You’ve decided on a trip to the Andamans, it’s locked and final; but you want to know about all the many things to take into consideration to make for the Ultimate trip. We get ya, nobody wants to be taking any chances with their precious and numbered vacation days! This is exactly why we’re going to give you the full scoop on every little detail to keep in mind while you plan & book your trip to the Andamans.
Read on to know more!
How to plan the Ultimate Trip to the Andamans?
Step 1: Pin down on what you want your trip to look like
What your trip looks like often boils down to the intent behind your trip and the type of traveller you are. Your intent could be adventure, a honeymoon, an anniversary with your partner, some quality family time or plain ole alone time. A lot of your vacation decisions rest on this intent.
Here are some bite-sized takeaways for different types of travellers:
For the romantics:
More Havelock + Neil, less Port Blair should be your go-to mantra. If you’re looking at about a week, the ratio can be 6:1. Nothing says romantic like a beach-side resort with swaying coconut trees and an open-aired bar. Look for an upper-category room to ramp up the oomph factor.
For the adventurers:
Do not miss out on the breath-taking scuba-diving experiences you can have in the Andamans. The best places to dive are: Havelock, Neil & Chidiya Tapu, Port Blair. If you’re an experienced diver, looking to organise a dive trip to more remote locations like Barren Island, seasoned dive shops like Lacadives will be happy to help you with it. You’ll have to call at-least 1-2 months in advance and book it, since it’ll require special permits that could take time to come through. Look up & book other activities before you go, these could include: kayaking, sea karting, jet skiing, para sailing, sea walking, snorkelling & trekking.
For the family traveller:
Mix it up with some culture and adventure. You can split your time equally between Port Blair, Havelock and Neil. Do look for properties with pools, because no family vacation is complete without pool games. If you’re a large family, you can approach hotels for a group rate and even book a private party space in advance!
For the solo traveller:
The nicest part about going solo is the freedom to set your own pace and to explore off-beat places. So, if you’re keen on something like this, look up lesser-known islands like: Long Island, Ross & Smith, Little Andaman and Rutland. You’ll find yourself transported backwards in time to idyllic little towns and villages that will allow you a sort of mental re-awakening. But hey, if it’s Havelock + Neil you’re craving, then by all means, go for it! They are sure to give you equally enriching experiences.
Step 2: Pin down on a Budget Range
Your budget range will probably determine the resort or hotel that you choose to stay at. If you’re looking at a luxury or a mid-range group of hotels, it could mean that you’re not looking to cut corners in most places and can comfortably accommodate a range of island activities, restaurant hopping and bar hopping in your budget. So, this one’s mostly for people looking to travel on a tighter budget.
There are some things we recommend you skimp on and some things that you absolutely don’t, if you’re not looking to splurge and go all-out. Here it goes:
- Regardless of what your budget is, feel free to cut down in Port Blair but go in for the best resort that your budget can offer in Havelock.
- If you’re looking to add a bit of adventure, allocate a minimum budget of 10k per person for a vacation of 4-5 days. You may not partake every day, but you’ll want to do something every 2 days to break the monotony of the beach and the pool.
- Allocate a minimum budget of 7k per person for restaurant hopping for a vacation of 4-5 days. You may not want to eat at the resort or hotel of your stay every single day. So, put aside a small budget for exploring different eateries. This is an absolute must.
Step 3: Pin down on the perfect number of days
While the “perfect number” may sound far-fetched, there is a number at which just about any traveller will be happy. That sweet number, lovelies, is 7 days aka. a week. Anything less than that and you’re sure to be feeling like you’re hurrying along. You’re dreading the end of your vacation even before it has started. We’ve done it and it’s the worst! More than a week is, of course, ideal but some may say that we’re being over-optimistic. So, we’ll leave it at 7 days minimum. That’s the sweet spot, if you will.
Step 4: Know the different seasons and the best time of travel for you
Do you want to be here when it’s pouring cats, dogs and whales? Maybe. Maybe you’re the rare breed of traveller that relies only on your hearty spirit to make the best of your holiday. However, that’s not been our experience with most holiday-makers. Weather can be a deal-breaker for most people. Pick your dates smartly and in all probability, you may end up having a sunny time.
So, for the weather-cautious, the break-down of tourist seasons in the Andamans looks more or less like this:
Process of Booking the Holiday
Step 1: Flights First
Booking of flights is a great starting point for travellers to the Andamans. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Book flights 1-2 months in advance: Flights to Port Blair during the High + Peak seasons can be exorbitant, if they’re not booked in advance. So, try and book at-least 1-2 months in advance, if not more. This is especially for folks looking to travel in December and January. Last-minute ticket costs in these two months can go to as high as Rs. 30,000 one-way and getting a ticket can become an annoying, expensive affair.
- Book flights smartly, it can save you money: If you’re looking to spend time only in Havelock & Neil, book the earliest flight into Port Blair, so you can get the last ferry to the islands that departs from Port Blair at 2 pm. Similarly, from Havelock or Neil, book the earliest ferry into Port Blair, so that you can leave on the last flight back. This will mean that you can give Port Blair a complete miss, if you want to, without spending the night here.
Step 2: Ferries before Hotels
Book your inter-island ferry tickets (from Port Blair to Havelock or Neil islands) before you book your hotels, even if you’re someone that loves to take it as it comes. There are a limited number of ferries on the islands and thereby, there are a limited number of tickets. We’d recommend booking it at-least a month in advance. At worst, you can do 3 weeks in advance. Through the years, we’ve seen some travellers come to the islands without ferry tickets and struggling with it after they’ve arrived. It can make for a bitter experience if you only have a few days in hand and are not pleased to be stuck in Port Blair.
Step 3: Hotel Bookings
Booking hotels and resorts is a vast field to cover, but we’ll give you the most important things to keep in mind while booking them.
- More Havelock + Neil, Less Port Blair: If we had a rupee for every time we’ve said this, we’d have a piggy bank full of fat coins. But this is essential and cannot be said enough. If you’re here for a tropical beach vacation, then Havelock & Neil islands are where you want to be spending the most time. Although Port Blair district does have its own set of coveted beach locations, we’re still a little partial to the island twins: Havelock & Neil.
- Location. Location. Location: Decide on whether you want a moderately crowded space or a near-isolated resort on a remote part of the island. Most people on short trips prefer to stay close to the buzz. All the islands are comfortable quiet after dark, so you are not likely to be faced with loud music or drunk vacationers, in any case. But if you’re after a special type of isolation, and are looking to step off the beaten path, you only need ask.
- Beach-side hotels > Hotels not on the beach: We don’t think this needs an explanation. But we’re still going to do it: white sand, a heady sea breeze and a beach lined with coconut trees. Okay, you get the drift.
- Pool is cool: Disgustingly rhymed words aside, even if you’re on a beach, luxuriating in a pool is a whole different vibe. And if it’s a pool with a pool-side bar, extra brownie points for that! Because nothing better than sitting on a flamingo, sipping chilled beer and soaking up the sun.
Step 4: Booking your Activities
Booking your activities well in advance may be to your advantage if you have very few days of vacation time and don’t have the luxury of flexibility.
- Book your Scuba session in advance: If you book a Scuba-Diving session (you should definitely), do it well in advance. This is especially applicable during peak season between December and January when most dive shops get completely booked out.
- More adventure, less sight-seeing: Indulge in more adventure activities, like water sports & trekking, and less sight-seeing activities. Try to pick 2-3 sights to see, if at all and don’t let FOMO get the better of you.
Do a maximum of 2 Activities/day: Don’t book yourself for more than 2 activities in a day. You probably don’t want to feel like you have a time-table to follow. Don’t try and cram in too much, without giving yourself any breathing space.
Important Travel Resources
Packing List: What to Carry and what not to carry
We’re not going to bore you with every little thing but we’ll give you a list of island-relevant things that shouldn’t be missing in your packing list.
What to Carry:
|Hat||2-3 Swimwear + Cover-up||Light Cotton Clothes|
|Beach Bag||Beach Towel||Wet Bag for wet clothes|
|A light cardigan: for slightly chilly weather||Camera||Insect Repellent: for mosquitoes|
|A pack of cards||Light make-up kit||A Book|
What you don’t need:
|High Heels||Laptop||Warm Clothes|
A lot of people wonder if their Indian sim cards will work on the Andamans and the answer is: yes, it will! We have three main service providers here: Airtel, Vodafone and BSNL. So, if you’re with any one of them, you don’t have to worry about getting a new sim card when you land or getting an international sim card before you depart. BSNL and Airtel are your best bet. If you’re not with any of them, you could get one before you arrive and it’ll work just fine.
Cash or Card?
Although we do have ATMs everywhere in Port Blair and we have a couple in Havelock & Neil and most places do accept card payments, it’ll still be prudent to carry some amount in cash. You may need it for smaller eateries, roadside vendors, to pay for some activities and such. An all-card approach is definitely not advisable. At all times, keep at-least Rs. 5000 in hand which can be replenished at an ATM when it runs out.
Calling it a (holi)day
We’ve covered lots of little bits to get you going and this blog should serve as a gentle guidance for your Andaman Vacation Plan.
And with that we’re going to sign-off. Here’s hoping that all of these pointers help you in building the ultimate plan for an unforgettable holiday!