Andamans & Nicobar Islands – A hot winter, an unplanned digital detox, sunsets and redefining the color ‘ocean blue’ :)

By the end of the trip yesterday, I felt like a bag of mixed feelings. Part of me wanted to quit everything and stay in those beautiful Andaman islands, and wake up to that sea green and ocean blue water and watch the sunset every day. Part of me was glad to have 4G and network connectivity on my phone so I could talk to my friends and family and realize how addicted I am to my phone and the internet!

I had been to Andamans before, in 1996 I think, with my dad, mom and sister for one of our winter vacations. Dad was in the Indian Navy, so it was an easy decision for him to decide that we go see the islands. However, we hadn’t gone to any other islands like Havelock and Neill on that trip. So even though I was revisiting the Andamans, it felt like a whole new experience after so many years.

Usually, I write down a pretty detailed story about my travel experience, but since it was a 7 day 6 night trip, I thought I’d note down the highlights, the frustrating parts, advice/tips/lessons learnt for the next beach travel and a bundle of pictures to remember this trip by. I hope other traveling parents find this post helpful or that other travelers decide to give beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands a chance, if these pictures have managed to entice you πŸ™‚

Do leave a link to your own beach or Andaman experience blogs or vlogs in the comments section. I would love to read your experiences too! πŸ™‚

Places we visited on this trip: So Andaman and Nicobar Islands may look tiny in comparison to other States, but it is really difficult to cover all the Islands either due to lack of reachability, shortage of time or simply because some of these islands have not been opened to tourist access to save the traditional Aadivasi population from over tourism. So, in our little time, we were only able to cover two islands near Port Blair and two other islands – Havelock and Neill, which are just the tip of South Andaman. I’ve decided that I would like to see North Andaman a few years later, since the locals said great things about the untouched northern islands and their beaches. There is a roadwork going on, which should be operational in the next two years, so maybe a revisit will be needed, in 2024? πŸ™‚

Port Blair: Cellular Jail and Carbyn Cove Beach

Havelock Island: Radhanagar beach and Kalapathhar beach

Neill Island: Natural Bridge, Lakshmanpur beach and Bharatpur beach

Ross Island (Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island) and North Bay Island

All the delicious food that I hogged on this trip!!

So, now that all the fun stuff and the pictures are done with, here are my favorite things about Andamans and the frustrating bits πŸ™‚

Why you should travel to Andamans – with or without family/kids πŸ™‚

  • You can save all the Visa hassles and international travel cost if you are an Indian and love beaches and water sports by actually visiting these Islands that are part of your own country! We didn’t do any of the water sports, but I can guarantee that there wasn’t one tourist we didn’t overhear raving about the beautiful underwater life and the crystal clear, turquoise blue waters
  • Your DSLRs and phone will fill up with pictures, and you still won’t be able to do justice to the beauty of the beaches, the sunsets and the colors of the ocean water. I couldn’t decide if the water was sea green, turquoise blue, ocean blue, dark blue, or transparent! πŸ™‚
  • The seafood is to die for. But even better was all the fruit salad we ate which were being sold by vendors at each beach. I have not eaten such delicious fruits in the longest time! And those coconut water..oh my goodness, I didn’t know coconut water could taste this sweet!
  • I loved our resort at Neil Island. It was a quaint little place, and the restaurant was run by two Bengali men, but they were absolutely delightful. Always smiling, always ready to help and cater to the toddler’s and the adult’s demands of food and drinks as well. I loved Neill Island the most because of the service I received at this resort
  • You get a sense of our history and the variety of flora and fauna that our country has when you visit each of these beaches or islands. It fills your with pride and love for India πŸ™‚
  • We didn’t have time to visit the Aadivasi island – Baratang, but maybe next time..
  • Havelock is the closest you’ll feel to Goa, if you think Goa is your best beach in the whole world. Also, do try out this beach shack called ‘Something Different’ on Beach No. 2, for a Goa-like shack experience:)
  • The locals are a mix of Bengalis or Tamilians mostly, we found. But theyre all so kind and sweet and shy. I loved their attitude to life, their contentment in being where they were and their love for the islands. They reminded me of the shy Ladakhis sometimes πŸ™‚ Also, did you know, there is zero crime rate in these islands?! How cool is that?! πŸ™‚

And now, the frustrating parts of our travel, with some advice or tips to other travelers based on my own experience πŸ™‚ :

  • The most frustrating part was the lack of decent wifi or data network anywhere on any island. On some of the islands, only BSNL and Airtel voice network works, but with very choppy quality and hardly any of the hotels or resorts had wifi. It was a strange feeling when you are forced into an unplanned digital detox. But I think theyre going to fix this with Jio rolling out its data network within the next 2 years, so maybe it will get better πŸ™‚
  • We went during peak tourist season, and the crowd was infuriating at times. There were just too many huge families, noisy people and just people in general, that kind of marred my experience a little. So try and plan away from the Christmas and New Year vacations. But don’t travel during off season, unless you have weeks in hand, since we were told that if it rains, all waterways are closed down and there’s literally nothing you can do about it
  • If you are traveling from Pune, then get ready for the longest and most excruciating flight journey to Port Blair. We had an overnight haul at Bangalore airport and it sucked
  • Carry lots of sun screen. It doesn’t matter that you’re going in winters. I am thick skinned and I still got sunburned
  • Carry lots of light clothes and swimwear, that dry easily, since you just cant resist going into the water πŸ™‚
  • You don’t get a lot of things to eat for kids here – our kid survived on French fries, hakka noodles and rice and daal. Thank goodness she eats at least all that..lol For the adults, there are a lot of options of course, but you may not find fancy restaurants everywhere πŸ™‚
  • Be prepared to be cheated, we are Indians and yet we got duped into paying for this really lame semi-submarine boat ride on North Bay island. It’s really lame – don’t go for it πŸ™‚

I think I’ve exhausted all the wisdom I had to impart to my readers and also exhausted all my marketing skills in selling Andamans to travelers πŸ™‚ On that note, I absolutely loved my 2019 winter vacation to Andaman Islands. And, I was constantly thinking of papa and my trip with my own parents, to these islands, when there were far less people, all those years back πŸ™‚

So, you guys, tell me:

What is your favorite beach destination internationally, in your home country, or in India?

What is your pet peeve when you go on a beach destination vacation during peak tourist season? πŸ™‚

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