Andaman and Nicobar are a large group of nearly 600 islands in the Bay of Bengal. Situated at a distance of 1400 km from mainland India and 1000 km from Thailand, they are one of the most remote spots on the planet. The original inhabitants of the islands are various aboriginal tribes who exist more-or-less out of the mainstream. There are some tribes who have had no contact whatsoever with the rest of the world. Of nearly 600 islands, only 9 are open to foreign tourists, and all of these are in the Andamans.
The islands exist in India’s popular consciousness mainly because they were used as a penal colony by the British rulers to imprison rebels and freedom fighters, in addition to hardened criminals. Most of the inhabitants of these islands are in fact migrants from the mainland, some of them descended from the prisoners.
Most people visit the Andamans for the beaches and the scuba diving, especially on Havelock Island and Neil Island. The only place with historical attractions of note is Port Blair, which houses both British-era colonial buildings, including the notorious Cellular Jail, and a few World War II bunkers dating from the brief Japanese occupation.
Here are some activities that can be done:
Scuba diving – Havelock Island is the main dive destination, but the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park has reopened. South Cinque Island is another possibility, enquire at Anugama Resort at Wandoor. The best dive sites in the Andamans are in very remote locations and accessible via a liveaboard. The dive sites around Havelock are actually very ordinary by Andamans standards. The best diving in the Andamans can be done at: Barren Island (an active volcano), Narcondam Island (an extinct volcano), Invisible Bank (an extensive seamount approx. 100 miles Southeast of Port Blair) and 4 spectacular but un-named sea mounts off the west coast. There is also a good wreck dive just south of North Brother Island. There is one regular liveaboard in the Andaman Islands – the Infiniti Liveaboard, and it is the best way to get around. It’s brand new and fully equipped, though a little expensive but well worth the money for the comfort and adventure.
Snorkeling is a fun, popular activity done at Jolly Buoy, North Bay, Mua Terra Beach and Havelock Island.But, The best place for Snorkeling is Jolly Buoy Island since it has the best water quality and also a huge variety of marine life (both, fishes as well as corals). The equipment is cheap, and can be bought or rented at North Bay for $1.60. The price for Snorkeling at various locations is about $8 (for ~15 min.) and $16 (for ~25 min.).
Surfing is great on Little Andaman Island
Scan corals reefs in glass bottom boats off Jolly Buoy Island, at the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor, 29 km from Port Blair.
Check out India’s only active volcano on Barren Island, for some magnificent volcanic diving
Take the Andaman Trunk Road, and be the zipping-in-the-car-idiot to the curious Jarawas. The ride is long, but the journey that takes you through some gorgeous reserve forests and up to Maya Bunder and beyond, is worth it.
Revisit Havelock just to taste the red Snapper in Burmese garlic sauce at Benny and Lynda’s Wild Orchid Beach Resort.
Narcondam Island has a dormant volcano. Another great location for some spectacular volcanic diving
Try scuba diving and sea cow spotting. Do some moon-bathing while planktons swim in a phosphorescent sea.