REACHING NEIL ISLAND
BY SPEED BOATS
From Port Blair Phoenix Bay jetty, regular speed boats operated by Government and Private Boat operators are available. Time taken is approx. one hour and 45 minutes.
Government ferries run by the Directorate of Shipping Services connect Phoenix Bay jetty, Port Blair to Neil island daily and vice- versa.
BY PRIVATE LUXURY CATAMARAN
Private luxury boats MV Makruzz, MV Coastal Cruise operated by M/s Mak Logistics, Port Blair ply from direct sector Port Blair to Neil and via Havelock daily and vice- versa.
OTHER TRANSPORT WITHIN NEIL ISLAND
At Neil auto rickshaws, taxis, buses, motorbikes are available for transport within the island.
The Civil Aviation Dept. of A & N Administration operates regular helicopter services from Port Blair airport to Neil directly and via Havelock and back with 5-9 seating capacity helicopter services from Pawan Hans Ltd.
STAY AT NEIL ISLAND
There are private hotels in Neil Island which provide accommodation at reasonable rates. Foreign tourists tend to spend, upto two weeks on this island. Govt. run Accommodation named Hawabill Nest at Neil Island offers accommodation for tourists.
As you disembark from the boat at Neil Island Jetty and walk towards the market village of Neil Kendra, the beach appears before you is in the form of a long arc. Neil Kendra, a gently curving bay of white sand, straddles the jetty, scattered with picturesque wooden fishing boats. Neil Kendra is the heart of the island. On the left side of the jetty is Bharatpur Beach and on the right Laxmanpur Beach.
LAKSHMANPUR BEACH- I & II
The secluded beach of Lakshmanpur lies 2 km north of the Neil jetty. The beach is a broad spur of white shell sand with shallow water and offers a good snorkeling option. Sunbathing and swimming are other activities. One can view spectacular sun-set from this beach. This rocky beach lies about two kilometers from the jetty with lots of coral formation , ornamental fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, star fish etc. which are best suited for people of scientific temperament. The rocky surface can get slippery and one needs to be on ones guard. The main attraction here is the natural rock formations.
Half a kilometer from the jetty, Bharatpur is one of the best beaches known for swimming and coral-watching with a vast sandy stretch. This beach is ideally recommended for youngsters because of activity options. One can hire glass-bottom boats for coral viewing. The Sea around the Jetty area is full of corals with schools of fish swimming around. The colour and form of vegetation along the beach soothes the senses.
This beach is exposed to the open sea and thus prone to higher tides. It is 5 kilometers to the south and at the tip of the island. This beach is best suited to watch the sunrise with an impressive backdrop of natural vegetation and limestone formations. The journey from the Jetty to Sitapur beach itself is refreshing with green fields and a variety of crops and forest trees.
NATURAL ROCK BRIDGE FORMATION (LOCAL HOWRAH BRIDGE)
A natural rock formation in Laxmanpur beach is locally known as the Howrah Bridge. Visit the place during low tide as the retreating sea leaves behind many a secret from its treasure trove.
SIR HUGH ROSE ISLAND
This tiny island is located at the southern tip of Neil Island and is locally known as ‘Chhota’ Neil (‘Small’ Neil). This island has been declared a wild life sanctuary and is a turtle-nesting ground. Individuals have to obtain permission from the Deputy Range Officer, Forest Department at Neil Island to visit this island. Only day visits are permitted.
ACTIVITIES AT NEIL
Activity options in Neil include Snorkeling, Scuba diving, Game fishing, trekking. Cycling, Sun bathing, swimming, bird watching and many more.
The coastal belt surrounding A & N Islands is the abode of one of the richest coral reef ecosystem in the world. The coral reefs and under water formation are untouched by human activities. The abundance of marine life around Neil provides a rich variety of varied diving sites. The ideal dive season is from December to May. The Jetty area and Laxmanpur beach-I are the dive spots.
SWIMMING & SNORKELING
Exercising in the water gives you a sense of freedom and a new dimension, which needs to be experienced. And there is no better place in the Andamans than Neil Island to give you the right swimming environment. The beach at Sitapur is wide enough and is sparsely populated. Swimming relaxes and rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit. It is an ideal exercise for all age groups. Snorkeling is available to view shallow areas of the coral reefs without going underwater with scuba equipment.
Cycling outdoors in Neil Island can be great fun! Cycling improves strength, stamina and aerobic fitness with a minimal risk. It is low-impact exercise, and is especially appropriate for people with problems in their joints, being a non-weight bearing sport. A cycle is the ideal vehicle to explore the tiny and flat Neil Island. Unlike most of the islands in the Andaman Group, Neil has a flat terrain and is ideal for cycling. The island is also comparatively small, with an area of 19 square kilometers and a population of 4000. One can feel the serenity of village life here.
Water Sports activities at Neil Island offers Jet-Ski rides, scuba diving and coral viewing through Glass Bottom Boat. The area around Jetty is ideal for such activities. The place has enormous scope for water sports activities.
For fishing enthusiasts, the sea of the coasts of Neil Island, in the Ritchie’s archipelago offer some of the best catches. There are organizations that offer all kinds of fishing equipments and boats.
SAFETY & PREVENTIVE MEASURES AT NEIL
Andaman & Nicobar Islands have many sandy beaches and coral reefs. But only some of these beaches are supervised for safe swimming, snorkeling and diving. Though Andaman water is generally safe for swimming and looks inviting, it also has some potentially dangerous marine animals, which may come in conflict due to mistaken identity such as prey or to defend their territory. Though such incidences are extremely rare, visitors are advised to observe the following precautions for a safe and enriching swimming experience.
WHAT TO DO AT NEIL?
Find out about safe swimming or diving area from the Tourist Information Center, Local Tour Operators and Forest Department Staff. Do not swim in Protected Areas to avoid dangerous animals. Look for the safety sign boards. They help you to identify potential dangers. Ask a lifeguard on duty for some advice on swimming conditions like local currents, tides, visibility, and the presence of dangerous marine creatures etc. Swimming conditions can change quickly, so seek prior advice from a lifeguard before entering in water in an unpatrolled area. Get a friend to swim with you so that you can look out for each other’s safety and get help, if needed. Children should always be supervised by an adult. Avoid swimming in the dark. Raise your hand up for help if you get into trouble in the water. Stay calm and wave your arm for help.
WHAT NOT TO DO IN NEIL?
Do not dangle your arms or legs in the water during boat rides. Do not swim under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Shiny jewellery or bright colored clothes resembles fins of small fishes and may attract predatory fishes. Avoid such accessory or clothing while swimming. If you have an open wound, please avoid swimming. Many predatory fish are attracted to blood odour. Avoid diving or swimming amongst school of fish. This may attract predatory fishes such as sharks. Avoid night swimming or diving. Look out for harmful marine animals as below:
Their sting may cause pain and giddiness. Don’t touch or play with them. Get ashore if you see a large school of Jelly Fish. In case of a sting, apply vinegar or an ice pack. Do not rub.
Normally present in open sea and some parts of coral reef areas. Avoid swimming or diving alone and don’t enter the water with open wounds.
Some sea snakes are poisonous and are usually recognized by their paddle-like tail. They can be aggressive if handled or stepped on. Stay well away from them.
Present in shallow coral and rocks or camouflaged in mud and sand. It has venomous dorsal spines and its sting could be lethal. To avoid sting never walk on coral reef area. Never lift rocks or corals. Wear sturdy sandals while walking in shallow coastal waters.
Salt water crocodiles:
Noticed in creeks, mangrove areas, sheltered waters and mouths of creeks. Please avoid swimming or diving in these areas. If you spot a crocodile, get ashore and alert the authorities. Crocodiles also move large distances in the open sea and can be found in coral reefs as well.