Andamans Islands is one of those destinations which offer much to do – you can either go island hopping to appreciate the contrasting beauty that each of the islands offers or you can stay put at just your favorite one and let life pass by. You can either go on an adventurous sojourn by diving at some of the best sites or you can have a relaxing vacation with all the luxurious amenities at your footsteps.
Among all the beautiful Islands of Andamans, Neil Island is surely the one which I would go on to describe as the forgotten paradise catching up slowly with the growing tourist’s interest. The island is so beautiful in its raw form that I am writing about it with a half mind and a half heart, thinking that probably, some secrets are never meant to be revealed.
Neil Islands, located 37 km to the south of the Andaman Islands is a tiny island which still lies pristine. This island, which is just 5 km in length, is one of the best examples when one talks about unexplored coral reefs, white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters and dense tropical vegetation. The corals in these islands are so pure that they can be found even in the shallow waters!
Unlike most islands in Andamans which are dome shaped and are mostly hilly in formation, Neil Island is a flat- shaped island and has hence become the bicycler’s paradise. If you have taken a car for commuting across the island through a travel agency, you might get surprised or even frustrated. Being a small island, a single driver deals with at least 3 clients everyday at once and they won’t compromise on their timings! Food is also a big problem in this island if you are not staying at one of the resorts which have their own restaurant and dining system.
Private and public ferries commute between Port Blair and Neil Island and it takes almost 1 hour 45 minutes to get here from Port Blair Phoenix Jetty. You can also get to Neil Island from the more famous Havelock Island which takes almost 45 minutes.
If you are coming to the islands on a budget, you are mostly at the mercy of the locals who have set up basic lodging facilities. Although a lot of resorts have come up in the recent years, the islands are still not heavily commercialised and mobile connectivity remains to be a problem. Only BSNL has set up towers on this island and you can rely on them only for calls. Forget about chatting with your best friends or watching a Youtube video. The only sources of entertainment for the locals are listening to music and watching television. After watching their susagade way of life, I started wondering what do they think after watching all the commercials. Don’t they lament over things they are missing out on? As I talked to them, I discovered how content they were, so much so that most of them don’t have a career plan. They love their life in the islands and have been brought up serving Mother Nature.
However, there is no dearth of activities for tourists. Starting from scuba diving to game fishing, trekking to snorkeling, cycling to swimming, the island has got everything to offer. Neil Island is also one of the most perfect places to go beach hopping!
Bharatpur beach, one of the most bustling beaches in Neil Island, is an ideal place to quench your thirst for water activities. Operators provide a host of activities in this beach including glass boat ride, Jet Ski, snorkeling, banana boat ride etc. This beach has a wide sandy stretch with which the myriad shades of blue water combine perfectly to provide a view worth dying for. When it comes to food, there are very limited options which you can buy only from the stalls located in the beach.
Laxmanpur Beach is that white sand beach which we have been seeing in our dreams all the while. This has gain reputation for offering one of the most spectacular sunsets in Andamans. The beach has very low tides and is ideal for swimming. It is not as hugely commercialized as Bharatpur beach and so you can just lie down to wonder at the marvel of life. This is one experience which will definitely give you goals to take some time off from your busy and monotonous life.
Ramnagar beach is that one beach which got settled at the corner of my heart to stay there forever. I trekked through a short forest trail which was mostly covered with dead finger corals shredded into small pieces. The first view that I caught of this beach was a sight to behold. As the sun set, the mangroves shimmered like glitters have been poured upon them and the corals in the shallow waters reflected like the infinite stars in the sky.
If you are a sunrise lover, this is the beach where you would want to be. This is also an ideal place to take a morning walk or to just lie down on the sandy stretch to read a book from your favorite author. In Andamans, the sun rises at nearly 5 am. So unless you have a bicycle or a bike, it is mostly recommended to take a stay near this beach if you definitely want to catch a sunrise because autos don’t commute so early in the morning.
Natural Bridge, Laxmanpur Beach
Through a short forest trail, we walked over dead corals to reach the Natural Bridge which was one beauty to behold. It is mostly recommended to visit this place during low tide as the sea water here abounds in marine life even in the shallow waters. You can take a guide who will show you marine life without going underwater! From star fish to sea cucumber, you can see everything lying just at the nook as you make your way to the bridge.
I had an amazing time exploring the beauty of this island. From witnessing small fishes making their way through the corals, to reading a book early in the morning when I had the entire beach to myself, Neil Island offered me memories so serene that I will keep looking forward to going back to the islands for ever.