Avis Island 360 View

We spent the day on tiny Avis island snorkeling the coral gardens and floating on our backs in the crystal clear waters. Giant clams, banded sea snakes, technicolor lobsters, cubist trigger fish, and incredibly delicate bonsai style coral in the meter deep expanses of water.

To share this perfect experience, I made a 360 view of the islet from out in the water. For perspective, you can see Thomas sitting on the shore. As you spin around, notice the storms forming in the distance. We certainly noticed them that afternoon.

The clarity of the water is somewhat obscured by how the ripples are rendered during the stitching of the images for the 360.

Mysterious North Sentinel Island

Without a doubt, the most fascinating island in the entire Andaman and Nicobar chain is the mysterious North Sentinel, an island off limits to both foreigners and Indians alike. The tribal North Sentinelese are considered by many to be the most isolated people on Earth. Most attempts by the Andaman tribal authorities to contact the North Sentinelese have been greeted with a very clear answer of angry arrows. Yikes! In response, the Indian government has stopped their attempts to contact the tribe. In 2006, Sentinelese archers killed two fisherman who were illegally fishing near the island. Clearly these people want to be left alone. Continue…

Marie-Christine

Neil Island is absolutely peaceful and quiet but not in a boring way. As soon as we stepped off the ferry, we were part of a great community of non-party, nature-loving travelers. And Marie-Christine is one of them. We were immediately spellbound by this contemporary semi-nomadic French woman whose radiating smile is not her only asset. Marie-Christine has a gift. Continue…

Paradise Neil

After the epic battle to reach Neil Island, you’re probably wondering if it was worth it. Absolutely. No hassle, beautiful beaches, excellent snorkeling, nice huts in a beautiful tropical garden, dugongs and dolphins, paradise.

The Battle for Neil Island

Getting off Havelock island has been a nightmare. What we assumed would be a simple matter of walking up to a ticket office and buying a ticket has turned into the ultimate example of Indian incompetence, corruption and racism.

Day 1

Thomas shows up at the ticket counter an hour before it closes. A line of foreigners wait impatiently as the ticket salesmen sip chai, chat, and avoid their work responsibilities. Any attempt to get them to do their jobs results in rolling eyes and Bengali curses. When one randomly approaches the window and deigns to actually sell a ticket, Indians rush up and cut in line. Thomas loses it and Continue…

Enough is Enough

“Not again!” Tony screamed as he stormed out of the hut half shaven, shampoo in his hair, and with a towel wrapped around his hips. “This is the most I’ve paid for a room in India and it’s the third time the water’s stopped running today,” I heard him hollering. By the time I went out, a group of other guests had joined in around him yelling up a storm.

“I shut it off. Not enough water. Tomorrow,” one of the hotel guys informed us. Our outrage quickly turned to disbelief when we realized that there simply wasn’t enough water, which once again turned to outrage when we realized Continue…

Elephant Diving

Swimming Elephant Havelock Island

For those of you who have dived the world and feel that you have done just about everything there is to do, how about swimming with a different kind of giant? That’s right, Barefoot offers the chance to go snorkeling or scuba diving with an elephant! But at 8,500 RP ($170) per dive, it was a bit too rich for my blood. I chose to apply that money to my ten-dive package.

Having said that, it is very tempting. Isn’t it a beautiful picture?! To see more amazing photography, visit the photographers photo library at Steve Bloom Images. And thank you, Steve, for letting us use this spectacular photo!

Diving the Andamans

One of the major reasons we came to the Andamans was to scuba dive. We had been waiting for this moment since we arrived in India. Unfortunately, the day before we left Chennai to fly to the islands, a doctor declared Thomas unable to dive because of a serious sinus/inner-ear infection. Major bummer!

So I was left on my own to explore the sensational underwater world of the Andaman Sea. Dumb luck led me to Barefoot Scuba, Havelock Island’s only 5-star PADI diving center – and a stroke of luck it was.

Andaman Islands Underwater World

Shawn, the Norwegian running the center, went out of his way to help me put together a package of 10 different dives allowing me to experience a cross section of the islands diving opportunities. He and the friendly staff made sure that I always had somebody to dive with, a task made more difficult by the fact that I wanted to dive several sites that required advanced certification.

So, how was it? Continue…

Beach No. 7

Our first stop on the Andamans is Havelock Island, a popular tourist hot spot in the island chain famous for its diving and pristine jungle beaches. Among the highest rated beaches in South Asia is Radha Nagar Beach, better known as beach No. 7.

For months, we’ve been hearing about how beautiful this beach is, so we wanted to judge it for ourselves. After a one-hour bicycle ride through fields, banana plantations and forest, we eventually popped out at beach no. 7. And we were intrigued. Continue…