Nestled away from Mainland India, Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Port Blair is also the headquarters of South Andaman and is a major Indian naval base. It is well known for its INS Jarawa of the Indian Navy, the first tri-command of the armed forces of India. The city is also home to the historic Cellular Jail, and tons of quaint islands nearby like Corbyn's Cove, Neil Island, Ross Island, Rutland Island, Viper Island, Jolly Buoy Island, and Barren Island (known for the only active volcano on the Indian Subcontinent) and the gateway to the pristine islands.
Port Blair is also an Island town offering water based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-cruises, and glimpses of the history and culture of the region. The Aberdeen Bazaar forms the centre of the town. Most of the restaurants and hotels are around this area. The main bus station is just west of the bazaar and the Airport 4 Kms. to the south west. The main passenger dock for ferries-the Phoenix Bay Jetty is 1 Km. to the North West.
The mainland of Port Blair connects to local attractions such as the scenic Wandoor Beach (famous for swimming and coral sighting) and Chidiya Tapu (a small beach popular for bird watching and catching the sunset). Port Blair also has several museums the most famous of them being, the Anthropological Museum which sheds light protection of the local tribes of the Andamans, and the Samudrika Naval Marine Museum which aims to promote marine conservation. The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is situated to the west of Port Blair and is the oldest national park in the Andaman islands. It aims to protect marine life, corals, and nesting sea turtles and is revered among nature lovers and conservationists across India.
Port Blair is also the point of entry into the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The city is well connected with mainland India by both air and sea. While it is still not possible to fly to Port Blair from outside India, there are many direct flights connecting Port Blair to all major cities in India and the quickest of them being from Kolkata, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bhubaneshwar, and Vishakhapatnam. Port Blair is also connected by sea to Kolkata, Chennai, or Vishakhapatnam although the travel time is 3-4 days.
Top Places To Visit In Port Blair
1. Cellular Jail
The Cellular Jail, also known as 'Kala Pani' is an old colonial prison situated in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Constructed by the Britishers during their colonial rule in India, the jail was used particularly to exile Indian political prisoners. It was used to house many notable freedom fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Yogendra Shukla and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
2. Corbyn's Cove Beach
Corbyn's Cove is the nearest beach to Port Blair. It is quite popular among tourists as well as locals. Certain parts of the Corbyn?s Cove Beach have some seating arrangement to get a good view of the horizon from a little height. There are some shacks that sell local snacks, drinks, coconut water etc. There are some restaurants also in the vicinity. The beach is one of the places where travellers can get great deals on clothing, accessories and other items to be bought as memorabilia. Corbyn's Cove Beach has some provision for water sports but often people do not want to enter the waters because the surroundings are littered and the water polluted with garbage. The facilities for water sports are also not as impressive as many other beaches in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But if one wants to, they can go Jet Skiing or a go on a short boat ride into the sea.
3. Rutland Island
Rutland, lined with virgin beaches, is one of the lesser visited of all the islands located in the southern part of Great Andaman archipelago.
4. Viper Island
Years before Cellular Jail was constructed, Viper Island was used by the British to keep the freedom fighters in exile. You can still see the remains of the jail built in 1867 by the British. Located at a distance of 10 minutes ferry ride from Port Blair, the island got its name from the vessel in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to Andaman and Nicobar in 1789. Legend also has it that there were numerous viper snakes present on the island, which is how it got its name.
5. Wandoor Beach
A small village in the southern part of South Andaman, Wandoor is most recognized for the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which is among the regions with the richest marine biodiversity. Wandoor Beach is situated at the mesmerizing South Andaman Islands. Two islands named Alexandra Island and Red Skin Island are also close to the beach and if you are adventurous, then take a boat to the islands for a trip.
6. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Located on the south-western coast of the Andaman Islands, Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park or Wandur National Park is a marine life conservation area situated at a distance of 25 km from the capital city of Port Blair. The wildlife sanctuary consists of a group of 12 islands that are situated in a labyrinthine shape and are home to some of the most exquisite marine life in the world including corals and resting sea turtles among other species.
7. Sandbar Beach
Sandbar Beach is basically a long stretch of sand that connects two islands, Ross and Smith in Andaman. The stunning scenery created by the densely forested islands and the stretch of white sand is quite unique to the location and draws several tourists to witness it charm. On a clear day when the waves are gentle, one can relax a bit on the Sandbar or go snorkelling and swimming on either side.
8. Chidiya Tapu
Known as the bird island, Chidiya Tapu is a picturesque little island in the Andamans, located around 25 kms from Port Blair. While birdwatching is the main allure of the location, there are some fun water activities here, like snorkelling, scuba diving, deep-sea walking, pearl hunting, and boating. The Sunset point of the island is considered one of the best sunset points in the Andamans.
9. Anthropological Museum Port Blair
The Anthropological Museum, situated in the heart of Port Blair, is an ethnographic museum detailing the lives and cultures of the various tribes that have lived here: Jarawas, the Onges, the Sentinelese, the Shompens, and the Nicobarese. Inside the museum, one will come across various artefacts, tools, clothes, boats, leaf baskets, and weapons from different eras of the tribes of this region.
10. Samudrika Naval Marine Museum
Samudrika Naval Museum is located in the capital city of Port Blair and is the pride project of the Indian Navy. With comprehensive coverage of the marine life present in the deep waters surrounding the island chain's territories, this fascinating museum is an amazing source for details on the environment in the ocean, its ecosystem and its biodiversity. The museum also provides in-depth knowledge on the history and culture of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
11. Chatham Saw Mill
Chatham Saw Mill is a 19th Century attraction in Port Blair which is renowned as the oldest and the largest sawmill in the continent. It is the only sawmill that provides timber for construction work on the island and is one of the few mills that export timber to industries and furniture units across the world. It is believed that the crimson wall panels at the Buckingham Palace in London have been made of the planks sourced from the mill.
12. Mount Harriet National Park
Mount Harriet National Park is undoubtedly the most beautiful of the nine national parks housed on Andaman island. Located in Ferrargunj Tehsil of Port Blair, Mount Harriet is Andaman's third peak (365m) and the most easily accessible one. Spread over an area of 46.62sq km, the national park is home to several species of birds and animals. Due to its privileged elevated location, the park offers some astounding views of azure blues surrounding the island and fascinating sunset and sunrise experiences.
13. Baratang Island
Baratang Island, also known as Ranchiwalas Island, is a beautiful little island in the North and Middle Andaman Administrative district and is situated about 100 kilometres away from Port Blair by road. The island is well-known for its mangroves, mud volcanoes (only ones in India) and limestone caves. However, you may need to take permission from the Forest Department at Baratang to explore these caves.
14. Red Skin Island Beach
Red Skin Island is one of the 15 beaches found inside the Marine National Park of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It may be considered an alternative to Jolly Buoy Island as they are adjacent to each other. This island is a promised relaxed journey on a beach that is paradise alike. The picturesque beach and adjoining forest make for a picture-perfect holiday that attracts tourists yearly. The island is a hub for marine life with an abundance of red coral reefs, aquatic animals, tropical plants, white sandy beaches and clear water.
15. Forest Museum
Located near the outskirts of Port Blair, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this one-of-a-kind museum showcases the forestry industry and the timber wealth of the islands. The museum is located within the Chatam Saw Mill complex and is around 10 km away from central Port Blair. The exhibits here include various artefacts and sculptures made from the wood from the islands. Various endemic and rare plant species found in the islands are also on showcase here.
16. North Bay Island
North Bay Island in Andaman is most preferred by tourists for its breathtaking coral reefs and exhilarating adventure activities. Interestingly, the picture of an island on the back of a 20 Rupee note is of North Bay Island.
Food of Andaman
The cuisine Of Andaman is like the island itself-tropical, exotic and refreshing. The sea that is all around has a defining effect on the island's culture, livelihood and cuisine. There is little here, in which you will not find traces of the sea. The food here, hence, is dominated by seafood preparations and you don't want to miss the fish delicacies here. Other than seafood too, the staple diet is essentially non-vegetarian.
However, as the island is becoming an increasingly popular tourist spot, the resorts and other eating places will give you options of Indian, Chinese and a few more cuisines.
Also, the fruits here are popular and refreshing. You can find Mangoes, Bananas, Pineapples, Guava and more. One can also sip in the truly refreshing and tropical coconut water here.
How to Reach Andaman
The Andamans and Nicobar islands can be reached via flights and waterways only since these are an isolated cluster of islands in the Bay of Bengal along the Eastern coast of India. The international airport at Port Blari, Veer Savarkar International Airport is connected to major cities across India and serves as the primary entryway in the Union territory.
Visiting Port Blair is easy as there are many Travel options
The Veer Savarkar Airport, an International Airport is located in the capital town of Port Blair, the gateway to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Port Blair, is connected with Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Bhubaneshwar by air. Air India, Jet Airways, Jet lite, Go Air & Spice Jet Airlines operate regular flights. Foreign chartered flights are also permitted to land at Port Blair subject to the fulfilment of guidelines of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam and back. There are three to four sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. There is only one sailing for Visakhapatnam in a month. The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hours during fair weather.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Andaman & Nicobar Islands is between October and March as the weather stays dry on most days and it's not too hot. The days are bright and quite pleasant for a great vacation. It's the perfect time for diving and water sports or just lazying around on the gorgeous beaches.
Monsoons (July to September) are not always recommended as the waves could be unpredictable and specific regions also receive heavy downpours. During the monsoon season or on days when it rains heavily, the ferry schedule gets disturbed with big delays and even cancellations. Water sports on beaches are also not available and if you're planning to dive or snorkel, visibility in the water diminishes during the rainy season.
Summer months (April-June) could be hot and it rains sometimes as well. However, Andaman being a tropical destination, the temperature doesn't go beyond 37 degrees on most days.