The archipelago of Andaman in the Bay of Bengal is undoubtedly one of the exotic destinations to explore in India. Think the Andaman Islands and you can visualize emerald blue sea, clear skies and vast stretches of mesmerizing white sand beaches, coral reefs, scuba diving, and more. All these features make for a perfect romantic getaway. But, there is more to Andaman than just beaches – it has an interesting colonial history, its terrain is ecologically diverse which has endowed it with a variety of flora and fauna and also it is home to some very scenic trekking and hiking trails. The Andaman Islands will amaze its visitors with all it has to offer.
Holiday trip to Andaman Islands on an Indian Budget:
With a number of luxury resorts lined on the palm fringed beaches to give you a premium experience and a mind-boggling variety of things to do in Andaman, holidaying here can be an expensive affair. However, there are ways to enjoy a trip to the Andaman Islands on an Indian budget. The crux to doing that is planning and researching well in advance. With so many tour operators claiming to provide you with cheap holiday packages in Andamans, deciding who to choose, what to do, and what to leave gets really confusing beyond a point. There are beaches and water sports activities everywhere – how to decide which experience is worth the money?
Well, in this article we are sharing some tips that will help you in making some crucial decisions and will save you money on your Andaman trip without compromising on the enjoyment.
The first tip is actually a no surprise. Since a good chunk of your budget will go into the means of reaching the famed islands; it is always advisable to book flights at least 3-4 months in advance. When flight tickets are booked at a short notice, they can cost you a bomb! Keep an eye on the fares and keep checking on the trending fares.
Many airlines run sales multiple times a year – you can watch out for deals in such sales and book as soon as you find a good deal. By scheduling your trip early you can save a substantial amount that can be utilised in better ways during your vacation in Andaman. Avoid the peak season for your travel as airfare can be three or four times the normal fare.
There are direct flights to the Andaman Islands only from a few select cities like Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore. From other cities, you will get either a stopover or a connecting flight.
Another way to reach Andaman is through the sea. If you are feeling adventurous or have plenty of days in hand for the trip, you can choose to go by ship (at least one way). Going by ship will be obviously cheaper but then you might have to deal with sea sickness. So, weigh your risks against the pros and decide accordingly.
The next big share of your holiday budget is taken by your accommodation. Of course, all of us would love to stay in luxurious resorts in such an exotic location. But, since we are travelling on a budget – we can only spend for a decent hotel.
Choose a hotel in a less commercialised area to get better deals. Also, AC rooms will cost more than Non-AC rooms. So, depending on where you can compromise, get a decent hotel on a budget. Hotels in Port Blair are cheaper than those in Havelock or any other Island.
So, you can base yourself in Port Blair or you can divide your days between Port Blair and Havelock Island for the best experience. 3 days for Port Blair and 2 days in Havelock Island is what most people do.
Number of days for the trip
5 to 7 days’ time on Andaman is good enough to cover most of the popular attractions. Most people keep 5 days for holidaying on the island and 2 days for travel. Extending it beyond that means extra expenses and that can topple your budget.
Mode of transport in Andaman
Taxis are exorbitantly priced in Andaman. So, unless it is absolutely unavoidable don’t go for them. In Port Blair, you can get autos at very reasonable rates to move around the city. There are city buses also that can take you places – the only constraint is that it will take a lot of time.
The popular islands also have public transport within the island; using them can save you quite a few bucks. Since, island hopping will be a part of your itinerary, travelling by boat will be needed often. Here also there are private ferries as well as govt. boats. There is a huge difference in their rates, but again private boats are faster.
Another option to explore the island is on rented bikes. During off peak season, there is a lot of room for negotiation so try your best to get a good deal. Depending on your budget and the time you have at hand, you can arrive at a decision on the mode of travel in and around the islands.
There are a number of restaurants and food-joints serving an amazing variety of seafood for tourists. The good part is there are many that can fit in your budget. So, walk around and choose the one that meets your fancy.
If you are looking for vegetarian food on the island, don’t worry there are a couple of vegetarian-friendly as well as pure veg restaurants like Gagan, Icy Spicy, Shakahaar, and Annapurna for you to check out.
Customise your trip for the best experience
Everyone visiting the Andaman Islands doesn’t have the same itinerary for their holiday. What interests others might not interest you, so do not go for a run-of-the-mill experience in a straight-jacket tour.
Instead, customize it as per your needs. Some may want to laze around the sun-kissed beaches all day (which is absolutely free), some may want to engage in some adventure sports activities like scuba diving, snorkelling, jet skiing, etc., while others will also want to go trekking on the island. Whatever you want to do on your trip to Andaman, write it down, and then prioritise it to see what fits your budget.
We would recommend you try at least one water sports activity like scuba diving, snorkelling, or sea walking in Andaman. In case, you are scared to death by such activities, you can experience the underwater sea life through a glass bottom boat ride.
To help you plan your itinerary, here are our recommendations for things to do in the Andaman Islands for the best experience.
You will be entering the archipelago through Port Blair – the capital and one of the prime cities in the islands. You should utilise your day one by covering the attractions in the city.
Also known as the dreaded Kaala Paani, Cellular Jail was a prison during British Colonial times and was used to imprison political prisoners. Now, it has been turned into a museum. A visit here is a must to know about the struggles of our freedom fighters. You can plan a day visit here and another one again at night to watch the light and sound show. The show is well choreographed and depicts the pre independence era.
Another attraction that warrants a visit if you are interested in knowing about the indigenous tribes of the island is the Anthropological Museum. It will give you some rare insights into the lives of the local tribes here.
There are some shopping places where you can buy a souvenir in Port Blair. You can also go island hopping to by basing yourself in Port Blair. Places of interest to check out from Port Blair include – Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Jolly Buoy Island, Chidia Tapu, Ross Island, and North Bay Beach.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Port Blair, just head to the Corbyn’s Cove beach situated about 8 km from the city centre. You can either hail an auto rickshaw or get a bike on rent to get here.
A winding road will lead you to the beach to be greeted by azure blue water and lines of coconut trees. You can spend some time meandering on the beach, watch the sunset, and sample some seafood delicacies from the eateries around.
Photograph by Ashwin Bagde
Famous for its clear turquoise blue waters and under water corals, Jolly Buoy Island is open only for 6 months a year. So, check before planning to visit here. To get to the island, you would have to go to Wandoor beach early morning first and then take a return trip ferry to Jolly Buoy Island from there.
The island is open for visitors until 2 pm. Jolly Buoy Island is one of the best places in Andaman to try snorkelling.
Photograph by Vjay S.
Located about 25 km from Port Blair, this place is a paradise for bird watchers. It is best to visit here in summer months when the skies are clear. Many exotic species of birds can be spotted here which includes sea eagles, emerald doves, parakeets, etc.
Regular ferries from Port Blair are available to visit Ross Island. It used to be headquarters of the British during colonial days before it was hit was an earthquake. This island has a significant historical importance; a visit here will make you walk back in time.
You can easily spend a couple of hours here exploring the ruins of the erstwhile British headquarter and gazing and marvelling at the beauty of the sea.
North Bay Beach
Another beach to explore near Port Blair is the North Bay beach. It is very popular for water sports activities. One of the things you can try here is ‘Sea Walking’. This activity will give an opportunity to watch underwater sea life – umpteen varieties of colourful fishes, coral reefs and exotic looking marine life – really close.
You will be made to wear a helmet which will enable you to breathe normally even under water. A non-swimmer can also indulge in it without any worry.
After you are done exploring Port Blair and the things around it, get set to explore Havelock Islands – the most popular and enchanting part of the Andaman Islands.
Havelock Islands is a gem of a natural paradise with serene white sandy beaches, pristine blue water and lush tropical forest. Don’t forget to experience an enchanting sunrise on the beach when you are here.
Havelock Islands boasts of having the Radhanagar Beach – voted by TIMES magazine as Asia’s best beach. When you visit here you will be amazed by the scenery that greets you and you will know that it very much deserved the acclaim it gets.
You can spend your day beach bumming all day and bask in the sun. If adventure water sports are on your mind, try scuba diving here for once in a life time experience.
Another beach on the Havelock islands that must be visited is the elephant beach. Boasting of exotic coral reed formation and beautiful marine life, this place is a piece of heaven on Earth. It is also a very popular place to try snorkelling.
What else can you do?
After you have explored Havelock Islands, Port Blair, and islands around it and still have a day to spare, go for trekking on the Andaman Islands. Trekking through tropical forests, mangroves and a variety of flora and fauna is a great way to experience the islands. The popular trekking trails in Andaman are Mount Harriet to Madhuban trek and Diglipur to Saddle Peak trek.
Need help in planning your trip to Andaman on an Indian budget, the travel experts at Viisit are here to help. Depending on your budget and the days you have planned for the trip, they can help you with your tickets, accommodation and the best-customised itinerary covering the popular places of interest at a very reasonable cost. Get in touch with them at Viisit.com.