Helen and Randall on the road

A bit about our adventures 2011-2012

February 9th – 19th: Andaman Islands

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We had booked a week of diving at Dive India in the Andaman Islands so after two fairly underwhelming days in Kolkata we took the 2 hour flight to Port Blair. Here is the view from the plane of the start of the islands:

We were staying at Island Vinnie’s resort, where our dive centre Dive India is based:

Looking down towards the beach from our cabana – dive centre on the right, full moon cafe on the left.

Our ‘tented cabana’ with veranda and most importantly hammock.

The ‘Full Moon Cafe’ – possibly the only restaurant on the islands where the menu is not 90% fiction.

Full Moon Cafe – the Island Vinnie’s on site restaurant.

The beautiful beach.

More beach.

Trees on the beach. Some of the trees were actually knocked over by the 2004 Tsunami which affected although didn’t devastate the islands.

Dawn at beach No. 5

Dawn at beach No. 5 – starting to load the dive boats.

Loading the dive boats, Dive India, Island Vinnie’s

Off  on the dunghi (traditional Burmese-style fishing boat) for a day’s diving.

Jimmy (one of the other divers) decides to give us an airline-style safety briefing; there are exits here, here, here, here, here etc

The diving was glorious – mainly clear clear water with visibility around 20m and loads and loads of brightly coloured tropical fish and corals. We saw white-tipped sharks and stingrays and an ENORMOUS grouper the size of a small car, and one of the other groups saw dolphins, turtles and manta rays. The only sad thing is that above about 15m the coral is bleached and dead as the water temperature has been rising and it can’t survive at the new temperatures (climate change related). This meant that most of the diving was at 20m depth or below.

On Havelock all the beaches are numbered; No. 7 beach or Radhnagar beach is famously the most beautiful and where the swimming elephant can sometimes be spotted (although not by us). We took a trip there one afternoon – a 20 minute rickshaw ride across to the other side of the island:

This way to the beach!

Forest down to the beach – gorgeous.

Randall wanders down to the beach…

…past the huge piles of plastic rubbish.

There is nowhere to recycle plastic on the islands, and conscious resorts like Island Vinnie’s provide filtered water and tasty natural drinks so you don’t have to buy drinks in plastic bottles, but there is still a huge problem with plastic rubbish. Vinnie’s have a sticker campaign trying to alert people to the problem but sadly there seems to be such a littering culture in India even when visiting beautiful places like the Andaman Islands.

Sunset at beach No. 7. Sadly we didn’t see the swimming elephant, but we did have early dinner and beers at Barefoot.

Next day – off for another day’s diving in gin-clear waters!

As the last ‘specialist’ dive of my PADI Advanced Open Water certification I did the Underwater Photography option. I won’t be selling anything to National Geographic just yet, but here are some of my efforts:

Ravi, my photography buddy.

Coral Cod

Huge starfish

Banner fish swimming between two huge barrel sponges.

Seal-faced puffer fish

Fringed coral with damsel fish

More soft corals

Butterfly fish

Apart from diving, snorkelling, reading in your hammock and eating there is really not much to do. Even the odd walk into the nearest village seems tiring after a morning’s diving though, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Still, said walk is worth it for the comedy traffic signs on the way:

After our 6 days of diving we took ourselves off on the ferry to Neil Island (90 mins on the chaotic, ancient ferry) – quieter even than Havelock:

Neil Island

Our Rs 800 beachfront hut at the eccentric Tango Beach Resort

Randall staring moodily at the ocean.

Banded sea snake, spotted on the beach next to our hut. Very poisonous, but apparently they have teeny little mouths so can’t bite you easily. We saw them while snorkelling too, mostly buried in the sand but with about 2 inches sticking upright out of the sand catching food. They reminded me of small, stripey, aquatic meerkats.

We had to call back to Havelock after Neil Island to collect our luggage and wait for the next day’s ferry (none of the transport is coordinated time-wise, obviously!) so took ourselves back off to No. 7 beach for some snorkelling. Here you can see all the awful things that can happen to you while at the beach:

Other awful things that you might see while swimming at beach No. 7!

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Written by helenbcn

February 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm

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