Established in 1983, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park has been aimed to protect marine life like nesting sea turtles found in this area and sea corals. Located in Wandoor on the Andaman Islands, the park is located only 29 km from Port Blair and falls under the Chief Wildlife Warden’s protection.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park consists of a total of 17 islands and is stretched over 281.5 sq. km of landscapes. You can find sea creeks all around the park. It consists of 2 leading groups of islands – Twin Islands and Labyrinth Island. They are located around 16 km south of Port Blair. These islands fall under Rutland Archipelago and are located between Rutland Island and South Andaman Island.
When to Visit?
It is recommended to visit the national park from October to February. Nights are pleasant and days are mild during these months. Unlike from June to August, days are comparatively cool and you won’t have any rain at this time. You can easily witness the islands. Boatmen or fishermen will tell you if there is a weather issue on any island.
You can enjoy a lot of activities here along with visiting the breeding ground for turtles in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Here’s what you can do and enjoy –
1. See Turtle Hatching
Nesting of sea turtles is the center of attraction in this national park which attracts plenty of tourists here. You can get there to witness turtles hatching and making their way to the water. Turtles are known to be the most endangered species in the country. The park authorities are making all the possible efforts to save them and improve their population. They also help recover the injuries of turtles that get trapped in fishnets.
Snorkeling is a very popular water sport in the park. Here, you can get up close to the sea world. If you haven’t tried the same before, you can easily get up close to the vivid sea corals and fishes and you can easily dive in like a pro. The islands are beautifully blessed with hidden treasures of diverse marine species and splendid sea corals.
3. Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving is a great pastime for tourists in the marine national park when it comes to witness the exotic sea world. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park inhabits a whole lot of vivid fishes of different sizes and beautiful coral reefs. It is safe for scuba diving as it doesn’t have any predatory fishes around the coral reefs and beaches. Both experts and novices can enjoy their trip to the underwater world. But they need to be accompanied by a guide and certified.
4. Bird Watching
There is no lack of places where you can spot a lot of migratory birds as well as local ones and this place is definitely the paradise for bird watchers. Jolly Buoy Island is definitely the most popular spot for bird watching in the park. If you are in Andaman, you can easily visit these spots. It is well connected to the regular city and suburban buses operated by government and private organizations.
5. Boat Rides
Banana boat ride is another exciting and fun-filled activity in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Only 6 people can ride the banana boats at a time. In order to gain speed, a speedboat ties them behind. This activity is completely safe. You need to follow the instructions properly and wear life jackets. To avoid congestion, you will get tickets with a timestamp in Wandoor jetty.
Is a permit required for entry?
You need to get a permit on your arrival. But if you want to indulge in scuba diving or hire a boat, additional charges will apply as it is a national park. Only 150 permits are issued on a first come first serve basis each day. The number increases on peak days by the forest department. You need an additional permit for a camera which costs Rs. 25. You cannot carry plastic bottles to the park.
For your visit to Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, the entry fee is Rs. 50 for Indians and Rs. 500 for foreigners. You can hire a taxi or bus to reach Wandoor within 45 minutes. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is located there. It has good road connectivity to all major cities of Andaman. Buses are available to and from Port Blair every 30 minutes. You can hop on local buses from 6 AM to 8PM.
Due to the tsunami in 2004, the park was gone through rehabilitation and was closed. Later on, it was reopened for tourists with less damage than expected. Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island are open all year. So what are you waiting for? Embark on your Andaman and Nicobar Islands trip and visit Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park.
- Is this national park safe for tourists?
The park authorities have developed this place to be as safe as possible for the tourists, following the tsunami that occurred in 2004. There is no guarantee of any such act of god though. But this place is considered safe and is prepared for any natural disasters.
- What to look for in this place?
This place is well known for its sea turtles. It was actually established with an aim to conserve marine life. It has a huge number of marine species.
- When to visit this place?
October to February is considered to be the best time to visit Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Days are soothing and nights are cooler here during this time.
- Are there any permits required?
You can easily access the tourist permit with extra charges as it is a national park. You need to pay extra for a plastic bottle and a camera. Basically, plastic bottles are not allowed as it is an eco-friendly park.