Baratang is famous for its natural wonders; from impressive Limestone Caves and dense mangrove creeks. There are tidal swamp forests and small but fascinating Mud Volcanoes. It is the first gateway up north from the capital city, located between Middle and South Andaman. Due to its distance from Port Blair (approximately 100 kms), it is a popular one-day trip destination, especially for those who come with limited time on hand.
Unlike Havelock Island, Baratang remains slightly less developed. One must not expect a major tourist hub as there are almost no tourist facilities, fancy restaurants or luxury accommodation facilities here. Most locals do not speak English. The place, however, is still a natural delight!
Those who do decide to stay for a night or two will be rewarded with virgin beaches, some interesting bird watching opportunities, a rural way of life, adventure mangrove boat rides and plenty of cheap authentic Indian dishes. If you are a nature explorer or a wildlife fan, (or both) you should definitely pay a visit to this diverse island.
How to Reach Baratang from Port Blair:
The best and most convenient way to reach Baratang is by hiring a private vehicle/car or a private AC bus. If you are looking to reach Baratang in the most cost-effective way, taking a government bus from Port Blair is your best bet. Two wheelers are not allowed to go all the way to Baratang. You will have to travel through the ‘Andaman Trunk Road’ (ATR) and move in a convoy with one short vehicle-ferry connection among the islands. This is a four-hour bumpy ride but the lush jungles and blue waters can make the drive quite interesting.
One point to note here is that one can spot a few Jarawas on the way. The ATR cuts through the jungle that is home to the indigenous Jarawa tribe and many tribals people wait on the sides of the road to cross to the other side. Interacting with them, giving them food, gifts or even clicking their pictures is NOT allowed. One can be fined and imprisoned for the same.
Traveling in Baratang Island:
Getting around Baratang is easy for most as they come in Private Taxi/Cabs booked from Port Blair. Traveling in Baratang is possible in following ways:
- Private Jeeps which cost about Rs 100 per person or Rs 400 per vehicle to a place like Mud Volcano from the Baratang Jetty. (prices as in 2016)
- Government Bus that can take you to the Mud Volcano attraction, as well as to the beautiful Baludera Beach. Do ask for exact timings, as there are only a few rides per day. Also, take note of the driver’s number in case you get lost.
- Private Cars are more expensive but the most convenient. They drive you from Port Blair, around Baratang and back. It costs you about Rs 6000 per day for the entire car.
There are no scooter or bike rentals possible and there are no auto-rickshaws available on the island.
Sightseeing in Baratang:
Baratang is a perfect destination for nature lovers as it offers magnificent natural sights and diverse wildlife scenery.
- The impressive Limestone Caves are one of a kind with its glamorous stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations.
- Parrot Island is another fine attraction worth your attention if you are fond of bird watching. Thousands of colourful parrots can be spotted (and heard) returning to their nests in the evening time, with a perfect background as the sun sets behind the island.
- The least attractive, but a famous sight nonetheless, is the Mud Volcano, the only known kind in India. It is nothing but a small bubbling puddle of mud. Though many find it a waste of time, some marvel at the science and marvels of nature when they go here.
- Baludera Beach is a pristine beach that is usually never crowded. You can enjoy a swim all by yourself and splash across a kilometer in low tide.
Hotels in Baratang Island:
Finding accommodation in Baratang can be tricky and very expensive. There are three governmental guesthouses scattered around the jetty area, but they are all reserved for governmental officials or locals. It is possible to stay there but one has to book months in advance from Port Blair. Walk-ins are usually not welcomed.
There used to be a private resort called ‘Dew Dale Resort’ which is not shut.
Restaurants in Baratang:
There aren’t any fancy restaurants in Baratang, but for sure you won’t stay hungry here. Couple of food stalls and small eateries are dotted around the Nilambur jetty, where they serve mainly South-Indian and Bengali dishes. You can find refreshments, snacks and chai at almost on every corner. Dishes are served with a smile and are very pocket friendly. For deserts, it’s best to buy cookies or chocolate bars in the small shops, as they don’t serve any sweet dishes.
Things to Do in Baratang:
Baratang is known for its natural sights so there are some trekking options and interesting bird watching opportunities. Interesting boat ride trips are possible trough mangrove fringed creeks and canals heading to Limestone Caves or Parrot Island. Many do not know, but Baratang also has a hidden beach gem named Baludera Beach. At this serene sandy beach, one can indulge in swimming and snorkeling in the warm green and blue waters. However, bear in mind that Baratang has little tourist infrastructure and is not really a typical overnight tourism place. There are no dive centers nor snorkel rental places, so if you feel like snorkeling bring your own gear. Sunbathing is not recommended, as there are sand flies.
Important emergency contacts:
- Baratang Hospital : 03192-279533
- Baratang police station: 03192-279503