Andaman and Nicobar is a unique tourist destination not because it is dwelling on islands, but being a home of islands it has managed to keep its variety and cultural heritage in check. There are several places to visit in Andaman and Nicobar Island. The main reason are the tribals who still remain aloof and untouched from the rest of the civilised world and secondly, the natural wilderness that surrounds these islands like Ozone layer. Visiting these islands and one can very well relate oneself from Robinson Crusoe. And if one lures for some water adventure then check out the corals and beaches over here. As much isolated they seem at first sight, they are the least explored and unspoilt water beauties of these islands.
Beaches in Andaman and Nicobar Island
Corbyn’s Cove Beach
One of the most picturesque sea-beaches, it is ideal for sea bathing and sun-basking. The Waves Restaurant, the Peerless Resort nearby and the Hornbill Nest Guest House at a stone’s throw, provide a kaleidoscopic view of the blue waterfront.
Radhanagar and Vijaynagar Beach in Havelock are real exposures of unpolluted nature for an environment lover. Vijaynagar beach is just infront of Dolphin Yatri Niwas and Radhanagar beach is 7-km away from Dolphin Yatri Niwas.
Harminder Bay Beach
These beautiful beaches are situated at Hut Bay Island at a distance of 100-km from the city of Port Blair and are connected by Inter Islands shipping services.
Karmatang beach, at turtle nesting ground is being developed as tourist complex. Situated at Mayabunder, northern part of Middle Andaman, 240-km by road and 136-km by boat from Port Blair.
A sandy beach situated at Diglipur Island. It is connected by two daily boat services from Mayabunder and from Port Blair twice a week.
The seas around Andaman and Nicobar islands are some of the most unspoiled. Marine life is abundant and for quick taste of it, one could start by Snorkeling. However, the only way to get really close and venture out deep into waters is to Scuba Dive. The experience of weaving in and out of coral beds, coming eye-to-eye with fishes or swimming with Dolphins and Barracudas is unforgettable.
Adventure In The Pristine Beauty Of Nature
There is no greater adventure than diving. Whether one is a novice, or has been diving for years, there is always s
omething new, fascinating or challenging about venturing into the underwater world. Clouds of colourful fish will mesmerize one’s mind; the mysterious remains of sunken ships will raise one’s curiosity or one’s creativity will be awakened by the art of underwater photography. One’s diving interests may range from a casual pastime pursued on vacation, to a constant passion, or even a career. Diving offers something new for everyone.
Diving in Andamans is a unique lifetime experience. The coastal water surrounding these islands is the abode of one of the richest coral reef ecosystem is the world. The speciality is that, here the coral reefs and underwater formations are undamaged by human activity. The best season for diving is from December to April.
Mysteries Of The Marine World
Many of the islands are surrounded by fringing reefs, often several hundred metres wide and separated from the shore by a lagoon of similar width. There are also more steeply sloping reef walls, and coral pinnacles or knolls. Divers can follow around steeply undulating hills of raven volcanic lava, which makes for some unusual diving. There are plenty of steeply sloping and shallow reefs suitable for snorkeling.
Large Pelagics are plentiful in these waters, as are a variety of sharks. Large schools of hammerhead often patrol the waters away from the reefs and Grey, Whitetip, Nurse and Leopard Sharks are found closer inshore. Silvertip and Ocean Whitetips also sometimes appear out of the deep blue beyond. Enormous manta Rays are also often seen.
Few Dive Sites Near To South Andaman Island/Port Blair: –
One of the best dive destinations in the island, it has clear emerald water with a visibility of upto 80 feet. The deep dive offers a terrific variety of marine life, including Black Coral, sightings of Sharks and is ideal for the experienced diver.
North Point: This site at Cinque Island is mostly highlighted by sponges and small corals and offers good diving because of the abundance and diversity of fish life.
Southeast Reef at Cinque Island is a good site for novices. The southeast part of the reef consists of hard and soft corals and these are very dense on the rocks down to about 16m (53ft.).
Fish Rock near Passage Island offers an extremely colourful dive. The topography consists of rocky slopes, boulders and drop offs, featuring large fan of corals and plenty of sponges. Below 25m, the rocks are covered in small bushy soft corals in numerous hues. Hard corals are not so evident. Grey and Whitetip Reef Sharks are almost always in the vicinity as are Nurse Sharks. Among the rest of the marine life are Eagle Rays. Potato Cod, Large Coral Groupers, Fusiliers, Sweetlips, Turtles, Batfish, Bumphead, Parrotfish, Squirelfish, Curious and friendly Oriental Sweetlips, Surgeonfish, Yellow Tangs, Triggerfish, Tuna, Rainbow Runners and many species of Trevally.
Spreads over 4-5-sq-km and is said to be one of the best sites in the Andamans for coral with vibrant colours.
Corruption Rock sticks out between Chidiyatapu and Rutland Island. The dive site is on the western side of the rock and is made up of big underwater boulders. The corals are not brilliant but the craggy undersea landscape of boulders is stunning.
A fantastic wonderland of gullies, channels, ridges and canyons. Look out for Giant Napoleons and Eagle Rays, Huge Snappers, Schooling Fusiliers, Banner and Unicorn Fish. Dolphins, Tuna and Reef Sharks have also been sighted here.
The shallow waters near to the island have a good representation of smaller fish and coral, and a good place for training open water divers. There is a shipwreck site alsopresent over here.
SNAKE ISLAND OFF CORBYN’S CAVE BEACH
This site offers awesome rock faces and spectacular dive landscape. Marine life includes Trigger Fish Grunts, Goatfish and Rays.
This is located approximately 50-km from Port Blair by inter-island ferry. There is a wide range of largely unexplored dive sites rich in underwater marine life.
Dive Sites Near To The Havelock Island
Mac Point: Mostly hardcorales and their inhabitants are found in Mac Point. Usually in good visibility, Dugangs have been spotted over here.
Aquarium: Aquarium is a fringing reef with lots of ‘fish traffic’. Usually in good visibility, mostly hardcorales are found over here.
Barracuda City: Tons of fish, sometimes turtles, mostly hard and some soft corals. Rather suitable for experienced divers.
Turtle Bay: Turtle Bay is an easy pleasant dive site not exceeding 14m. Rays are found in the sand over here and with Luck Turtles.
Seduction Point: A huge rock with different kind of aquatic life. Napoleons can be seen over here in large numbers. The shallow part is full with Staghorn Corals and its inhabitants.
Lighthouse: Lighthouse is a huge dive site, suitable for any kind of dives. Huge variety of soft and hard corals make this place perfect for night dives.
The Wall: The Wall is a huge submerged rock, which drops down to a maximum of 55m and is full with life. Huge forests of Soft Corals plus schools of Fish circling one, makes it always a memorable dive.
Pilot Reef: Pilot Reef near to Havelock is a huge block of prestine Hard Corals. At the bottom (maximum 24m) ‘Canyons’ are stretching out. Leopard and White Tip Sharks have been sighted over here.
Minerva Ledge: Minerva Hedge at Havelock is even bigger block of Hard Corals. Tons of fish, usually good visibility and the possibility of seeing sharks makes it one of the top dive sites.
CAMPBELL SHOAL OFF NORTH BUTTON ISLAND.
The bottom of this site is covered in mainly Hard Corals, with sporadic sandy patches and hosts a multitude of reef animals. The marine life includes Whitetip Reef Sharks, Large Cod and Groupers, Coral Trout, Blue and Golden Banded Fusiliers, Giant Trevally and a host of colourful Reef Fish.
MAHATMA GANDHI MARINE NATIONAL PARK, WANDOOR
Hundreds of colourful varieties of coral reef fishes can be seen in the park. Some of these are Clownfish, Butterfly Fish, Surgeon Fish, Anglel Fish, Parrot Fish, Bat Fish and Groupers. Whitetip Shark, Hammer Headed Shark, Manta Ray and Blue Fin Jack are also occasionally seen. More than 50 types of Corals are found in the fringing type of Coral Reefs in the park. Some important Coral varieties found here are Acropora, Pocillopora, Montipora, Leptoseris, Fungia, Portis, Tubipora and Gorgonians.
TIPS FOR DIVE TOURISTS:
Best season for Diving – December to April.
Dive only in the areas opened/permitted for Scuba Diving by the A & N Administration. Do not dive with unqualified/unregistered dive operator for the same may be dangerous to your life. Avail the service of Scuba Dive instructors having certification of international professional organizations like PADE, CMAS, NAUI, BSAC or SSI for safe diving experience.
Details about approved Scuba Dive centres, list of areas/sites permitted by the administration for Scuba Diving and the terms and conditions for operating Scuba Dive can be obtained from the centre in Andamans.
The Recompression chamber facility is available at Clearance Diving Unit, Navy, Port Blair.
Do not stand or walk on the Coral Reefs. Do not break the live Coral or collect Dead Corals.
Do not enter the National Parks without permission.
Other Adventure Sports
SAILING, SKIING, PARA-SAILING, WATER SCOOTERS AND SPEEDBOATS
Andaman Water Sports Complex at Port Blair is a unique water ports centre run by directorate of tourism. It offers adventure water sports like Sailing, Skiing, Para-Sailing (subject to wind/weather conditions), water scooters and speedboats. Trips for coral and shipwreck viewing are operated from here.
Timing: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
Water sports complex at Diglipur : Water Sports Centre run by Directorate of Tourism at Kalipur near Diglipur in North Andaman, offer Water Scooters, Speedboats, etc.
Timing:9.00 am to 4.00 pm.
Island Water Sports: This private water sports operator at Port Blair provides Speed Boats, Jet Skies, Tube Ride, Wake Board Ride, Knee Board Ride, etc.
One can enjoy the underwater marine life and view the rarest varieties of corals by snorkeling near the andaman water sports complex, Corbyn’s Cove Tourism Complex, Chidiya Tapu , North Bay, Island In Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park – (Jolly Buoy, Redskin), Chinque Island, Havelock, Ross & Smith Islands.
One can go trekking through the evergreen forest from Bambooflat to Mount Harriet , Mount Harriet to Madhuban, Durgapur ( Diglipur) to Saddle Peak and in Little Andaman to experience the life within the lovely, dark and deep forest. There are several other trekking routes also.
Island camps are just the right choice for the adventurous nature lovers, who wish to enjoy sun, sea and the pristine beauty of nature by spending quiet holidays right on the beach. Island camping is available at Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island , Lalaji Bay – Long Island, Smith Island – Diglipur and at other islands/places seasonally.
Overview of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Location : Bay Of Bengal
Capital : Port Blair
Main Attractions : Water Sports, Marine Life
Best Time To Visit : October To May
The Emerald Islands – Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Floating in splendid isolation, east of the Indian mainland is the archipelago of 572 emerald islands, islets and rocks known as Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This union territory stretches over a length of more than 700-kms. From north to south with 36 inhabited islands. Once a hill range extending from Burma to Indonesia, these undulating islands are covered with dense forests and endless variety of exotic flora and fauna.
The topography of the islands is hilly and abounds in evergreen forests. The sandy beaches on the edge of meandering coastline are fringed with coconut palms that sway to the rhythm of the sea. The sea around the islands offers excellent scope for adventure water sports. The rare flora and fauna, underwater marine life and corals, crystal clear water and mangrove lined creeks, offer a dream view of the rare gifts of nature.
The clean roads as well as unpolluted fresh air attract any nature lover, who seeks absolute peace and tranquility in the lap of Mother Nature. Adventure tourism like trekking, island camping, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc., are the major attractions here. A visit to these islands is a memorable lifetime experience.
Mythologically, the name Andaman is presumed to be derived from Hanuman, the Monkey God, who was known to the Malays as “Handuman”. Since pre-historic times, these islands were the home of aboriginal tribes. The tribes of the Andaman group of islands are the great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas and Sentinalese; all of Negrito origin, while the tribes of Nicobars, the Nicobarese and Shompens, both of Mongoloid stock.
The first settlement by the British took place in 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the first war of independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, “Moplas”, some tribes from central and united provinces, refugees from erstwhile east Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as ex servicemen.
People & Culture
In these islands people of all faiths Hindus, Muslim, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu, Punjabi, Nicobari etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter religion and inter regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is aptly described as ‘mini-India’.
The Green Paradise
Forests are the green gold of the islands. The reserved and protected forests extend over 86% area of the territory and the forest cover is more than 92%. About 50% of the forests have been set aside as tribal reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which are inviolate. Luxuriant mangroves, perhaps the richest in the world, occupy nearly 11.5% of the territory. More than 150 plant and animal species are endemic to these islands. The Andaman Nicobar Islands hold over 110 species of wild orchids, which is about 10% of the known Indian orchids.
The surrounding seas are equally rich in marine bio-diversity. They harbour more than 1,200 species of fish, 350 species of echinoderms, 1,000 species of Molluscs and many more other forms of life. Among Vertebrates dugong, dolphin and whale are common. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is rich in Corals, varieties of colourful Fishes, Sea Turtles, etc., besides other marine life.
Andaman is also a bird’s paradise. More than 246 varieties of birds inhabit the idyllic landscape, out of which 39 are endemic. Birds Megapode, Seiftlet, Hornbill and Nicobar Pigeon are mention worthy. The Avi faunal diversity has always attracted ornithologists and bird watchers to these islands.
Sandy beaches of these islands are famous for turtles nesting. Important species of turtles that are present on these islands include Leather Back Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle. Water Monitor Lizard, Salt-Water Crocodiles, Reticulate Python etc. are also seen here.
Corals and coral reefs are the most fascinating part of marine ecosystem here. So far 179 species of corals belonging to 61 genera have been reported. Reefs are mostly of the fringing type on the western coast. Coral reefs are important breeding and nursery ground for fish and many other organisms.
A New Haven For The Tourists
Andaman and Nicobar islands have recently been recognized as a world-class Eco-friendly tourist destination and these islands have something very special to offer to the tourists. Cellular Jail, Ross Island and Viper Island create real interest in those, who love Indian history. The Andaman tropical rainforests, beautiful silver sandy beaches, serpentine mangrove-lined creeks, marine life abounding in rare species of plants, animals, corals, etc., provide a splendid experience to the tourists.
The environment lover finds absolute ease and tranquility in the lap of Mother Nature. There is tremendous scope for enjoying the green nature, the virgin beaches, the marvels of underwater, adventure water sports ad other activities like Elephant Safari, Trekking, Lagoon Cruise, Island Camping etc.
Andaman is a popular destination for Scuba Dive Tourists, Cruise Liners and Sailing Yachts. The administration has formulated guidelines/procedures for operating Scuba Dive Centers and Yachts.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands has become the centre of worldwide attention thanks to the first sunrise of the millennium at Katchal, an island in the Nicobar group. Now these islands are emerging as one of the most sought after Eco-friendly tourist destinations of the 21st Century.