The Andaman Islands are a group of islands nestled between India and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal. The majority belong to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India, while only a few (including the Coco Islands) are the property of Myanmar. Interestingly, the Andaman Islands are geographically located more towards South East Asia than the Indian mainland. They are a much closer to Indonesia and Myanmar.
It is home to the Andamanese, comprised of various indigenous groups including the Sentinelese, who live in isolation. The Sentinelese are said to be the only people presently known to not have gone beyond the Paleolithic level of technology.
Of its 572 islands, only a handful are open to tourists. The Nicobar Islands and the bits of the Andamans that are tribal areas are strictly out-of-bounds for tourists. This is in order to preserve their rare bio-diversity as well as to protect the island's inhabitants - who are mainly hunters and gatherers and dress only in leaves and tree barks. They are closely monitored to make sure they are not at risk of contracting the disease. It is also - in a way – to protect tourists. Some of them are viciously hostile towards visitors.
In addition to its remote location, these things add to the intrigue of the islands giving it a fascinating feel, and that's just the beginning! The Andaman Islands have a lot to offer. However, it is important to consider the time of the year when planning your visit in order to get the most out of it.
Andaman and Nicobar Island is good to visit all-year-round being mostly pleasant with minimal temperature variations. To set the scene, summer runs from April to June with temperatures of 24°c - 37°c, monsoon season from July to September with temperatures of 22°c - 35°c, and winter from October to March with temperatures of 20°c - 30°c.
So when then is the best time to visit the Andaman Islands? One thing is for sure, the weather is a huge deciding factor.
Thanks to its tropical climate, winters here are not to be worried about as weather remains mild and pleasant. Therefore, you might as well divide Andaman seasons into two; summer and monsoon. November or December through to March is when the weather is at its best. It is mildly humid and there is a nice sea-breeze that helps cool you off. This would be the best time to witness all the beauty that is the Andaman Islands. Be it sightseeing or the festivals and events, this is the time. It is also lively considering it is vacation time for schools and colleges in India so this is the time visitors come down for the holidays.
Water sports are a major attraction in Andaman. Diving, in particular, is very popular. It is actually one of the best places to snorkel and scuba dive in the world with its almost virgin marine eco-system. If you are a scuba enthusiast, Havelock Island or Neil Island in the south is where it's at. On Havelock Island, there are beaches like Elephant Beach (known for its corals) where you may have the golden opportunity to swim with elephants. Rocky tree-lined Vijaynagar Beach and secluded Kalapathar are all at your disposal to explore Havelock from underneath its turquoise waters. Make sure to catch a glimpse of Barren Island's manta rays and passing eagle rays. You are likely to sight manta ray, stonefish and manatee (dugong) between December and April.
Andaman truly has a lot to offer in terms of diving with several undiscovered sites. You'll probably come across one you haven't dived off before, each one more breathtaking than the last. The very best way to explore these far-off undiscovered areas is on a liveaboard diving vessel. There are magnificent sloping reefs, steep walls, coral gardens and sandy bottoms to see while you ride. Visibility is usually good and can go up to 130ft (40m). Water temperatures here are tropical and range between 27-29˚C. The diving season starts in October or November and ends in May. The rest of the year is monsoon season, that brings with it rain and wind making it unfavourable.
On the other hand, if you are just looking to hit the beach, Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island, in particular, is a must-visit! Not only is it considered one the best beaches in India, but also one the best on the entire continent of Asia. It was once dubbed "Asia's Best Beach" by TIME magazine. People from all over the world are drawn to it by its mesmerizing beauty. It is characterized by its crescent-shaped stretch of white sand bordering a tropical rainforest and is the best spot to watch the sunset. These characteristics are synonymous with most of Andaman's beaches making it a scenic destination for the young (especially couples on honeymoon) and old alike.
It is recommended that you avoid the monsoon season, which is characterized by high tidal waves, strong winds and short bursts of intense rain. Some islands may shut down, and very few boats are allowed out during stormy weather. During this time, visitors will, therefore, resort to indoor activities instead.
Monsoon season in Andaman is relatively dull. Because of the tropical storms and relentless rainfall, fewer people visit the tropical island. If you visit during this time, chances are you will be indoors most of the time downing a cup of hot chocolate or a citrus drink. On the bright side are the silence and solitude. If you are an introvert seeking some "you-time" to self-examine, or a professional looking for some much-needed rest and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then this is the time for you. What's more, it's cheaper! Being that this is not peak season, hotels offer accommodation at reduced prices to attract tourists.
In conclusion, the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences and how you are looking to spend your holiday.
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