Places to visit near Port Blair, India - The Andaman Odyssey
Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is a part of the South Andaman Islands. To reach anywhere in the Andamans, you first fly to or sail to Port Blair. Hence, it makes up for a great start to your Andaman itinerary. However, there are some incredible places to visit near Port Blair that you must include in your itinerary. Each of these places can easily be covered in a day, making up for great half day trips or full day trips from Port Blair. In this article, we have detailed all these wonderful places to visit near Port Blair.
While you consider all places listed in this article to your itinerary, there are many places worth visiting inside Port Blair as well. Ranging from water sports activities, gardens, museums, historical places and also a beach is what you can find in Port Blair. Read below article to know about such places.
The Andaman Odyssey is a series of 16 articles that covers Andamans extensively giving you all the information you might need to plan a trip (or multiple trips) to these beautiful emerald islands of India. Click on images below to read these articles -
13. Places to visit near Port Blair (This article)
Places to visit near Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar
The places to visit in Port Blair, including the museums, the beaches, and the other sea-side attractions, can be easily explored in two full days. If you have additional time beyond that, we recommend these places to visit near Port Blair that can each be covered as a day trip from the capital town.
1. Eastern Islands - Ross Island or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island - North Bay Island - Viper Island
There are set of 3 islands on east of Port Blair - Ross island now renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, North Bay Island and Viper Island. Covering all the 3 is one full day trip starting from Rajiv Gandhi water sports complex. However, Viper Island has been closed for tourists since quite some time and we would never recommend anyone to visit North Bay Island. This leaves you with Ross island which we would recommend visiting towards evening. Read on to know why.
1.1 Ross Island or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island
Ross Island, also known as the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, is located 3 kilometres (15 minutes boat ride) east of Port Blair in the Andamans and is amongst the best place to visit near Port Blair. The island was once an important seat of British power, who brought beautiful infrastructural changes to Ross Island. Today, the buildings are in ruin, which is still breathtaking to visit. Every evening the island lit up with a Light and Sound show. The Light and Sound show tickets are available from the Rajiv Gandhi water Sports Complex in Port Blair.
The walk across Ross Island is uphill, which can be really strenuous and tiring. Since you get just 1 hour to explore the island, we suggest getting around in the recirculating electric golf carts by paying INR 80 extra. In this, the driver doubles up as a guide and explains you everything. Once you reach the topmost point of Ross Island, climb the stairs to the other side, and visit the lighthouse that gives an excellent view of the blue sea. You can return in another recirculating golf cart.
Deer, rabbits, squirrels, and peacocks fearlessly roam Ross Island. The roots of big trees have grown around the ruins of the old buildings, church, and garrison. While most islands in Andamans are known for their beaches and water sports, Ross Island is the only one where you find history.
Note: Ross Island is closed every Wednesday. Since the boat to Ross Island is a shared boat, make sure that you complete the exploration and reach back in the allotted time. We would recommend you do only Ross Island (not North Bay Island - Read on to why) and you do it in evening i.e. take last or 2nd last ferry to Ross Island. This way you will be able to see light and sound show as well as see sun setting behind Port Blair. Also the light and sound show at Ross Island is better than that of Cellular jail.
Entry fee for Ross Island: INR 30 per person
Golf Cart ride charges at Ross Island: INR 80 per person
Light and Sound Show ticket charge: INR 100 per person; Show timing: 5:30 PM
Last ferry timing from Rajiv Gandhi water sports complex to Ross Island: 4:00 PM
1.2 North Bay Island
North Bay Island is another 15 minutes boat ride from Ross Island. It doesn’t offer much other than water sports activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, jet-skiing, glass-bottom boat ride, coral safari submarine and sea walk. The beach is non-existent, and the island is filled with stalls of vendors offering you packages of different water sports activities. The water is filthy, the visibility is very, very poor, and the toilets/ changing rooms are extremely dirty. In our opinion, the North Bay Island is, in fact, the worst place to visit near Port Blair.
Take our advice – Do not visit North Bay Island. While buying boat tickets at the Rajiv Gandhi water sports complex in Port Blair, opt only to visit Ross Island and completely skip the North Bay Island. If at all, you buy the combined package for both the islands, do not, and we repeat, do not buy tickets/ packages for water sports activities. Snorkelling and Scuba diving are done right on the shore where the visibility is poor. They try to sell you the activities by showing pretty photos and videos of the underwater marine life. Trust us; you will not see even 10% of what they show you in videos and photos. Snorkelling and scuba diving activities at Havelock Island and Neil Island are far far better than what you get at the North Bay Island. We dived with Scuba Lov in Havelock Island and it was one of the most amazing underwater experiences of our life.
Also in terms of under water activities, think of it this way -
If you are old (>50 yrs) or have any lung/heart ailments, Glass bottom ride and Coral Safari Submarine are for you. They are safe, simple ways for you to experience underwater life. You can even try Seawalk depending on your health situation.
If you are young and healthy - doing above mentioned activities are a waste of your time. You just need to do Snorkelling and/or Scuba diving. Both these activities are better done away from crowds and away from shore where underwater aquatic life and corals would be thriving. Doing it in North Bay Island near Port Blair or Elephant beach in Havelock is simply a waste.
We were completely disappointed looking at the state of affairs as soon as we reached the North Bay Island. The worst part was that we were in a shared boat and had to wait and stall time at the island for 2.5 hours. What irked us more was that they prohibited us from using our personal snorkelling gear on the shore. The only grace was the North Bay Island Lighthouse, located a short hike from the commotion. It is situated on a small hill that gives a magnificent view of the endless sea. Hardly anyone climbed this hill, and we spent all our time on the bench beside the lighthouse overlooking the incredible view. So, if you are stranded like us, you know where to go!
Boat to Ross Island and North Bay Island operate from the Rajiv Gandhi water Sports Complex at Aberdeen Jetty in Port Blair, South Andamans. Both these islands can be easily visited one after the other in a single day. If you buy a combined ticket, you will be first taken to Ross Island, where you will get 1 hour for exploration. You will then have to board the same boat that will take you to North Bay Island, where you get 2 to 2.5 hours to explore this island. The same boat then brings you back to Port Blair.
The ticket counter at Rajiv Gandhi water sports complex is open from 8:30 AM to 3 PM.
Boat ticket charge (Ross Island + North Bay Island): INR 750 per person round trip
Ross Island Entry Charge: INR 30 per person
North Bay Island Entry: Free
1.3 Viper Island
Viper Island is another island located near Port Blair. Presently, the island is closed due to major destruction during the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. However, we heard that the jail was first constructed on Viper Island, and since it wasn’t able to accommodate many prisoners, another jail (The Cellular Jail) was built in Port Blair. Today, the island boasts of the ruins of the former jail on a hilltop. The boat for the Viper Island used to leave from Junglighat Jetty in Port Blair. The island sure makes a great place to visit near Port Blair. Hope it reopens soon!
Hence we would recommend you to do few museums listed in our travel guide to Port Blair, Cellular Jail followed by Ross Island towards evening and Marina park in night as one day itinerary.
2. Western coast - Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (Jolly Buoy Island / Red Skin Island), Wandoor beach and Amber Sunset point
Another full day trip would be reaching western coast of Southern Andaman Island early in the day, heading to Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park doing Jolly Buoy / Red Skin Island. Post lunch covering Wandoor beach and ending the day with Amber Sunset point. Read on to know more.
2.1 Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (Jolly Buoy Island / Red Skin Island)
While Ross Island and North Bay Island are located towards the east of Port Blair, the Jolly Buoy Island and Red Skin Island are situated towards the west. The boats for both these islands leave from Wandoor Jetty, about 20 kilometres away from Port Blair. Both these islands fall under Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. This is a group of 17-20 islands which are preserved and protected by the Andaman Administration. Only 2 of these islands Jolly Buoy and Red skin island can be accessed by tourists and you have to obtain permits to visit them. The permits are available at the IPT office (Information, Publicity and Tourism) in Port Blair, where you will have to submit copies of your photo IDs and fill out a form. You should obtain the permit in advance (a day or two before your trip). Only limited permits are issued per day to restrict tourist footfall.
To protect the marine life and let the corals regenerate, one island is closed when the other is open for tourists, meaning you can visit only one of these islands during your trip. We were fortunate to get the permits for Jolly Buoy Island, the best place to visit near Port Blair in our opinion. The boat from Wandoor Jetty takes about 45 minutes to reach the island. The island is surrounded by this amazing shade of blue water, very transparent and very inviting. You get to sit at the beach, swim in the marked areas, and enjoy 3-4 hours on the island.
Apart from the beach, Jolly Buoy Island is completely covered with tropical forest. It’s advisable not to go deep inside the forest. Scuba diving and snorkelling activities were closed during our visit, but we hear that the area surrounding the island is extremely rich in unique coral population and colourful marine life. There was an option of a glass-bottom boat ride where we got to see a few corals, but that wasn’t too much fun. We, however, enjoyed the Jolly Buoy Beach and the incredible views of the sea from there. When you are back from Jolly Buoy Island, do not forget to check out the Marine Interpretation Centre. It is sort of a museum that explains kind of flora and fauna found in Mahatma Gandhi marine national park with some lovely exhibits and photographs.
The boats to Jolly Buoy Island leave quite early in the morning (9 AM to 10 PM), so make sure you reach Wandoor on time.
The island is a no-plastic zone. You will have to deposit all your plastic carry-ons at the counter at Wandoor Jetty. You do get steel bottles at ticket counter on rent where you can transfer your water
There are no shops or food stalls on the island, neither are you allowed to carry packaged food. Have a fulfilling meal before you reach Wandoor.
Changing rooms and toilet facilities are available on the islands.
Permit charges and boat ticket charges for Jolly Buoy Island: INR 950 per person
2.2 Wandoor beach
After your trip to one of these islands, spend some time at Wandoor Beach. It is a nice beach with plenty of photo opportunities because of the drifted wood and dense plantation. Wandoor beach has some stalls, eateries and shops as well. You can watch the sunset from Wandoor beach as well but we have a better spot identified for this.
2.3 Amber sunset point
As you go further south of Wandoor on the western coast of southern Andaman Island, you would reach a point post which you would not be allowed to go further. This point is Amber sunset point. You might very well find the best sunsets in your Andaman trip at this point. Let us not say more and let the pictures do the talking.
Note that sun sets pretty early in Andamans given it is at extreme east but yet follows Indian Standard Time (IST). Time your visit accordingly.
As mentioned, the whole western coast would take one full day and you might return only post dark.
3. Southern tip - Chidiya Tapu, Biological Park & Munda Pahad
Chidiya Tapu and Munda Pahad are among the best places to visit near Port Blair for sunset viewing (along with Amber sunset point). These are southern most places in the greater Andaman Island and Munda Pahad acts as the southern most tip.
3.1 Chidiya Tapu and Biological park
Chidiya Tapu is located some 18 kilometres south of Port Blair, whereas Munda Pahad is 2 kilometres further ahead. The Biological Park at Chidiya Tapu is basically a park featuring varied flora and fauna. It also has a small zoo where you can see wildlife like deer, monkeys, wild pigs, some birds, monitor lizards, turtles, and crocodiles. It is a good park to visit if you are travelling with kids. Else, you can easily skip it.
Even though Chidiya Tapu is far from Port Blair, we recommend visiting it once. Make sure you leave early and reach on time; the sun sets pretty early in the Andaman Islands. The place boasts of some of the most magical sunsets. The sky changes into incredible shades of colours during and after the sunset. We went there to see the sunset twice, once from Chidiya Tapu and another time to explore the Munda Pahad beach and viewpoint.
From Chidiya Tapu, you can even drive further to the Munda Pahad beach – a very beautiful white sandy long stretch of beach to watch the sunset. The road from Chidiya Tapu to Munda Pahad beach runs parallel to the ocean and is an absolutely joyful ride.
From Munda Pahad Beach, you will find a trail up a hill to a viewpoint called Munda Pahad viewpoint. It’s a 1.5-kilometre hike and takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the top. You will find a path heading into the woods with a small sign board. While the hike is easy, if you are old, we would suggest avoiding it given you will be walking on unpaved path full of rocks, stones and roots. It is also slightly uphill. But the views from up there are absolutely mesmerizing. A small lighthouse atop the hill makes for a great photo background. It is advised not to see sunset from here since it gets dark pretty quickly and you should head back while it is still bright. You will find great sunset view from down the hill as well.
Note: If you plan to hike to the Munda Pahad viewpoint, leave Port Blair as early as 2:00 PM and reach the base by 3:00 PM (The drive is rough in some parts and can easily take an hour based on where you start from). Munda Pahad beach and view point has its own entry point which closes at 4:00 PM.
4. North of Port Blair - Mount Harriet National Park, Collinpur beach, Baratang island
There are few interesting places to visit towards north of Port Blair. But you might not be club all of them as one day trip. We would recommend doing Mount Harriet National Park and Collinpur beach as one day trip. And cover Baratang Island when you plan to visit Middle and North Andaman Islands (Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur).
4.1 Mount Harriet National Park
Mount Harriet National Park (recently renamed Mount Manipur) is located about 45 kilometres from Port Blair by road. But, if you opt to take a ferry from Phoenix Bay Jetty to Bamboo Flat Jetty, which lies to the north of Port Blair, the distance decreases to 20 kilometres. This ferry also transfers vehicles, making this route the best way to reach Mount Harriet National Park. From Bamboo Flat, the road goes uphill all the way to the national park.
From the top of the hill at Mount Harriet National Park, you can see the North Bay Island and Ross Island. On a clear day, you can see as far as Havelock Island. The photo printed on the former INR 20 Indian currency note is from Mount Harriet National Park. In the park, you will find several watchtowers, a children’s playground, a deer park, a butterfly park, a few tourist sheds, and a guest house.
Mount Harriet Peak, located in the national park, is the third highest peak of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Head to the Emerald viewpoint to get some amazing views of the coastal areas. You can also trek on a nature trail leading to KalaPathar viewpoint, where you will find incredible landscapes for photography. Mount Harriet National Park is also a birder’s paradise, making it qualify among the best places to visit near Port Blair. The park can be easily visited as a day trip from Port Blair.
Note: Carry water and eatables with you when visiting Mt. Harriet National Park
Ferry ticket charge from Phoenix Bay Jetty to Bamboo Flat Jetty: INR 15 per person (extra cost for vehicle loading applies – INR 50 for two-wheelers and INR 130 for four-wheelers)
Entry fee to Mount Harriet National Park: INR 50 per person
4.2 Collinpur Beach
Collinpur Beach, also known as Sunset Bay, is another incredible sunset viewpoint near Port Blair. The beach is located about 26 kilometres northwest of Port Blair. It boasts turquoise blue water and a big stretch of soft sand. There’s a thick layer of palm tree plantations in the backdrop, so much that you wouldn’t imagine that a secluded beach exists behind it. Clean and quiet, Collinpur beach is best visited in the evening to witness magical sunsets.
4.3 Baratang Island
Baratang Island is located 95 kilometres away from Port Blair by road or 52 nautical miles by sea. It is a part of Middle Andaman Island and makes for a beautiful day trip from Port Blair. The island is known for its limestone caves, mud volcanoes, mangrove forests, and nearby secluded beaches. You can reach Baratang Island via ferry (operated by Makruzz) or road. Reaching this island isn’t a piece of cake, and you must plan everything in advance. We have written a travel guide to Baratang Island wherein we have described in detail on how to reach and places to visit on the island.
If you choose to visit Baratang Island by road, you have to leave as early as 4:30 AM from Port Blair, reach Jirkatang Check Post, queue up for the convoy, drive through the Jarawa Tribal area on the Andaman Trunk Road, and then take a ferry to cross the Middle Strait. Please read all about it in our blog. If you choose to visit the island via Makruzz ferry, book your tickets in advance, sit back, and enjoy your sail to the island.
Once at Baratang, you have to hire a boat to reach the limestone caves, one of the best place to visit near Port Blair. This ride is through dense mangrove plantations. The limestone caves are formed naturally over hundreds of years and are a must-visit in Baratang. Mud volcanoes are natural wonders that spew out gases (excreted by the earth’s interior) along with mud. From Baratang, you can also visit the nearby islands like Parrot Island and Guitar Island.
PS: To explore the above-mentioned places to visit near Port Blair, you can rent a two-wheeler from the many rental agencies in the Port Blair market. This will help you cover these places in an economical way.
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Hope this detailed guide on the places to visit near Port Blair entices you to add some additional days in Port Blair to your Andaman itinerary. If you know of any other such great places to visit near Port Blair that we have missed out on, do let us know in the comments section below.
Note that timings & costs mentioned in this article could have changed since publishing this article.