The Andaman Islands lie east of India in the Indian Ocean, nearer to Thailand than to India. The Islands are part of India and the tribes who live there are part of a program of tribal protection. The native tribes cannot be visited, as a rule.
Non-Indians need a Restricted Area Permit to visit the islands, but these are now issued on arrival at the Port Blair airport. If you plan to arrive by sea, you'll need to arrange your permit before arrival, either in Chennai or when applying for your Indian visa. Visitors usually receive a 30 day permit, although some travellers arriving without a confirmed flight back have only received a 15 day permit. Ask for the full 30 days in your application; if you write in your return flight date, your permit will be issued to end on that date, which will cause unnecessary pain if you choose to extend your stay or, worse yet, get unexpectedly delayed by weather.
Permits can be extended by 15 days in Port Blair, for a maximum single stay of 45 days, although this extension is granted only in, to quote the local police guidelines, "deserving cases". You must then leave the islands and can return after 72 hours. The permit is checked when arriving at most islands, checking into hotels and booking ferries, and must be surrendered when you leave the islands, so don't lose it.
The permit allows overnight stays in the following locations: South Andaman Island, Middle Andaman Island and Little Andaman Island (except tribal reserves), Neil Island, Havelock Island, Long Island, Diglipur, Baratang, North Passage and islands in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (excluding Boat Hobday Island, Twin Island, Tarmugli Island, Malay Island and Pluto Island). Overnight stays in the park are with permission only.
The permit allows for day-trips to: South Cinque Island, Ross Island, Narcondum Island, Interview Island, Brother Island, Sister Island and Barren Island which can be visited on board vessels only with landing possible. ..
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Most visitors take a ferry boat from Port Blair to one of the outer islands, where all the pretty sand beaches are. To get to the ferry to one of the outer islands you must travel first by bus. The bus route takes you through some of the tribal areas, where the natives are fierce, the bus cannot stop in route and usually has an armed guard on the bus! The guards and bus drivers are scared of the native people.
We hired a taxi in Port Blair to drive us around to the south coast ( magnificent giant trees) and we took a launch trip out to a tiny island where we snorkeled on the most exotic, exquisite undersea panorama we had ever seen. There is a strong tide so you are almost always snorkeling in a current.
Port Blair was just a small town, nothing particularly special except its' location. There is much to see in the Andaman Islands, you need time to do so.
A goat in the town of Walki, Maharastra, India