The fascinating town of Diglipur is the largest town in North Andaman Islands and yet often goes unnoticed because of its distance from other popular tourist attractions (Havelock and Port Blair). But, perhaps it is this same distance that makes Diglipur such a different and adventurous place!
With its rich flora and fauna, natural parks, and lively marine life; There are so many options of how to actively spend your holidays here. From climbing the highest peak in the Bay of Bengal to exploring the breathtaking twin islands of Ross and Smith, observing an active mud volcano or witnessing turtles (nesting and hatching) in pristine beaches, Diglipur is a wonder for all.
Things To Know About Diglipur
- Diglipur is an offbeat destination and few tourists go here
- It can be reached by road (12 hours) and ferry (8 to 12 hours) from Port Blair.
- Diglipur is for adventure lovers. A visit to Ross and Smith island, climbing Saddle peak and watching turtle nesting are the key reasons for visiting.
- The Diglipur town has only a few places of interest. The area nearby called kalipur is where most people stay and that’s where most of the adventure is.
- There are only a few resorts and accommodations. The most popular being Pristine Resort and Turtle Nest Resort.
- One must ideally spend at least 2 days in Diglipur to enjoy its many attractions
How to get there?
Situated far up in the North Andaman, Diglipur is around 290km by road and 180km by sea from Port Blair. Tourists can choose to travel by road or by sea.
By Sea: If you only want to visit Diglipur in the North, the best option would be to take a ship. There are direct government ship services available 3-4 times per week (please check the schedule in advance) from Port Blair. The whole journey takes around 10 hours and longer but more convenient overnight sails are also available. Tickets can be booked at the Phoenix Bay office or at the administration block by ‘the Dolphin roundabout’ in Diglipur. Find Ship schedules here – https://www.andaman.gov.in/mainland-shipping-schedule1
By Road: One can also travel up north by Andaman Trunk Road, crossing three creeks on the way and the Jarawa tribe area. The journey however is exhausting and it can take up to 12 long hours. There are a number of early morning buses plying daily from Port Blair to Diglipur. The tickets need to be bought in advance at least a day prior to the travel date. There are also private AC buses available offering more comfort but are pricier. Buses are available for the Port Blair Central Bus Stop in Aberdeen Bazaar, every day at 4am in the morning. However, seats are limited and require advance booking to travel
One can also rent a private AC car. This is highly recommended especially if you would like to stop on the way to Diglipur. Places like Baratang, Rangat and Mayabundar have beautiful beaches and other attractions. Prices from Port Blair to Diglipur start from INR 5000 one way but will increase based on your itinerary.
By Air: The Andaman Tourism Website mentions the services of seaplanes and helicopter facilities that flies between Diglipur and Port Blair. However this is not true. Seaplanes no longer function. Helicopters do but are only meant for medical emergencies. If extra seats are available,Tourists can book them. These seats are limited and cost about 5000INR (starting) per person.
Top things to do in Diglipur
The Andamans aren’t just sea and sand as most would assume. Impressive natural attractions up north prove that there is so much more to the islands. Diglipur is like an enormous outdoor adventure amusement park specially designed for nature lovers. Here are the top things to to here:
#1. Climb Saddle Peak
At 732metres, Saddle Peak is the highest point of the archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. The surroundings is a bio-diverse natural paradise as the thick jungle offers home to over 13 indigenous birds species, 36 indigenous species of insects and 6 species of indigenous trees. Due to the richness of the forest territory it is now made into a National Park which offers lovey aerial views of the nearby islands for those, who do manage the tough climb. The climb is steep and 8kms long. On a sunny day it could be a challenge for some of the most experienced trekkers too! Kalpong, the only river of Andamans flows through the forest and offers a refreshing freshwater stream where water is still drinkable.
How to get there: A permit has to be obtained by the Forest Department office at the trailhead. It costs Rs 25 for Indians and Rs 250 for foreign tourists (as on December 2019) and you can buy it from 6am to 2pm. leave early and return before sunset.
#2. Swim at Ross and Smith
The islands of Ross and Smith are a sight to behold.
These majestic twin islands are connected by a thin fifty metre long sand bar. This silky white sand bar descends inside the sea at times of high tide and surfaces up again during low tide. The warm waters are crystal clear and the untamed virgin beaches are one of the most picture perfect ones you will see on the islands.
The best part is that the beach is seldom crowded and most of the time you can cherish the whole sight by yourself. Smith Island has most facilities; spacious bamboo huts with plenty of shade, changing rooms and toilets can be found. Ross island is covered with dense forests and can be visited by crossing the sand bar, not many venture out there.
How to get there:
To visit these serene islands one has to go on a fibre boat. The process goes like this:
- Reach Aerial bay jetty and first obtain permission from the Forest Office as Ross Island is a Marine Sanctuary and a protected area.
- Buy a ticket for a boat. A 6 seater boat costs about 5000/inr and stays there for 4 hours between 7am and 4pm.
- You can rent a private boat or wait for more travellers to come and share. This could take a while as Diglipur doesn’t see a lot of tourists.
- The boat ride takes about half an hour and it is quite enjoyable admiring the pristine sands from afar.
#3. Watch Turtle Nesting/hatching at Kalipur Beach
If you visit Diglipur between December and April, chances are that you will be able to spot turtles nesting and hatching. Kalipur, is one of the few beaches in the world, where four species of sea turtles (Olive Ridley, Leather Back, Hawksbill and Green Turtles) come to nest their eggs.
For this purpose, the government has built a hatchery there and if lucky you can witness both turtles laying their eggs (late at night) or baby turtles being set free into the sea (early morning).
The beach has volcanic grey coloured sand and crystal clear water. This makes it perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Unfortunately there are sand flies so sunbathing is not advisable. During low tide the beach looks sullen with dead corals breaking the surface and some mangrove trees embracing the shore.
How to get there:
Kalipur village is situated about 8 kms from the aerial bay jetty and 15kms from the diglipur town. you can easily find an auto rickshaw (tuktuk) or a taxi. Busses ply every 30 minutes.
#4. Trek to see active mud volcanoes
The Mud volcanoes in Diglipur are natural wonders hidden amidst dense forest cover. These, like their siblings in baratang, are small muddy craters created by natural gases emitted by decaying organic matter underground which slowly push the mud upwards. It is not a spectacular sight, as most of the time there is just a pile of dried mud and small bubbling puddles. However one can wander around 41 active muddy craters, enjoying the surrounding nature and wildlife. The best time to visit it is early in the morning as the temperature is lower and the weather less humid.
How to get there:
It is situated about 40kms from the diglipur town, near shyam nagar village. To reach this unusual attraction, one has to follow the small trail into the jungle from the parking lot. No special permits are requested for visiting and there is no entrance. Shared Jeeps, busses and private taxis are options for travel.
#5. Relax at Lamia Bay Beach
At the foot of the saddle peak trekking path and about 2kms from Kalipur beach lies Lamia Bay AKA pebble beach. This is a great place for local fishing and also has a few turtle hatcheries. Not many tourists know about this beach.
How to get there:
Buses go here every half and hour from the diglipur town. Private Taxi and Rickshaws are also easily available on the way to the beach (not back).
#6. Restricted Places With Permit
There are 3 more places that are often mentioned when one talks of activities in Diglipur. They are the Kalpong Hydroelectric Power Plant, Craggy island and Alfred Caves. These require a special permit for entry and are not generally open for tourism (As of March 2020). Do not venture out here without proper permission.
How long to stay?
Diglipur is a vast region that people mostly visit for Kalipur turtle nestling and the Saddle Peak Trekking. But there are more places of interest like Alfred caves and the craegy island which are slowly opening up as tourism destinations. For this ideally, a 2-3 day getaway would be ideal to cover all.
Where to stay?
The best accommodation available in the region is the Pristine Beach Resort in Kalipur. The rooms range from 600 to 3000INR based on the accommodation facilities and the categories. Kalipur is the most visited place in Diglipur and people often stay here and visit other places. Apart from the Pristine Beach Resort, there are some government-run guesthouses like the Turtle Nesting Resort, APWD Guest Houses which has AC rooms at 2000 INR and non AC rooms at 600 INR. However, availability depends on prior booking in these government guest houses. Several other smaller tourist lodges are also available but they might not be that reliable.
When to visit?
The ideal time to visit the region is in the winter months when the sea isn’t rough and you get to places. Also, the summer months can be quite hot to travel in island towns like Diglipur. So, it’s best to visit from October – April when conditions are ideal for long journeys and explorations. Also, this is the time when the turtle nesting and hatching happen
Getting around Diglipur and its scattered attractions are time and sometimes can be nerve consuming, especially if you are traveling on a budget. There are crowded but cheap local buses available. These buses are few and if you miss one prepare for a long wait till the next one. The majority of the sights are quite far away and travelling on a bus can take up to one day for one attraction. Shared public jeeps are another faster option but again, these are pricier and not always easily available.
We suggest that those who want to travel in comfort either book a scooter (cost about 500/day and available at the diglipur market) or hire a car with a driver (do bargain).
Where & What to eat?
Diglipur is not a major tourist destination and thus the local eateries serve only local food. But don ‘t get us wrong, some of them are delicious. Try the thalis (south Indian and Bengali) and ask for the day’s catch (if you enjoy seafood).
For more continental cuisine, you will need to travel to Kalipur. The resort there offers all types of north Indians and a small selection of Chinese and Italian dishes. Though pricey, it is the best and only option available.
Diglipur has also a huge market with one of the best selections of vegetables and fruits in the Andamans. There are also shops selling refreshments, sweet and salty junk food and other snacks. Chai and fresh coconut water can be bought around the market area.
List of Recommended Places To Stay/Eat
The only place to stay and eat lovely food here is the Pristine Beach Resort. However, other places also offer good non-vegetarian foods. Most places sell local seafood and non-vegetarian delicacies. Vegetarian restaurants are hard to find here and are almost not existent. However, you can get vegetarian food at the Pristine Beach Resort if you order in advance and are willing to wait.
The New Hira Family Restaurant, located in Shubhashgram is a good restaurant if you are looking for some other food options other than your tourist lodge and the pristine resort. They serve delicious and affordable food and they understand the hospitality expected by the guests coming in. it’s safe to try out food from this restaurant.
Diglipur is a town area with a good number of population here so ATMs serving Indian currencies are readily available. Indian currency is the only currency accepted here as in other Andaman islands. However, it’s better to carry enough cash and that too in accepted denominations while traveling. 2000 rupee and 500 rupee notes might be a problem here so get those sorted at Port Blair.
Communication and Internet
BSNL connections work the best. Although Vodafone and airtel connections may work their connectivity will be weak. Internet connection in resorts might not be that well.
Diglipur is a bustling town, one of the biggest towns in Andaman so local markets are available in many places. Most of these are meant for the locals and offer a glimpse of their life and living conditions. However, few shops selling local handicrafts and other products can be seen in these bazaars.
In terms of safety, diglipur might not be as safe as Neil or Havelock or Port Blair. But it the overall friendly and helpful nature of the Andaman people makes it a good place to visit. However, please listen to the authorities and take adequate safety measures while traveling. Don’t visit restricted areas without a permit and be careful while snorkeling or scuba diving. Interact with the locals as much as you want but don’t try to exploit them with incentives to visit restricted and inaccessible places. Please abide by rules and regulations and don’t take corals and sea creatures home.
Also while traveling, make sure you have a day’s time in hand for your return flight to the mainland. Don’t plan the flight the same day you return from Diglipur.
#1. Why Do People Visit Diglipur?
Diglipur in Andaman is popular for its scenic natural beauty and rare wildlife experiences like the turtle nesting and turtle hatching.
#2. How Good Is Turtle Nesting Experience in Diglipur?
The whole of north Andaman has turtle nesting sites protected by the forest department. However, Diglipur is particularly famous because the forest department has created well-protected nurseries here for the hatching and they have designated guides and accommodation available near the nestling ground that makes it easier to spot the turtle hatchings. On quiet nights as you walk through the kalipur beach you will witness life begin and soon these newly hatched turtles will crawl back to the sea at dawn.
#3. How To Book Turtle Resort in Diglipur?
The Pristine Beach Resort can be directly booked on their official website www.andamanpristineresorts.com For the government turtle resort booking one can contact designated tour operators supported by the Andaman Tourism Department or through any local travel companies.
#4. Can I Travel To Diglipur from Neil/Havelock?
Diglipur only be accessed through Port Blair. There’s no provision to access Diglipur from Neil or Havelock. However, an alternate travel entry point can be drawn from Neil and Havelock via Rangat. Some private boat rides are available from Neil and Havelock to Rangat and you can enter Diglipur from there. However, this route is quite tricky and not supported by tourism so you are at the mercy of your service providers. So, be careful of you attempting such a thing.
There you go the most bustling region of Andaman – Diglipur which will soon be a worthwhile travel destination in Andaman as plans of a second Andaman airport in Diglipur finalizes. So, think of all the exciting experiences you can try in this offbeat Andaman tourist destination.