The Andaman Islands – Archipelago Allure

Written by Linda Cartlidge 

Photos by of Asia Pacific Superyachts

Written by Linda Cartlidge 

Photos by of Asia Pacific Superyachts

Cruising the clear waters of the Andaman Seas and exploring its enchanting islands awards international visitors with miles of seclusion. Coral gardens, soft sandy beaches, pure blue waters, and good sailing winds are guaranteed. 

A paradise of anchorage options awaits in an adventure journey that opens onto a secret world of tropical jungles, lush rainforests, and serene, pristine beaches, which are scattered throughout much of the Andaman Archipelago. When voyaging to India, skippers will find Thailand’s Phuket an excellent departure point from which to cruise the 400 NM to Port Blair in the Bay of Bengal, India.  

Port Blair is the capital of this union territory and well connected to mainland India with Kolkata in the east of India and Chennai in the south serving as primary gateways. Surrounded by tropical forest and rugged coastline the Andamans lively provincial capital, Port Blair, has a fascinating history. Here you can visit the famed ‘Cellular Jail’ and plan enticing day trips like to locations such as the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. 

A major challenge when visiting a new wilderness destination is knowing where to go, where to anchor and what to see, along with trying to figure out the time-consuming check-in and check-out procedures.  Mr. R. Rathnam, the Managing Director operating the leading professional yacht handling & facilitation agency, Asia Pacific Superyachts (APS) Andamans, and his expert team can assist and provide all the guidance necessary prior to and during the journey, and create a pre-arrival itinerary specifically designed to the interests of the owner and captain.  

Expert assistance is needed through a vessel’s arrival and departure as clearance procedures at Port Blair can be a lengthy process, requiring lots of paperwork. Customs, Immigration, Coast Guard, Harbour Master, and the Forestry Department all require written requests before providing formal written approvals and arrival/departure procedures for these needs and for visas, health and security, can be professionally and efficiently handled with you by your agent.  

While the numerous procedures and paperwork are completed under the eagle eye of your agency, visitors can enjoy unique sites and wonderful activities in and around Port Blair, steeped in British tradition and holding many delights for visitors. It may take a couple of days to clear in, including arranging with the Harbour Master to take on water at the commercial dock and to ensure all paperwork is completed and provisioning has been done. APS can bring provisions right to your yacht from their modern and expansive provisioning facility, located at Port Blair. Prior to arrival, APS will advise on berthing and anchoring and will submit the detailed itineraries, along with twice daily radio check-ins to ensure the authorities know where the vessel is at all times.  

While guidebooks provide some indication for itineraries, invariably some of the best spots are omitted; thus, your agent will tailor an itinerary drawing on extensive local knowledge that includes advice on navigational hazards, berthing and anchoring, along with options for accommodation, special island visits, vehicle hire, air travel and helicopter transport.  

There’s good news for visitors as foreigners may stay as long as desired, per the visa validity. Before, yachts that were interested in longer stays had to leave the country and then return, and the crew had to have a multiple entry visa if they wanted to spend more than 30 days in the Andamans. Now crew and guests may visit with a single-entry visa and stay as long as they want, as per the validity of the visa. 

In a major move to boost tourism in the Andaman Islands, the Indian government removed the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from 29 islands in the Andamans for foreigners a few years ago. Now the Ministry of Home Affairs has relaxed the RAP for a further period, i.e., till December 31, 2027. Mr. Rathnam adds, “Some of the islands may require a permission from the tribal department or forest department. Previously, most of the tribal reserve and forest reserve areas were totally off-limits for tourists. Now it is open with permission from the concerned authorities.” 

Itinerary Suggestions 

At the heart of a visit to the Andaman Islands Archipelago, is its natural beauty. Situated more than 1,000km off the east coast in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, the archipelago is thickly covered by tropical forest that supports a profusion of wildlife, including some extremely rare species of birds. The principal attraction lies in the beaches, and scuba diving or snorkelling along the pristine reefs that ring most of the islands.  

An Andaman Islands itinerary might consist of visiting any of the following islands: Long Island, Inglis Island, Rutland Island, Ross Island, Tarmugli Island, Inglis Island, Cinque Islands, North Sentinel Island, Neill Island, Kyd Island, Havelock Island, John Lawrence Island, Henry Lawrence Island, Outram Island, North Passage Island and Barren Island.  

Havelock is the most popular tourist island with Havelock Beach Number 7 the busiest.  Most superyachts head on to more isolated locations, which offer stunning marine scenery.  

Through the Diligent Strait, Peel Island and Henry Lawrence Island offer secluded anchorages for snorkelling and interesting coastal outcrops to explore. Exciting and adventuresome island cruising for superyachts is accessible only by boat and include the islands of Inglis, Sister, Passage, Brother, Barren, Narcondum, Little Andaman, Interview, Neil, Cinque, Henry, Lawrence, and Button.  

The Barren Island volcano, the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia, may be at least 1.8 million years old according to scientists at Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. 

The best time to visit 

“When the monsoon season is over the scuba diving season starts with waters turning calm, clear and flat. Coral reefs and marine life put on a great show offering a memorable visit for scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Yachts can head north or south from the capital, viewing stunning islands along the way with the best anchorages easily reachable”, reports Rathnam.   

The peak time to visit is between December and March. Once the festival of Sankranti ends around January 15th the weather turns warm. With no rain-bearing clouds and no winds to stir up the sea, the clear blue skies and serenely cool seas can be enjoyed. If you are a scuba enthusiast, visit between February and March and head north to the Havelock Islands with their excellent and exhilarating marine life – thanks to a flat and smooth sea with no wind, you’ll have near-perfect visibility.  

Looking at a broader time range, from October till mid-June is the best season in general to visit Andaman Islands. The heavy southwest monsoon showers are over by September, Rathnam reports. “The entire area looks decked up in fresh greenery after the rain and each of the islands looks beautiful and ready to welcome the festival season. The weather remains temperate thanks to the intermittent rains. Happy with rain-assured bountiful crops, the local people get ready to celebrate the festival season and welcome visitors.” 

“Generally, there are fewer tourists visiting Andaman Islands during June, July and August. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best times and season to enjoy the bountiful showers from the monsoon. The rain-drenched highlights of the Islands, its pristine coastline and the abundant green cover will surely captivate you. They are monsoon’s best gifts to Andaman Islands.” 

An incredible and unique journey awaits those wanting to experience a different world, one full of wonder – the Andaman & Nicobar Islands!  


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