IPM Group
Marina Palma Cuarentena
Prime Moorings
Marina Ibiza
Absolute Boat Care
Port de Mallorca
Breaking News
Home > Features > Cruising the Amazing Andaman Islands
Andamans-Narcondam

Cruising the Amazing Andaman Islands

ANDAMANS-South-Cinque-Island

Discovering the clear waters of the Andaman Seas is an amazing experience where visiting yachts will discover enchanting islands and miles of seclusion and drift diving over coral gardens. The Andaman Islands are the jewels in the crown of the Bay of Bengal, an archipelago in the northeastern Indian Ocean about 130 km southwest off the coasts of Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Region.

Together with the Nicobar Islands to their south, the Andamans serve as a maritime boundary between the Bay of Bengal to the west and the Andaman Sea to the east. Most of the islands are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a Union Territory of India, while the Coco Islands and Preparis Island are part of the Yangon Region of Myanmar.

Offering unique and irresistible underwater attractions, virgin beaches, an active volcano and uninhabited Islands along with activities like water sports, island hopping, snorkeling, sports fishing, scuba diving and surfing and sunbathing – this is truly a unique voyage for yachting/sailing enthusiasts and sailors.

ANDAMANS

In the well-charted sea the islands hold a promise of an enthralling holiday and adventure voyage opening onto a secret world of tropical jungles and rare lush rainforests with serene pristine beaches scattered throughout much of the archipelago.

Arrival & Port Blair

Circular-Jail-Port-Blair

Thailand’s Phuket is an excellent departure for Skippers to cruise the 400 NM to Port Blair in the Bay of Bengal, India. Friends and family can fly or sail down from either Phuket or Langkawi, Malaysia to the entry port of Port Blair located at 11º40.3’North x 92º44.2′ East.

A major challenge when visiting a new wilderness destination is knowing where to go, where to anchor and what to see while trying to figure out the time-consuming checking in and checking out procedures of a new destination. Expert assistance is necessary in the Andaman Islands through a vessel’s arrival and departure as clearance procedures at Port Blair can be a lengthy experience requiring lots of paperwork.

Customs, Immigration, Coast Guard, Harbour Master and the Forestry Department all require written requests before providing formal written approvals. Arrival and departure procedures for these needs and for visas, health and security can be professionally and efficiently handled by your agent. Heading up Asia Pacific Superyachts Andaman Islands (APS), Mr. R. Rathnam and his expert team can provide the guidance necessary prior to and during the journey along with a custom Itinerary specifically designed pre-arrival.

Prior to arrival your agent will advise on berthing and anchoring and submit the detailed itineraries and required twice daily radio check-ins, which ensures the authorities know where the vessel is at all times. It may take up to 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. In fact, APS can bring provisions right to your yacht from their modern and expansive provisioning facility.

Barren-Island-Volcano

Meanwhile visitors can enjoy unique sites and wonderful activities in and around Port Blair, steeped in British tradition. 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 of India serving as primary gateways.

Surrounded by tropical forest and rugged coastline, the Andamans’ lively provincial capital is a vibrant mix of Indian Ocean inhabitants – Bengalis, Tamils, Telugus, Nicobarese and Myanmarese. Port Blair’s fascinating history warrants exploration while you’re in town.

The unique ‘Cellular Jail’ is the main attraction in the city along with its sound and light show. A bit grim yet inspiring at the same time, this is one of the most exciting places to see in Port Blair if you are a history buff. Serving as a prison for Indian political prisoners during the pre-Independence period, ‘Kala Pani’ or Cellular Jail now serves as a monument in honour of those freedom fighters.

When you’re taking a walk around the complex, make sure you pay attention to the plaques detailing the complete history of the place, along with the architecture of the jail. You can plan your trip in such a way that you can visit the jail during the day, spend some time out shopping and around the Corbyn’s Cove (beach) and then catch the Cellular Jail’s sound and light show in the evening.

Other enticing day trips can be made to Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and Chidiya Tapu and much more. While the yacht is being readied for the upcoming journey, owners and guests can be entertained by a fantastic cultural event on board the yacht arranged by their agent.

ANDAMAN

Favorable Visa Change

Guide books provide some indication for an itinerary, however they invariably omit some of the best spots. Your agent will tailor an itinerary drawing on extensive knowledge and include advice on navigational hazards and berthing and anchoring along with options for quality accommodation, special island visits, vehicle hire, air travel and helicopter transport.

There’s good news as in the past visitors were only allowed a 30 day Visa. That’s changed explains Mr. Rathnam: “There’s been a big change in the Andaman Islands of India for visiting yachts… they are no longer restricted by the 30 days stay regulation”. The restricted area permit (RAP) is now completely removed and foreigners may stay as long as desired, per the visa validity. Before yachts interested in long stay 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”.

Itinerary Notes

Sharing the natural beauty of the Andamans is at the heart of the visitors to India’s most remote state, the Andaman Islands Archipelago. Soft sandy beaches and pure blue waters with a temperature of 28º and cool nights with good sailing winds offers a paradise of anchorage options.

In a major move to boost tourism in the Andaman Islands the Indian government decided to remove the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) from 29 islands in the Andamans for foreigners. Thus yachts planning a trip to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands will no longer require RAP to visit these islands in the Union Territory; the restriction was lifted through December 31, 2022. Foreigners can also visit the 11 uninhabited Islands here (though only for a day).

Separate approvals of the authorities are still required for visiting reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal reserves, as in the past adds Mr. Rathnam: “Some of the islands may require a permission from the tribal department or forest department. Earlier most of the tribal reserve and forest reserve areas were totally banned for tourists. Now it is open with permission from the concerned authorities”.

Situated more than 1000km off the east coast in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, the archipelago is thickly covered by deep green tropical forest  that supports a profusion of wildlife, including some extremely rare species of birds. However, the principal attraction lies in the beaches and exploring, diving and snorkeling in the pristine reefs that ring most of the islands.

Andamans-with-Playful-Dolphins

Exciting and adventuresome island cruising for superyachts, accessible only by boat, include islands with the unlikely names of 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.

A not to be missed visit is the Barren Island volcano, which may be at least 1.8 million years old according to a group of scientists at Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. Barren Island, a possession of India in the Andaman Sea about 135 km NE of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, is the only historically active volcano along the N-S-trending volcanic arc extending between Sumatra and Burma (Myanmar).

A typical 5 day itinerary from Port Blair includes leisure activities such as snorkeling, kayaking & barbecue on the beach or on board. diving and island excursions. Yachting is the only practical option for exploring many of the dive sites in Andaman Islands and there are various itinerary options. The most popular locales for casual diving are Neil Island, Sir Hugh Rose Island and Havelock Island. For the more experienced divers, it is suggested to schedule diving at Cinque Island, Passage Islands and Sister Island.

Andamans

Havelock is the most popular tourist island with Havelock Beach Number 7 the busiest.  Most superyachts head on to more isolated islands, offering stunning marine scenery and experiences.  Through the Diligent Strait, Peel Island and Henry Lawrence Island offer secluded anchorages for snorkeling and interesting coastal outcrops to explore.

Best time to visit

The Andamans climate and weather may be described as normal for tropical islands of similar latitude. It is always warm but tempered by pleasant sea breezes and can be very hot when the sun is northing. The rainfall is irregular but usually dry during the north-east, and very wet during the south-west monsoon.

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 serene cool seas can be enjoyed while cruising and anchoring.

Looking at a broader time range, October till mid-June is the best season for visitors in general to visit Andaman Islands with October being the start of season every year. The heavy southwest monsoon showers are over by September. The entire area looks decked up in fresh greenery after the rain and each of the islands look 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 are then getting ready to celebrate the festival season and welcome visitors.

Andamans-Port-Blair

When the monsoon season is over the scuba diving season starts with waters turning calm, clear and flat. Underwater coral reefs and marine life put up 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.

February & March are the best months to explore the exhilarating marine life. If you are a scuba enthusiast, choose a time to visit between February and March for heading north to visit the Havelock Islands where you can be assured of excellent and exhilarating views of under-sea marine life – thanks to a flat and smooth sea with no wind and near-perfect visibility.

Due to the Northwest monsoon, moisture laden breeze and intermittent rains keep the temperature pleasantly cool throughout November, December and January while enjoying the mild sun during the day with evenings a little cooler. Generally there are fewer tourists visiting Andaman Islands during June, July and August reports notes APS, noting 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, the monsoon’s best gifts to the Andaman Islands.

An incredible and unique journey awaits those wanting to experience a different cruising world.

www.asia-pacific-superyachts.com

By Linda Cartlidge