ANDAMAN ISLANDS

Exploring one of mother India's

last and most remote frontier outposts

> 2 weeks in the Andaman & Nicobars, territory of India <

The Andaman Islands are part of the Indian union territory called the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The two remote island groups are Indian outposts closer to South East Asia than the Indian subcontinent; a feature, clearly demonstrated by the island geography. The island coasts mainly have mangrove forests with small stretches of white sand beach. In particular, the seascape is breathtaking and colorful with small hilly islets scattered in a crystal blue sea. Many of the islands are separated by narrow channels, which create idyllic backwaters and lagoons with beautiful coral reefs. The interior is a wilderness covered by old jungle and with an overall untouched and pristine appearance. This gives the impression as a Garden of Eden. Interestingly, one of the least developed human cultures in the world inhabits the Andaman-Nicobar islands: the native Jarawa tribe of Negrito origin, which represent human beings from the first wave of migrants out of Africa tens of thousands years ago. The Andaman-Nicobar islands really represents one of the last unperturbed frontiers left on planet Earth: Being remote, wild and uncrowded, the islands are the perfect travel destination for islomaniacs (yes, we'll admit to such a mental diagnosis).

 

When studying maps of the Indian Ocean and South Asia it takes little exploration to conclude that the Andaman & Nicobars are two key archipelagos on a short list of the larger isolated islands groups in this part of the world. We "discovered" the islands early on and developed an urge to go there in our early twenties. A few years after our "discovery" the opportunity was realized and we made a two week long visit to the Andaman Islands, detouring from a longer trip from the Himalayas to the Maldives. It was an incredible experience and we had a great time in this small and exotic slice of the Indian Ocean. Most time was spend on Havelock Island, a beautiful island in the center of the Andaman archipelago from where we arranged several day trips. A big draw is the wild, pristine and untouched nature of this place, outclassing many other remote archipelagos that we’ve visited during the years. Being very sparsely populated, calm and undeveloped, the islands are also a great escape from the more noisy and ever-developing mainland India.

Like islands off the Indian mainland? Check our other island hopping adventures close to India, incl. the Lakshadweep Islands, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. For adventures on the Indian mainland check our Hippy Trail trip all around India as well as our adventures into the East Indian Himalayas.

Selected pics::

Location of the Andaman Islands
Location of the Andaman Islands

Remotely positioned South of Myanmar, North of Sumatra, and in between India and Thailand. Once hard to get to but but with flight connections to mainland India nowadays

Paradise awaits
Paradise awaits

Clear waters, white beaches, few tourists, slow transport: A backpackers dream. And hundreds of small islands and isles, if one dares to leave the main circuit in India and venture here.

Inglis Island
Inglis Island

Several times we rented fishing boats from Havelock Island to explore the untouched archipelago and its many deserted islands. The trip to Inglis Island took two hours each way, through narrow mangrove water channels and across open sea.

Fisherman and his boat
Fisherman and his boat

Off the coast of Havelock Island, Kalapathar Beach

Elephant Beach
Elephant Beach

This unqiue beach of the Northern side of Havelock Island epitomizes the raw beauty and wilderness of the Andaman Islands. We rented a boat for half a day and went there to snorkel

Relaxing and snorkeling
Relaxing and snorkeling

Elephant Beach, Havelock Island

Nature untouched
Nature untouched

Elephant beach. Can be reached by boat or try the 5 hours trek through the jungle

Elephants
Elephants

Used to drag logs from the forest to the sea. Only a little timbering has been established in the very south of Havelock Island

Beach no 3, Havelock Island
Beach no 3, Havelock Island

All beaches on Havelock are arbitrarily named from no. 1 to no. 7

Forest path to Neils's Cove
Forest path to Neils's Cove

We walked for 20 min and found the so-called Neil's Cove just North of Radhanager Beach, Havelock Island. Completely empty and like a hidden gem. We stayed there for several hours, swimming, reading books, and comtemplating about how special these islands really are

Fishing for lunch
Fishing for lunch

We went to beach no. 3 for a morning swim and met this friendly older lady

Between beach no. 3 and beach no. 4
Between beach no. 3 and beach no. 4

Typical Andaman islands beach; soft white sand, turquoise water and mangrove plants. One could walk for hours along the beaches no 1-7 on Havelock to meet only a few other tourists, or even locals

Neil's Cove, Havelock
Neil's Cove, Havelock

We rented a motorbike for a few weeks and toured around the wildeness island on dirt tracks, from beach to beach. Every corner had it's own little secret. For the everyday picnic we supplied ourselves with food and fresh fruits from the local market on the island

"Famous" Beach no 7, Havelock
"Famous" Beach no 7, Havelock

Beach No. 7 on the western coast, better known as Radhanagar Beach was named "Best Beach in Asia" by Time Magazine in 2004

Shipwreck on beach no 2
Shipwreck on beach no 2
Working in the crops
Working in the crops

Small settlements in between the jungles had rice farms established

Lonely beach tree
Lonely beach tree

We made late afternoon strolls on beach no 3. The low tide enabled us to study the sea floor and its life. This lonely mangegrove tree was sort of iconic to us as it represented the geography and the lonesome position of the Andamans in the Indian Ocean

Palm tree shadow
Palm tree shadow

Many small spots allowed for escaping the fierce sun at noon. Tranquility was a theme

Boat trip to start
Boat trip to start

We often rented boats for an island hopping day; other days we went fishing or diving

View towards beach no 3
View towards beach no 3

Havelock Island

Seafloor sunset, Havelock
Seafloor sunset, Havelock
Beach no 7 / Radhanagar beach
Beach no 7 / Radhanagar beach

Supposedly more tourists have started to arrive at the Andamans since we went there in its virgin days, but the beaches are long and wide, so escaping the minor crowds of local tourists should be possible.

Beach no 5
Beach no 5
They came from Calcutta...
They came from Calcutta...

...but had settled in the archipelago two generations back to live a more simple life and try their luck with farming and fishing

Our eco-bungalow at Emerald Gecko
Our eco-bungalow at Emerald Gecko

Everything was made ad-hoc from the 2004-tsunamic floating timber and local trees. The bathroom was open-roofed and we could feel the air and wind in the bedroom. It was great!

Diving trip to Outram Island
Diving trip to Outram Island

We went diving around Ritchie's Archipelago in East Andaman Islands. Many pelagics and unperturbed corals was the highlight

Day island hop to Inglis Island
Day island hop to Inglis Island
Inglis Island beach
Inglis Island beach

The island was unhabited - the real Robinson Crusoe experience, although not for 28 years but for three hours only

Shellfish
Shellfish
Getting limestone for house building
Getting limestone for house building

In the evening time, at lower heat, local villagers hammered out lime stone rocks from the seafloor at low tide to use for building blocks during house building