Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Port Blair & around - Part II

Andaman & Nicobar - The Enchanting Coral Islands of India
(Port Blair – Mahatma Gandhi Marine National ParkRed Skin Island )

Day 2 (Day 2 since arrival in Port Blair)

View from Wandoor jetty

            The next day we started early at 7.00 A.M. heading for Wandoor Jetty situated about 29 Kms. from Port Blair, wherefrom one can visit the famed Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at houses the famous coral islands of Jolly Buoy & Red Skin, which are opened to tourists, one at a time.  The road passes through Shipighat, home to the Research & Demonstration Farm run by the Central Agriculture Research Institute.  For visiting the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, one has to seek prior permission to entry and taking any kind of plastic products is strictly prohibited, which includes water bottles.  But by depositing a fee of Rs.100/- (refundable) and a token fee of Rs.5/- (for usage), one can hire a insulated water bottle from the Marine Park Office.  The first trip to the coral islands starts at 9.30 A.M. and tickets can be booked in advance, which costs @Rs.550/- per person per trip.  The ticket includes ferrying to Red Skin/Jolly Buoy island & back to Wandoor Jetty, snorkeling at the island site and in case one is not inclined, one may use the token to undertake an excursion by glass bottom boat to have a look at the corals. 

View of the sea en-route to Wandoor Jettty

The ferry takes about 30-40 minutes to reach the Red Skin Island, in a slow and leisurely pace and all these ferries move in a convoy and travel till they reach the edge of the Islands and there from one is transferred to the Island by smaller boats.   You are allowed about two to three hours time on the Islands and thereafter, the process of transfer back is repeated.  The smaller boats that transfer one from the ferry to the Island are glass bottomed boats and as you pass over the Corals, you can see them clearly.  The ticket price is inclusive of either snorkeling or one can avail another short drive in the glass bottom boat.  Since we were not swimmers, we preferred to take another round in the glass bottom boat and negotiated for an extended tour with the operator, who charged @Rs.100/- per person extra for the jaunt. The experience is exhilarating as one can see the colorful coral reefs with a plethora of vibrant colored fishes swimming in their natural environs.   As we had no idea about the length of time and due to unavailability of any kind of food or snacks at the islands we were totally famished by the time we reached back in Port Blair i.e. around 3.30 P.M.  We had some food in a Restaurant and then called it a day.  However, this trip is also arranged by local tour operators, who charge a bit more but provide one with water bottles & lunch packs at the island.

Corals seen from Glass Bottom Boat

Destruction - aftermath of Tsunami in 2004

The ferry anchored at a distance - people snorkeling in sea near Red Skin Island to watch Corals


© S. Roy Biswas – All rights reserved

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