1. Where are the Andaman Islands?
The Andaman Islands are located in the Indian Ocean, in the southern reaches of the Bay of Bengal.
The union territory comprises two island groups – the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands – which separate the Andaman Sea to the east from the Indian Ocean. These two groups are separated by the 10Â° N parallel, the Andamans lying to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The capital of this territory is the Andamanese town of Port Blair.
Only some 38 of the 572 islands in the territory are permanently inhabited The islands, added together, total a land area of 6,496 kmÂ². There are about 550 islands are in the Andamans group (26 of which are inhabited), and the smaller Nicobars comprise about 22 main islands (of which 10 are inhabited). The Andamans and Nicobars are separated by a channel (the Ten Degree Channel) which is 150 km wide.
While travel to the Andaman Islands is permitted, though with restrictions, the Nicobar Islands are a no-go for tourists, and while Indians are allowed to visit Great Nicobar, a Tribal Permit must be obtained in Port Blair in order to visit other islands (which can only be got with a lot of time and patience. and even then only if you are lucky!).
2.How do I get to the Andaman Islands?
Unless you want to join the ship from Chennai to Port Blair, which takes three days -and according to some reports is anything other than pleasant- flying is the more convenient option. Currently, there are direct flights to Port Blair from either Chennai (Madras) or Kolkata (Calcutta), in India.
3.How do I get to and from Havelock?
Green is the best way to reach havelock in style. Green ocean operates daily ferry From Phoneix bay Jetty – Port Blair to havelock islands which start by 6:45 am in the morning and leaves havelock 3pm in the evening.
4.When is a good time to visit the islands?
Choosing a good time to visit the islands depends on what you are looking for.
From a diving perspective, the best time to visit is from December to May, with the months of February to April having the flattest seas, warm waters and the best visibility of the season. This is, therefore, the peak season for diving around Havelock with the island being most crowded from December to mid January. The months of September to November offer excellent diving as well, with fewer tourists. The seas are a little rough at this time and the chances of occasional rain are higher, but the underwater sights are just as rewarding. Having stated this, we add that the weather patterns are changing and last season saw short spells of wind and rain every month. In most cases this does not stop us from diving.
If avoiding the crowds is your top priority regardless of the weather then visiting the islands between April and November is your best bet. The weather is less predictable during these months, but the island is far less crowded. And an Andaman monsoon is a sight to behold.
5.Do I need a visa/ restricted area permit to enter the Andaman Islands?
All foreign nationals must apply for a tourist visa BEFORE arrival in India (with the exception of Nepal and Bhutan nationals) with the cost for a tourist visa currently approximately $60 US (depending on nationality and where you apply for it).
When applying for your visa we suggest you enter Chennai or Kolkata as your destination, otherwise the Indian government will insist for you to have your Restricted Area Permit (RAP) with your visa which will delay your application by as much as 1 month and cost you more.
RAPs can be obtained at the airport in Port Blair on arrival (free of charge) which makes things much simpler for you. Also, the applicant must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months.
Unless you already have your return ticket booked and ready to show the officials, Immigration will give you a 15day permit, which can be extended by a further 15days. Permit extensions can be obtained at the Immigration office in Port Blair or at the police station on Havelock.
If you can present a return ticket, your permit can be up to 30 days. For more information see here.
Check http://india.gov.in/overseas/passport.php for more information.
6.Port Blair- what to do and accommodation
Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman Islands, has not a lot to offer with regards to tourist attractions.
The Anthropology Museum is worth a visit (entry Rs 10/-) which will give you some more information on the tribes in reservations.