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It’s March. Time to plan for the big summer vacation trip. What better than the Andamans where you can chill and have adventures too?
Come March and we start wondering about how are we going to spend our precious summer holidays. And by we, I mean I, because quite frankly I am the only crazy one who starts the feverish search for a perfect destination, and that too only at the last moment.
As a teacher, being at the fag end of an academic year with exams and corrections and result preparations and report card work, my mind goes totally numb to anything other than school work until…until the time when the kids and I have just one more week of school left to go. And I get all frantic about not having a plan for the vacation. To be perfectly honest, that’s my only contribution to planning a vacation; that’s all I do, get crazy about the perfect destination, and that’s about it. After that the ball is practically in my husband’s court. I literally do nothing more. Everything from booking the tickets to travel logistics to stay is taken care by him.
So the exact same thing happened last time around too; I started putting forth a few suggestions but somehow my kids were pretty hung up on this one phrase “white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water”. Don’t know where it all came from or what got into them but that made our decision making process a lot easier. So for our wavering mind that was shuttling between a hill station and a beach vacation, this kind of sealed the deal. So the beach it was and what better than being surrounded by beaches?
Beautiful picturesque white sand beaches, crystal clear blue water and a haunting history surrounding the islands made the Andamans an intriguing place to visit.
At this point I have to tell you that we as a family consist of very laid-back sort of people. We don’t like to make a 51 pages long itinerary of must do things while we vacation.
No one likes to rush through the day ticking off the must see places off the list. In fact, everyone hates it. My kids would rather stay put in a place they seem to like, and relax and soak in the fun and the sun rather than be dragged around from one place to another. But we as the responsible grown-ups that we are, try to put our desires aside and do justice to all the travelling we undertook to get to that place and therefore try to make sure we visit at least a few places around.
As I told you earlier, last minute planning and all… we decided to outsource the logistics part to a travel agency- Thomas Cook- due to a lack of time.
But to our surprise we found that the Andamans are a paradise for laid-back people like us. We researched a bit and zeroed in on a few very beautiful beaches which shouldn’t be missed. To make it exciting for the kids, we let them do their bit of researching, to avoid looking like villains dragging their kids kicking and screaming from one place to another. Honest to god, they make us look like one.
So on arrival in Port Blair, after checking into our hotel and refreshing our first stop was the historical Cellular Jail. We decided to visit a few islands and decided to stay right on the beach as far as possible to avoid a lot of movement.
We stayed at Havelock Island for 3 days and booked a cottage on the beach at the Symphony Palms beach resort. There was a rental service provider renting out bikes on hourly and daily basis and so we didn’t think twice before renting a scooter for the 3 days that we were there. If you ever stay on the islands, don’t forget to rent out a bike as that’s one of the best decisions we took.
My kids are late risers and we didn’t want to incur their wrath early in the morning. We decided not to disturb them but at the same time my husband and I wanted to make the most of the stay in the island.
So we made a plan to inform our kids that we would be out in the early mornings for about an hour and they can catch up on their sleep while we drove off on the scooter taking the scenic route to explore nearby beaches, with the morning breeze blowing on our faces… watching the sun rise on the horizon while sipping a hot cup of coffee bought from a road-side vendor…
It was tranquil.
Nothing you can describe in words.
What a beautiful experience!
And we did this routine every single day of all the 3 days we stayed there. We would take off to the Kaala Patthar beach one day and visit the dock the next day.
Hang around sipping tea in a small corner shop taking in the life of the locals living there and their day’s activities as they unfold before our eyes, seeing them gather around a fish seller bringing in fresh catch of the day just, as the dawn breaks. I always love knowing a bit of the local culture and cuisine along with the touristy attractions a place offers.
These were also some of the stolen moments we enjoyed as a couple. You know these moments are so hard to come by when you are knee deep in this parenting thing; and it’s so important for us to grab a few such precious moments whenever we can. But not a wee bit longer, because we start missing our kids and their squabbles, no matter how much they get on our nerves. Isn’t that true for all us parents…
So it turned out to be a perfect choice for an enjoyable vacation with long drives along the beaches, lazing around in the island’s backwaters and, for my adventure loving kids (did I mention that though they hate travelling, they love adventure sports especially my daughter?)…sea walking and snorkelling experience was out of this world.
From the time we had zeroed in on the Andamans, this was the only thing on their mind; Sea walk, Snorkelling and Scuba diving. Somehow due to inclement weather conditions, they were not able to take up scuba diving.
Actually the dates for our Andaman trip coincided with the onset of monsoons there and that dampened our spirits a bit. I guess it was our ignorance that we simply did not factor in rains while booking our vacation assuming that the month of May being peak summer; there was no chance of rains. But boy were we wrong!
So throughout the 7-day trip we had this dread that it might start pouring any minute and our plans for the day would be ruined. You can quite well imagine how it’s to be on a beach vacation and having to constantly wonder if it might rain. And being an archipelago of islands, the weather would drastically change from being sunny to gloomy to pouring cats and dogs within a few moments.
And so with that sword hanging on us we were lucky to encounter beautiful weather throughout the trip except for one day. On the 5th day of our trip while we were getting ready to vacate our cottage in Havelock for our onward trip to Neil Island, it started pouring, and by pouring I mean lashing out relentlessly without a break.
The whole process of lugging our luggage and kids along up until boarding the Jetty was a wet holy mess. But the rain stopped just as we were ready to disembark and lay our foot on Neil Island.
Though it didn’t rain, the constant drizzle throughout the day spoilt our chances of experiencing Scuba diving, as all these water sport activities are subject to weather conditions and it was closed down for the day in Neil Island.
The jetty ride to various nearby islands was definitely a unique experience we all enjoyed.
Our stay at the Sea Princess beach resort on the Wandoor beach took our beach experience to a whole new level. What a beautiful property! We were quite pleased that we made the right choice for the final day’s stay in the Andamans.
With beautiful beaches of Neil and Havelock Islands, the black rocky beach of Kaala Patthar, the pristine turquoise blue waters and white sandy shores of Radha Nagar beach which is ranked among the 7th best beaches in Asia, the Andamans are truly an untouched paradise indeed that have survived commercialisation to a great extent.
Images credit: Kalpana Manivannan
Published here earlier.
Header image source: Flickr, for representational purposes only