Neil Island

The Hidden Gem

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INTRODUCTION

Why go to Neil Island?

You want to run away from the rest of the world
Just want some peace and quiet
You want a beautiful holiday on a tropical island
You love beautiful landscapes and sunsets

Known for its magnificent biodiversity, unexplored coral reefs, white sandy beaches, and tropical woodlands, Neil Island is perfect for a peaceful time off. With its laid-back vibe, and lucid charm the island is soothingly different from its neighbouring Havelock.

Spend quality time at the long deserted beaches; explore the island’s villages named after mythological characters from the Ramayana (you can walk the whole island in about two hours), or indulge in water sports in the crystal clear water – Neil Island is Andaman’s rustic masterpiece.

NEIL AT A GLANCE

  • Neil is a tiny but beautiful island located 37 km south of Port Blair.
  • Neil Island is also known as the vegetable bowl of Andaman Islands; thanks to its climatic conditions the land is ideal for the cultivation of fruits and vegetables.
  • Neil is connected to both Port Blair (1.5 hours) and Havelock (45 minutes) by private ferries and to Port Blair, Havelock, and Rangat by Government ferries.
  • The Internet is mostly unavailable in Neil. If lucky, one can find patchy BSNL data network on phone.
  • Neil Island is best suited for those who want to spend a relaxed time among long deserted beaches. With little bustle, few activities to take up, and many luxury resorts, this island is best for those who want to spend a luxurious few days amidst nature.
  • Inspired by Indian mythology, all beaches in Neil have been named after characters from the Ramayana – Ramnagar, Sitapur, Laxmanpur, and Bharatpur to be precise.

ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Neil Island 3 Point Tour

    Neil Island is known for its natural wonders, especially the beaches. A trip to three such beaches (including one with a natural bridge) is commonly called the 3 point tour. One starts with visiting either the natural rock formation or the Bharatpur beach, moves on to the next point and then ends the day with a view of the sun dipping down at the gorgeous Lakshmanpur beach.This is commonly perfect for those who are spending a day in Neil Island. This is sometimes combined with the sunrise beach aka the Sitapur Beach. Here

  • Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

    Neil Island has exquisite coral and marine life. There are small lagoons in Ramnagar and Laxmanpur beaches perfect for snorkeling. Most resorts in Neil rent snorkeling gear.There are only three dive centers that operate in Neil Island but many times they are not operational. Indian Scuba Explorers, Dive India, and Scuba Lov can be reached for this. If you are lucky you can spot a Dugong (Sea cow), the state animal of Andaman Islands.

  • Lazy Beach time 

    Life in Neil feels slower and more relaxed, especially when all you are doing is spending time sunbathing, reading, or just lying on the beach. Bharatpur beach and Ramnagar beach are perfect spots for this.

  • Explore Neil on a 2 wheeler or Bicycle

    Roads in Neil are pretty easy to ride on (no sharp curves or elevations) and the island is navigation friendly, hence cycling or riding through Neil can be quite an adventure. Moped rentals are available right at the jetty and many resorts have their own cycles and motorbikes available for rent.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • Weather

    Neil mainly has three main seasons: summer, winter, and monsoon. Owing to its location in the Bay of Bengal, it experiences heavy winds during the monsoon and a tropical climate otherwise. Early November until mid-May sees the best weather in the islands.

  • Currency

    Like the rest of the island in Andaman, the Indian Rupee is the currency used. Neil has only two ATMs, (As on 20/4/2017) both at the bazaar – Syndicate Bank and Cooperative Bank. Both also have a branch each, however, no money exchange takes place here. Some small resort owners do accept foreign currency especially in emergency situations and later exchange this in Port Blair.

  • Communication and Internet

    No broadband connection is available in Neil Island. Data network is available on phone sometimes but is patchy. BSNL is the network with the best connectivity.

  • Healthcare

    Neil only has a primary healthcare centre. All services here are free of charge. For any specialty healthcare, one must travel to Port Blair.Primary Health Centre & Ambulance Service: 03192-282627

  • Safety

    The Andaman and Nicobar Police is the law enforcement agency for the union territory of Andaman and they take care of the discipline department is an efficient one and in the case of emergencies you can get in touch with them on the following numbers:

    • Police Station: 03192-282602
    • Police Radio: 03192-282676
  • Supermarkets and Bazaars

    Neil has a small, humble market, made up of small shops selling all essential commodities. From stationary to common medicines, simple clothing to grocery, everything is available here. What is best available though are the fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, Port Blair gets most of its fruits and vegetables from Neil.This market is also the place for social gatherings and meetings. This is the busiest part of the town in the evening. One can enjoy the local chatty culture here.

  • Language

    Though Hindi is the most commonly spoken language here, it is also Bengali that is spoken at large in Neil Island. English is understood but with difficulty.

  • Airport and Port Facilities

    The jetty at Bharatpur Beach is the only jetty on the islands and this is where all private and government ships dock.

HOW TO REACH NEIL ISLAND

There is no direct way to get to Neil Island (unless on a private charter) from the mainland or from any other part of the world. One must come to Port Blair and then travel to Neil Island.

Related articles:  Transfers in Port Blair, Ship trip in Andaman (blog), Best Time to travel

HOW LONG TO GO FOR

It is hard to specify a timeline for a place like Neil Island. But people with little time on their hands come here for a day on their way back to Port Blair from Havelock. Backpackers often come to Neil for longer periods and stay for weeks at a time soaking it the laid-back vibe of the island.

WHAT WILL IT COST

Neil had always been popular as a backpacker’s destination. But in the recent year’s many entrepreneurs have invested in the island. Various luxury properties now call the island home and cater to people looking for extravagant resort experiences.

Neil as a destination is very budget friendly, with only basic restaurants, beaches with free entry and mopeds or bikes costing about INR 400 a day.

What one-day in Neil Island costs mainly depends on where you stay. Accommodations begin at INR 300 a day and go all the way up to INR 25,000.

GETTING AROUND IN NEIL ISLAND

Neil Island is a small place, only about 7 km from one corner to another. The roads are flat, well built, and easy to navigate. Locals are friendly and you can ask for directions whenever unsure, thus making the island ideal to ride a moped or a bicycle.

Bike and bicycle rentals are affordable and popular among tourists and you can find a few of them at the jetty. You could also enquire about the same at your resort upon arrival – various resorts have their own vehicles for renting purposes.

For those who are visiting the island for a short time, autos are a great option; they are easily available at the jetty and market area.

Best suited for families and group travellers, private chauffeured AC cars are also available for rent. But since they are limited in number they are almost always overbooked.

Book car rentals or hire a scooter in Neil Island in advance.

TRANSFERS – NEIL ISLAND TO OTHER ISLANDS

While helicopters do fly to Neil, ferries are the best and the most accessible way to reach the islands. There are at least two government ferries that go to Neil Island from the Phoenix Bay Jetty in Port Blair every day. The private Makruzz catamaran also sails from Port Blair and Havelock to Neil Island once every day. Three times a week, a ferryboat also leaves from Long Island to Port Blair, stopping in Havelock and in Neil.
In the peak season make sure to book your ferry in advance as tickets do run out. However, for government ferries, only 4 days advance booking is possible. (If you are a foreign tourist, don’t forget the photocopies of your permit; visa; and passport before queuing up to buy the ticket.

WHAT TO SEE IN NEIL

The beaches mainly dominate sightseeing in Neil Island and these are the four one must see when here:
• Sitapur Beach aka Beach number 5
• Bharatpur Beach aka Beach Number 4
• Ramnagar aka Beach number 3
• Natural Bridge at Beach number 2
• Laxmanpur Beach aka Beach number 1 (sunset beach)

All these beaches can be visited on the same day on the Neil 4 Point Tour
Find information about all sites to visit here OR Places to Visit in Neil Island here

WHAT TO DO IN NEIL


Since Neil is all about beaches, most of the things to do on Neil are also related to water or water sports. If you’re tired of lying on the beach or you have finished your book, there are some activities you can choose from:

  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Other water sports
  • Jungle Treks
  • Game Fishing
  • Cycling

Know more details about these activities here

WHERE TO EAT IN NEIL ISLAND


There are no fancy restaurants in Neil Island – expect shacks by the beaches with plastic tables and an open-air setting. However, Neil is known as the vegetable bowl of the Andaman Islands as many locals still work in agriculture fields here. There are plenty of fishermen as well, so when food is freshly made, it is of great quality and reflects in the taste. Dishes are usually homemade and very delicious.

For the same reason, expect preparation to take long – sometimes up to two hours depending on what and how much you have ordered. Almost all restaurants serve Indian and Chinese food, but one can also easily find versions of Israeli, Italian, and even French food. Seafood is broadly available and almost all “resorts” have their own restaurants. The Neil Kendra market is always a good option to fill your tummy at really cheap prices – INR 100 for a meal of simple fish thali.

WHERE TO STAY IN NEIL ISLAND

As a tourist destination, Neil Island is no longer just a backpacker’s attraction. Over the last few years, many luxury resorts have sprung up, catering to tourists looking for all kinds of vacations. From affordable, basic huts that resonate the warmth of Neil Island to luxury resorts with stunning views and contemporary settings, the island has it all!

Related links Book Neil hotels.

NIGHTLIFE IN NEIL ISLAND

Nightlife in Neil is restricted to restaurants of different resorts in the island, a walk down the beach or enjoy the local culture and food at the bazaar.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

  • Only two ATMs and limited money exchange facilities. Carry enough cash
  • Boats often get delayed or stalled due to weather conditions in Neil, if travelling for your flight back, keep a day at hand in Port Blair.
  • Mosquitoes in Neil are common during the evenings. Carry mosquito repellents.
  • Petrol reaches Neil from Port Blair and is often out of stock. Also, petrol stations close before sunset. Enquire about petrol availability before renting a scooter.

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