Q1 – What is the best way to reach Andaman Islands?
By plane : Foreign visitors will have to first reach India and then from there, can reach Port Blair – capital city of Andaman Islands – by flight. The two best options at India are Chennai and Kolkata – the two Indian cities with a limited number of daily flights to Port Blair to reach Andaman Islands. Port Blair is also connected by air from New Delhi. Though this flight stops for a while at Kolkata there is no need for passengers to disembark or change the aircraft.
Passengers can fly direct to Port Blair from Kolkata, Chennai or New Delhi, taking any one of the flights.
By ship : Another leisurely but slow way of reaching Port Blair is by ship. But journey time is about 3 days and lacks many of the facilities available on board a luxury cruise liner. Passengers can book the tickets prior to sailing only from the booking offices located at Port Blair, Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakapatinam.
Q2 – What time zone Andaman Islands fall under?
All of mainland India and Andaman Islands have one single time zone – with the local time at GMT + 5.30 hours all through the year. Since geographically Andaman Islands are nearer to Thailand than India, sun rise occurs earlier than in India – sometimes as early as 0500 hours and sun sets also early around 0530 hours. Daily activities start rather early in Andaman Islands because of this.
Q3 – What currency is used in Andaman Islands?
As in mainland India, Indian Rupee is the currency used here. Port Blair is the only place to change all major currencies in Andaman Islands. Please go to an authorized money exchanger or nationalized and other banks for changing foreign currencies. Mainland India has better rates and better facilities than Port Blair for changing currencies. As we are authorized money changers, we can help you do the needful changing whatever the currency you have.
Q4 – Do Port Blair & Havelock have international ATM facility?
There are a number of ATMs present in Port Blair and you will have no problem using your card. Two fully functioning ATM machines have been installed in Havelock Island. Since the ATMs in Havelock are stocked up only twice a week, sometimes they run out of cash.Also except at Port Blair and Havelock Island, other islands do not have ATM facility. So it may be better to travel forearmed with some ready cash to all other islands to avoid any inconveniences to you.
Credit Cards (both Master Card and Visa Card) are not much used or popular in Andaman. Only large hotels, some diving institutions, and resorts will accept Credit cards. Even when accepted, along with surcharge fees, it will be a time-consuming and long-drawn process. Your passport and credit card may be photocopied for submission and transactions are mostly offline. Most of the establishments will not take American Express cards as well. Almost all prefer cash payment.
Q5 – When is the best time to plan my visit to the islands?
The tourist season starts generally from November and extends until Mid-May. The peak time to visit will be between December and March. Andaman Islands are tropical islands and receive the bounty of both the monsoon seasons that bring torrential rains to Indian Peninsula. Though June and July are the months that receive heavy showers, it is difficult to accurately foretell the rain cycle. Light showers may happen in Novemberand December.
Monsoon rains happen in June, July, August and September, and Andaman receives heavy showers and generally there are less tourists visiting Andaman during these months. Because of this, we are able to offer special off-season packages. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best time and season to enjoy the bountiful showers from the monsoon and take pleasure in the rain-drenched highlights of the Islands, its pristine coastline and the abundant green cover – that are nature’s best gifts to Andaman Islands.
Q6- What are the important points to be considered while planning my trip?
You have to keep in mind quite a few points when you are planning your trip to Andaman Islands. For foreign tourists:
1. If you happen to have foreign passport, it must be valid for at least 6 months duration.
2. If you are not Indian by nationality, you must have a valid Indian visa.
3. Andaman Islands are restricted zone. If your visa has a stamp that says "Not valid for restricted areas" or something similar, you may not be allowed to enter Andaman Islands. In case you have such restriction, the immigration officer may or may not allow you or they may advice you to contact the issuing embassy and remove such restriction. Till such time you may be deputed to mainland India.
As per Indian standard time, sunrise is generally between 0500 and 0530 hours and sunset is at 1730 hours. Since Andaman and Nicobar Islands are very near the equator line, they have early sunrises and sunsets. Day starts quite early with sun rising as early as 0500 hours some times and gets dark early as well. So getting up early will help you have more hours to visit and enjoy the sights. Andaman Islands Ferry Service from Port Blair to other islands is famous for its timely and regular service. But sometimes due to adverse weather and mechanical trouble, they may be cancelled. So plan room for unscheduled and unavoidable delays while booking flights.
If you are spending the last leg of the tour at Havelock, please arrange to spend the last night prior to boarding at Port Blair. There is no ferry to take you to Port Blair early enough to catch the flight back to mainland India the same day.
It is recommended to enjoy scuba diving a day after your air travel to avoid any health complication as undertaking scuba diving and air travel on the same day may cause some health concerns due to compression reasons and may indispose travellers.
To travel in style, you can charter a speedboat or an amphibian seaplane from Port Blair to Havelock Island as well to reach Port Blair from Havelock Island the day you are flying out to India.
Q7 – Are there any specific health precautions to be taken before and during the visit?
As India is known officially to be a malarial risk area, you may consult your doctor before planning your trip about taking prevention measures like taking anti-malarial tablets. Though there are very few officially known malaria cases in Andaman Islands, it is best to seek medical advice and make an informed decision about taking preventive measures.
Also you may discuss with your doctor about the necessary vaccinations and inoculations that may be needed before the travel. Port Blair has very good medical services like G.B.Pant Hospital. But
Andaman Islands are quite remote from the mainland India and have a low-population which somewhat curtails more advanced and prevalent health services. Basic hygienic precautions should be followed which can help you to have a hassle-free and happy holiday.
1. Do not drink tap water
2. Do not eat anything from the road-side vendors
3. Do not eat fruits and salad vegetables that were prior cut and kept exposed
4. Do not take any locally made ice creams/milk shakes/ soft drinks
5. Keep yourself hydrated with hygienically bottled water; buy only sealed water bottles from reputed companies.
6. Wear cool cottons and materials made of natural fibres to absorb sweat better.
7. Wash regularly as sweat and humid atmosphere may create fungal infections
8. Use sunshade/caps when out in the sun
9. Use sunscreen liberally
10. Attend to any skin injuries like shoe bites, skin infection, skin sore immediately
11. Please use mosquito repellent without fail
12. Keep mosquito repellent and insect repellent in your beach bag
13. Seek medical attention immediately in case of any injury or skin infection, shoe-bite etc. and have it treated with antibiotic creams and medication. Since the Islands have typical tropical hot and humid weather, infections can set in easily and early.
14. You can refer to World Health Organization’s website for further details.
Q8 – Any visa or Restricted Area Permit is needed for visiting Andaman Islands?
All visitors who are foreign nationals will need an Indian Visa and a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) as well before entering Andaman Islands. You can apply for Indian visa at Indian Embassy in the country where you are residing before arriving in India.
The Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is issued at Port Blair. You can obtain it on arrival easily. The procedure takes only about 15 minutes. It is issued to all foreign travellers free of cost.
Foreign visitors can collect the permits from these centers also:
(i) Indian Mission Overseas,
(ii) Foreigners Registration Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta.
(iii) The immigration authorities at the airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.
This permit includes places where you are allowed to stay for the night.
Q9 – How is general climate of Andaman Islands? What kind of weather you can expect typically? Are rains frequent?
Andaman enjoys typical tropical climate all through the year. With an average temperature around 23 degree C (minimum) and not exceeding 30Degree C (maximum), Andaman Islands are hot and humid generally. The high humidity levels are tempered by the sea breeze that springs up making the climate pleasant throughout the day more so especially in the evenings.
Monsoon sets in by the end of July though there are some intermittent summer showers even before that. Andaman Islands keep receiving showers intermittently throughout the year right up to December making the area beautifully verdant and green.
October marks the start of tourist season every year. The heavy southwest monsoon showers get over by September. The entire area looks decked up in fresh greeneries after the rain and each of the islands looks pretty, beautiful and ready to welcome the festival season.
The weather remains temperate thanks to the intermittent rains. Happy with rain-assured bountiful crops, the local people get ready to celebrate the festival season and welcome the tourists.
With monsoon over, the scuba diving season starts with waters getting calm, clear and flat. Under water coral reefs and marine life put up a great show offering a memorable time for the scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts.
Thanks to the Northwest monsoon, moisture laden breeze and intermittent rains keep the temperature pleasantly cool throughout November, December and January. While you can enjoy the mild sun during daytime, evenings can be a little cooler welcoming the warmth from full-sleeve shirts and light-weight jackets or a nice shawl to keep the chill out.
Once the festival of Sankranti gets over by January 15th or so, weather turns warm. With no rain-bearing clouds no winds to stir up the sea, you can enjoy the clear blue skies and serene cool seas. Slowly summer starts with days becoming balmy and soon turns to be hot with temperature soon hitting early 30 degrees by April and reaching almost 36 degrees centigrade in early May. There happen some pre-monsoon summer showers in April and May. By mid-May, monsoon arrives in and by May end rains start in earnest continuing through June and July.
Q10 – What kind of water and electricity supply is available? What kind of power outlets can be found for charging electronic gadgets?
As in other parts of India, Andaman Islands also have standard 220 volt sockets. Both two and three pin (round pins) sockets can be accessed for charging any electronic gadgets. But it will be advisable to have a handy travel adapter along with you.
Q11 – How safe is the tap water?
Though Andaman Islands enjoy a good dependable supply of water, it is not safe to drink tap water. Tourists should buy good brand of bottled water and carry water bottles with them always. You can get water bottles from reputed companies all over almost all the islands.
Q12 – What kind of food is available at Andaman Islands? What ethnic food is special to Andaman?
Due to the distance between the mainland India and Andaman Islands, it is not easy to provide a plethora of international level cuisines at Andaman Islands. But whatever cuisine is available in Andaman Islands is supported by most discerning and courteous service and recommendations for suitable local alternatives can assure you a memorable and gourmet meal.
Andaman Islands can be heaven for seafood lovers. Lobsters, crabs, shrimp and all kinds of fish are available in plenty.
There are plenty of restaurants offering Continental, Chinese, South Indian, North Indian cuisine in Andaman Islands. But the continental and Chinese food may taste a little differently in that they may have a quaint Indian twist added. You can have both vegetarian as well non-vegetarian items. You can get purely vegetarian foods as well in many restaurants.
Q13 – How expensive meals are at Andaman Islands?
Compared to other tourist destinations, eating out is not all that expensive in Andaman Islands. Of course, star hotels and restaurants can be a little more expensive than eateries in the local village market or the innumerable hotels and restaurants that are not star-rated. There are quite a few good restaurants run by the local people in various parts of Port Blair and other islands where it will be lighter on your wallet to have meals. You can enjoy good food at a popular restaurant for anywhere between Rs. 300 and Rs. 500 depending on what you order.
Q14 – Can I get imported beverages in Andaman Islands?
Imported beverage is available but in limited quantities and mostly only in star hotels and restaurants. Indian made foreign liquor brands and Indian brands like Black Label, Black & White, Bacardi, Smirnoff and Kingfisher beer are available freely.
Q15 – What to do and who to approach for help in case of medical emergency?
There are Primary Health Centers in most of the islands and you can get immediate assistance there for any emergency, but it is advised to go to G.B. Pant Hospital for further treatment options.
Andaman Islands do not enjoy the advanced and state-of-art technology aided hospitals that are plenty available in mainland India. Due to the remote positioning and low level population, except G.B. Pant Hospital at Port Blair, there are not any other facilities to attend to any critically ill patients.
But for any life-threatening scenario or major surgery options, it is best to fly out to mainland India to a hospital of repute for world-class treatment as G.B.Pant Hospital also does not boast as much technologically advanced treatment options as in mainland India.
Q16 – Are local people friendly to visitors? Any etiquette rules I should know?
There are no rigid rules or regulations to follow in the Islands. But you are expected to behave decorously and politely and seek permission before video filming or photographing local people or places. Dressing decently and appropriately is also essential.
Most of the local people still wear traditional dresses and do not approve of revealing swimwear or beachwear. Though Andaman Islands are great as beach resort, avoid revealing/mini swim dresses in areas like markets, jetty and tourist spots.
The aborigine tribes of Andaman Islands live in restricted and protected areas. Visitors are prohibited from intermingling with them. But the local population are friendly and mix well with tourists.
Q17 – What popular local festivals are celebrated in Andaman?
Due to the large number of Bengalis from India settled here, ‘Durga Pujo’ is celebrated with great pageantry and ceremony. Big pandals are erected everywhere and ten days of celebration take place. Other big festivals are Deewali, Eid, Easter, Christmas and New Year. Almost all the Indian festivals are celebrated as Andaman Islands have a cross section of people from all over India living together cutting across regions and religions.
Q18 – Is the religious stance in Andaman liberal?
Quite like mainland India, Andaman Islands also have a large mix of Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Hindus are the largest majority of the population seconded by Christians and then Muslims. There are others practising Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. All people live harmoniously and in peace, practicing their own religion and respecting the rest.
Very much like in India while Hindu festivals like Durga Pooja and Deewali are celebrated, you can find the whole market areas alight with light decorations and other signs of festivities. Likewise, Christmas and New Year times can see huge colourful stars and Christmas trees outside all shops and in major shopping areas. Andaman Islands have all religions living in peaceful coexistence.
Q19 – What tourist attractions are available in Port Blair?
Port Blair, the capital of Andaman Islands, is great place with many historically important places that must not be missed. There are some top tourist attractions to visit and spend the day.
Q20 – What are the main tourist attractions in Andaman Islands?
Andaman Islands have something special to offer for the visitor whatever their interests are and there are enough attractions for all the family to enjoy.
With the rich flora and fauna that occur abundantly in the lush green forests of the Islands to enthral the nature lover; beautiful and serene beaches, stunning looking sands and water sports like diving, snorkelling etc for the sport person in you and other historical monuments like cellular jails etc in and around Port Blair to entertain the routine visitor, Andaman Islands assure you a most enjoyable and memorable holiday.
For the nature lovers, Havelock will offer great opportunities to enjoy the sun, sand and serene beach; a great way to rest and recuperate. Actually Andaman Islands can be heavenly for a quick getaway. You can spend hours – number of days just enjoying the cool blue water under a clear-clear sky or get on a trip to explore nearby islands.
If you are the adventurous kind, would you like to explore the primitive and wild beauty of islands like Long Island, Bara tang and Neil Island? Take care; it is not for the timid and traditional traveller who loves time-tested tourist attractions. These islands are not as developed as Port Blair and Havelock but may still be nice spots with adequate facilities for the deserving traveller in you.
Q21 – How to reach Havelock Island? Should I return the same day? Can I stay there?
Havelock and Port Blair are very well connected, with three ferries plying between them daily. There is a ferry available for you after each incoming flight into Port Blair so that you can reach Havelock the same day.
Visitors have two choices; between the more economical and slower ferries run by government and the private mechanised new state of art air conditioned catamaran services. Tourists can decide on the ferry trips based on their arrival time at Port Blair.
It is much wiser to pre-plan your journey to Havelock Island as government ferries are always quite crowded and sometimes it is difficult to find a place on the ferry without prior booking. Since these ferries are the favoured mode of transport between the islands and Port Blair for local people as well, there are long queues which can make it rather tiresome and time consuming. There is no pre-booking available and the tickets for limited seats in each ferry are issued on first come first served basis.
We can do the advance booking so you can have a hassle free travel to Havelock and have more time for enjoying the sun, sea and sands having fun. Only those flights which reach Port Blair before 0800 hrs can travel by the Makruzz catamaran. As the boarding into ferry stops 15 minutes before sailing time, you have to reach the dockyard well in advance to get tickets as well board the ferry without any problem. You can have other slower, government-run ferries later than that.
Please take care to avoid the ferry that takes a circuitous route from Port Blair to Havelock which takes about 4 hours – nearly 1.5 hours more than usual.
From Port Blair to Havelock *:
Government Ferry: 0600hrs and 1400hrs – Duration: 2.5 hrs
Catamaran (Makruzz): 0900hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs
From Havelock to Port Blair * :
Government Ferry: 1400hrs and 1630hrs Duration: 2.5 hrs
Catamaran (Makruzz): 1600hrs Duration: 1.5 hrs
Although all the ferries ply on time the sailing timings can be changed at short notice by the administration as they are all dependent on vagaries in weather conditions. It will make things easier for you if you check about the ferry timings just before you start your trip to Andaman Islands.
An amphibian seaplane introduced by the state administration can cover the distance between Port Blair and Havelock Island in less than thirty minutes. The amphibian plane plies both ways and can be a good mode of transport in case of limited time and resources allow. Depending on the demand, there are multiple flights available
Q22 – Can I meet any aboriginal tribes in Andaman?
Dying out and dwindling number of aboriginal tribes are living in remote areas of Andaman Islands. Some tribes are still as they were ages ago, unsullied by civilization or any technical advancement living the way they had been since time immemorial adding to the exotic ethnicity of Andaman Islands.
The aboriginal tribe people native to Andaman Islands can be divided into two tribes:
1. Natives who are living in Andaman Islands who are of Negroid ancestry called Andamanese, Jarawa, Onge and Sentinelese
2. The tribes with Mongoloid ancestry called the Shompen and Nicobarese who are living on Nicobar Islands
Nicobar Islands come under restricted area not open to visitors foreign or Indian, and cannot be visited by any visitor.
The native tribe called Sentinelese still exists in complete isolation in the North Sentinel Island untouched by civilization. Their number is approximately 250 in number and they do not wear clothes. They have been living in total seclusion the way they have lived for centuries. Not much information is known about them as they are very retiring and not ready to mingle.
The Jarawa tribe people are equally primitive and unaffected by the passage of time still wearing barks and nothing else. They do make ornaments like necklaces, cummerbunds and armbands out of conches and shells and wear them along with barks.
All visitors are prohibited from entering where these tribes live, to meet and mingle with them.
If there were any trips offered to be arranged to these areas and for meeting the aboriginal tribes, please desist from it as it is against law to do so.
Please be sensitive to the privacy of the tribes and abide by the law and make no effort to meet with them.
As more and more Andaman Islands are becoming populated with a diverse population migrating from mainland India, progress and change become inevitable. The population of all the tribes steadily decrease due to rapidly expanding city limits and the growing number of population. Andamanese tribe has been hit worst with their population counted as low as thirty or so. Other tribes also do not thrive in number and anthropologists are worrying about extinction of these tribes over time.
Though not able to visit in person, visitors can have an idea of the way the aborigines of Andaman Islands live their instruments, tools , weapon and many of their customs and traditions from the photographs displayed in the Anthropological Museum in Port Blair.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Please use the dustbins and garbage receptacles for disposing all garbage and rubbish. Do not throw them in parks, on beach, into sea or public places. Please help to keep Andaman Islands litter free
- Smoking in public areas is banned in Andaman Islands.
- Plastic carry-bags are banned in Andaman Islands. If anybody is caught with a plastic carry-bag, he/she can be fined either Rs 1, 00,000 or imprisoned for six months; both fine and imprisonment can be inflicted sometimes.
- Take care to follow traffic rules and keep to the left of the road.
- Wearing a helmet for motorbike riding is mandatory. If anybody is caught driving a motorbike without wearing a helmet, he/she will be penalized. Chances are he/she will be both fined and penalized.
- Visitors are advised to always carry important documents like passport, permit, and driving licence with them while travelling in the Andaman Islands. It is not advisable to leave them at the hotel or resort.
- Get the necessary permits for visiting National parks as they can be visited only with permission. Other permitted areas can be visited freely.
- Visitors are prohibited from hunting any kind of birds and animals both on land and on sea. Please help us in preserving the flora and fauna of the Islands.
- Nicobar Islands have been declared as tribal reserves and are considered as restricted and prohibited areas. A special tribal pass is required for visiting these islands. Tourists cannot visit Nicobar Islands. If anybody attempts to visit Nicobar Islands without the special pass, they can be severely punished as attempt to mingle with tribal people is a punishable offence.
- Entry into tribal and restricted areas is strictly prohibited.
- The aborigine tribes of Andaman Islands are endangered & facing extinction. All visitors are prohibited from entering where these tribes live, to meet and interacting with them.
- The visitors need to be sensitive to the privacy of the tribes and any attempt to interact will be severely punished.
- Staying on beaches or forest areas in night time is strictly prohibited. Take care to return to your hotel or resort after sunset.
- Erecting own tents and hammocks during nights anywhere – on the beach or in the forest areas – is also prohibited.
- You are prohibited from lighting bonfires in beaches or forests. It is a punishable offence.
- Video films and photography of aboriginal tribes of Andaman Islands is strictly prohibited and is considered a crime and is liable for punishment.
- All the tourist attraction spots will carry notice boards about permission for photography and video filming. Obtain permits for taking video films and photographs wherever required.
On the beaches
- Please avoid littering the beaches and roads. Do not throw garbage, bottles, and empty cans indiscriminately. Use the garbage bin. Please keep environment clean without polluting it.
- You need special permission from Fisheries Department and Forest Department for taking any corals, or seashells. All marine life and creatures are protected.
- Breaking, even touching a live coral is prohibited. Collecting dead coral is also not allowed.
- Whatever the size or condition of shells you find – in the sea or on the beach – taking them or even touching them is strictly prohibited. Removing or collecting shells is prohibited either from sea or from beach.
- Take care to swim in the safe and permitted areas only; pay attention to the warnings if any posted and seek lifeguards’ advice when in doubt and also their help immediately if needed.
- Do not swim when inebriated. Avoid swimming during monsoon in treacherous zones. Both are not safe.
- Nudity is not practiced in public places in India. Naked sunbathing or sea-bathing is generally not approved. Please follow decent dress code while on beaches and public places. Wearing revealing dresses is also not considered appropriate in public places.
While scuba diving
- Take care to stay within the permitted areas while snorkelling or scuba diving.
- You should take care not to stand of coral reef. Doing so can damage the coral reefs.
- For safe scuba diving, please use known, approved and registered institutions which are affiliated to international organizations like SSI, BSAC, PADI and NAUI.
- Diving with unregistered and private dive operators may be hazardous and not safe. Please avoid this.
- Port Blair, capital of Andaman Islands is the only entry and exit port for Andaman Islands.
- All foreign visitors’ passports will be checked on arrival and departure and will need to be stamped by Immigration authorities.
- A special permit from immigration authorities is required for foreign nationals as soon as they reach Port Blair.
- All foreign tourists must possess restricted area permit once entering Andaman Islands.
- Foreign visitors can get restricted area permit from the immigration officers present in the airport/harbour. After verifying the validity of passport and visa, a restricted area permit will be issued by the officer.
- A restricted area permit is valid for 30 days. An extension for 15 more days can be obtained three days prior to the expiry of the first issued permit.
- Foreign visitors must carry the permit all the time they are travelling inside Andaman Islands and should always keep the permit handy to show to checking personnel whenever required.
- Visitors who do not happen to have it on person during some random checking, will be penalized since travelling without restricted area permit inside Andaman Islands is an offence.
- A restricted area permit is mandatory for obtaining accommodation in any hotel or resort.
- Photostat copies of restricted area permit, passport and visa are necessary for keeping records in all hotels or resorts.
- Whenever visitors are visiting Havelock or other islands like Neil, on arrival, the jetty police officers will check the foreign visitors’ restricted area permits and then only allow them to embark from the ferry and enter the islands.
- Visitors need to depart Andaman Islands on or before the expiry date of restricted area permit.
- Visitors will not be allowed to overstay – which is a punishable offence.
- Visitors can get the extension at Port Blair only and may have to be present there until all formalities are completed and a 15-day extension is issued.