The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are constituted by nearly 600 islands located in the south-eastern edge of the Bay of Bengal. The islands consist of two groups, the Andamans, comprising of more than 300 islands and the Nicobars, with 19 islands. North, Middle, and South Andaman islands are collectively known as Great Andaman and others in Andamans include Landfall Island, Interview Island, the Sentinel Islands, Ritchie’s Archipelago, Rutland Island and the Little Andaman. In the Nicobar Islands, the most prominent are Car Nicobar in the north, Camorta, Katchall and Nancowry in the centre and Great Nicobar in the south. Nicobars are located to the south of Andamans.
Only about two dozen of the Andaman Islands and 12 of the Nicobar Islands support human settlements. The vast majority of the population of the Andamans consists of immigrants from South Asia. Andamanese, the indigenous inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, are small isolated groups. The indigenous inhabitants of the Nicobar Islands, the Nicobarese formed the majority of the population of the Nicobars and the rest include significant numbers of Tamils and people from the Indian mainland.
The great majority of the area of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is covered with dense tropical forest, with a broad spectrum of flora and fauna. The territory is home to more than 200 species of birds, including many endemic species. Numerous types of snakes and lizards inhabit the forests, and saltwater crocodiles, fish, turtles, and sea snakes are abundant in the coastal waters.
Port Blair (on South Andaman Island), the capital of the Andamans, is the sole entry/exit point to these Islands. Called “Veritable Garden of Eden”, by tourism department of the union territory, Port Blair is capital and largest city of the Andaman and Nicobar island group. The place houses the famous nostalgic Cellular Jail, Ross Island, Barren Island (known for the only active volcano) and few others known for its historical importance. Monday is a holiday in Andamans. Most places, except North Bay, Ross Island tour and Havelock will be closed.
Havelock Island popular for its beaches and great scuba diving is the most visited of the Andaman Islands. Eco-friendly tourism has been catching up in Havelock Islands. Mid-January to mid-May is the best time for tour to this place as it sees the best weather of the place also best diving conditions. Late May to end of July is usually monsoon time and strong winds, and not a time for visit.
Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island was rated as the best in Asia by Time in 2004. Gorgeous, silky white sand backed by a forest provides spectacular view over turquoise water. The stretches with a sandy bottom forms good pools for swimming and some with excellent coral reefs great for snorkelling. A popular time at the beach is the Sunsets time often spectacular. The Blue lagoon on the right side of the beach, though not as shallow as the main beach but definitely worth beating the crowd for some quite time.
Further north from Radhanagar , Elephant Beach is another popular attraction. The shoreline was largely swept away in the 2004 tsunami. The Corals here are the best on the island, making this an excellent spot for snorkelling. Many resorts arrange snorkelling and diving trips here.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, a national park of India was established on 24th May 1983 in Wandoor on the Andaman Islands, for the protection of marine life including corals and nesting sea turtles. Situated about 29 km from Port Blair, the Park is located on the South Western coast of South Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal.
The area is known for its rich flora and fauna. The vast stretch of enchanting marine waters includes bushy vegetated islands, magnificent coral reefs and sparkling sandy beaches and mangroves. Rich marine life consists of colourful fishes, molluscs, shells, starfish, turtles, salt-water crocodile etc. One can also view a variety of birds like White-Bellied Sea Eagle,Parakeets,Andaman Teal,Heron, Terns, Waders, Swifts etc. A must see for any serious birdwatcher.October to February is most comfortable time for visit while, June to August is monsoon and all tourist activities are closed due to heavy rains.
Neil Island also has beautiful beaches with decent snorkeling. Mud volcano, Limestone caves, and Mangrove creeks in back waters are seen in Baratang Island and Long Island offers nature undisturbed camping . Barren Island, an island with the only volcano in all of India.