Port Blair is the capital and largest city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands group, with a population of around 100,000.
Port Blair is an upcoming city not very different from many other smaller Indian cities. It doesn't share the beauty of the rest of the Andamans, although the seaside has been tarted up a bit. It comprises people from all over India and one can imagine it as a mini-India with no conflicts on region and religion. Aside from Cellular Jail, there are quite a few places which include Ross Island, Barren Island (known for the only active volcano) and a few others known for their historical importance. A week's trip can cover the must-see places on the islands. You can, however, do day trips to other places close by like Wandoor and Ross Island.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
- See also: Andaman and Nicobar Islands#Climate
- 1 Veer Savarkar International Airport (IXZ IATA) (2 km (1.2 mi) from city centre). Probably one of the most quaint and idyllic airports in India. There is a scenic viewpoint where the whole airport can be seen. There are no night flights as the airport is handed over to the Indian Air Force after 15:00. As of 2019, it has only flights from elsewhere in India. Flights to Port Blair are not really "low-cost" compared to the same airlines' mainland India flights, but are still cheaper than other ways to get to the islands. Price varies significantly with the date, so if your travel dates aren't fixed, you can save significantly by being flexible. Advance booking at least several days before the trip is recommended.
- Air India flies from Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam. They charge a much higher rate for foreigners than Indian residents.
- Go Air flies daily from Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.
- IndiGo flies from Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
- SpiceJet offers flights direct from Chennai, Delhi, Kochi, and Kolkata.
- Vistara flies from Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata.
Taxis and autorickshaws wait outside the terminal at flight times. Public buses can be flagged down on the main road just outside the airport (cross the road). A bus to Aberdeen Bazaar will cost no more than ₹7. The terminal is small and reasonably modern, with an air-conditioned departure hall, but aside from an overpriced kiosk selling chai and crisps, there's not much to tide you over if your flight is delayed.
Helicopters used to run from inter-island helicopter service 1 km from the airport terminal. There are scheduled services to Havelock, Neil, Carnicobar, Hutbay, Campbellbay and other islands. Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd is operating its fleet of 03 Dauphin Helicopters from Port Blair under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Administration. But you have to book a ticket in advance for a comfortable journey to the other islands. An air service, Mehair, operates an amphibious Cessna Caravan to the outer islands
Buses connect Port Blair with other points on Grand Andaman, including Baratang Island (2½ hr), Rangat (6 hr) and Diglipur (8 hr).
To get "deluxe" bus tickets, go to the little arena of shops across the road from the bus station. Ask around, but the man is in the fourth shop on the left on the ground floor.
If you're going further than Rangat the road is somewhat bumpy, so it's recommended not to get a seat number greater than 20 (as this is over or behind the rear axle). Don't get the rear seats as they are a bench - you'd be better off on a public bus.
Regular pax ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai. There are 3 to 4 sailings every month, The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hrs and the ship normally berths at Port Blair for about 2 to 4 days. There are two jetties in Port Blair. Phoenix Bay Jetty to go to Havelock and other far destinations. Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex to take smaller ferries to Ross Island, North Bay and Viper Island.
Schedules and tariffs can be obtained from:
- Shipping Corporation of India Ltd., Jawahar Building, Rajaji Salai, Chennai ☏ +91 44 25231401, ☏ +91 44 25231402, ☏ +91 44 25231403, ☏ +91 44 25231404, ☏ +91 44 25231405, ☏ +91 44 25231406, ☏ +91 44 25231407, ☏ +91 44 25231408, ☏ +91 44 25231409, ☏ +91 44 25225835, ☏ +91 44 25231407.
- Deputy Director of Shipping Services, A&N Administration, 6, Rajaji Salai, Chennai ☏ +91 44 25220841, ☏ +91 44 25226873
Estimated fares: Name of Vessel and fare per berth
- M.V.Nicobar ₹5,880
- M.V.Nancowry ₹4,860
- M.V.Swarajdweep ₹1,510 to ₹3,870
- M.V.Harshvardhana ₹1,510 to ₹5,880
- M.V.Akbar ₹1,310 to ₹5,880
- Auto-rickshaws are abundant, and within town should cost ₹20-40. Auto fare from the airport to Aberdeen Bazaar in the city centre is ₹30. Auto fare from Aberdeen Bazaar to Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex is ₹10. From Aberdeen Bazaar to Marine jetty (from where you get ships to Havelock Islands, Long island, etc.) is also ₹10 (as on March 2010). Tourists can expect to be charged a higher price. The auto-rickshaws will overcharge you if they can see you don't know where you are going or what you are doing. One way of avoiding being fleeced by them is to just climb in the back of the auto-rickshaws and say "Aberdeen Bazaar" for example.
- Boats are available to destinations like Ross Island. The boat fare is ₹75 for a return journey. It takes approximately 15 minutes by ferry from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex jetty.
- Local buses are also available for inter-city and intra-city travel. Very cheap, but you'll need to ask around to figure out the routes.
- Private hire cars are available for local sightseeing around Port Blair and South Andaman.
- Motorcycles have been available for hire from a few shops around MA Rd. However, it seems they are no longer available for rent in Port Blair. Police have seized a lot of 2-wheelers for speeding and driving without a licence, so people have stopped renting them. You can rent scooters (light motorcycles) and motorcycles on MG road about 2 km up the hill to the west from Aberdeen Bazaar but they are ₹400 for one day which does not include an overnight as of Jan 2011. Expect to get lost.
- Walking is a good option. But expect to get lost if you go too far and it is mostly quite steep hills that all look alike, so remember some landmarks.
- Anthropological Museum. closed Thursdays and Public Holidays. Interesting anthropological museum which gives the history of the various A&N tribes.
- Cellular Jail. closed on Mondays. Built by the British to house political prisoners far away from the mainland. All prisoners were kept in isolation cells and subjected to a brutal work regime, with regular whippings and executions. Briefly taken over by the Japanese during WW2, who added torture to the palette. Today, however, the jail has been transformed into an immaculately kept national monument complete with a garden that seems very much at odds with the earlier horrors. You can watch it from morning 09:30 to 16:00 A light-and-sound show in Hindi (17:00) and English (18:00) available in the evenings. ₹20.
- Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) (about 4 km away from the airport). CARI scientists are conducting research on different aspects of island agriculture. Landscaping of CARI is beautiful and it is worth seeing. Here you can see farms of different livestocks and poultry viz. Cattle, pig, goat, rabbit, turkey, quail, Guinea fowl, duck, fisheries ponds, integrated farming system model, etc., and fodder blocks as well.
- Chatam Saw Mill, Chatam (15 mins by bus from STS bus terminal, private buses available ₹6 per person). A saw mill, oldest in Asia. Also the Chatam jetty is where ships from Calcutta/Chennai loaded with goods enter Port Blair. From the jetty passenger jetty is available for Bamboo flat and Dundus Point.
- Corbyn's Cove (beach). An OK beach, and the closest to Port Blair. Popular with locals for swimming and watching the sunset. However, part of the beach was washed away by the 2004 tsunami and currents can be very strong, so be careful if you decide to swim.
- Japanese Bunkers, near Corbyn's Cove. Bunkers built by the Japanese army during World War II. There's one more right down the hill from Cellular Jail.
- Mini Zoo. A medium sized zoo containing some species only found on the islands. Has now moved to Chidiya Tapu.
You can also visit the new workshop of Champion Filters Mfg. Co exactly opposite to the third gate of Aberdeen Bazar. The unit here makes polyurethane products for mining sector. The products include Self Cleaning Filters & PolyurethaneScreens
- Boat tours from Port Blair You would be lured by agents to do a 3 island packaged tour (Ross + North Bay + Viper) in Port Blair for ₹400. The trip starts at 09:00 and ends at 17:00. Complimentary lunch and breakfast is provided by the tour operator. Please don’t fall into that trap. Since, Viper Island has now become a landfill for all the refuse and complete waste of time and money. It is much better to do a 2 island tour, which are North Bay + Ross Island for ₹225 . Tour for North Bay + Ross island starts at 10:00 from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports complex. Agents also try to sell single tour of Viper Island by the name of ‘Harbour Cruise’ for ₹90. That tour starts at 15:00. and ends at 17:00.
You can get information about boat tours from A&N tourism, but not book the tour there. Instead, go to the aquarium jetty 1/2 hour before departure and you can buy the tickets from one of the four booths by the entrance.
You can also pay the local fishermen to take you on day trips to mangrove creeks (Bridget Creek is nice) or places like Mt Harriet National Park (where you can beach your boat and go birdwatching). Don't pay more than ₹2,000/day for the boat, and you can often bargain it down to much less. Check with the Forest Dept in advance as many destinations require certain permissions.
- Snorkeling at Jolly Buoy. To reach here, first you have to reach Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor. Wandoor is around 30 km from Port Blair. There is only one ferry which takes you from Wandoor to Jolly Buoy and leaves at around 09:00. In peak season (December – January), book in advance is advisable. Tickets cost around ₹50 per head. The cost for snorkelling is ₹550 per person. There are no facilities to buy food or drink, and so whilst bringing these with you is recommended plastic bags are banned.
- Aberdeen Bazaar. Jewellery, wood-carvings and Port Blair t-shirts are available.
- Sagarika (Govt. emporium). This is a government emporium where locally made goods are available.
- Samudrika (Govt. museum). This is a governemt museum, ask anyone for directions.
Aberdeen Bazar (landmark is the clock tower) is a good place for lodging/accommodation as well as food. Quite a few restaurants are present.
- 1 Katubomman (Pure Veg.), Aberdeen Bazaar (opposite SBI ATM. 100 yards from Clock Tower, before Gurudwara). Vegetarian South Indian food.
- 2 Annaporna Cafeteria, Aberdeen Bazaar (after Hanuman Temple, 200-yards from Clock Tower, Opposite Police Station.), ☏ +91 234199. Pure vegetarian restaurant, offering South and North Indian food. Costly. One of the few places that accept credit cards.
- 3 Vegan Creek Pure Veg Restaurant, Rina Road (Aberdeen Bazar, next to Sagarika emporium, inside the Blue Sea Hotel).
- 4 Icy Spicy, Island Aracde (near Junglighat Jetty, Junglighat), ☏ +91 3192-232704. 08:00-22:00. Pure vegetarian restaurant in the North Indian taste. They also have a sweets and chaat counter which serves excellent sweets.
- 5 Lighthouse Residency, MA Rd (near Aberdeen Bazaar). One of Port Blair's best restaurants, with a good (Indianized) Chinese-Thai menu and North Indian favorites. The speciality is fresh seafood; check the price and pick your fish. The tandoori masala fish is outstanding, and they also have one of the few decent bars in Port Blair. ₹50-200.
- 6 TSG Emerald View, 26/1 Moulana Azad Rd, Phoenix Bay, ☏ +91 9932080137, email@example.com. Great seafood. Has a ship-deck themed bar with a good view of the phoenix bay jetty.
- 7 Shree Bikaner, Pure Veg Restaurant, near Andaman Book centre, Goal Ghar, Junglighat.
Coconut water (daap or naaryal pani) is available everywhere for ₹10-15 (March 2011). One green coconut costs ₹15 in front of Cellular jail and they charge ₹20 at North bay island (March 2011).
Thanks to the early-morning scheduling of most flights and ferries from Port Blair, many hotels have a 09:00 checkout policy. The good side of this is that it's generally not a problem to check in early either. In Port Blair, if you are staying in a hotel not in main city and don’t have a taxi/travel agent picking you; transportation might become a little expensive. Fortune Bay, Sinclairs, Peerless Sarovar, Megapode are some of the reputed hotels near Corbyn Cove but it is a challenge to get an auto rickshaw there easily.
- Aashiaanaa Residency Inn, Marine Hill (It is just spitting distance away from the Marine jetty and the main Bazaar. Rooms are spotless and spacious comes with attached bathroom and television. Ten minutes from the airport.), ☏ +91 9474217008. Check-in: The guest can check in at any time, check-out: The check out time is 08:30, but is flexible.. Non air-con room ₹300-650, and air-con room ₹800-1000..
- Central Lodge, Link Rd, ☏ +91 3192 233 632. Very basic but some rooms have nice character, and some are dank, so look at a couple if possible. Popular with budget backpackers and those that haven't left India since they came in 1964. ₹80-120.
- Hornbill Nest Resort, Corbyn Cove, ☏ +91 229130.
- Jagannath Guesthouse, MA Rd, ☏ +91 3192 232 148. Very basic but popular with locals and travellers. Some rooms may stretch the definition of "clean".
- SKB Lodge, Babu lane, Aberdeen bazaar. Air-con and non air-con rooms available. ₹650-1200.
- Youth Hostel, Aberdeen bazaar, ☏ +91 3192 232 459. dormitories ₹50; rooms ₹100.
- City King Palace, ☏ +91 9933 5389, +91 3192 23320. The hotel is not very good. Reports of problems with the manager, including over charging and disturbing guests. ₹1000-1200.
- Diviyum Manor. This hotel is just opposite to the airport. The rooms are clean. The staff sincere and courteous. There is a restaurant and a bar. Food is OK. ₹1200-1500.
- Fortune Resort Bay Island, Marine Hill, ☏ +91-3192-234101, fax: +91-3192-231555.
- Holiday Resort. This hotel is in the heart of the city. There are a couple of good groceries and not to forget Uma Bakery House. The bus stop is opposite. The staff are sincere although a bit lazy. ₹1200-1500.
- Lighthouse Residency, 11 MG Rd, Atlanta Point, ☏ +91 3192 23317. Check-out: 8AM. Opened in 2004, and has had a somewhat haphazard renovation. Tolerably clean, but don't be afraid to ask to see a few rooms before you pick one. All rooms have air-con. ₹1000/1200 for standard/sea view.
- Shompen Hotel, 2 Middle Point (Opposite Bengali Club), ☏ +91 3192 23264, +91 93509 88988, firstname.lastname@example.org. Neat a/c rooms, with balcony. Don't take air-con deluxe rooms on first floor(room numbers starting with A), they're dark and damp - insist for the ones on third floor. Prepaid taxis would charge ₹100 from airport, but if you bargain outside the airport, you can get autos/taxis at ₹50. The best part of Hotel Shompen is its location - it's in Aberdeen bazar, which is bang in the middle of the small town that is Port Blair (10 min walking distance to Cellular Jail Anand/Annapurna restaurants, the market place is even closer, and the Bus for Wandoor (where the ferry leaves for Jolly Buoy) stops right in front of the hotel!). ₹1000-2000.
- Fortune Resort, Marine Hill (locally this hotel is known mainly as), ☏ +91 3192 234 101. The first chain hotel in Port Blair, great sea views but rooms are desperately in need of renovation. Has a bar and a restaurant. US$70-170, credit cards accepted.
- Hotel Sentinel. In the heart of the city, 2 km from the airport. The facilities in the hotel include a swimming pool, conference room, game room, internet and business centre. 3500-5000 (for tourist season).
- Sea Princess Beach Resort. The resort is on a hill top facing the sea. It has 33 sea-facing cottages with beautiful sea views. Facilities include a swimming pool, water sports, separate beach bar, conference room and internet. The tariff for the season is ₹6000-10000.
- Sinclairs Bayview, Corbyns Cove Rd, South Point, Shadipur, ☏ +91 3192 227 824, email@example.com. On the seafront, but far from the centre which is not necessarily a bad thing.
- Baratang Island - Mud volcano, limestone caves, and Parrot Island, 2.5 hrs by bus and ferry from Port Blair. On your way to Baratang, you can see local Jarwa tribals. However, the tribals have been moved to a separate island (as of 2011) and there's not much to see. Limestone caves are closed on Monday.
- Barren Island is a volcano island and the only volcano in India. Day trips can be arranged from Port Blair. No additional permit is required to visit the island, however, it is not possible to set foot on the island, only to view it from the boat.
- Chidya Tapu - a small fishing village with good snorkelling, located at the southern tip of South Andaman. Buses run several times per day from Port Blair and take 1½ hours. The last bus that leaves the STS bus terminal is at 17:00 and once it reaches Chiriya Tapu, the same will return to Port Blair. So plan your trip accordingly. The best snorkelling is at a beach about 2 km south. Chiriya Tapu is a very good sunset point. Auto fare for a return journey plus waiting time is ₹500-600.
- Diglipur. A few times weekly and takes 10 hours, overnight.
- Havelock Island Government ferry - Port Blair to Havelock at 06:00 and 14:00. Ferry tickets ₹500 and ₹600 per person 1 way. Havelock to Port Blair 14:00 and 16:00. Travel time 150 minutes. A private operator runs a fast catamaran day ferry M.V.Makruzz. 09:00 departure from Port Blair to Havelock. Departure from Havelock to Port Blair - 16:00. Takes 90 minutes. Tickets ₹750, ₹850 and ₹1,100 per person 1 way. Here you can get tickets on the same day. Of course, it's always better to book the ticket a day ahead. The inside is really good and clean. To get a window seat you must reach the ticket counter early.
- Little Andaman. Several times weekly from Hut Bay takes 8 hours.
- Long Island. Several times weekly and takes 8 hours. This ferry continues on to Ranghat on Middle Andaman.
- Neil Island once a day, 1½ hours. Some boats go from Havelock.
- North Bay Island - Nice place to do snorkeling. You won’t find any canteen but there are small stalls serving tea, biscuits, chips and coconut water. There is a stop-gap arrangement for the ladies changing rooms too. You can also see coral from a glass-bottomed boat. They charge around ₹300 per head for snorkelling and ₹200 per head for glass boats.
- Ross Island - It was British administrative capital. You’ll find lots of deer on this island. There is a small canteen for some snacks and lunch. You need to walk a lot to see to cover the entire place. A great 1/2 day side trip from Port Blair. Ferries daily at 08:30, 10:30, 12:00, 14:00. Buy tickets at the jetty behind the aquarium where the boat leaves from.