Port Blair

Your entry to Paradise!

Corbyn Cove Beach at Port Blair
Corbyn Cove Beach at Port Blair

INTRODUCTION

The capital city of the Andaman Islands, Port Blair is your entryway to the rich expanse of beauty and serenity that the islands have to offer. Explore its many museums, discover the flora and fauna and the rich marine life or simply take a stroll at the Marina Park to enjoy the sweet sea breeze. Walk past the Japanese bunkers, indulge in water sports, discover the island’s high peaks, and get familiarized with the land’s rich culture and diversity. Port Blair is the best introduction to the Andaman Islands that one could hope for.

PORT BLAIR – AT A GLANCE

  • Andaman’s only commercial airport (Veer Savarkar International Airport) is in Port Blair, thus making it your only entry and exit point into the islands. 
  • Port Blair is connected to all islands by ferries The Phoenix Bay Jetty and the Haddo wharf, are the most reliable harbours. 
  • Port Blair is connected to North Andaman (Diglipur, Baratang, Rangat, and Mayabundar) by road. See all day trips to the North here
  • Internet is easily available in Port Blair, albeit slow. 
  • Port Blair is your one-stop destination to know about the culture and heritage of the islands. With only one beach in town, there isn’t much of a seascape to enjoy. So, if you are looking for beaches exclusively, catch an early flight and then take the afternoon ferry to Havelock or Neil. Book ferries here

ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHTS

Cellular Jail at Port Blair
Entrance of Cellular Jail at Port Blair
  • Port Blair Historical Tour: Port Blair is your entryway to know about the history and colonial past of the islands. The Cellular Jail is the definitive beginning of this journey, followed by a trip to the fascinating Ross Island with the sound and light show. A trip to Viper Island is also possible as part of the famous three-island tour, although few tourists venture there.
  • Museum Hopping: Port Blair with its various museums is the face of the islands. Stop by the Samudrika Naval Museum and explore the Anthropological Museum – it’s a whole new world.
  • Best sunsets: While the Corbyn’s Cove beach is a local favourite, it is the Munda Pahad beach at Chidiyatapu that is recommended for its sunset views.
  • Offbeat activities and Boat rides: Port Blair offers offbeat water activities like Glass Bottom Boat Ride and Semi-Submarine Ride that let you come face-to-face with the marine world without having to enter the water at all.
  • Souvenir Shopping: Shopping in Andaman is often limited to Port Blair. Small shops dot the main roads in several areas, offering trinkets made of bamboo, seashells and the local mahua wood. Sagarika is the largest government-run handicraft store in Andaman.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • Weather: Port Blair 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. Port Blair being situated at a slightly elevated area, experiences a slightly lower temperature (by a degree or so) as compared to the other islands.
  • Currency: Like the rest of the island in Andaman, the Indian Rupee is the currency used. Port Blair has the most number of ATM’s and institutions (Banks and private companies). Exchanging currency and withdrawing money is thus most convenient in Port Blair.
    Centres for currency exchange:

    • State Bank Of India – Fill up a form and show your passport. The currency exchange rates are decided by the RBI
    • Island Tours and Travels – 5% above the exchange rate is charged. The advantage is you get to skip the queue.
  • Communication and Internet: Satellite broadband powers Internet connections in Port Blair. Since Optical fibre cables have not arrived here yet, Internet is a slow and expensive luxury in the islands. Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels do provide WiFi facility but this is often disrupted or extremely slow.As phone connectivity, BSNL and Vodafone are the two most reliable service providers. If you are looking to invest in a local number, buy a BSNL sim card (available in Port Blair and Havelock mostly)
  • Healthcare: Government Hospitals in the Andaman Islands provide free healthcare for all. Head to the G. B. Pant Hospital (03192 0 232102) for any treatment and medicines. Port Blair also has a couple of private medical centers that are often less crowded and best for speciality care, Apollo Clinic (03192 – 233550) and Chakroborty Hospital (9932084868) are best known in the island.
  • 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 a case of emergency you can get in touch with them on the following numbers:
    • Police: 100 (24×7) Toll-Free
    • Fire Control: 101 Toll-Free
    • Women in Distress: 1091, 1144
  • Supermarkets and Bazaars: Port Blair has the maximum and most developed markets and bazaars. Though not very fancy, all necessary items are available:
    • Fruits and vegetables: The Sunday market (5 am to 12 pm) that lines the junglighat jetty is the best place to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. Else, fruit and vegetable shops are situated on the Gandhi Market. They are open on all days.
    • Hardware, electronics, groceries, and spices: The Ratnam market is a cluster of small wholesale and retail shops.
    • Large departmental stores: These are the most comfortable and modern way of shopping in Port Blair. You will find everything from cosmetics to medicines and packed food to milk, bread and other daily necessities here. Mubarak hypermarket (03192 244 245) is the best known supermarket.
    • Clothing and apparels: Most clothing shops are owned by the locals in Port Blair; Goenkas (9734482382) being the most famous of the lot. Some branded clothing shops like FabIndia and Raymonds have also now opened outlets in Port Blair.
  • Language: Port Blair is the melting pot of many religions, cultures, and linguistic groups and like the rest of the country Hindi and English are the most commonly spoken languages here. Tamil, Bengali, and Telugu come next in line.If you know either English or Hindi – getting around in Port Blair should not be a problem.
  • Airport and Port Facilities: Port Blair is home to the only airport of the islands – the Veer Savarkar International Airport (03192 – 235619). Direct flights to/fro Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bhubaneswar, and Bangalore (on and off) are available.Port Blair has 3 main Ports aka jetties:
    • Phoenix Bay Jetty (03192 – 245555) – connects Port Blair to Havelock, Neil, and Rangat. All private ferries leave from here.
    • Aberdeen Jetty connects Port Blair to Ross island, North Bay beach, and Viper island.
    • Haddo Jetty connects Port Blair to long distance islands like little Andaman and Nicobar.

HOW TO REACH PORT BLAIR

Taking a flight to Port Blair
Flights to Port Blair

Andaman, being an island, is accessible in only two ways – By air or by sea. Flights are certainly faster, more comfortable and therefore the preferred option. Ships, although seem cheaper, are general passenger ships and are more troublesome than they might seem. However, we do recommend a journey on a ship for the experience of a voyage on the sea; it’s an unusual adventure in itself.

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

HOW LONG TO GO FOR

Ride by the sea – Port Blair Bay

Tourists looking to explore the popular site seeing destination generally stay Two Nights. Night of arrival and Night before departure. They usually leave for Havelock, Neil, Mayabundar or other popular islands. If Going to Baratang, one can extend a night’s stay.

WHAT WILL IT COST

Port Blair offers the widest range of hotels, and restaurants to suit a variety of travel budgets.

Budget travellers looking for basic accommodation can find rooms starting from INR 800 to INR 1100 a night. Slightly more luxurious rooms with AC and better infrastructure cost INR 2800 to INR 3500 on an average. Sea facing luxury rooms generally cost 6500 and above.

Small restaurants line the Bazaar area. A meal in the island costs between INR 80 to INR 200 per person. Pricier restaurants would cost you anywhere between INR 250 to INR 500 per person (No drinks included).

GETTING AROUND IN PORT BLAIR

When compared to its neighbouring islands, Port Blair is the trickiest in directions. Families are groups often prefer car rentals. For those who prefer budget friendly options, autos rides or scooter rentals are suggested.

Although the buses here can be trusted for their functionality, they are often crowded and it’s a little difficult to understand the bus routes on the island.

TRANSFERS – PORT BLAIR TO OTHER ISLANDS

MV Makruzz
MV Makruzz

Port Blair is the only island in Andaman that is connected to all other islands that can be visited by tourists.

Transfers between islands are possible in four ways:

  • By Private ferries: They connect only Port Blair, Havelock, and Neil island. A one-way trip takes about 60 minutes to 90 minutes to reach the respective islands. The kinds of cruises available are Makruzz, Coastal Cruise, Green Ocean and Makruzz Gold. These ferries run on a daily basis providing easy accessibility to the islands. Book ferries here.
  • Government Ferries: These connect Port Blair to Havelock, Neil, Little Andaman, Diglipur and Nicobar (not accessible to tourists).
  • Helicopter: Port Blair is connected to Havelock, Diglipur, Hutbay in Little Andaman and Neil Island.
  • By Road: Only North Andaman that consists of Baratang, Rangat, Mayabunadar, and Diglipur are connected by the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) from Port Blair.

WHAT TO SEE IN PORT BLAIR

Anthropological Museum at Port Blair
Anthropological Museum at Port Blair

Sightseeing in Port Blair is dominated by historical sites and museums. A few beautiful beaches exist but mostly outside the city.

The most popular places to visit are:

Top Port Blair sightseeing trips

THINGS TO DO IN PORT BLAIR

Cruise in MV Island Explorer
Cruise in MV Island Explorer

What is best about the islands in Andaman is that they all have very different activities to offer. While Havelock is best for water activities, Port Blair is great for photography, and bird watching. Those interested in history and anthropology can spend an interesting day exploring the city’s many museums. Most activities in Port Blair are recommended for families travelling with both kids and senior citizens.

Top activities in Port Blair

For those who want to try Scuba Diving near Port Blair, Infiniti scuba and Laca dives are suggested. Karen tribal homestay is an incredibly different trip available from Port Blair. This is a 2N/3D experience.

RESTAURANTS IN PORT BLAIR

Being the capital of the Andaman Islands, almost all kinds of food is available in Port Blair. Romantic candle-light dinners are extremely popular among honeymooners and Sinclair’s Bay View Restaurant, TSG Emerald’s Ruchi, and Fortune Resort’s Mandalay are popular for fine-dining.

For those looking to satiate their seafood cravings, the New Light House Restaurant has been making waves among all its diners. Port Blair also has some great vegetarian restaurants to boast about. Authentic South Indian food at reasonable prices is what Kattabomman does best. For a more fine dining (though not very) experience try Icy Spicy or Annapurna.

HOTELS IN PORTBLAIR

Luxury Hotel - Sea Shell, Port Blair
Luxury Hotel – Sea Shell, Port Blair

Port Blair has accommodation options to suit all tastes. From affordable and basic lodges to premium, luxury hotels, there is something for every traveller. Every year, more and more hotels are popping up and tourist facilities are booming. Prices almost always vary in peak and low season.

Related links– Stay in Port Blair – Book Port Blair Hotels

NIGHTLIFE IN PORT BLAIR

Watch the city skyscape by the night
Watch the city skyscape by the night

Although there aren’t many options for an electric nightlife in Port Blair, you can enjoy spending your nights like a local. Head out to Seashells Hotel or Nico Bar and have a gala time revelling in the live music or spend a romantic evening with your special one on the ANIIDCO floating restaurant. There are no real clubs or discos in the island but you can grab yourself a couple of beers and head to the beach or just choose to spend a quiet evening in the serenity of your island.

WHAT TO LOOKOUT FOR

If you are expecting a sea facing stay in Port Blair you may be disappointed. Port Blair has few sea-facing/beach-front hotels. All these properties are usually above the budget of INR 6000 per night. Namely Sinclairs, Fortune Resort, Sea shell and Peerless Inn Portico. Sea view residency – A Homestay in Haddo is one out of the few mid-budget sea-facing properties.

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