THE ANDAMAN ISLANDS
The Andaman Islands are located in the Bay of Bengal about 900km from India. The group of around 274 islands (26 of which are inhabited) makes a delicate chain stretching 755km, strung off the southern tip of Burma, and aligned north to south, to the fringes of Sumatra.
The Andaman Islands is a magical place. Life here moves more slowly, untouched by commercialism and modern intrusions. Thickly covered with wild tropical jungles, the islands support a profusion of wild life including some extremely rare birds and animals you will only find in the Andamans. You’ll find beautiful unspoiled beaches here, surrounded by warm tropical waters in shades of blues and greens. The seas around the Andamans are some of the worlds most unspoiled and undiscovered. Filled with pristine reefs, a kaleidoscope of colors and corals and a mind-boggling array of fish.
The name Andaman conceivably came from Nagnamanaba, a Sanskrit word meaning "naked man" the indigenous tribes of the Andamans intrigued all that sailed by, not just by their nudity, but they had an appearance that suggested African roots rather then Asian. The alleged ferocity that surrounded the tribes keeps them virtually untouched until modern times. There are still tribal people, although numbers have been slashed dramatically, currently living in the Andamans. There contact with outsiders is limited, and the reserves are strictly off limits to foreigners. They ask to be left alone so they can continue to live in their traditional ways. There is one island, North Sentinel, which has never been colonized. It’s inhabitants still live completely free of outside influence, just as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. (to learn more about the tribes in the Andamans we recommend the book The Land of the Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders by Madhusree Mukerjee.)
The first settlers on the Andamans arrived in 1789. Archibald Blair of the Royal Indian Navy founded a naval base on a small island adjoining South Andaman. The naval base proved to be unhealthy for the settlers and in 1796 its residence, almost 800 people, evacuated the island. In 1858 British colonists established a penal settlement on South Andaman at Port Blair. The British used the island to imprison Indian freedom fighters. Those who sought to rid India of British colonizers by violent means were sentenced to life on the Andamans. During World War II the Japanese took control of the Andamans. The British regained control in 1945. And in 1947, the British left, handing the Andamans over to the newly freed India.
The climate remains tropical throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 24 - 35 C (75 - 95 F) and humidity levels never below 70%. The best time of the year to visit is between January and may. From mid may to October heavy rains flush the islands, while November and December less severe rains arrive with the northeast monsoon. Despite being so far east the islands run on Indian time, so the sun rises as early as 4:30am in the summer and darkness falls soon after 5:00pm
REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
There is a sanctuary 45 miles from Havelock Island for saltwater crocodiles. Crocodiles are not only found within the sanctuary, but throughout the island chain in varying densities. They are habitat restricted, so the population is stable but not large. Populations occur throughout available mangrove habitat on all major islands, including a few creeks on Havelock. The species uses the ocean as a means of travel between different rivers and estuaries, thus they are not as commonly observed in open ocean. It is best to avoid swimming near mangrove areas or the mouths of creeks; swimming in the open ocean should be safe, but it is best to have a spotter around.
HOW TO GET TO HERE
We are located on Little Andaman Island in the Archipelago of the Andaman & Nicobar islands in India. To get to the Andamans you will need to go through Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman Islands. The quickest and easiest way is to fly. Quite a few airlines offer daily flights from both Chennai and Kolkata and the flying duration is about 2 hours from both airports.
It is also possible to get to Port Blair by ship, with departures from Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam. Although far cheaper than flying, the crossings are long 3-5 days, and with only basic amenities on board, and possibilities for rough seas, the journey can be a little tiring.
For information on ship schedules visit - http://www.shipindia.com/contact-us.aspx
Once you’ve arrived in Port Blair, it’s a 5,30 to 10 hours ferry ride to Little Andaman. Ferries leave from the Phoenix Bay and Hado jetty . In theory tickets have to be purchased one or two days in advance. For foreign passport holders tickets can be purchased only after you arrive in Port Blair as the Permit you receive at the airport is required to buy your ticket on the ferry.
Once in Little Andaman our surf shop is located right next to SEA LAND TOURISM HOME on Gandhi bazaar about a 5 minute auto-rickshaw ride from the jetty.
PERMIT & VISA INFORMATION
Foreign visitors require an Indian visa which can be obtained from the Indian embassy in your country, there is no specific visa for the Andaman Islands as we are a part of India. You will also need a Special Restricted Permit to visit the Andaman Islands which are obtainable on arrival by both sea and air. They’re simple to get, it consists of filling out a little bit of paperwork when you arrive, takes maybe 10- 20 minutes and is free of charge. The permit is valid for 30 days and will give you permission to visit only certain parts of the Andamans, the permit can then be extended by an additional 15 days. You cannot stay in the Andaman Islands for over 45 days if you hold a foreign passport. You can also apply for one through your embassy, while applying for your India visa. But you will still have paperwork to fill out when you arrive. We think it is much simpler and recommend applying for the permit on arrival.
Indian passport holders do not need any permits to visit the Andamans.
LEAVE IT TO US!
Surfing Little Andaman can assist you with all your travel arrangements in Andaman, from flights to hotel reservations. We will meet you at the airport in Port Blair, arrange transfers in Port Blair, organize ferry tickets, and once in Little Andaman, transfer you to your resort. Please contact us for more information about this service and leave the entire running to us. For more information on this contact us with your travel needs.