We all know beaches of Andaman are awesome, but that is not all. The history of the tribes, the settlers who migrated years ago, the Jurassic era kind of forests and not to forget the clear blue waters, Andaman is a backpacker's paradise. Seen here is one such brilliant blue beach of Little Andaman.
Far far away from my beloved mountains and Himalayas, I took a chance by visiting the tropical islands of Andaman this October. I am not a big beach person, neither do I know how to swim so I went there with mixed feelings. Don't be surprised if I tell you I never got into the water beyond my knees, did not snorkel and didn't Scuba dive either! But I had the most rocking time ever! No kidding, here's what I saw during 14 days. However, before that, let me gloat about the bragging rights I acquired after visiting some of the most exotic and remote islands of Andaman! :)
Neil Island :
This was my first stop. Landed in Port Blair and headed straight here the next day with my friend. A quaint little island which still has managed to retain it's charms yet offering enough comforts to the traveller, it was a good place to start getting used to the island culture before I headed to the more remote parts. I fell sick right on day one, went to the hospital, got myself a small heart attack when the doctor checked for malaria, thankfully which was a negative. But the temperature was still running high, which is why I didn't snorkel. But that didn't stop me from shooting the stars though. The resorts are located right off the beaches, making star gazing and sunset viewing very very convenient!
Milkyway seen through the tall Mahua trees in Neil Island, Andaman. The nights are clear and there is practically no light pollution. A 2 minute walk from my room to the beach showed me this view. It was pitch dark and I was alone with the camera. I fought the terrible temptation to run back to the room, the scuttling noises of the hermit crab wasn't soothing, it only scared me more. But when my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I saw the stars above, all of that dread didn't vanish but the struggle to stay put seemed worth trying and the rest as they say is history! ;)
We stayed at Tango Resort almost at the southern tip of the island. It was a lovely property and 20 minutes walk on the white sandy shore would take us to the sunset point at the southernmost tip. But the sad thing is, sun sets so early it hardly gives one enough time to enjoy the scenery. It gets pitch dark by 5.30pm but while I was there, the moon used to give us good company.
Two days later my friend and I went separate ways, she took the ship to Havelock and I, further to Long Island. It was a long journey and I was the only tourist in the boat apart from locals. We went past many small islands scattered here and there. Finally when I landed I knew this would be wild but it was much more wild than I expected. I spent three days in the island with no other traveler in sight, walked to the farthest beach, drank fresh coconut water straight from the tree and wandered alone in the ruins of the island.
That is the way to the resort, I call it a resort but it is nothing more than basic accommodation surrounded by a lot of trees and bushes. The jungle in this island looked straight out of Jurassic Park era. Huge trees, dense canopy, thick undergrowth characterized the forests of Long Island. I woke up with a snake skin in my bamboo hut and it was after I woke elated that I survived a night alone in a remote island. Was a colossal FML moment! With the only ship having left for the day, I had no choice but to ignore the fact that a snake might have crawled into my room and left.
The only saving grace of the 3 hour long walk along the beach was the beautiful Lallaji Bay. Far from the settlement in the island, this is one pristine stretch of clear blue waters. As of now coconut plantations dot the beach side and there isn't any provision to stay overnight. Eventually a resort is being planned here which might make this beach private. But for now I enjoyed the views, drank fresh coconut water straight off the trees and sat there doing nothing, nothing at all.
Kalipur, North Andaman:
Three days after I landed in Long Island, I took the ferry to Yerrata Jetty. The boat went through mangroves and several densely forested islands with no beach. It looked very wild and very beautiful. The jetty was constructed right in between dense mangroves, so much so that I felt I was in the movie Anaconda or something. Several hours later I landed in the desolate Kalipur, quite close to Saddle Peak. The remoteness of Long Island got to me and here I did not want to be in the budget bamboo hut far away. Instead I convinced myself that I earned some luxury, stayed in a beautiful cottage. Thankfully there was one other French couple in the huge property. I spent three days here as well.
On the way to Saddle Peak, this is how we crossed streams, if there is a fallen tree that is. Otherwise depending on the time of the day and the tide, we would wade through waist deep crocodile infested waters or just walk across ankle deep waters.
The ginormous trees were extremely intriguing. These forests haven't been disturbed for a very long time and it shows in the size of everything. Very tall, very huge, very green, very dense was all I could think. The forests around here are just as amazing.
After Long Island, Kalipur and the ridiculously tiring journey from Diglipur to Port Blair through the Jarawa Reserve, I was in double minds about visiting Little Andaman. Practically no one could give me useful information on how this island would be. Several phone calls later I finally summoned some courage to visit this very less known island and what an island it was! I can even claim that this was the best beach I had seen so far in all of Andaman. Three days later I had no intention of leaving but forced myself to return back.
Apart from spectacular beaches, Little Andaman has a beautiful lagoon at Kala Pathhar Beach. The water slowly collects in the pool here as the waves hit the black rocks. By evening the pool is full and it meets the ocean out of a corner. I sat here all day watching the pool fill up. Did nothing, absolutely nothing! Just watched the tide rise. Awesome day.
The ship journey to and from Little Andaman was an amazing experience. I went to the other islands on a boat, but since Little Andaman was across open waters, ships run between Port Blair and Hutbay. Watching the sun set in the middle of the ocean was magical to say the least. I stood on the deck till the wind threatened to throw me off the ship.
Between the island hopping, I took a day to visit the popular tourist spots, one of them being the Ghost town of Ross Island. The once thriving settlement was abandoned after repeated earthquakes and water depletion. Today all that remains is the red bricks and the growing forest around it.
It was a rainy afternoon and I walked alone through ruins imagining the days they would've seen. It was just as eerie as it was beautiful. There was a cemetery with some old spectacular graves but obviously I wouldn't go. It drizzled all the time, the tourists left much earlier and I took the last ferry to Port Blair.
After two weeks, I heard a lot of stories and saw a lot of rainbows. But the icing on the cake was the one last rainbow seen above the North Sentinel Island. This island is home to the Sentinelese, one of the world's last uncontacted tribes! For now, I will have to make do with an aerial view of the mystery tribe. But two week, totally well spent!