The Andaman Islands, and their sisters, the Nicobar Islands, are India's answer to the more-traveled archipelagos of Southeast Asia. While India is somewhat of a fabled land for excited travelers across the globe, many forget that this huge area of land provides for island vacations as well as landlocked activities, and the Andamans' location in the midst of the Bay of Bengal places them closer to Malaysia and Thailand than India itself. Nonetheless, these are definitely Indian shores, and aside from jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, the visitor will find plenty of typically Indian culture to enjoy.
One of the great things about travel to Andaman Islands is the sheer isolation of the archipelago. The Andaman Islands in India are almost uncharted territory for tourists, which means a vacation here guarantees the visitor a truly authentic and privileged time. That said, there's plenty of infrastructure and services available for incoming tourists, and while the tourism industry admittedly took a hit after the tsunami of 2004, travelers arriving at the Andaman Islands today will find plenty of top-notch hotels, dining options, and—of course—deep sea diving facilities.
Scuba diving is one of the top things to do on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Most divers head straight for Havelock Island, which is known as being the epicenter for this great sea-bound activity. A number of operators run dives into the seas off the coast here, which are inhabited with a simply astounding array of tropical fish and coral. For those less inclined toward such underwater activities, Havelock Island also provides for great snorkeling opportunities, and its waters are so clear that seeing several meters down is no problem at all.
Havelock Island is also one of the many Andaman and Nicobar Islands that is known for its dreamy beaches. Travel to the Andaman Islands in India inevitably means happy days spent relaxing on the islands' golden sands; aside from perhaps the Goa beaches, India has nothing that can rival the Andaman Islands when it comes to appealing coastline. Aside from Havelock, Neil Island is considered a great beach-going destination. Snorkeling here is particularly good, too.
Port Blair is the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It's a charmingly ramshackle place that boasts a few colonial tourist sights, with the Cellular Jail proving the most popular. This city is more a transport hub than anything else, however, and tourists tend to treat it as a stopover at best on their way to other places of interest in the Andaman Islands in India, such as Havelock, Ross Island (supposedly the Paris of the East), and Mayabunder, an island retreat that's about as relaxed and quiet as they come. Flights arrive from Kolkata, Chennai, and New Delhi.
The Andaman Islands in India require both a standard visa to enter India and a special visitor's permit to access the islands themselves. Thankfully, this permit is easy to obtain—it's issued at the airport on arrival—and lasts for up to 30 days.
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