Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is in the South Andaman district of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is a national park of India in Wandoor on the Andaman Islands 29 km from Port Blair. The park is on the South Western coast of South Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal. The park's boundary runs along the coasts and sometimes along islands within the range of latitude between 11°22, 06" and 11° 36 -34" N and longitude between 92° 30.00"W and 92° 40.33' E covering a total area of 281 50 ha (281.5 km²).
15 islands and several islets of the labyrinth group of islands, like Alexandra, Red Skin, Boat, Hobday, Tarmugli, Grub, Chester, Snob, Bell, Pluto, Malay, Jolly Boys, Riflemen, Twins and parts of Rutland island make up this park.
The park was closed for rehabilitation after the 2004 tsunami but has since reopened, with damage seeming to be less than had been reported. Red Skin and Jolly Bouy islands are open during tourist season in an alternate fashion to save the biodiversity surrounding the islands.
The rest of the islands that come under the National Park are still not open to public and is protected by the forest department.
The park is under the overall administrative control of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the forest department of A&N islands administration. Though the park is uninhabited, there are 8 villages adjacent to the parking area with a population of about 3000 (1981 census).
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor, was established on 24th May 1983 for the protection of marine life including corals and nesting sea turtles.
The area is dotted with islands, most of them within visual distance from each other. The islands are rocky and most of them are covered with mangroves or tropical forests. Exposed parts of the land are beaches and rock faces. Beaches open for tourists are shallow.
Flora and fauna
The area includes a vast stretch of enchanting marine waters, bushy vegetated islands, magnificent coral reefs and sparkling sandy beaches and mangroves. Rich marine life consists of a variety of coral reefs, colourful fishes, molluscs, shells, starfish, turtles, salt-water crocodiles, etc.
One can also view a variety of birds like White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Parakeets, Andaman Teals, Herons, Terns, Waders, and Swifts. To see these, one would require more than a few hours in the park and thus a serious birdwatcher should consider taking special permission from the forest department for a longer stay.
Climate is typically tropical. During Oct-Feb is most comfortable. Nights are quite cool and comfortable.
June to August is monsoon and practically all tourist activities are closed down due to heavy rains.
Wandoor, a small fishing hamlet, is the entry point to the park. Wandoor is about 30 km from Port Blair.
One can reach Wandoor by hired taxi or by bus in about 45 min from Port Blair.
The local bus service is reliable and offers economical alternatives to taxis. Buses are available from and for Port Blair every 30 min or so. Tickets cost ₹10 one-way. Local buses ply from 6AM to 8PM.
The Tourist Department of Andaman runs 2-3 minibus trips each day. The return trip costs about ₹90. The buses start from Andaman Teal House and can be boarded from the office of the Director of Information and Publicity and Tourism (IP & T), Port Blair.
Fees and permits
The general visitors permit you to receive on arrival is good for her, but additional fees will apply when hiring a boat or arranging a dive trip since this is a National Park.
To enter the park, you need an entry permit. The Forest Department permit costs ₹50/person and is available at the counter on Wandoor jetty. Normally only 150 permits are issued each day on a first-come, first-served basis, but in high season the number of permits is sometimes increased by the Forest department.
Each camera requires an additional permit of ₹25.
Apart from the parking permit, you need a ticket for the boat ride to Red Skin island which is for ₹300/person and includes a small boat ride in a glass bottom dingy, snorkelling and return.
Plastic bottles and bags are not permitted in the park and one needs to deposit money for each bottle carried. The security deposit is ₹100 for up to 3 bottles. On completion of the trip, you are expected to show the required number of bottles to the forest official to claim your deposit.
Jute bags are available in the forest office for hire.
Boat operators approved by the forest department seem to be the only means to get around. One may explore hiring smaller dingoes for moving around the park. Apart from boats in Wandoor jetty which take you to the park, locally powered boats are also available at Wandoor beach which takes you around for snorkelling in glass bottom boats.
Although the island is small, you may explore the forest through the pathway made inside. It is not advised by the authorities to go into the jungle.
The island also has a great white sand beach to sit back and relax.
The alternative to other overrun tourist spots in the Andamans. Snorkelling here is excellent during the season when the water is flat and clear. A very professionally run PADI/CMAS dive centre is now at Wandoor.
As a marine park, it offers an opportunity for excellent snorkelling.
It is a must to carry food and water to Jolly Buoy as you won't find anything there. You can pick up something from Wandoor, however, visitors are advised to bring packed lunch packs and water bottles from Port Blair. Please do not throw rubbish. Keep Wandoor Beach clean!
Food options are limited in Wandoor. There are few small joints which offer limited options of eating. One can get "puri" (fried Indian bread) and potato, peas, and gravy for breakfast & lunch.
There are some small eating joints near or on Wandoor beach (~1.5 km from Jetty) which offer Indian, Chinese and seafood.
Packaged water, aerated drinks and fresh coconut water are available in Wandoor. Visitors should carry their own water when entering the park.
Beer or other drinks are available at bars or resorts nearby.
There are a few resorts and hotels at Wandoor, like Sea Princess or Anugama resort. Food and refreshments are available at these places. There are bars where one can get a cold beer.
- anugama resort, wandoor village (about 1.5 km before Wanndoor jetty), ☏ +91 9775277233. Anugama Resort is located on the left side of the road just before reaching the jetty at Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. US$45.