunrises and sunsets. Day starts quite early with sun rising as early as 0500 hours some times and gets dark early as well. So getting up early will help you have more hours to visit and enjoy the sights.
Andaman Islands Ferry Service from Port Blair to other islands is famous for its timely and regular service. But sometimes due to adverse weather and mechanical trouble, they may be cancelled. So plan room for unscheduled and unavoidable delays while booking flights.
If you are spending the last leg of the tour at Havelock, please arrange to spend the last night prior to boarding at Port Blair. There is no ferry to take you to Port Blair early enough to catch the flight back to mainland India the same day.
It is recommended to enjoy scuba diving a day after your air travel to avoid any health complication as undertaking scuba diving and air travel on the same day may cause some health concerns due to compression reasons and may indispose travellers.
To travel in style, you can charter a speedboat or an amphibian seaplane from Port Blair to Havelock Island as well to reach Port Blair from Havelock Island the day you are flying out to India.
Are there any specific health precautions to be taken before and during the visit?
As India is known officially to be a malarial risk area, you may consult your doctor before planning your trip about taking prevention measures like taking anti-malarial tablets. Though there are very few officially known malaria cases in Andaman Islands, it is best to seek medical advice and make an informed decision about taking preventive measures.
Also you may discuss with your doctor about the necessary vaccinations and inoculations that may be needed before the travel.
Port Blair has very good medical services like G.B.Pant Hospital. But Andaman Islands are quite remote from the mainland India and have a low-population which somewhat curtails more advanced and prevalent health services.
Basic hygienic precautions should be followed which can help you to have a hassle-free and happy holiday.
1. Do not drink tap water
2. Do not eat anything from the road-side vendors
3. Do not eat fruits and salad vegetables that were prior cut and kept exposed
4. Do not take any locally made ice creams/milk shakes/ soft drinks
5. Keep yourself hydrated with hygienically bottled water; buy only sealed water bottles from reputed companies.
6. Wear cool cottons and materials made of natural fibres to absorb sweat better.
7. Wash regularly as sweat and humid atmosphere may create fungal infections
8. Use sunshade/caps when out in the sun
9. Use sunscreen liberally
10. Attend to any skin injuries like shoe bites, skin infection, skin sore immediately
11. Please use mosquito repellent without fail
12. Keep mosquito repellent and insect repellent in your beach bag
13. Seek medical attention immediately in case of any injury or skin infection, shoe-bite etc. and have it treated with antibiotic creams and medication. Since the Islands have typical tropical hot and humid weather, infections can set in easily and early.
14. You can refer to World Health Organization's website for further details.
Any visa or Restricted Area Permit is needed for visiting Andaman Islands?
All visitors who are foreign nationals will need an Indian Visa and a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) as well before entering Andaman Islands.
You can apply for Indian visa at Indian Embassy in the country where you are residing before arriving in India.
The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is issued at Port Blair. You can obtain it on arrival easily. The procedure takes only about 15 minutes. It is issued to all foreign travellers free of cost.
Foreign visitors can collect the permits from these centers also:
(i) Indian Mission Overseas,
(ii) Foreigners Registration Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta.
(iii) The immigration authorities at the airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.
This permit includes places where you are allowed to stay for the night.
How is general climate of Andaman Islands? What kind of weather you can expect typically?
Are rains frequent?
Andaman enjoys typical tropical climate all through the year. With an average temperature around 23°C (minimum) and not exceeding 30°C (maximum), Andaman Islands are hot and humid generally. The high humidity levels are tempered by the sea breeze that springs up making the climate pleasant throughout the day more so especially in the evenings.
Monsoon sets in by the end of May though there are some intermittent summer showers even before that. Andaman Islands keep receiving showers intermittently throughout the year right up to December making the area beautifully verdant and green.
October marks the start of tourist season every year. The heavy southwest monsoon showers get over by September. The entire area looks decked up in fresh greeneries after the rain and each of the islands looks pretty, beautiful and ready to welcome the festival season.
The weather remains temperate thanks to the intermittent rains. Happy with rain-assured bountiful crops, the local people get ready to celebrate the festival season and welcome the tourists.
With monsoon over, the scuba diving season starts with waters getting calm, clear and flat. Under water coral reefs and marine life put up a great show offering a memorable time for the scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts.
Thanks to the Northwest monsoon, moisture laden breeze and intermittent rains keep the temperature pleasantly cool throughout November, December and January. While you can enjoy the mild sun during daytime, evenings can be a little cooler welcoming the warmth from full-sleeve shirts and light-weight jackets or a nice shawl to keep the chill out.
Once the festival of Sankranti gets over by January 15th or so, weather turns warm. With no rain-bearing clouds no winds to stir up the sea, you can enjoy the clear blue skies and serene cool seas. Slowly summer starts with days becoming balmy and soon turns to be hot with temperature soon hitting early 30 degrees by April and reaching almost 36 degrees centigrade in early May. There happen some pre-monsoon summer showers in April and May. By mid-May, monsoon arrives in and by May end rains start in earnest continuing through June and July.
Cool cottons and rayon clothing work best for the tropical weather. Due to hot and humid weather, sweat shirts will be welcome. Most of the resorts accept shorts and tees as casual day and night wear. Some hotels and resorts expect a little more formal smart wear for inside dining.
Flip-flops are more comfortable on the beaches. Strappy casual shoes can also be worn.
When on beach trips and boat trips:
1. Carry water-proof flip-flops that can survive getting wet
2. Take an extra pair of clothing and a towel along with whenever you go out on beach trips or boat trips.
3. Protect your head with a sun cap or a hat
Wearing full sleeves and ankle-length light trousers can help in warding off the mosquitoes. Evenings are when the mosquitoes are maximum visible thereof going away as night advances. Sleeping inside mosquito net is advised if you want to keep windows open at night time. Tourists are advised to carry mosquito repellent at all times.
For tourists coming from a cooler climate, the sudden switch to hot and humid weather may pose some initial problems like prickly heat eruptions or heat rashes.
1. Stay under shade where it will be cooler
2. Keep yourself hydrated sufficiently to avoid any dehydration due to excess sweating.
Indian population are mostly tradition following and do not accept topless/nude swimming or sun bathing as normal or appropriate in public places. Please honour their sentiments and avoid topless or nude swimming/sunbathing or revealing on beaches - even if you seem to be alone there and in public places.
Dress code at religious places:
Andaman Islands with a population of mixed religions have beautiful temples, mosques and other shrines. Tourists need to be dressed decorously and conservatively when they are visiting such religious places of worship. Shoes are not allowed inside. Some of the places do not allow people of other religions beyond certain threshold.
What kind of water and electricity supply is available?
What kind of power outlets can be found for charging electronic gadgets?
As in other parts of India, Andaman Islands also have standard 220 volt sockets. Both two and three pin (round pins) sockets can be accessed for charging any electronic gadgets. But it will be advisable to have a handy travel adapter along with you.
How safe is the tap water?
Though Andaman Islands enjoy a good dependable supply of water, it is not safe to drink tap water. Tourists should buy good brand of bottled water and carry water bottles with them always. You can get water bottles from reputed companies all over almost all the islands.
What kind of food is available at Andaman Islands? What ethnic food is special to Andaman?
Due to the distance between the mainland India and Andaman Islands, it is not easy to provide a plethora of international level cuisines at Andaman Islands. But whatever cuisine is available in Andaman Islands is supported by most discerning and courteous service and recommendations for suitable local alternatives can assure you a memorable and gourmet meal.
Andaman Islands can be heaven for seafood lovers. Lobsters, crabs, shrimp and all kinds of fish are available in plenty.
There are plenty of restaurants offering Continental, Chinese, South Indian, North Indian cuisine in Andaman Islands. But the continental and Chinese food may taste a little differently in that they may have a quaint Indian twist added. You can have both vegetarian as well non-vegetarian items. You can get purely vegetarian foods as well in many restaurants.
How expensive meals are at Andaman Islands?
Compared to other tourist destinations, eating out is not all that expensive in Andaman Islands. Of course, star hotels and restaurants can be a little more expensive than eateries in the local village market or the innumerable hotels and restaurants that are not star-rated. There are quite a few good restaurants run by the local people in various parts of Port Blair and other islands where it will be lighter on your wallet to have meals. You can enjoy good food at a popular restaurant for anywhere between Rs. 300 and Rs. 500 depending on what you order.
Can I get imported beverages in Andaman Islands?
Imported beverage is available but in limited quantities and mostly only in star hotels and restaurants. Indian made foreign liquor brands and Indian brands like Black Label, Black & White, Bacardi, Smirnoff and Kingfisher beer are available freely.
What to do and who to approach for help in case of medical emergency?
There are Primary Health Centers in most of the islands and you can get immediate assistance there for any emergency, but it is advised to go to G.B. Pant Hospital for further treatment options.
Andaman Islands do not enjoy the advanced and state-of-art technology aided hospitals that are plenty available in mainland India. Due to the remote positioning and low level population, except G.B. Pant Hospital at Port Blair, there are not any other facilities to attend to any critically ill patients.
But for any life-threatening scenario or major surgery options, it is best to fly out to mainland India to a hospital of repute for world-class treatment as G.B.Pant Hospital also does not boast as much technologically advanced treatment options as in mainland India.
Are local people friendly to visitors? Any etiquette rules I should know?
There are no rigid rules or regulations to follow in the Islands. But you are expected to behave decorously and politely and seek permission before video filming or photographing local people or places. Dressing decently and appropriately is also essential.
Most of the local people still wear traditional dresses and do not approve of revealing swimwear or beachwear. Though Andaman Islands are great as beach resort, avoid revealing/mini swim dresses in areas like markets, jetty and tourist spots.
The aborigine tribes of Andaman Islands live in restricted and protected areas. Visitors are prohibited from intermingling with them. But the local population are friendly and mix well with tourists.
What popular local festivals are celebrated in Andaman?
Due to the large number of Bengalis from India settled here, 'Durga Pujo' is celebrated with great pageantry and ceremony. Big pandals are erected everywhere and ten days of celebration take place.
Other big festivals are Deewali, Eid, Easter, Christmas and New Year.
Almost all the Indian festivals are celebrated as Andaman Islands have a cross section of people from all over India living together cutting across regions and religions.
Is the religious stance in Andaman liberal?
Quite like mainland India, Andaman Islands also have a large mix of Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Hindus are the largest majority of the population seconded by Christians and then Muslims. There are others practising Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. All people live harmoniously and in peace, practicing their own religion and respecting the rest.
Very much like in India while Hindu festivals like Durga Pooja and Deewali are celebrated, you can find the whole market areas alight with light decorations and other signs of festivities. Likewise, Christmas and New Year times can see huge colourful stars and Christmas trees outside all shops and in major shopping areas. Andaman Islands have all religions living in peaceful coexistence.
What tourist attractions are available in Port Blair?
Port Blair, the capital of Andaman Islands, is great place with many historically important places that must not be missed. There are some top tourist attractions to visit and spend the day.
What are the main tourist attractions in Andaman Islands?
Andaman Islands have something special to offer for the visitor whatever their interests are and there are enough attractions for all the family to enjoy.
With the rich flora and fauna that occur abundantly in the lush green forests of the Islands to enthral the nature lover; beautiful and serene beaches, stunning looking sands and water sports like diving, snorkelling etc for the sport person in you and other historical monuments like cellular jails etc in and around Port Blair to entertain the routine visitor, Andaman Islands assure you a most enjoyable and memorable holiday.
For the nature lovers, Havelock will offer great opportunities to enjoy the sun, sand and serene beach; a great way to rest and recuperate.
Actually Andaman Islands can be heavenly for a quick getaway. You can spend hours – number of days just enjoying the cool blue water under a clear-clear sky or get on a trip to explore nearby islands.
If you are the adventurous kind, would you like to explore the primitive and wild beauty of islands like Long Island, Bara tang and Neil Island? Take care; it is not for the timid and traditional traveller who loves time-tested tourist attractions. These islands are not as developed as Port Blair and Havelock but may still be nice spots with adequate facilities for the deserving traveller in you.
Tell me about the flora and fauna exclusive to Andaman Islands?
There are 96 sanctuaries across an area of some 466.218 sq.km to protect the unique native flora and fauna. There are nine National Parks in Andaman Islands - spread out over 1153.938 sq.km area - which help in maintaining the delicate eco system. Understanding the fragile quality of the eco-balance, the government, Forest Department and Fisheries Department take all precautionary steps to protect and preserve the eco system.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are studied by UNESCO scientists and they have declared Andaman & Nicobar Islands as 'bio-diversity hotspots' with potential to be World Heritage Sites.
More than 25% of the flora and fauna found in Andaman Islands are endemic - peculiar to the island's environment and found only in Andaman Islands.
Among the seven species of sea turtles found in the world, four species build their nests on the beaches of Andaman Islands including the leatherback turtle which is facing extinction. These are the largest sized turtles.
The uncommon Dugongs are found here due to the abundant supply of sea grass.
There are extensive areas of mangrove forests along the coastal areas where monitor lizards and huge salt-water crocodiles are found.
The forests are thickly wooded and in many places impenetrable.
The tropical rain forests of Andaman Islands contain some 3000 types of plant species.
Mangroves, palms, timbers like Andaman Paduk, Mahogany and teak, epiphytes that include 130 ferns and 100 orchids are found along with a wide range of tropical fruit trees.
Marine fauna includes a wide range of tropical fish, coral and a variety of marine life that usually inhabit tropical seas.
Considering the rare and delicate ecosystem of Andaman Islands, the visitors are expected to be sensitive to the environmental and ecological balance and to cooperate fully in preserving the unspoilt beauty of the beaches, the thriving marine life and the virgin tropical rain forests which all make the Andaman Islands such a beautiful sea resort.
How to reach Havelock Island? Should I return the same day? Can I stay there?
Havelock and Port Blair are very well connected, with three ferries plying between them daily. There is a ferry available for you after each incoming flight into Port Blair so that you can reach Havelock the same day.
Visitors have two choices; between the more economical and slower ferries run by government and the private mechanised new state of art air conditioned catamaran services. Tourists can decide on the ferry trips based on their arrival time at Port Blair.
It is much wiser to pre-plan your journey to Havelock Island as government ferries are always quite crowded and sometimes it is difficult to find a place on the ferry without prior booking. Since these ferries are the favoured mode of transport between the islands and Port Blair for local people as well, there are long queues which can make it rather tiresome and time consuming. There is no pre-booking available and the tickets for limited seats in each ferry are issued on first come first served basis.
We can do the advance booking so you can have a hassle free travel to Havelock and have more time for enjoying the sun, sea and sands having fun.
Only those flights which reach Port Blair before 0800 hrs can travel by the Makruzz catamaran. As the boarding into ferry stops 15 minutes before sailing time, you have to reach the dockyard well in advance to get tickets as well board the ferry without any problem. You can have other slower, government-run ferries later than that.
Please take care to avoid the ferry that takes a circuitous route from Port Blair to Havelock which takes about 4 hours - nearly 1.5 hours more than usual.
From Port Blair to Havelock *: Government Ferry: 0600hrs and 1400hrs - Duration: 2.5 hrs Catamaran (Makruzz): 0900hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs
From Havelock to Port Blair * : Government Ferry: 1400hrs and 1630hrs Duration: 2.5 hrs Catamaran (Makruzz): 1600hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs
Although all the ferries ply on time the sailing timings can be changed at short notice by the administration as they are all dependent on vagaries in weather conditions. It will make things easier for you if you check about the ferry timings just before you start your trip to Andaman Islands.
An amphibian seaplane introduced by the state administration can cover the distance between Port Blair and Havelock Island in less than thirty minutes. The amphibian plane plies both ways and can be a good mode of transport in case of limited time and resources allow. Depending on the demand, there are multiple flights available.
Can I meet any aboriginal tribes in Andaman?
Dying out and dwindling number of aboriginal tribes are living in remote areas of Andaman Islands. Some tribes are still as they were ages ago, unsullied by civilization or any technical advancement living the way they had been since time immemorial adding to the exotic ethnicity of Andaman Islands.
The aboriginal tribe people native to Andaman Islands can be divided into two tribes:
1. Natives who are living in Andaman Islands who are of Negroid ancestry called Andamanese, Jarawa, Onge and Sentinelese
2. The tribes with Mongoloid ancestry called the Shompen and Nicobarese who are living on Nicobar Islands
Nicobar Islands come under restricted area not open to visitors foreign or Indian, and cannot be visited by any visitor.
The native tribe called Sentinelese still exists in complete isolation in the North Sentinel Island untouched by civilization. Their number is approximately 250 in number and they do not wear clothes. They have been living in total seclusion the way they have lived for centuries. Not much information is known about them as they are very retiring and not ready to mingle.
The Jarawa tribe people are equally primitive and unaffected by the passage of time still wearing barks and nothing else. They do make ornaments like necklaces, cummerbunds and armbands out of conches and shells and wear them along with barks.
All visitors are prohibited from entering where these tribes live, to meet and mingle with them.
If there were any trips offered to be arranged to these areas and for meeting the aboriginal tribes, please desist from it as it is against law to do so.
Please be sensitive to the privacy of the tribes and abide by the law and make no effort to meet with them.
As more and more Andaman Islands are becoming populated with a diverse population migrating from mainland India, progress and change become inevitable. The population of all the tribes steadily decrease due to rapidly expanding city limits and the growing number of population.
Andamanese tribe has been hit worst with their population counted as low as thirty or so. Other tribes also do not thrive in number and anthropologists are worrying about extinction of these tribes over time.
Though not able to visit in person, visitors can have an idea of the way the aborigines of Andaman Islands live their instruments, tools , weapon and many of their customs and traditions from the photographs displayed in the Anthropological Museum in Port Blair.
How to rent a car, motorbike or a bicycle? What renting a car for self-driving?
If you are keen to take short trips or daytrips from Port Blair, you can engage a taxi which will take you round but you cannot rent a car for self-driving purposes.
Renting a car for self-driving is not allowed as in other countries.
Renting a motorbike is allowed in Andaman Islands for all tourists. There are many bike rental garages in the Havelock Island which have geared motorbikes and geared and non-geared scooters for hiring. These shops have big signboards advertising what kinds of scooters are available for hiring.
You need to have your two-wheeler driving licence with you which need to be shown to the garage shop owners before renting the bike. The charges are on a daily basis and the charges can differ depending on the kind of two wheelers you are renting. Fuel must be procured by you as and when required which is available at the petrol bunks.
When driving a motorbike, you have to carry your licence all the time as police personnel can demand to see it any time. Also wearing a helmet is mandatory in Andaman Islands for all two wheelers. The helmet comes with the bike when you rent it. If you ride a motorbike without a helmet, you will be caught and a stiff fine will be imposed on you.
Port Blair and Havelock Island market places have many bicycle rental shops from where a visitor can easily rent a bicycle. The rent is on a daily basis.
Tell me about the nightlife in Andaman?
There are many big hotels and restaurants in Port Blair, and developed islands like Havelock Islands. But the nightlife concept as in many other tourist destinations or major metros has not become popular in Andaman Islands. The local people prefer simple life. Dancing, loud music, discotheques or night clubs are not in their usual routine. Nights are spent at home quietly with early to bed principle so that they are able to get up early next morning to make the most of the daylight hours.
But it does not mean that they are sombre and not able to have good times. During Durga Pooja celebrations, the people go all out to have fun, and especially during Christmas and New Year times, they have great fun and a great time late into the nights.
What kind of shopping can I do in Andaman Islands? What are the best souvenirs to take home?
Because of being an island, there are beautifully hand-crafted artefacts, handicrafts and jewelry items made from mother of pearl, shells, conches and the like. These are best purchased from 'Sagarika' which is the authorized outlet for Cottage Industries of Andaman Islands.
There are many private shops which sell these in Aberdeen Bazaar also. You must be ready to bargain as these shops may be a bit expensive and quote higher prices routinely.
Hand-made jewellery from coconuts is available in Havelock Island. But most of the shops sell textile items brought over from mainland India.
The concept of duty-free shops and mall shopping is yet to find root in Andaman Islands. Andaman Islands have shopping facilities and other convenience stores etc within easy approach where all daily requirements and items that are used regularly can be purchased easily.
Will I be able to make international calls?
All major tourist resorts and hotels have international dialling facility and ISD is more commonly available including in private telephone booths. Dial the country code plus the area code plus the phone number for making international calls. Like the rest of India, Andaman Islands also have fairly reliable and fair priced telephone services.
Port Blair has very good mobile connectivity. But except for some main areas of Havelock Islands, other islands have limited connectivity. While the connectivity is good near the towers, the towers themselves are few and far away from each other. BSNL, Reliance, Airtel and Vodafone networks are available.
Can I access internet easily for checking email?
Internet connectivity is taking baby steps in Andaman Islands. Most of the islands have limited internet facilities and few computers are present there. You can get reliable and fairly fast internet connection at Port Blair only.
Havelock Islands have mostly dial-up connections and so it is slow and not very reliable. There are private internet kiosks with satellite internet which are far better and faster but they charge per hour and are quite expensive.
Visitors have the facility of making VOIP/SKYPE calls but the quality of calls may not be always crystal clear.
Are the islands crime-infested?
No, there is no kind of organized crime or large-scale violence here.
How safe are the Islands for visitors; any precautions to be taken?
Taking basic preventive measures and precautions will help you in having safe and happy holidays
1. Utilize the safety lockers which are present in most of the major hotels
2. Do not expose all the money you have and court trouble
3. Do not leave your luggage unattended
4. Try not to carry too expensive jewelry while travelling
In case of any untoward happenings, you can seek help with the local police present on all the islands including for lodging a complaint. Local people are most helpful and cooperative.
Can you tell me about any dangerous animals present in Andaman Islands?
Though the tropical forests of Andaman Islands are home to animals like wild boar, spotted deer, and civet cats, predators like cheetahs, tigers, lions and leopards are not seen here. The hot humid climate and lush green canopied forest is home different kinds of reptile species both venomous as well harmless varieties. The swamps, mangroves and other trees provide safe and excellent nesting place for all kind of tropical birds and beautiful and colourful butterflies.
There are warning signboards placed at various areas on the beach front warning the visitors about possible presence of dangerous salt-water crocodiles and huge but actually harmless monitor lizards. The tourists ought to pay attention to these warning signs and watch where they are going while trekking in the jungle trails or walking along the coastal beaches.
Any sand flies present?
Yes, Sand flies exist on some of the beaches in Andaman Islands. It is best to avoid standing on the beaches at just after sunset as sand flies usually fly out at dusk. A strong and effective insect repellent should be always carried along with you and find a place in your beach bag.
It you happen to get bitten by sand flies, apply an antibiotic cream, do not scratch the area, keep the area dry and clean to avoid any infection and seek medical help.
Give me some idea about tipping in the restaurant, tourist guides etc?
At most of the hotels, resorts and restaurants, the staffs expect and appreciate tips. Usually 10% of the cost of the service is given as tips. Some of the places keep a separate tip box near the billing counter where you can drop the tips.
If you happen to take a guided tour, the guide is also normally tipped when you are about to conclude the tour.
Any other inconveniences/precautions I need to know before my visit?
Maybe there are some small minor issues which may look annoying or disturbing the holiday mood but these can be managed very easily and you can end up having a great holiday with memorable fun times.
You can divide these annoyances or inconveniences broadly into two categories; those which can be taken care of with a little planning; and those which can be managed with some common sense and basic precautions.
1. Transfers and local transportation
Getting a dependable and hassle free kind of transport while you are doing the transfers from airport to the hotels and for visiting tourist spots can be a daunting task. If you have not made prior arrangements, it can be all the more difficult and time consuming.
You have three options:
a. Auto-rickshaws Auto-rickshaws as they are called - which are the popular local mode of transport - do not carry meters or have tariff card approved by transport authorities but demand exorbitant rates from unwary tourists who are new to the place and who are not proficient in the local language. Especially if you happen to arrive when it is raining or during particularly rush hours, you fall a prey to the wiles of auto-rickshaw drivers who are ready to fleece unwary visitors and you are sure to be ripped off. Also you will have to settle the cost of the ride before you board the rickshaw as otherwise, you are sure to be charged higher than the normal asking price.
b. Second option - taxis
Prepaid taxis are available as well as fixed fare taxis are also available which are better options though sometimes they charge extra and waiting charges can be higher.
c. The best option - leave it to us
The third and best option can be allowing us to organise your transfers to and from the airport and to the other places of interest. You can be sure of punctual and professional level chauffeur driven transport services whenever you need it.
You can enjoy comfortable, relaxed and hassle free holidays with smooth and timely transfers and other visits where and when you need it.
2. Arranging ferry trips
Getting tickets for the ferries which will take you to Havelock and other islands can be a time consuming and sometimes chancy process.
There are no prior reservations that you can do over the internet as in some of the international level tourist spots. They are issued on a 'first come, first served' basis.
Since it is the more economical and usual mode of local people and visitors alike, there can be heavy rush in the jetty area. With limited seats on each ferry, there will jostling and jumping the queues which can frustrate a visitor and turn the holidays into a nightmare. When there is a lunch break, there will be longer queues and shorter tempers.
And you can be wasting precious time there instead of scuba diving or snorkelling in the seas.
The best option will be to allow us the get the trips arranged for you so you spend more time doing touristy things rather than wasting time at the ticket counter in long and winding queues.
In absolute peak season the situation is a lot worse given the sheer number of tourists coming in.
You cannot get a reservation for the return trip from Havelock to Port Blair either before your trip back to mainland India. You would neither want to miss the flight nor waste time standing in the queues which you could have otherwise spent on the fabulous beaches!
You will be able to avoid all these when you get us to arrange all your trip details.
We assure you that you will have a hassle-free time in connection with transfers to and from airport, taking the ferries to Havelock and other islands and bringing you back from Havelock Island before your trip back to mainland India.
Because we have spent years serving tourists like you and we have a very capable and resourceful local staff here who will do all the needful for arranging smooth transfers and trips to and from airports, other islands and Havelock Island.
3. Dog menace:
Stray dogs have been a persistent problem in Andaman Islands and other islands for quite some years. Because of the vast forests and hard to reach terrains, and low number of municipal health staff who can catch stray dogs, this problem has persisted despite many attempts by the local authorities to neuter them.
It is always advised not to venture outside the hotel or resort premises during night time. Daytime, they may just follow people eager to catch some stray food thrown by some tourists. But during the night time they gang up and may attack the unsuspecting and careless tourist who wanders away from the protection of hotel or home. Staying in the beach or forests areas in the night time is not allowed and will be punished with a hefty fine.
Please do not feed any stray dog out of pity or kindness. When they know that they can get food, they lose any fear they had and start acting aggressively expecting food every time they see a tourist and become aggressive when they are not satisfied.
How do I get to the Andaman Islands?
To get to the Andamans Islands, foreign nationals will first need to fly into mainland India. The best points of entry would be either Chennai or Kolkata which in turn are connected by several daily flights to Port Blair, the capital city of the Andamans Islands.
Indian Nationals or residents of India can simply fly into Port Blair via either Chennai or Kolkata.
Ships to Port Blair also ply on fixed schedules from Chennai, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam. However, tickets must be purchased well in advance and the journey (3 days) can be monotonous as the ships have minimal facilities and are not luxurious at all.
You can view detailed information in our Getting there section. (Oliver to link this to Getting there Tab and how do you get to the Andaman Isles part of this tab)
How do I get to and from Havelock?
There are three ferries that ply between Port Blair and Havelock on a daily basis. All incoming flights arrive in Port Blair in time for travellers to catch a ferry, allowing you to reach Havelock on the same day.
Travellers can choose between the slower, cheaper government ferry and the faster, more expensive new catamaran depending on their arrival time in Port Blair as well as their budget.
Please note however that getting tickets on the ferry can be very hard and tiresome with long queues. Depending on the rush it can be extremely hard and even impossible to procure tickets last minute and hence we urge you to allow us to organise your ferry tickets for you in advance.
You will need to factor in sufficient time to get the appropriate ferry. Please note that boarding stops 15 minutes before sailing. For the catamaran 'Makruzz', please ensure that your flight arrives in Port Blair before 0800hrs as travellers on later flights will not be able to make it on time for this boat.
From Port Blair to Havelock *:
Government Ferry: 0600hrs and 1400hrs Duration: 2.5 hrs
Catamaran (Makruzz): 0900hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs
Kindly note that there is a government ferry that departs from Port Blair at 1230 hrs but it visits another Island before reaching Havelock and the total time taken to reach Havelock is 4 hrs. Hence we do not recommend the same.
From Havelock to Port Blair * :
Government Ferry: 1400hrs and 1630hrs Duration: 2.5 hrs
Catamaran (Makruzz): 1600hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs
*The above timings can be changed by the administration at short notice and we would request you to recheck the timings a few days before arrival. All sailings are subject to weather conditions.
When is a good time to visit the islands?
The main tourist season in the Andamans is between November and mid-May with the absolute peak season being December to March.
The months of June, July, August and September are considered the rainy season. However travellers at this time can get great off season prices and discounts at many hotels due to the low number of tourist influx.
Rain peaks in June and July and one could get pleasant weather in August and September with a little luck. Of course the weather is highly unpredictable in the Andamans. Do also note that even in November and December one could experience light showers. Being tropical islands it is difficult to accurately predict the cycle of rains.
In terms of scuba diving, the best time to dive the Andamans is February and March as the sea is at its flattest, wind is almost absent and visibility is excellent. Diving remains closed in Havelock between 01 June - 31 July and most dive shops reopen on 01 August for the start of a new season.
What do most people do when they visit the Andamans?
What you do while in the Andamans completely depends on what interests you. Most travellers spend a day or 2 in Port Blair visiting nearby sights and tourist attractions and then head towards Havelock for the beaches and water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling.
If your holiday is just about relaxation and spending time in nature's lap then we would recommend you consider proceeding straight to Havelock.
Travellers looking for a bit more exploration also visit other islands like Baratang, Neil Island or Long Island. Please note however that facilities on these islands are much more basic than those in Havelock or Port Blair.
There is never a dull moment in the Andamans and you can be a total beach bum just relaxing and enjoying the peace here or go to many islands over many days and be a complete explorer.
To view places of importance in and around Port Blair click here. (oliver to link this to places of importance tab)
To know more about islands to visit, please click here. (oliver to link this to Islands to visit tab)
Any important points to note when planning my trip?
There are many things to consider while planning your trip to the Andamans.
• All foreign passports must be valid of a minimum duration of 6 months.
• You must have a valid Indian visa if you are a Foreign National
• If there is a stamp on your visa that reads "Not valid for restricted areas" (or similar) you will not be allowed to enter the Andamans as it is a restricted zone. Please ensure that your visa does not carry this stamp and if it does, please contact the issuing embassy.
• When returning from Havelock to Port Blair, all travellers must spend the last night in Port Blair as there is no ferry from Havelock that brings you to Port Blair in time for your flight the same day.
• Alternatively travellers can charter a speed boat on the same day as their flight from Havelock; however this is an expensive option costing over Rs.22,000- one way for a maximum of 6 to 8 people.
• Although on Indian Standard Time, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have an early sunrise and sunset. Sunrise here is usually between 0500hrs and 0530hrs and the sunset is at 1730hrs. It gets light very early here and dark very soon, so to make the best of the day it is advised to rise early.
• Ferries from Port Blair to other islands are very regular; however there are occasions when bad weather or mechanical trouble can cause them to be cancelled.
Do I need a visa/ Restricted Area Permit to enter the Andaman Islands?
Indian passport holders do not require a permit to visit and stay in the populated areas of Andaman Islands, including Havelock Island. All foreign nationals require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) over and above an Indian Visa to enter the Andaman Islands. The Indian Visa is to be obtained in your country of residence prior to arrival in India.
The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is easily obtained on arrival at Port Blair. The procedure usually takes 15 minutes, is free of cost and is available to all foreign nationals.
It has recently been brought to our notice that some Indian Visas issued carry a stamp that reads "Entry to restricted areas NOT permitted". Should your Visa carry such a stamp, please contact the embassy and have the visa re-issued as you will not be allowed to enter the Andaman Islands.
Most foreigners arriving at Port Blair are given a 30 day permit. Closer to the time of expiry (about 3 days ahead) this permit can be extended by another 15 days. This extension can only be done at the Immigration Office in Port Blair and you will need to show a confirmed return ticket (for journey within the next 15 days) in order to get this extension. Please note that it may not always be possible to get this extension in a few hours and you may need to stay overnight in Port Blair to obtain the extension.
Foreigners holding a valid entry permit into the Andaman Islands are allowed to visit and stay at municipal areas of Port Blair, Havelock, Long island, Neil island, the islands of South Andaman and Middle Andaman (excluding tribal reserved area – 5kms away from Constance bay to Luis Inlet bay – western coast tribal reserve), Baratang, Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur, North Passage Island, Little Andaman (excluding tribal reserve) and all islands in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park except Boat Island, Hobday island, Twins islands, Tarmugli, Malay and Pluto island. Tourists can also visit Jolly Buoy island, South Cinque island, Redskin island, Mount Harriet, Madhuban, Ross island, Narcondam island, Interview island, Brother & Sister islands and Barren island during the day. (Visit to Barren island is restricted on board the vessel with no landing ashore).
Do note that the Restricted Access Permit is issued on arrival and is a process by the Immigration department and no one can assist you in getting the same. In case of any complications, you will need to sort it our with the Immigration authorities. We would best advice you to check on the latest procedures and updates from the Immigration authorities to prevent any issues.
What can I do in Port Blair?
Port Blair is the capital city of the Andamans and is of immense historical importance. There are many sights that are to be seen here and with us you can take a half day, or a full day excursion or tailor make your own excursion.
To view places of importance in and around Port Blair click here. (oliver to link this to places of importance tab)
What is the electricity & water supply in the Andaman Islands?
The whole of India has standard 220volts with sockets that are a mix of three-pin (round pins) and two-pin (round pins). To avoid trouble we suggest guests bring at least one travel adapter with them.
What is the food like in the Andaman Islands?
Seafood rules on the Andaman Islands, due to it being the natural diet of the Bengali settlers, who came to the Andamans. Crabs, shrimp, lobster and fish are available at almost all restaurants. However do not expect sea food to be cheap here. Demand exceeds supply and costs of seafood although not sky high, does not come cheap either.
North Indian, South Indian, Vegetarian, Continental, and Chinese dishes are available at all restaurants here. If you do go for continental food, do not expect anything you would expect at home, expect it with the Indian twist.
What festivals do the local population celebrate?
Given the fact that the Andamans has a mix of different religions, almost all festivals celebrated in mainland India including but not limited to Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Eid and Easter are celebrated here. However the biggest festival here is 'Durga Pooja' due to the number of Bengalis on the islands.
What type of behaviour & etiquette can I expect from the locals on the main Islands?
The Andaman Islands is a very relaxed place so the rules are simple as well. Act with respect and decorum, dress appropriately (especially away form the beach), and as anywhere always ask permission before taking photographs of the local population.
A beach destination does not mean that the locals are used to seeing women in revealing swim wear. Please be sensitive to the traditions of the locals and cover up when in areas where locals are present like jetty areas and village markets.
Having said that, we would like to stress that the Andamans is a remote place and although the people are casual, one should not expect the kind of comfort or the level of service that is expected of a hotel/resort in mainland India.
What is the currency in the Andaman Islands?
The currency of India is the Indian Rupee, for current exchange rates click here. (oliver to link to www.xe.com). It is possible to change all major currencies in India; however in the Andamans it is possible only in Port Blair. You are advised to go through official banks or authorized money changers. Please do note that the rates in Port Blair for changing of foreign currency will not be as good as on mainland India.
Is there an ATM at Port Blair & Havelock?
Port Blair has a number of ATM's, and of late Havelock Island also has a 2 ATM's. However given the fact that there is no actual bank on Havelock, there are times when all the cash in the machine has been depleted. The ATM's in Havelock are replenished with funds once every 3 or 4 days.
Most other islands do not have ATM's so do carry sufficient cash with you to pay your bills.
Credit Cards (MasterCard and Visa) are not widely accepted in the Andamans, except for larger hotels and resorts and some diving facilities. You will most likely be hit with a surcharge and both your passport and your credit card will get photocopied to submit to the bank as all transactions are done offline. Do note that many establishments do not accept American Express cards.
What can I expect the climate & weather to be like in the Andaman Islands?
The Andaman Islands, like other parts of the Andaman Sea enjoy a tropical climate throughout the year. The average minimum temperature is around 23°C and it seldom goes much above 30°C. Humidity is relatively high at about 70% to 90%, however with a gentle breeze blowing most the time it is still quite pleasant.
You can expect some rainfall towards the end of May before the monsoon season, June and July. There is some rain on and off right through to November, which has its charm of its own and keeps the islands lush and green.
Click here to see the current weather forecasts for the Andaman Islands (oliver to link to Yahoo weather)
Whole Year Weather forecast.
Number of years on Record: 123 years of rainfall
YEAR Jan. Feb Mar.Apr.May Jun. Jul .Aug. Sep. Oct .Nov. Dec.
Cm 293 4 2 1 6 36 48 40 40 46 29 22 15
Our main season commences in October each year. The southwest monsoon showers are over by September, and the weather presents an interesting mix of rain and sun. The island is lush and beautiful and arguably at its most vibrant in October and November. The farmland has a standing paddy crop on it (the second harvest of the year), the surrounding forest is at its greenest and the island is at its most alive as the villagers shrug off the shackles of the monsoon season. Nature is arguably at its best in these two months: intermittent showers keep the island fresh and green and the temperature remains pleasant, while the waters off our Bay turn calm and flat as by now that the Southwest winds have blown away. However, there yet remains the potential of rain in end November or early December as the Northeast winds blow briefly through the islands.
The weather is normally very nice in December and January. Daytime temperatures are ideal. Although sunny, it is still somewhat pleasant, and night time temperatures are cool. In fact a light jacket or full sleeve shirt may be required in the evenings.
February and March are very settled, with the weather turning gradually warmer and the sea and sky both are at their bluest and clearest in the period. Summer comes with April and continues through the first half of May, with daytime temperatures reaching 36 centigrade, but cooler in the shade. The Southwest Monsoon normally arrives in the second half of May and continues through June and July and eases off after August/September – these months being very important to the paddy farmers who yield their first harvest then
What should I wear in the Andaman Islands?
In all tourist resorts shorts and t-shirts are acceptable. This is also appropriate at night, though "smart casual" is preferred and more appropriate in some resorts. Carry flip flops for your comfort and when going for excursions always carry a towel and extra change of clothes.
In the evening mosquitoes do come out and you are better off wearing something light with long sleeves and light trousers. Carry a mosquito repellent at all times. The mosquito menace is only there during dusk and then reduces considerably.
Travellers are expected to dress conservatively when visiting temples, shrines and mosques. It is advised that tourists cover their shoulders and wear dresses or trousers below the knee level and remember to take off their shoes before entering.
Please remember that you are visiting a country of mixed religions and topless/ nude sun bathing or nude swimming is not very appropriate. Please respect this and cover yourself, even if you think you are all alone on a beach.
Stick to cool cottons and fabrics that absorb sweat thereby reducing the chance of heat rashes.
What about health precautions?
Health services are limited on the Andaman Islands due mainly to their remoteness and low population, though there are some good medical services in Port Blair, at the G.B.Pant hospital.
There are plans for a Recompression Chamber for Port Blair, which will be based in the General Hospital; however the plans have not yet come through.
India is officially a malarial risk area, however on Havelock there are very few known cases. It is best to consult your doctor on this issue and decide for yourself if you would like to limit this risk further by taking anti malaria, which may also have some side effects. We recommend you also check the status of your vaccinations and which ones you are advised to have for your travels.
Normal sensible precautions with food should keep you out of trouble, and be sure to drink lots of bottled drinking water to prevent dehydration.
DO NOT drink tap water in the Andaman Islands! Also, be sure to wash regularly and wear light, loose clothing made from natural fibres as heat rash and fungal infections for visitors are not unusual in this humidity.
Should you injure yourself, please do attend to it immediately by consulting a doctor and/or take antibiotics as well as applying an antiseptic cream regularly. Given the high humidity levels, it is easy for infections to set in.
In addition you can check the World Health Organization's website. (Oliver to link)
What is the religious stance in the Andamans?
India in itself has a very mixed religious history and a reputation for religious tolerance. Hinduism is by far the most popular religion in the islands followed by Christianity and then Islam. Other religions actively practised in India include Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.
In the Andaman Islands there is quite a large mix, and while most of the times the Hindu festivals are the most celebrated ones, at around Christmas time you will find big colourful stars available at the market as well as small processions with Santa Claus and followers.
What time zone do the Andaman Islands lie in?
The whole of India falls under the same time zone so the local time is GMT + 5½ hours throughout the country, year round. As the Andamans are much geographically closer to Thailand than India, life in the Andamans begins a little earlier in the day.
Is there a postal service?
Indian postal services, in general have a very good reputation for posting both domestically and internationally. However in the Andaman Islands, the postal service is not reliable and there have been many instances of parcels and letters not reaching their destination. Hence it is advised to use postal services on mainland India rather than the postal services on the island.
Can I make international calls and access the internet?
International dialling is available from most major hotels and ISD is available in the markets. To make an international call, dial 001 plus the country code plus the area code plus the phone number. Services tend to be very reliable and inexpensive.
Excellent mobile connectivity is available in Port Blair and in some parts of Havelock however as you travel to the other Islands, you may find that it is present however not excellent. Networks currently available here are BSNL, Airtel, Reliance and Vodafone.
Internet is available on Havelock and Port Blair. Connectivity in Port Blair is fairly good with fast connections. However on Havelock the internet is reputed to be very slow as most are on dial up connections. Some places offer satellite internet which is faster however much more expensive. Many islands have no internet facilities at all.
Is there anything special to buy in the Andamans?
The Andaman Islands are still very under-developed and is not famous for any shopping or bargains. You will not find any duty free shops or malls here.
In Port Blair you can get some handicrafts and souvenirs, mainly in Aberdeen Bazaar as well as in "Sagarika" which is an outlet of the Cottage Industries. In Havelock there are some jewellery shops that deal with hand-made coconut jewellery, however the majority of the shops here sell clothes and bags that are brought in from the mainland.
Is there a lot of crime on the islands?
There is no real organised crime on the islands. As in almost all countries and tourist areas, pick-pocketing can happen, so watching your valuables in these areas would be wise.
Simple precautions will go a long way in your safety. Many hotels offer safety deposit lockers and it is not advised to flash a bundle of notes while paying your bills.
If you do encounter any problems, there is a police station on all islands where a complaint can be lodged or help can be sought. Locals too are generally helpful.
Can I rent a bicycle, motorbike or a car in Havelock Island and Port Blair?
Bicycles can be rented from the market area in Port Blair as well as Havelock, however on other islands is currently not possible. Charges are on a per day basis. These bicycles are very basic models so don't expect high quality mountain terrain bikes that you can do stunts on.
You can easily rent a motorbike for the duration of your stay as well. You can choose between the non-geared and the geared motorbikes and scooters. The shops that rent these motorbikes usually have signs posted in front and will require you to have a license that you can show them before taking the bike on rent. Charges vary and are on a per day basis. Fuel is additional and can be procured in the market area.
Please remember to carry your license with you at all times as you could be stopped by police personnel for a sudden check. Wearing a helmet is mandatory (not enough to just carry one) and comes with the bike rental. Police stop tourists that do not have a helmet on and if you are caught a fine will be imposed on you.
Cars cannot be rented for self driving purposes although taxi services are available for short distances as well as day hire.
Are there sand flies in the Andamans?
Some beaches in the Andamans do have sand flies. It would be wise to carry a good strong insect repellent as part of your beach bag. Sand flies usually come out as dusk, so avoid standing on the beach at this time. Attend to sand fly bites immediately, avoid scratching them, keep them dry and ensure that they do not get infected.
Can you briefly explain about the flora & Fauna of the Islands?
The canopied rain forests of the islands harbor 3,000 species of plants including mangroves, epiphytes (130 ferns, 100 orchids), palms, woody limbers, timbers (Teak, Mahogany, Andaman Paduk) and a wide variety of tropical fruits.
Marine fauna is diverse including a wide variety of tropical fish and coral. Considering the diversity and uniqueness of fauna and flora and the fragile nature of the eco-system here, 96 sanctuaries spread over 466.218 sq km and nine National Parks spread over 1153.938 sq km have been notified on these islands.
According to the island's environmental team, most are bio-diversity hotspots, with more than a quarter of the flora and fauna endemic (only found in Andamans). Four of the world's seven species of sea turtles nest on these beaches including the endangered leatherback turtle, Sea grass supports rare Dugongs. Also found are giant monitor lizards and salt water crocodiles which inhabit the extensive mangrove swamps.
While travelling to these islands, one has to be a responsible traveller; one should be sensitive to issues related to the physical environment of the wonderful beaches, fascinating rain forests and marine life.
Are there endangered tribes in the Andamans and can I meet them?
Untouched and endangered tribes do exist in these beautiful isles and add to their exotic nature. It is prohibited and against the law as well to enter the tribal reserves, meet or photograph the tribals. Should anyone offer you a trip to meet the tribals, please refrain from doing so. Respect the tribes and adhere to the law.
You can however visit the Anthropological Museum in Port Blair where you can see a display of their tools and weapons as well as photographs depicting their lives and culture.
The indigenous tribes are distinguished in two groups: the Onge, Sentinelese, Jarawa and Andamanese of Negroid descent living on the Andaman Islands and the Shompen and Nicobarese of Mongoloid descent living in the Nicobar Islands.
The Sentinelese are the least studied tribe still living in isolation on the North Sentinel Island. Their number is estimated currently at 250. Living in complete isolation for many centuries, the Sentinelese are not clothed while the Jarawa use only adornments of bark and shell, like necklaces, arm bands, waist bands, etc.
Most of the tribes are on the verge of extinction. This sad destiny will most likely hit the Andamanese tribe first since their numbers in some cases are as low as thirty. Due to consistent emphasis of the government on progress and its encouragement to the mainlanders to settle in these islands, the local tribes have sadly become a minority group in their own land.
Is there any nightlife in Andamans?
Although many hotels in Port Blair and other developed Islands have hotels and resorts that offer a bar, the night life concept has not really caught on in these islands. You will not encounter loud music, disco lights or rave parties here on a regular basis. Nights are usually quiet and most people get to bed soon to wake early and make maximum use of the day light hours.
An exception however is during Christmas and New Year on popular tourist islands like Havelock and Neil where you will find parties going late into the night, loud music and a lot of dancing.
Is imported alcohol available on the Islands?
Although alcohol is available on the islands, availability of imported alcohol is extremely limited. Except for a few IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) bottles, the alcohol availability is restricted to mostly Indian brands. Black Label, Black & White, Bacardi, Smirnoff and Kingfisher beer are some of the brands that are available easily.
How expensive are meals in Andaman?
The price of a meal depends entirely on where you eat and what you order. A nice quaint restaurant will cost you between Rs.300 to Rs.500 per person depending on what is ordered. Eating at the local village market will be much cheaper and most islands have a number of small eateries run by locals that work out easy on the pocket.
Sea food is more expensive in the Andamans compared to the mainland due to heavy demand and less supply.
What do I do in case of a medical emergency?
Most Islands have a Primary Health Centre (PHC); however services here can be limited and poor. It is advisable to go to the nearest PHC first for immediate assistance and as soon as possible move to the G.B Pant hospital in Port Blair which is better equipped.
However at this hospital too, the treatment facilities are not what can be expected in mainland India and for any condition that could be serious, life threatening or needing special care, it is advised to fly to mainland India.
Are there any dangerous animals in the Andamans?
As such there are no dangerous predatory animals in the forests of the Andamans. So do not come here expecting to see tigers or lions. The forests here are inhabited by animals like wild boar, spotted deer, civet cat as well as numerous species of birds and butterflies. The vast forest canopy provides home to many different species of reptiles as well. Snakes both poisonous and harmless can be seen in the Andamans.
Monitor lizards too inhabit these islands and the mangrove creeks provide shelter to 'salties' or salt water crocodiles.
Tourists are advised to pay attention to sign boards posted on beaches as well as watch their step if walking through dense jungle or mangrove areas.
What about tipping?
Many hotels and resorts have a separate tip box usually placed at the billing desk. Most places do expect and appreciate a tip. The usual norm would be 10% of the billed amount.
Rickshaws: Although considered the most convenient and cheap mode of transport, rickshaws or tuk- tuk's in the Andamans do not follow any tariff cards or running meter policy. They will charge you whatever they feel like and in many cases their demands can be extremely high especially when you do not speak the language or appear as a tourist. Should you be unlucky to arrive at a time when there is heavy rain or a fuel price hike you can expect to be hit by surcharges as well over and above the high asking price.
It might be wiser to take a prepaid or fixed fare taxi instead. If settling on a rickshaw then remember to fix the costs before you get into it.
The best option of course would be to allow us to organise your transfers as they will leave you relaxed and completely stress free. From start to finish its flawlessly executed and professional.
Availability for ferry tickets: Buying a ferry ticket in the Andamans is not as easy as one might think. Demand for tickets is always greater than the number of seats available. There is no internet reservation system in place and tickets are issued on a first-come first-serve basis.
It can be a complete nightmare to procure these tickets last minute, with long never ending queues and people pushing and jumping the queue as well. There have been instances of the counter suddenly being closed down for a lunch break as well despite there being many people standing in line for extended periods of time.
In absolute peak season the situation is a lot worse given the sheer number of tourists coming in. Organising a ferry ticket for your return leg for example from Havelock to Port Blair, is not easier either. Long queues are eminent and boring waits are in order. Worse, to buy a ferry ticket you will land up wasting the whole morning and won't be able to enjoy diving or snorkeling or a day at the beach as you will need to stand in line.
If you plan to visit the Andamans, it is highly recommended that you allow us to organise your transfers and all your ferry tickets for you in advance so your chances of making it are much better.
We do not guarantee that we will at all times get you a ferry ticket, but can assure you that we will do our absolute best to buy them, once you have booked the transfers with us. Although very rare, it is possible that despite our best efforts we are unable to get a ticket for you. However given our experience in this department and our local staff, our chances of getting the ticket are a lot better than the one you have when you arrive and stand in queue last minute.
Dog Menace: Some islands unfortunately have a dog problem. Projects to try and get all the stray dogs castrated and sterilized, however the success rate has been minimal.
During the day they generally don't do much other than bark or follow you along the beach hoping for some food. At nights though, they do like to gang up in the villages and on the beach. We advise all travellers to carry a stick to scare off any dogs. In addition, please DO NOT FEED any dogs as this will only encourage them.
We understand that you feel sorry for them, but feeding them for the short duration that you are on the island will leave them in a worse situation when you leave. Feeding them will only make them more aggressive to an unsuspecting tourist.
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