Situated more than 1400 kilometers from mainland India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are an exquisite sight to behold and promise you a wonderful holiday with memorable memories whatever season you do come in. They are referred to as one of the remotest areas in the world due to the distance from mainland and the effort taken to reach each one of its more than 600 Islands.
Best Time to Visit Andaman :
Andamans Islands are divided into three categories which are known as North Andaman, Middle Andaman and South Andamans as per the geographical spread while Nicobar Islands lie in the far south. In total Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located over an area of more than 500 kilometers spanning the crossing over of the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Overall the weather in Andamans is more neutral and not prone to too many fluctuations. Though tourists pay a visit to Andaman Islands all throughout the year, its beauty and splendor is best viewed from November to May. The Islands enjoy a tropical climate which basically means very pleasant weather all through the year with approximately 70-80% humidity levels throughout the year.
But still, it is always preferable to plan your holiday with the best the season and weather has to offer to enable to get the best out of it.
Summer Season from April to July
Temperatures range between 24 to 37 degrees Celsius and all water sports are open to visitors in this time which makes it an ideal time for a visit.
Monsoon Season from July to September
Photograph by S. Mandal
In this time, the temperatures fluctuate from 22 to 35 degrees Celsius. The maximum number of tourists visit the islands in the months of July and August Monsoons are prone to high tides and very strong rains which may render water sports out of action so keep an eye out for that.
Winter Season from October to March
Winters are very mild and are pleasant with temperatures rangingfrom 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
Getting In and Around
For Indian citizens, visiting Andamans does not require any other documentation other than booking their flight or ship tickets. They are allowed to visit Andaman Islands only and cannot visit Nicobar Islands as they are inhabited by indigenous tribes and visitors are not allowed there.
For foreign nationals, it is mandatory to get an area permit to visit the Andaman Islands which can be applied for upon arrival at the Port Blair airport. If arriving by sea, permit application has to be done before arrival in Chennai or at the time of applying for the Indian Visa.
The permits received allow for a visit of up to 30 days and it can be received for 15 days also if the departure ticket is not attached at the time of application.
Extension is allowed for a further 15 days making the entire visit of a maximum 45 days and it has to be made in the Port Blair office. This permit is important as it is regularly checked at the time of hotel check-ins, ferry booking and has to be returned at the time of leaving so take good care of it.
The permit has some restrictions which means it allows for day trips only to Ross Island, South Cinque Island, Sister Island, Brother Island, Barren Island and the rest of the Islands can be a part of the itinerary for day or overnight stay trips. Also to note that the national parks overnight stay will need a separate permission from the Parks Administration which can be obtained at the time of visiting the Park.
If coming by air, the airport is located at Port Blair which is the capital city of Andamans which is connected by Chennai, Kolkata and many other cities in the Indian mainland. Advance reservations are recommended as the popularity of the Islands grow, the tickets are more difficult to get if not booked in advance.
You can also decide to come via ship from Kolkata which takes 60 hours or Chennai or Vishakhapatnam which takes almost 4 days to arrive in Port Blair. The time to arrive can be even more if the weather is not good and supporting the ship and the facilities on the ship are very basic.
Getting around the numerous little Islands is made possible by the passenger ferries which run between the islands and are run by the State government. So you have access to two different type of ferries like small tourist ferries or larger local ferries though fares are more or less the same. Due to the huge distance between the Islands, ferries are the only mode of transport.
Andaman Islands are a melting pot of different cultures and people of different cultures and customs. This is evident by the number of different festivals and religious functions which are celebrated across the length and breadth of the Islands.
There are many fairs and festivals organized by the Ministry of Tourism in the Andaman Islands to attract more tourists and showcase the indigenous talent and artefacts manufactured in the Islands. The Island Tourism Festival is an annual cultural event which is held Port Blair with an inaugural function held annually in the month of January.
Under this 10 day festival, numerous little programs under this festival are held at other places like Wimberlygunj, Wandoor, Neil, Havelock, Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur, Hut Bay, Car Nicobar, Kamorta, and Campbell Bay.
There is another monsoon festival held during the months of May and June which celebrates local folk music and various dance forms of the region.