The top things to do in the Andamans, or in any place for that matter, is always subjective. This subjectivity depends on whether you’re visiting for a honeymoon, a family trip or a solo adventure; and on additional constraints such as time on hand and money in the wallet.
The Indian archipelago of the Andamans enchants travellers of all age groups and voyaging lineage. It offers endless freedom of choices when it comes to spending a perfect vacation and hence, we understand that it’s virtually impossible to cover all the points of interest it has on the menu.
To ensure that you get the best of this wonderland and to capture the core essence of the place, we have curated a list of the top things to do in the Andamans while on a trip here. Regardless of the nature of your travel, we recommend that you take an attempt to cover and accomplish all the activities listed. Let’s get started with the adventure!
Table of Contents
1. Visiting the Cellular Jail in Port Blair
Your trip most probably will start from Port Blair. In this capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is the notoriously popular Cellular Jail telling the saga of the acts of barbarity of the colonial rulers. We recommend visiting this site to get acquainted with the fact that the independence that we take for granted today was not an easy job.
This prison was constructed to house the political prisoners; freedom fighters in particular. You can experience the cells first hand by getting inside one of the dark, claustrophobic ones. At the far end of the gallery you can also witness the cell where Veer Savarkar was made to put up. The top floor gives a panoramic view of the ocean.
Right at the entrance, we have a museum-cum-art gallery where the chronology of the happenings has been depicted along with the artefacts in the form of inmates’ uniforms, shackles and locks. Although it’s not for the faint hearted, you can also be a first hand witness of a chamber where prisoners were executed by hanging. A feeling of eeriness can still be felt there.
And finally, you end your evening by attending one of the open light-and-sound shows running the untold stories of this place. Goosebumps and tears alert!
2. Sea Walk tour in North Bay Island
The North Bay Island, situated at an hour’s boat ride from Port Blair is popular for its corals, water activities and jungles. It also houses a lighthouse that can be seen on the last-generation INR 20 bill. While there’s a plethora of options when it comes to water activities such as semi-submarine cruise, parasailing, glass bottom ride and scuba diving, our top recommendation would be to dare to go for sea walk tour.
In this tour, you’re taken away from the shore and are made to walk on the sea bed wearing a helmet-like contraption that easily takes you downwards and also acts as your life support. Don’t worry, you have a one-on-one guide available to take your care and you are made to walk in a large space enclosed within a net to protect you from preying animals. Breathe like you do on the surface and experience the exquisite underwater aquatic flora and fauna in one of the best 20 minutes of your traveling life.
This activity certainly takes one of the three apex spots in this top things to do in the Andamans’ list.
3. Ross Island guided tour
This is going to be a surprise package in the list of the top things to do in the Andamans. When we say the word ‘island’, we usually expect a sandy beach, recliners, beach-side cafés or jet skis. Well, this one’s different.
It won’t be erroneous on our part if we describe it as a ghost town. Ross Island, or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island as we call it today, houses the historic ruins of the colonial settlement in the Andamans. It was first destroyed in a 1940s earthquake, then due to Japanese bombings in WWII and finally in the 2004 tsunami. The nature has reclaimed their territory and the result is a beautiful historic site.
You can either walk all the way or take a guided tour on the electric (golf cart-like) car. The driver serves as your guide and explains the history along the way – erstwhile churches, barracks, kitchens, clubhouses and a lot more. Not all the buildings are labeled and hence, the guide’s knowledge really comes in handy. The far end of the island houses a statue of a sailor followed by a lighthouse that is known to introduce photo voltaic panels to India.
4. Scuba diving at Havelock Island (#1 among top things to do in the Andamans)
The Andamans is one of such places in India where you can indulge in scuba diving. Within the Andamans, you get multiple options and divings sites to check it off your bucket list. Our recommendation is doing it in the Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep).
This island presents to you the best turquoise waters, clean beaches and a diverse aquatic life. On top of it, they have the best scuba diving experience companies, our recommendation being Island Divers who make this process really smooth and memorable. It all starts with signing the consent form followed by a video lecture. Then, you need to choose the right size of your diving suit and goggles. Believe it or not, they also have powered goggles! Next is briefing, sign language training (exactly what you saw in ZNMD) and a few mock drills. You are now ready to take the plunge.
You then arrive at the diving site on a boat. The moment has finally arrived! You sit on the edge with a high heart rate, wear the oxygen carrying kit and topple backwards to experience one of the most memorable moments of your life. You begin to go deeper repeatedly carrying out Valsalva manoeuvre to clear popped ears. And in a few seconds, without you knowing it, you become one with the ocean. Breathing through the apparatus becomes natural. You candidly interact with Nemos and other colourful creatures while getting your photos clicked. The time slows down and you don’t want this to end.
5. Hiking to and water sports at Elephant Beach
The Elephant Beach is one of the most well known beaches on Havelock and in the Andamans in general. You can reach here by one of the two means – either by a half an hour fibre boat ride or, by a hiking trail through the forest. Except during the monsoons, the trail is conducive to walk over and presents an enriching experience amidst the forest.
The arrival at the beach will make you awestruck with its clear, shining waters and greenery on the other side. From the designated ticket counters, you can purchase tickets to any of the water sport activities that you like – Snorkeling, sea walk, jet ski, banana boat ride, merry-go-round in the ocean, sea plane and much more. The prices are reasonable and the experience enthralling. There are a plenty of changing- and locker-rooms for your belongings.
Don’t forget to gorge on the snacks sold by local vendors after your water activities!
6. Sunrise at Kalapathar Beach
This activity might entice only the early risers. If you really need to soak in the beauty of the rising sun at Kalapathar beach, you need to reach this spot no later than 05:00AM. This beach in the Havelock Island offers panoramic views of the sunrise and you’ll be amazed to witness the crowd at the ocean.
Kalapathar literally translates to ‘black rock’ in English and it’s a no-brainer to understand why. Apart from the articulately placed rocks this beach also makes it an excellent place for a morning jog followed by a sip of tea sold by the locals. Right opposite to the beach is an array of stalls selling morning snacks. You can come back later in the day to do some souvenir and merchandise shopping which are sold here at a reasonable price.
7. Glass bottom boat ride on Bharatpur Beach
This activity is probably the only one worth doing on Bharatpur beach. This is because you’d already have had the best of other activities like parasailing or scuba diving on other islands. While the low tides make it a good option for swimming, the relatively fresh reefs and clear waters make it the best place for glass bottom boat rides.
It’s like Snorkeling without getting wet where you get to see and learn about aquatic life and different corals while sitting on a boat with transparent bottom. The boatmen know their job well and they help you explore the best of the coral reefs while educating you about them all along. Near the parking, you can indulge yourself in a sumptuous local lunch serving excellent sea food.
8. Exploring Natural Bridge on Neil Island
Natural Bridge is indeed one of the most atypical natural formations that we have witnessed. This bridge-like formation made out of two living corals is known as ‘Howrah Bridge’ by the locals. This natural monument surrounds itself with uncountable tide pools filled with aquatic animals like sea cucumber and urchins along with many varieties of corals.
A guided tour to this place is recommended to understand more about the biodiversity of this place and the history of Natural Bridge itself. It sits on a very rocky terrain and hence, sturdy shoes are highly advisable. It also functions as an excellent point to view the sunset.
Planning a trip to the Andamans? Do check out our comprehensive 7-day itinerary here.