The coastal states in India host some of the most gorgeous beaches of the country. Goa and Maharashtra on the Konkan coast, Kerala on the Malabar coast, and Tamil Nadu on the Coromandel coast are well-known places for a beach vacation.
But away from the popular tourist circuit, nearly 1300 km from mainland India, lies a captivating beach destination. Some call it ‘India’s best-kept secret’. This is Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal comprising 572 islands.
Prior to India’s independence, these remote islands served as a penal colony. From a colonial prison to an enchanting beach spot, Andaman Islands have come a long way. Besides monsoon (June to September), all other seasons are good for a trip to Andaman.
How To Get There:
The Andaman archipelago is connected to other parts of India, mainly by flight. Port Blair, the capital city of the archipelago houses a domestic airport with direct flights from Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad.
An alternative way to reach Andaman is through the sea route from Chennai port or Visakhapatnam (Vizag) port. It takes a minimum of two days by ship from any of the ports. I chose a flight, since I wanted more time in hand to explore the place.
Havelock and Neil are the two most famous islands in Andaman. Havelock Island is officially renamed as ‘Swaraj Dweep’ and Neil Island as ‘Shaheed Dweep’. Both are connected to Port Blair by ferry.
Now if you are wondering, which beaches are a must-visit? Here is a list of the Best Beaches in Andaman that must feature in your Andaman itinerary.
Radhanagar beach is an iconic beach in Havelock Island. This beach gained a lot of popularity after winning the ‘Asia’s Best Beach’ accolade by Time Magazine in 2004.
It looks no less than a slice of heaven on earth. The turquoise water sea in the backdrop of lush green forests and a wide stretch of white sand make a perfect beach scenery.
Locally called beach number 7, this is an excellent beach for swimming and sunbathing. The water is so crystal clear here that I could see tiny ornamental fishes with bare eyes. From the Havelock Island jetty, it is a 20-minute drive to Radhanagar beach.
Another picture-postcard beach in Havelock, Elephant beach is famed for its pristine coral reefs and lively marine life. I took a ferry from Havelock dock to reach here. There is also a 2-km long nature trail through dense forests if you wish to go off the beaten track.
This beach offers a mind-blowing snorkelling experience. Peeping in the mysterious world of fishes was like a dream come true. They were so close that I even touched some of them. Aside from this, adventure seekers can enjoy a plethora of water sports, like jet ski, sea kart, parasailing.
Set amidst thick tropical forests of Neil Island, Laxmanpur beach is almost 2 km away from Neil Island jetty. This beach is segregated into two, Laxmanpur beach number 1 and 2. The white sand beach number 1 is known for its breathtaking sunset view. Relatively silent during the daytime, it starts buzzing with visitors during sunset hours.
The trail leading to Laxmanpur beach number 2 is a bit challenging that passes through rugged and sharp-edged corals. The major highlight of this beach is a natural rock formation resembling a bridge. Referred to as the Natural Bridge of Neil Island, this structure is made of corals. Over a period of thousands of years, the strong sea waves have carved out such a shape.
One of the finest sandy beaches in Neil Island, Bharatpur beach is within walking distance of Neil jetty. The sea is so clean here that one can see straight to the bottom. Diving experience in the blue water sea at this beach is all about kaleidoscopic corals, beautiful fishes, and incredible sea creatures.
Glass-bottom boat rides are also offered at this beach. If you are not comfortable diving or snorkelling, you can explore the vast undersea kingdom sitting inside a boat.
Chidiya Tapu Beach
Renowned as the best sunset point in Port Blair, Chidiya Tapu beach is positioned at the southernmost tip of the island. It is a 20-km drive from Port Blair city. Owing to the abundance of a wide variety of birds, the island gets its name Chidiya Tapu (meaning Bird Island).
Nearly empty during morning hours, visitors flock in the evening to enjoy a splendid sunset at the beach. The sky gets painted in rich hues of orange and red as the sun falls behind the horizon. Adding to the panoramic beauty of the beach are the remains of huge trees uprooted in the tsunami of 2004. These spots have turned into selfie points for visitors.
On exploring a bit more, I discovered a nature trail hidden away in the woods near the shore. It begins from Chidiya Tapu beach and passes through hilly forests to eventually reach another beautiful beach, known as Munda Pahad beach.
The unspoiled best beaches in Andaman offer many distinctive experiences to cherish lifelong. Which one do you wish to visit?