Home to scenic landscapes, gorgeous sunsets, golden beaches and one of the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world, the Andamans is an archipelago of over 570 tropical islands, of which only 36 are inhabited.With a profusion of wildlife and verdant forests, the islands are a naturelover’s paradise. Be it a lazy afternoon on a hammock on Asia’s best beach, an array of thrilling water sports or a strenuous trek on a challenging-yet-scenic terrain—your Andamans visit is likely to be packed with a range of interesting experiences. One can never get enough of the aqua marine sea and the breezy beaches of the Andamans, but if you want to pack in some action, the island has a number of interesting sightseeing options. History, adventure and culture converge here, to make a wholesome holiday. Here are the top picks for travellers who are looking for something other than the beaches.
Cellular Jail National Memorial
A reminder of India’s sombre history of colonial rule comes alive in the Cellular Jail National Memorial at Port Blair. A former jail (also known as kala pani) where many Indian freedom fighters were housed and killed, is a peek into the country’s history.
Wandoor & Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Head about 30 km outside Port Blair to Wandoor, the hotspot for exotic marine sightings and a base for the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park.
Chatham Saw Mill
Established in 1836, one of Asia’s largest saw mills was set up by the Britishers on Chatham Island. The mill is still functional even to this day. This is a good pit-stop for those who’re interested in learning a little about the history and economy of the Andamans.
Even if anthropology is not your choice of subject on a holiday, this museum cannot be given a miss. The exhibits might be slightly old and dusty, but they give a great insight into the indigenous cultures of the islands.
The explorer in you will be enthralled by this massive adventure park, replete with caves, a turtle nesting site and the highest peak of Andamans in Diglipur—all in all, the trek to the north is worth your while.
Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Port Blair
Corbyn’s cove doesn’t really qualify as a lazy enticing beach amidst the many that you will find in the Andamans, but it does offer a welcome relief from Port Blair’s city life.
Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
The Radhanagar beach has won many accolades in the travel world—an evening of sunset watching here and you will understand why. A sprawling, flat, soft bed of sand, it can accommodate hundreds of people during high season.
One of the most coveted and isolated sandy spots, Elephant beach is a pit stop for snorkelers. You’ll need to take a boat to get here, but once you arrive, expect pristine water and untouched white sand.
Long Island Beach
An unspoiled magical island in the Andamans, Long Island beach is strictly for the intrepid. A couple of restaurants and a paltry local population make this island less touristy, which is good news if you’re looking for some isolated spots to yourself.
Ross and Smith Island Beach
A boat ride of 25 minutes off Diglipur gets you to the serene twin islands called Ross and Smith. The beaches here promise uncluttered vistas and soft waves sweep up along the shore.
Lalaji Bay Beach, Long Island
For an unhurried experience, visit Lalaji Bay beach in Long Island. If nothing else, you are bound to see dolphins leaping up out of the sea. The beach lies six km from the main jetty, and can be reached by a short hike or small dinghies.
Wandoor is one of the closest beaches with tourist access, since it lies in Port Blair. Expect a splash of colour during high season, with tourists dotting the pale sand. Boats to Jolly Buoy Island leave from here.
Aamkunj Beach, Rangat
The Aamkunj beach in Rangat is known as a popular turtle nesting ground. So if you are a keen environmental enthusiast, this is the place you should be heading.
Avis and Karmatung beaches in Mayabunder are situated in the north part of Middle Andaman. Relatively quiet, you will not find the buzz of Havelock here—which is a blessing if you want to avoid the tourist clutter.
Casurina Beach, Diglipur
Diglipur is the main base camp for those who want to hike up to Saddle Peak in the Andaman Islands. An added advantage of this long trip from Port Blair (300 km by road), is that you can relax by the Casurina beach here. It can be hours before you will bump into anyone.