Andamans Visit 2011

Published 13 years ago, updated 6 years ago

We visited the Andamans in January 2011. I recommend getting a copy of the Andaman Sea Pilot (we had 2007/8 edition) which is excellent.


You must have an Indian visa before entry (valid for 30 days). This takes about 1-3 weeks in Phuket (Bt 3800), a week in Bangkok and 3-4 days in London (£39). If you also want to visit mainland India get multiple entries one, though there are still restrictions.


Call up Port Control as you approach Port Blair on VHF 16/12, they will take various boat details and organise Customs etc. They also require you to call them with your position whenever you anchor, or leave anchor, or re-enter the port. The requirement is to report to them twice daily by VHF or SSB when you are out on the islands but there didn’t seem to be a problem when we missed a few calls and they didn’t always reply to the SSB. The anchorage is behind Chatham Island across the bay.

The Coastguard visit in their heavy launch and tie up alongside. Customs and Immigration need to be picked up from the Chatham jetty. Coastguard and Immigration were very professional (but have your itinerary written out and copies of passports, etc, ready). Customs were looking for a “gift” and poked around the boat to try and get some leverage (they wanted a full list of contents down to how many torches there were on board).

After these three are done, visit the harbour master ashore with your itinerary. He was very friendly and helpful. We also visited the forestry/wildlife office as we wanted to go to the forestry islands (Button, Interview and Cinque) but they told us we could not stay overnight. The charges were excessive and it would take 2-3 days to process the application. When we visited the harbour master he told us we could anchor off any of these islands as long as we didn’t go ashore, and we later found out there is a tourist lodge on Interview.

The departure procedure takes 5 visits. Go to the harbour master with a list of the anchorages you have been on, came back later and pay the bill (about 1,000 Rs for us – depends on the boat’s gross tonnage and where you have been). Take the no objection to leaving certificate from them to Customs. Then to Immigration who make an appointment to come out and visit the boat. They came the next morning, on time, and stamped our passports.

It all takes a degree of patience and it helps if you can photocopy on board, but otherwise, just about everyone we dealt with was friendly if a little pedantic about getting their forms filled in correctly. There was a yacht in the bay while we were there who reportedly had their visa extended by 5 days because of technical problems.

Port Blair.

The boat boy will look after your dinghy at the quay for Rs 200 per day. Lots of taxis and tuk-tuks, we generally walked to the end of the quay to get a better rate. Good shopping in Aberdeen, although the only meat we found was chicken. Reasonable internet. Several ATMs, although the only bank that can change foreign money is the State Bank of India at the Gandhi monument (and the person who does it is not always in). Several repair shops along the shore from Chatham Island but no chandlery available (we got the steelwork and fibreglass rebuilt on our rudder in 5 days). You can buy drinking water and fuel with the help of a taxi; tap water is free. There are 2 dive shops, we did a couple of local dives which were good. For the other company, you have to make your way down island where they boat out to Cinque.

There are a few days’ worths of sightseeing, museums etc. around the town.


We anchored off beach #7. Lots of resorts on the island and several dive shops. Three of us dived offshore on a pinnacle which was excellent, two dived locally and were less impressed. The problem seems to be that throughout the islands the shallow coral is all dead, so snorkelling is mediocre, while the deeper coral has survived. For 10,000 Rs you can dive with one of the retired logging elephants.

N. Button

Beautiful, tiny island but again not much fish life. We got checked out by the navy chopper.


We got there in squally weather and felt that none of the anchorages were safe in the weather conditions so motored around the island and came back again. The only anchorage that looked reasonable was off the old police post on the NE corner where there was a beach (and some people living there). The rest were all deep, shelving steeply and close to the shore.

Long I.

Good sheltered anchorage in the bay. Some small shops in the village and a tourist hostel. You can buy dinner there or at a small stall in the village. Lovely walk to Lalaji beach (best done at low tide) – don’t forget to take your boat papers and passports to register with the forestry and police for this walk.

Homfray Strait. 

Some lovely forest as you pass through the straight. At 12 18.4N, 92 47.8E there is a ferry crossing and electricity cables across the river. Reported height is 30m (although the customs officer told us it was 21m and the harbour master 25m), we passed under OK at 20m but stick to the south shore where there is less sag. At around 12 17.7N, 92 44.3E there is shallow coral extending north from the point of an island but otherwise, we found good depth the whole way through.


Good sheltered anchorage in the south bay. The island is stunning although we were wary of hiking ashore because of the forestry restrictions. We later found out there is a tourist lodge from which they go looking for the wild elephants. Some reasonable snorkelling. We were checked out by two planes (coastguard?).


We only made a shortstop, looked like some of the most attractive islands and perhaps the best snorkelling.


We enjoyed our visit to the islands. Some of the bureaucracy seems unnecessary but as long as you are polite and patient it is really not that much of an ordeal. The scenery is as beautiful as I have seen anywhere. The wildlife was disappointing, there is just not much there on the land and with the shallow coral so devastated not so many reef fish near the surface and we only saw a few rays and turtles.

Our thanks to Tyrone Currie for this great report.

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