Around two hour long ship journey from Port Blair or a half hour long ship journey from Have lock Island, lies this tiny island, which is rapidly picking up as a favored tourist destination. The farthest point to visit for visitors is the Sita nagar beach, which is just 5km from the Jetty. I first visited this island in Feb 2016 and was in complete awe of this pristine island. Few people visited it then. There was no sign of any human activity on the beaches at the time. Let’s dive straight into places to visit and things to do in Neil island on a day trip.
How to reach?
You can take a ferry from Port Blair or from Havelock to reach Neil island. To read the intricacies of bookings, read my post how to spend seven days in the Andaman Islands -plan your own itinerary. To read about Havelock Island, read my post a comprehensive guide to exploring Havelock Island in three days. We took the ship from Port Blair to Neil island and in a pleasant surprise, passengers on the deck were invited to soak in the view from the captain’s deck. The view was stunning.
If you have an entire day at your disposal and an overnight stay, you can rent a bicycle or explore this tiny island in foot. If you have to take a ferry back the same day however, you can rent an auto at the jetty. Based on your bargaining skills, the auto driver will take you to all the main spots listed in the official tourist booklet for somewhere around Rs. 600, which brings us to things to do in Neil island.
Where to stay?
There are not many listings on internet, and the ones that are listed are quite expensive. I saw many resorts on the island, so I think you can risk booking a ferry for later, and find an accomodation after your arrival.
Don’t forget to get a quick bite at the canteen after disembarking from the jetty, and before setting out on sight seeing. There are many menu options, the price is reasonable and the food is delicious.
Points of interest
Broadly speaking, there are three beaches of interest and a natural bridge.
Also known as the sunrise beach, this beach is best known for, you guessed it, sunrise. It is 5km from the jetty. This beautiful circular beach had me awestruck the last time I was there. This time, however, the beach was littered with plastic trash, syringes, plastic bottles and other medical supplies.
The crown jewel of the island, this long white sand beach will woe you even before you disembark from the ship. When approaching the island, you can see a beach lined with beautiful tall trees on your right. The area catches your eye as something truly exotic even before you reach the island. Known for it’s beautiful sunsets, this beach is famed for the clear color gradient from a beautiful light green to emerald green to dark blue in its water. A grove of very tall trees with thick trunks and wide canopies surround the entrance of the beach. Beautiful shells and corals can be seen on this beach.
This beach was untouched, the last time I had visited it, however, this time around, apart from trash on the beach, a few temporary shops have cropped up very close to the beach. The area right outside the beach is being cleared for a parking and a resort is being constructed. I was quite disheartened to see the condition of the beach this time.
This beach is walking distance from the jetty. The beach is known for activities such as boat scuba diving, snorkeling and glass boat ride. Shore scuba diving is not allowed because it can damage the corals. The beach is dotted with small shops that offer food, coconut water, artefacts made from pearls and corals etc. During low tide, the sea recedes leaving behind a sand bar that you can walk on. I regret not having clicked pictures when the water receded. This is the time when you should leave for the natural bridge, the last destination on this post.
A short paved path opens onto a rocky dead coral beach. During low tide, the sea recedes and makes way for the tourists to step over rocks and look into the tiny grooves filled with sea water and sea life. You can view many small colouful fishes, corals, eels, star fish in these small natural aquarium. There are many tadpoles jumping around on the rocks, so be careful not to squish them. It is their territory after all.
Beyond the bridge, there is another bridge, however I don’t recommend walking till there, because you will unnecessarily be going into an area that is still not visited by nature and you will not see anything so different that you can’t see in those shallow water pools around the natural bridge. You can spot the same fishes as you would, if you go snorkeling or scuba diving. At a distance, you can spot a natural arch, called the natural coral bridge. Local Bengalis have named it the Howrah Bridge.
The walk may be a little difficult for some old people or if someone is injured but it is an experience worth having. You can also bring along a guide to know more about the sea life there.
On your way back, make a stop at one of the several local shops selling local fruits and fruit juices, served on biodegradable butter paper and in reusable glasses, to get a taste of the local flavors. Do try out amda, a local fruit, quite similar to raw mango. It has a tangy flavour. Same same but different, if you know what I mean.