To the east of the Indian mainland, in the blues of the Bay of Bengal, floats the splendid group of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 1,367 km from Chennai and 1,304 km from Kolkata, what were once graveyards of martyrs has now transformed into one of India’s best tourist spots.
Once a hill range extending form Myanmar to Indonesia, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands today are a group of 572 near deserted-islands, islets (small islands) and rocks. Its majestic forests and exotic flora and fauna take your breath away. More than 86% of the islands’ area is under forest cover, home to animals like the spotted deer, wild boar, gecko, crab-eating macaque and pythons. Its glistening white beaches are also nesting homes to a variety of sea turtles.
The jewel in the crown, however, is the marine life here. The elegance of the crystal clear blue waters, incredible corals and the myriad creatures that inhabit the ocean leave you spellbound. Exploring the marine life first-hand through activities like scuba diving and fishing guarantee an enriching experience of coming just an inch closer to nature.
The capital city of Port Blair houses the majority of mainland settlers on the island today. Prior to colonial rule, however, the Andaman and Nicobar islands were home to indigenous tribes, some of who still populate pockets of the archipelago.
History of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The history of Andamans is still a mystery to many. No one actually knows when and how the first inhabitants came to the island. The earliest archeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years. However, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andaman people may have been isolated from other populations since the middle Paleolithic (old stone age). In that time, the Andamanese may have diversified into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups, now known as tribes.
The first empire to list the Andamans under its territory was the Maratha Empire. Rajendra Chola, one of the Chola dynasty kings, conquered the Andaman & Nicobar islands to use it as its strategic navy base against the Sriwijaya empire (located in Indonesia). They called the Andaman & Nicobar islands Tinmaittivu or the impure islands.
A major chunk of the known history, however, dates back to the post-colonial period. The history of organized European colonization began when the Danish settlers of the Danish east India company arrived at the Nicobar islands on 12 December 1755. On 1 January 1756, the Nicobar Islands were made a Danish colony, first named New Denmark. But this colony did not last very long as most of the empire was wiped out because of the outbreaks of Malaria by 1848. It was only the British who can then be called the true colonizers of the Andaman & Nicobar island.
In 1789, the British established their colony in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. But, the island was abandoned by the British in 1796; yet, the British resumed control over Andamans in the 19th century. During the 19th century as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands history maintains, the British used Andaman and Nicobar as a penal colony, which was named ‘Kalapani‘ or the Cellular Jail. The history of Andaman & Nicobar Islands proves that criminals convicted of crime against the East India Company were sent to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with a life sentence: the convicts were forced to live in exile in the Kalapani.
But, with the end of the British rule, i. e. after the Indian Independence, the ‘Kalapani’ gave way to a conglomeration of beautiful islands. It was in 1947 that Andaman & Nicobar Islands formed a part of the India Union. Today, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is among the seven union territories of India.
There are still a few places of historical importance that tourists can visit in the Andamans –
Demography of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Hundreds of islands make up the Andaman and Nicobar Islands but only a few of them are inhabited. Roughly 24 of the 300 Andaman Islands support human settlements, while only 12 of the Nicobar Islands are populated.
Most of the population of the Andamans is that of immigrants from South Asia and their descendants. Most speak Hindi or Bengali, but Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam also are common.
However, the true locals of the isles are the indigenous inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, the 4 remaining tribes. The Andamanese, historically comprised small isolated groups—all speaking dialects of the Andamanese language. The bow and dog were used for hunting, but they knew no method of making fire. Turtles, dugongs, and fish were caught with nets or harpoons. The remoteness of the Andamanese and their general hostility toward foreigners prevented major cultural change until the mid-20th century. Few indigenous tribes survive today, most groups having been decimated by disease following their encounter with Europeans, Indians, and other outsiders and the ones that remain, follow the ways of their ancestors.
The indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar Islands, the Nicobarese continue to constitute the majority of the population of the Nicobar. They are of Malay origin, i.e. having migrated from south East Asia thousands of years ago.
Apart from the indigenous population, there are great numbers of Tamilians, Bengalis and other people from all over the Indian mainland that live in both Andaman and Nicobar islands. While some are families of freedom fighters and convicts brought by the British to the islands, many came during the 1960s and ’70s in conjunction with the Indian government’s program to develop the region’s agriculture.
More than two-thirds of the people of the Andaman Islands are Hindu; Christians make up about one-fifth of the population and Muslims less than one-tenth. Many Nicobarese are Christian, although some communities practice local religions or have adopted Hinduism, which is prevalent throughout the region.
Flora and Fauna in The Andamans
The Andamans are home to some of the richest varieties of flora and fauna, with 86% of the Andaman & Nicobar islands covered in primary tropical rain-forests. Of the 2000 plus species of plants that grow on the Andaman & Nicobar islands, at least 1,300 are exclusive and not found in mainland India.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands are home to nine national parks and nearly a hundred marine and wildlife sanctuaries that offer extraordinary experiences and diverse ecosystems. Interview island, 3 hours off Mayabunder, houses the largest wildlife sanctuary in the Andamans. The Landfall Island Wildlife Sanctuary is great for spotting wildlife in their natural habitats and is popular for its water sports. Mount Harriet National Park offers some of the richest butterfly diversity in the world and the Andaman islands are home to some of the largest butterflies globally.
The Andamans are also a bird watching hot spot with at least 240 species of birds found here. The state bird of Andaman – the Andaman wood pigeon, the Narcondam hornbill found exclusively in the Narcondam islands, the Andaman scop’s owl, the blue-eared kingfisher and the fulvous breasted woodpecker can be spotted extensively here. At least two species of wild boars, feral elephants, four species of sea turtles and wild salt-water crocodiles make the Andaman islands a wildlife hotspot.
Any mention of the Andaman & Nicobar islands would not be complete without a nod to the crown jewel – its marine life. Crystal clear waters and exotic corals are the biggest crowd pullers. The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park just outside of Port Blair offers ecotourism experiences in Jolly Buoy island as well as Red Skin (the alternative when Jolly Buoy is closed). Owing to its endless coast, the islands also offer an interesting variety of seashells and have become part of the island’s lifeline. These colourful and natural sea shells (once even served as money) are now used as ornaments, souvenirs, in local cottage industries and even as musical instruments.
The sheer variety and diversity of lifeforms and ecosystems in the Andamans is what draws nature lovers, photographers and ecology enthusiasts to it day after day, year after year.
Geography of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Located between 6° and 14° North Latitude and 92° and 94° East Longitude lie the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory in India. It consists of two groups of islands. The islands located north of 10° north latitude are known as Andaman while islands located south of 10° north latitude are called Nicobar.
More than 300 islands make up the Andaman Islands. North, Middle, and South Andaman, known collectively as Great Andaman, are the main islands; others include Landfall Island, Interview Island, the Sentinel Islands (where the Sentinelese tribes live), Ritchie’s Archipelago, and Rutland Island.
The 10 degree channel which is about 145 kms long seperates Little Andaman in the south from the Nicobar Islands.
The Nicobar Islands consist of 19 islands. Among the most prominent are Car Nicobar in the north; Camorta, Katchall, and Nancowry in the centre of the chain; and Great Nicobarin the south. About 90 miles to the southwest of Great Nicobar lies the northwestern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Both the Andaman and Nicobar Islands groups are formed by the above-sea extensions of submarine ridges of mountains and are a part of a great island arc. The highest peak is 2,418 feet at Saddle Peak on North Andaman, followed by Mount Thullier at 2,106 feet on Great Nicobar and Mount Harriet at 1,197 feet on South Andaman. Barren island, the only known active Volcano in south asia lies in the Andaman sea. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, there were volcanic eruptions on Barren Island.
Formed of sandstone, limestone, and shale of Cenozoic age (i.e., formed during the past 65 million years), the terrain of the Andamans is rough, with hills and narrow longitudinal valleys. Flat land is scarce and is confined to a few valleys, such as the Betapur on Middle Andaman and Diglipur on North Andaman. Perennial rivers are few.
The terrain of the Nicobar is more diverse than that of the Andamans. Some of the Nicobar Islands, such as Car Nicobar, have flat coral-covered surfaces with offshore coral formations that prevent most ships from anchoring. Other islands, such as Great Nicobar, are hilly and contain numerous fast-flowing streams. Great Nicobar is the only island in the territory with a significant amount of fresh surface water.
The climate of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands is tropical but is moderated by sea breezes. Temperatures typically rise from about 23 °C into about 30 °C. The territory receives roughly about 120 inches of rain annually, brought mainly by the southwest monsoon, which blows from May through September, and by the tropical cyclones that follow in October and November.
How To Reach Andamans
Snuggled in the Indian Ocean, the Andamans are a paradise on earth. This region is dotted with pristine beaches combined with a colonial past. Andamans flaunt a total of 572 islands, out of which only a few are inhabited.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a part of the Indian subcontinent. Hence there is no travel restriction for Indian tourists. It is very similar to travelling to any other state in our country. There is no requirement for passport, visa or any other permission. You can stay in permitted areas as long as you wish for.
For foreign tourists, a passport is required along with their Indian visa. NO Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required anymore for most foreign nationals. Citizens of Afghanistan, Myanmar, China and Pakistan would continue to require the Restricted Area Permit. In such cases, the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) would be granted only if the foreign tourists has obtained prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs
The capital city of Port Blair is well connected to mainland India by air and water. The quickest way is to take a flight from major Indian cities. There are direct flights from Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Vizag. The travel time is around 2.5 to 4 hours. For the rest of the country, you will get many hopping flights or ‘one-stop’ options.
Another way is to sail from the ports of Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakhapatnam. The ships are operated by the Indian Government and the voyage takes around 3 to 4 days. Haddo Wharf is the main sea-port at Port Blair. Every month, 3 to 4 sailing takes place from Chennai and Kolkata and only 1 sailing takes place from Visakhapatnam. Kindly note, the ships are not cruise liners and do not have entertainment options. Also, online booking is not available and it can only be done from the Shipping Corporation Offices in Chennai, Vizag and Kolkata.
Where to travel from?
The quickest way to reach the Andamans is by boarding a flight from mainland India. Direct flights operate from Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Vizag. Connecting flights are available from all other destinations around the country. No international ship or flight services exist in the Andamans as of now. However, the Indian Government has turned Veer Savarkar Airport as an official immigration check post so that non-natives can enter and exit directly from there.
Getting to Andaman by air
Veer Savarkar is the only commercial airport in the Andamans located in the capital city of Port Blair. Domestic flight services namely Indigo Airlines, Air India, Indian Airlines, Spice Jet, Go Air and Vistara have daily flights from major Indian cities. Book a flight in advance to get a good deal on the ticket price.
You have to board a flight from Kolkata and Chennai to reach the Andamans within 2.5 to 3 hours. The longest travel time is from Delhi which takes around 5 hours. In case, you are taking a flight from anywhere else around India, you will have a layover or a hopping flight.
Pro-tip: Take an early morning flight so that you can utilise the rest of the day.
How to travel to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Sea?
Another (but not suggested) way to get to the Andamans is by sea. Haddo Wharf is the main port located in Port Blair. Ships sail from Kolkata and Chennai three to four times a month and only once from Vishakhapatnam. The approximate travel time is 3 to 4 days (50 – 60 hours)
The ships sailing between the Andamans and mainland India are passenger ships and not cruise ships. So, they have a limited choice of food and no entertainment options. Sea-sickness is also common especially if tourists are travelling between May and October. We recommend travelling by ship only if you want to experience an unusual adventure amidst the blue sea for 3 to 4 days. Also note, the booking process is time-consuming and tickets can only be made from the Tickets Corporation Offices in Chennai, Calcutta and Visakhapatnam.
Click to know more about Travel to Andaman & Nicobar Islands by Sea.
Getting to Port Blair
The best way to reach Port Blair is by taking a flight from Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. Time taken is around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Getting to Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep)
Havelock is one of Andaman’s crowning jewels. It is a slice of paradise wrapped in vibrant corals, blue waters and fine powdery sand. This region is also known for its thrilling water sports, starting from scuba diving to snorkelling, jet-skiing and what not. A walk along the pristine coastline is the best way to soak up the charm of Havelock. It also hosts the astounding Radhanagar Beach, which is titled as the best beach in Asia.
Private and government ferries operate daily between Port Blair and Havelock as well as Neil and Havelock. The air-conditioned private ferries take just 1.5 hours from Port Blair and 1 hour from Neil Island. When it comes to the Government ferries, they are slow and booking needs to be made 4 days in advance. They usually cater to the locals and are not as reliable as their private counterparts.
The private ferries have a hassle-free booking process and offer the fastest way to commute between islands. Hence, it is advisable to opt for private ferries as a tourist. Helicopter services are not available for tourists. They usually cater to the local people and emergencies on the island.
Getting to Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep)
Neil Island or Shaheed Dweep is a tranquil piece of land nestled in the Andaman Archipelago. It features a lush green landscape packed with fields and coconut palms. The sublime beaches swathed in turquoise blue waters create a picturesque frame in mind and offer immense photography opportunities. If you are the kind of person who fantasizes tropical island, this is the place to be.
The easiest way to reach Neil Island is by hopping on a government or a private ferry. Again, opting for the private ferry is a better and easy option. Even the bookings can be made online in advance. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Port Blair and about 1 hour from Havelock.
Getting to North Andaman (Baratang, Rangat, Mayabundar and Diglipur)
One of Andaman’s best-kept secrets, North Andaman is a slice of heaven on Earth. This region is known for its virgin beauty and is often characterized by lush forests, pristine beaches and turtle nesting sites. Places in North Andaman include Rangat, Baratang, Diglipur and Mayabunder. Tourists usually go on a day trip to Baratang to witness the Limestone Cave and the Mud Volcanoes. No wonder, North Andaman is one of the most magical locations that will allow you to reconnect with the poet within yourself.
Only government ferries ply in North Andaman. Please know your ferry schedules before the trip. You get to know the schedules for only 4 days in advance. Ferries sail almost every day to Baratang, Rangat and Diglipur. However, ferries operate once in 5 days to Mayabunder. The most common option is however to travel by road. Private and government buses, as well as chauffeured car services, are available for the same. Please note, hiring a car is a costly affair when it comes to travelling to Diglipur. This is a 6 to 8-day journey. But if you enjoy road trips, this trip is highly recommended in the Andamans.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I take sea-planes around Andaman?
Sea-planes are not functional in Andamans as of now. These were extremely popular in the past but for the last 3 years, their services were stopped. We do not know when sea-planes will be operational in the future.
- Can I take helicopters around Andaman?
Helicopter services are available around Andaman. But tickets are not available for tourists. Click here for details
- Which one is better – government or private ferries?
Private ferries are ideal for tourists if they are travelling between Port Blair, Havelock and Neil. They are super fast and also offer hassle-free booking. If you are looking for an affordable option, opt for Government ferries which have their charm and allow you to interact with the locals. In case you are hard-pressed for time, private ferries are what we suggest. For more details about ferry services in Andamans, please click here.
- How to book ferries?
For ferry bookings, kindly
VISA Entry Formalities for Andamans
Indian nationals need no permit to visit the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. However, visiting tribal areas in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is prohibited.
All foreign nationals require a permit to visit the Andaman Nicobar Islands, which is easily available on arrival at Port Blair by flight or ship from the Immigration Authorities for 30 days. This is extendable for another 15 days with permission. The delegated authority to extend permission is the Superintendent of Police, Andaman District-Port Blair. The Restricted Area Permit can also be obtained from the Indian Missions overseas and also from the Foreigners Registration offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and from the Immigration Authorities at the Airports of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
Places covered under Restricted Area Permit:
For day & night visits:
- Entire Island of Middle Andaman, excluding tribal reserve.
- All islands of Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park except Boat, Hobday, Twin Islands, Tarmugli, Malay & Pluto. (Night halt in these island are subject to special permission from Administration)
- Entire Island of South Andaman, excluding tribal reserve.
- Baratang Island.
- North Passage Island.
- Little Andaman Islands, excluding the tribal reserve.
For day visit only:
- Ross Island
- Naracondam Island
- Interview Island
- Brother Island
- Sister Island
- Barren Island (Live Volcano) – restricted to visit on-board vessels only, with no landing ashore.
Map of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Tourists FAQs about Andaman and Nicobar Islands
1. Do I need a passport/visa to go to Andaman?
For Indians: No passport/visa/permission is required. They can stay in permitted areas for as long as they want.
For Foreigners: A passport is required with an Indian Visa to enter India. This is also applicable to foreigners entering Andamans directly from a charter/private yachts. Additionally, a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is also required which can be availed on arrival to Port Blair from the Immigration counter at the airport or, embarkation of ships at the sea-port. RAP is issued for a 30 day visit to the Andaman & Nicobar islands, and is extendable up to 15 more days. Tickets can be rescheduled in Port Blair itself from the respective airline offices.
2. How do I obtain a visa to Andaman?
Andaman is a part of India. Thus, a visa for India is valid for the Andaman and Nicobar islands as well and is required for most foreign nationals. The visas are obtainable at the Indian missions, consulates and high commissions overseas. They are valid for the period issued and range from a 15 day period to up to a six month period for tourists. They are valid from the date of issue and it is wise to start travel as soon as the visa is obtained to take advantage of the entire period of visa validity. Once obtained, visas can be extended in India.
3. What is a RAP?
Under the Foreigners (Restricted) Areas Order, 1963, the entire union territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands has been declared as a ‘restricted area’. Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a Protected or Restricted Area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority, known as RAP or Restricted area permit. The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is easily obtained on arrival at Port Blair. The procedure usually takes 15 minutes, is free of cost and is available to all foreign nationals.
It has recently been brought to our notice that some Indian Visas issued carry a stamp that reads “Entry to restricted areas NOT permitted”. Should your Visa carry such a stamp, please contact the embassy and have the visa re-issued as you will not be allowed to enter the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
4. How do I extend my visa in Andaman Islands?
Most foreigners arriving at Port Blair are given a 30 day permit. Closer to the time of expiry (about 3 days ahead) this permit can be extended by another 15 days. This extension can be done either at the police station on Havelock island or at the Immigration Office in Port Blair, and you will need to show a confirmed return ticket (for the journey within the next 15 days) in order to get this extension. Please note that it may not always be possible to get this extension in a few hours and you may need to stay overnight to obtain the extension if you are applying in Port Blair.
It is rare that tourists are given less than 30 days on the permit. However it does happen to a few and it is recommended that you check the expiry of the RAP when the official hands it to you just in case it has been given only for a few days.Diplomats are usually not given the full 30 days and usually get between a week and 15 days.
5. Where are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a group of 572 islands located in the Bay of Bengal. It is around 1000 miles away from the Indian subcontinent down South-East.
6. How do I get to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
7. How long does it take to reach Andamans?
A flight from Kolkata/Chennai takes two hours, while the one from Delhi takes about five hours. Ships take as long as 50 hours (3-4 days roughly).
8. What is the best time to holiday in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands?
We believe holidaying in the Andamans can be done throughout the year – in summers/monsoon (no winter season there). However, tourist inflow is maximum during October to May. More info on best time to visit andaman.
9. Can I visit any island of my choice in Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
There are only 32 inhabited islands in a total of 572 islands. Tourists are permitted only in a list of islands. You can see the list here.
10. Andaman Islands is an Indian territory. So do I use Indian Currency?
Yes. Indian Rupee is used in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. You can exchange currency at the airport, from the banks or currency dealers. Also, you can withdraw Indian Rupees from the ATMs there.
11. Is is safe/secure to travel to the Andamans?
The quantum of tourist inflow to the Andaman & Nicobar islands is a testimony of how safe tourists feel in the islands. These islands are one of the safest places to live/travel in the country.
12. Will I find vegetarian food in Andaman?
Andaman is not known for its vegetarian cuisine but with the inflow of tourists, vegetarian food has become easily available. So YES, if you are a vegetarian travelling to the Andamans, you need not worry. In fact, there are a few vegetarian restaurants we recommend. You can see one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in Port Blair here.
13. Can I make international calls and access the internet while in Andaman Islands?
International dialing is available from most major hotels and ISTD booths in the markets. To make an international call, dial 00 followed by the Country Code followed by the Area Code followed by the Phone Number. Services tend to be reliable.
Internet is available, though not as widely as in many other tourist areas and the connection is reputed to be very slow, but there is hope that things will improve in the next season. Roaming mobile signal is available in Port Blair but may be erratic on other islands. If you are planning to buy a new SIM card, we suggest you opt for BSNL as it has the best connectivity on the Andaman & Nicobar islands.
14. What festivals do the local population celebrate in the Andamans?
Given the fact that the Andamans has a mix of different religions, almost all festivals celebrated in mainland India including but not limited to Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Eid and Easter are celebrated here. However, the biggest festival here is the ‘Durga Pooja’ due to the number of Bengalis on the Andaman & Nicobar islands.
15. What type of behaviour & etiquette can I expect from the locals on the main Andaman Islands?
The Andamans are a very relaxed place so the rules are simple as well. Act with respect and decorum, dress appropriately (especially away from the beach), and as anywhere, always ask permission before taking photographs of the local population. A beach destination does not mean that the locals are used to seeing women in revealing
A beach destination does not mean that the locals are used to seeing women in revealing swimwear. Please be sensitive to the traditions of the locals and cover up when in areas where locals are present like jetty areas and village markets.
Having said that, we would like to stress that the Andamans is a remote place and although the people are casual, one should not expect the kind of comfort or the level of service that is expected of a hotel/resort in mainland India.
16. What is the electricity supply in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands?
All of India has standard 220 Volts with sockets mixed between 3 round pins. While some sockets also take the two round pin plugs, to avoid confusion or disappointment, we suggest guests bring at least one travel adapter.
17.What is the religious stance in the Andamans?
India has a very mixed religious history and a reputation for religious tolerance. Hinduism is by far the most popular religion in the Andaman & Nicobar islands followed by Christianity and then Islam. Other religions that make up the total include Sikhism and Buddhism.
Even in the Andaman Islands, there is quite a large mix, and while the Hindu festivals are the most celebrated ones, around Christmas time you will see small processions with Santa Claus’ and followers.
18. What should I carry?
The usual personal effects along with clothes. Make sure you have personal accessories suited to the appropriate voltage. It is 220V in India. Carry prescriptions of medications and spectacles.
Make sure you have the International drivers license if you wish to drive. Carry enough local currency equivalent to $100 worth at all times to pay for local services. Make sure your documents including cash, passport and credit cards and tickets are secure and keep a copy with you at all times.
19. How should I carry money?
Preferably carry travellers cheques and cash in Indian currency up to $100 at all times to pay for local services. Credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, Amex are also widely accepted in Andaman.
20. Are credit cards safe and useful to carry ?
Yes. Using credit cards to withdraw cash is available at quite a few places in Andaman.
21. What is the position regarding use of drugs in the Andamans?
Drugs are absolutely illegal in Andaman & Nicobar islands with severe penalties if caught in possession of even minute quantities.
22. What time zone do the Andaman & Nicobar Islands lie in?
The whole of India falls under the same time zone so the local time is GMT + 5Â½ hours throughout the country, all year round. The Andamans are much closer to Thailand than India which means life in the Andamans happens a little bit earlier in the day, to make use of the day light hours.
23. Is there a postal service?
Indian postal services, in general, have a very good reputation, domestically and internationally. However, in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the postal service is not reliable and there have been many instances of parcels and letters not reaching their destination. Hence, it is advised to use postal services on mainland India rather than the postal services in Andamans.
24. What can I do in Port Blair?
Port Blair is the capital city of the Andamans and is of immense historical importance. There are many sights that are to be seen here and most do not require you to hire a guide. You can view a list of the places here (do in Port Blair). The ones we recommend have been marked.
25. Is there any nightlife in Andamans?
Although many hotels in Port Blair and other developed islands have hotels and resorts that offer a bar, the night life concept has not really caught on in these islands. You will not encounter loud music, disco lights or parties here on a regular basis. Nights are usually quiet and most people get to bed soon to wake early and make maximum use of the day light hours.
An exception however is during Christmas and New Year on popular tourist islands like Havelock and Neil where you will find parties going late into the night, loud music and a lot of dancing.
26. Is imported alcohol available on the Andaman Islands?
Although alcohol is available in Andaman & Nicobar islands, availability of imported alcohol is extremely limited. Except for a few IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) bottles, the alcohol availability is restricted to mostly Indian brands. Black Label, Black & White, Bacardi, Smirnoff and Kingfisher beer are some of the brands that are available easily.
27. How expensive are meals in Andaman?
The price of a meal depends entirely on where you eat and what you order. A nice quaint restaurant will cost you between Rs.300 to Rs.500 per person depending on what is ordered. Eating at the local village market will be much cheaper and most Andaman islands have a number of small eateries run by locals that work out easy on the pocket.
Sea food is more expensive in the Andamans compared to the mainland due to heavy demand and less supply.
28. What do I do in case of a medical emergency?
Most Andaman Islands have a Primary Health Centre (PHC); However, services here can be limited and poor. It is advisable to go to the nearest PHC first for immediate assistance and as soon as possible, move to the G.B Pant hospital in Port Blair which is better equipped.
However at this hospital too, the treatment facilities are not what can be expected in mainland India and for any condition that could be serious, life threatening or needing special care, it is advised to fly to mainland India.
29. Are there any dangerous animals in the Andamans?
As such there are no dangerous predatory animals in the forests of the Andamans. So do not come here expecting to see tigers or lions. The forests here are inhabited by animals like wild boar, spotted deer, civet cat as well as numerous species of birds and butterflies. The vast forest canopy provides home to many different species of reptiles as well. Snakes both poisonous and harmless can be seen in the Andamans.
Monitor lizards too inhabit these islands and the mangrove creeks provide shelter to ‘salties’ or salt water crocodiles.
Tourists are advised to pay attention to sign boards posted on beaches as well as watch their step if walking through dense jungle or mangrove areas.