Andaman & Nicobar is an archipelago of whopping 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal. It is located 1000 miles southeast of the Indian subcontinent. You should know other details before heading to the Andaman Islands.
How to reach Andaman & Nicobar Islands?
You can either take a ship to Port Blair from Kolkata, Chennai or Vizag or a flight to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata or Delhi.
How many days does it take to reach Andaman?
You can enter Port Blair within 2 hours from Chennai or Kolkata through flight, while it takes around 5 hours from Delhi. But ships take up to 3 to 4 days (around 50 hours).
When to visit the Andaman Islands?
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are one of the best beach destinations in India. The islands have a tropical climate and heavy monsoon winds.
Winters usually start from December to February. The temperatures remain around 20 degrees and the average minimum remains up to 22 degrees and the average maximum is 30 degrees. So, the daytime is quite warm here.
Summers start early in March till the mid of May and the average minimum reaches up to 24 degrees while the maximum reaches up to 37 degrees.
Monsoons hit Andaman usually around late May until mid-September. It is not the best time to visit Andaman. It receives low visibility underwater and heavy rains and winds during monsoon.
So, the best season to visit Andaman is from November to mid-May when days are usually sunny and the sea is often flat to see the reflection of clouds.
Do I need a visa/passport to enter Andaman?
No prior permission, visa or passport required for Indians. They need to stay in publically permitted areas.
A foreigner should carry a passport with an Indian visa to visit Andaman. It is also applicable to foreigners visiting from a private/charter yacht to enter Andaman. In addition, foreigners have to avail of a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) when entering Port Blair airport from the immigration counter and when entering seaport. You can get RAP for visiting for 30 days and it can be extended for over 15 days.
What is Restricted Area Permit (RAP)?
The whole union territory of Andaman has become a ‘restricted area’ under Foreigners (Restricted) Areas Order, 1963. Accepting a citizen of Bhutan, every foreigner should obtain a special permit from an authority known as RAP to visit and stay in a Restricted or Protected Area. One can easily obtain the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) at Port Blair. It takes around 15 minutes to obtain it and it is offered to all foreigners and is free of cost.
How to obtain a visa to Andaman?
Andaman belongs to India and an Indian visa is also valid for the Andaman Islands and is important for a lot of foreign nationals. One can obtain visas at Indian consulates, missions, and high commissions in foreign countries. Tourist visas are valid for a period ranging from 15 days to 6 months. The validity starts from the date of issue. So, you should travel as soon as you obtain the visa to get most of the whole period of validity. You can extend the visa in India once you obtain them.
How to extend a visa in Andaman?
A lot of foreigners are provided with a 30 day permit at Port Blair. You can extend this permit by around 15 days when reaching closer to expiry, i.e. when only 3 days are left. One can extend the visa either at Immigration Office, Port Blair or police station on Havelock. You may not get this extension in a couple of hours and you may want to spend one day to get the visa extended in Port Blair. Tourists mostly get 30 days on the permit. But you need to check the expiry of RAP when you get it from the officials.
Can I enter any island I like?
Out of a total of 572 islands, only 32 islands are open to the public. Tourists can enter only in select islands.
Since Andaman & Nicobar is an Indian territory, can I use Indian currency there?
Yes, you can use Indian Rupee over there, just like in any other place in India. There are currency dealers, banks and airports where you can exchange currency. There are also ATMs to withdraw Indian Rupees.
Is it safe traveling in Andamans?
The huge tourist influx in the islands all year round reflects how safe islands are for the tourists. These are some of the safest places in India to travel or stay.
Is Vegetarian Food available in Andaman?
Considering the huge inflow of tourists, you can choose from a lot of food options. And of course, vegetarian food is also available there. You don’t have to worry if you eat only vegetarian food. Port Blair has a lot of famous vegetarian restaurants.
Is the internet available? Can I make international calls?
A lot of ISD booths are available in the markets and most hotels allow tourists to make international calls. Simply dial 00 followed by Country Code and Area Code, and then Phone number to make an international call. You can access reliable services. The Internet is not available in several tourist areas and it is quite slow. The roaming signal comes in Port Blair. It is better to buy BSNL SIM if you want to enter Andaman and buy a new SIM card as it has decent connectivity across the islands.
Are meals costly in Andaman?
The price of the meal varies completely on what you order and location. Eating out in a quaint and nice restaurant costs up to Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 per person, according to what you eat. At a local market, eating is a lot cheaper and a lot of islands have many small family-run restaurants that are affordable. Seafood is quite costly in Andamans in comparison to the mainland because of less supply and huge demand.