Neil Island in the Bay of Bengal
Neil Island is close to Port Blair, the administrative center of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. I went there after around 5 months intensive traveling and I was tired. Tired of the crowds around me, tired of the journey through China, Nepal, north east India and Bangladesh and needed recharging.
Neil Island turned out to be perfect for me. There isn't a lot to do except walking around the island (the widest point of the island is about 5km), swim and snorkel a bit and relax. Watch out for the sand flies. I spend 8 days at Neil Island and finished Dostojevsky's Brothers Karamazov, finally!
There are daily ferries to Neil Island for around Rs200 which takes about 2 hours. Neil Island is surprisingly small and after the Tsunami of 2004 it became even smaller.
On arrival at Sunset Point I found me one of the few little and friendly guest houses. They are all located in walking distance of the jetty on the west point of the island. The beach here is good for snorkeling. A bit further north the beach becomes rocky and you will find a lot of mangrove forests.
The best way to explore Neil Island is on foot, or if you like on bicycle, which the guest houses have available for rent. You can cycle around the whole island in a day, visiting some other beaches and mangrove forests. There are a few caves in which you can swim and snorkel.
The village has a few restaurants with limited dishes, some have to in advance ordered but you won't starve.
Many of the islanders are refugees. They fled East Pakistan in the freedom struggle that lead to the independent state, now known as Bangladesh.
If you are in such a state that you need to be away from the crowds, and India can be quite heavy in that way, Neil Island is the perfect way out and recharge the battery.
By the time I went back to India, this time by ferry to Chennai, I was completely refreshed, and I remember coming off the boat in Chennai with the feeling: "come on India, I am again ready for you!".
Accommodation at the Andaman Islands
More hotels at Havelock Island
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The Andaman Islands are some of world best islands. It's a beautiful getaway for individual travelers and families.