The only thought in my mind during our auspicious SAAT PHERAS was “Can we please just hurry up and get on the plane to Andamans?” Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited to get hitched but the thalassophile inside me was even more excited to spend time on one of the most beautiful places in India. As luck would have it the husband had to spend three months on these islands for work, and you could have not meet a more ecstatic wife at that time.
I insist a 100 times and more that a window seat is of utmost importance when on plane to Andamans. The view from air when you approach the islands is so surreal,the first glimpse causes a head rush.The husband winced in pain as I squeezed his hand real tight out of excitement.
FIRST STOP – HAVELOCK ISLAND
Havelock the main tourist island boasts of some top notch and beautiful beaches. Right from beach no5 where you can walk for more than 500 mtrs inside and still be in waist deep water , the shades changing from beautiful emerald green to different shades of blue as the depth changes far far away, the soft sand ,and the beautiful Radhanagar beach which was crowned as the best beach of Asia few years back .
SCUBA DIVING ADVENTURE
The happiness level went up ten notches when the husband got us enrolled for the diving course as a wedding gift.when a adventure buff like me was handed a consent form stating “I will be responsible for any kind of loss or damage to self, attend classes early morning at 7, study and also take a exam at the end of course” all this within ten days of my marriage and on my honeymoon , that very moment the heart knew this is true love.
Andamans offers the best diving experience in India and after five glorious days of multiple dives I can say I almost attained nirvana. No words can describe the underwater experience .Nothing parallels the peace underneath , the eyes are so busy taking in the surreal world that everything else is forgotten. on the very first deep dive a baby octopus displayed amazing camouflage skills and blew our minds ,completely changing colors and merging with the background.The ocean has a splendid habit of surprising you with wonderful things when least expected.
BIOLUMINESCENCE ( THE SPARKLING SEA CREATURES!)
We cycled away to glory from one end of the island to other and covering elephant beach and Radhanagar beach. My best experience (second to diving of course) was the introduction to bioluminescence during the night kayak session. It’s like million of tiny fluorescent blue bulbs illuminating together as the water gets displaced when you row your paddles. The husband reminded me time and again we had to row in a particular direction and not just splash water out of excitement to see the luminescence , which also almost resulted in me getting dumped into the sea.
ISLAND HOPPING IN ANDAMAN
The love for sea and the island hopping craze took me backpacking to some far away islands. After quite some struggle to get tickets of government ferry and 8 hours overnight ship journey we reached Little Andaman island.The beaches on this island are famous for surfing , there are palm plantations with elephants (fed a young elephant all our lunch and then fled because there is no such thing as “enough food” for a very hungry and demanding elephant), a amazing 3 hour jungle trek (1.5hrs by bike on dirt road and rest on foot) to reach beautiful whistling woods waterfalls,the dreaded sandflies and loads of roadside boards warning you of crocodiles ! Now, If I was given a choice to go on a beach full of sandflies or get eaten by a crocodile , trust me i would go running towards the crocodile, such is the agony of being bitten by those dreaded flies. With special permissions from forest department one can also see the indigenous “ONGE” tribe of Little Andaman which in itself is a experience.The best memory is just the two of us exploring the entire island on a bike and coming across a vendor selling mouth watering “panipuri” on his bicycle in the middle of nowhere !!! I’m pretty sure he was heading to the tribal houses (talk about panipuri addiction !)
ROAD TRIP WITH FRIENDS
Hell yeah, that too!
The hunger to explore and see more of these islands made us take a beautiful road trip from Portblair to Diglipur (North Andaman) with friends. A mere 350 km stretch but it had so much to offer. The trip started with us going through a restricted rainforest area which inhabitants the Jarawan tribe. The illusive tribal people are difficult to come across but we got lucky as we spotted a family in their typical red scanty attire. Every halt we took nature had something amazing to display, right from few limestone caves and mud volcanoes at a place called Baratang.
Next, we hired a small boat and enjoyed the sunset and saw as thousands and thousands of parrots made their way back to the parrot island. On crossing Rangat, the main trunk road runs along the ocean for quiet sometime , we called it our very own great ocean road. A small beach which has only pebbles and dead washed away corals as far as you could see. The Dhanni Nalah is a 750mtrs well maintained walkway through mangroves leading to Ambkunj beach. The main reason to do the road trip was a visit to Ross and Smith islands near Diglipur. Speed boats can be hired to reach these stunning azure islands connected with a sand bar. Its difficult to imagine such exotic beaches and islands exist in India.
GIRL’S TRIP TO LONG ISLAND
When was the last time you went somewhere insanely beautiful with your bestie?
Very special was a island hopping trip with my best pal , a super exciting girls only 3days trip to Long island. Spent six hours in government ferry which had turned into a hot Tin Can by afternoon. After a long walk from the ferry point to the only ecostay, we were ecstatic to find out we were the only guests on the island. One hour trek through jungle lead us to Lalaji beach. The two of us owned the beach, spent entire day in water snorkeling to our heart’s glory, enjoyed the simple packed lunch, shared the magnificence and beauty of the place silently amongst us and worth the mention is our very own kitchen dance parties on tamil songs with sweet girls running the ecostay every night.
People ask “Whats the big deal , it’s the same water , same beach everywhere you go ?!! I say it’s the experience which is different every single time. Right from the planning to the journey till you reach the sea , the solitude, the friends that one makes ,the bonds that are strengthened. The only thing which is the same and matters the most is the love for the ocean,the happiness and the soul satisfaction which comes with it at the end.
You can keep up Dr. Avantika Kekan on her adventures by following her on Instagram.