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Andaman - How and how much

How to reach
There are direct flights from Chennai, Kolkota and I think Bhubaneshwar to Port Blair and back. I saw a few good deals on flights from Chennai to Port Blair for as low as 2900 recently. Planning ahead might help you score a deal. There is also an option of going by sea (it you are the adventurous type and also have time on your hand). Regular passenger ship services are available from Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam to Port Blair and back.

The Govt. ferry to Havelock (pretty neat right)

Where to stay
We chose Barefoot Resort (near beach no. 7, Havelock island) for accommodation and dealing with them was a breeze. The whole transaction was done through email. In the very first reply to the email enquiry we sent, they gave us a comprehensive list of documents (17 docs in total) containing all the information required for planning a trip to Barefoot. They covered everything, right from weather patterns in Havelock to room pictures to flight and ferry schedules to activities price list to travel tips. We felt much more confident after that mail :)

A little bit more about Barefoot Resort - 
"Located on the fringe of what TIME Magazine acclaimed as the best beach in Asia in Nov 2004, Barefoot at Havelock, the Andaman Islands’ only eco-hideaway is set in rainforest and tropical fruit trees behind a pristine 2 km white-sand stretch of the quirkily named Beach No. 7 at Havelock Island.

Our resort comprises 19 beautifully designed cottages that are hidden among 7 acres of grounds, their hardwood walls and conical thatch roofs blending into the tropical foliage. You get basic comforts (modern plumbing, air-con or ceiling fans) and an exhilarating closeness to nature. The barefoot philosophy means a minimal footprint, so only indigenous materials are used, rainwater is harvested, and most staff are local. Venture out to kayak through mangrove creeks, snorkel or dive the reefs, camp on a deserted island; stay in and there's yoga, bird watching, hammocks - and a blissful beach. Barefoot at Havelock is perfect if you are looking for an unpretentious hideaway in one of the world’s last undeveloped tropical islands. 
     
You're very cut off from the rest of the world: no television, newspapers, internet or (sometimes) telephone - bliss for some! This is also part of a conscious effort to take our guests out of their cottages and experience the beauty of Havelock Island. Room service is not provided as the cottages are far apart from the kitchen and also because we have a wonderful atmospheric lounge and restaurant where we encourage our guests to mingle and sit back and enjoy a tall drink and a delicious meal with some relaxing music."

For more details visit their website -

The non-AC Nicobari cottage

Nicobari Cottage from inside (please excuse the bad photos :P)

 AC Andaman Villa (the lounge chairs on the right are super awesome to hang out)

 The sole pic of the Andaman Villa from inside - the bathroom with skylight :D

The low seating dining area in the Barefoot Resort (again sorry for the bad photo)

 Tips for planning a vacation in Barefoot Resort:
  1. Barefoot resort has a tie up with Go Air and you get a discount if you book your flight tickets through them.
  2. Nicobari Villa is quite good and if you go around December, you will not need AC. I liked it better than the AC Andaman Villa (we split the stay between the two).
  3. If you are not going there on a honeymoon or are looking for a budget option, then it is better to stay in Barefoot Scuba Resort (Beach No. 3) which is closer to the jetty and the hub for all water activities (it is a sister resort of the main Barefoot Resort on Beach No. 7). The rooms overlooking the beach are quite lovely (see the hammock pic down).
  4. Confirm the ferry timings ahead (Govt. or Makruzz) and book your flight to and from Port Blair accordingly so that you will not have to spend an extra night in Port Blair.
  5. Also inform Barefoot about your preference in the ferry type and the time (there are 2 trips of each for both onward and return). Inform the return ferry timing once again during check in as the ferry can be booked only two days in advance. On your last day you can check out and keep your stuff in the office and take the 4.30 PM ferry. This way you will get more time in the resort/Havelock.
  6. There is a free drop to Barefoot Scuba Resort from the main resort every morning at 6.30 AM and a free drop back at 4.30 PM for Barefoot guests. Plan your activities accordingly so that you do not end up paying extra for cab.
  7. Breakfast is complimentary at Barefoot and on the days you go for some activity and have to leave early at 6.30 AM, if informed earlier they will pack and give you breakfast. Do not forget to take it along.
  8. You can hire two wheelers near the main market for exploring the place on your own. Petrol is available at many shops in bottles.
  9. Plan your activities and make booking as soon as possible as the resort people need to plan accordingly. Especially if you are interested in the activities involving the in-house elephant, Rajan J. So once you check in, drop in at the activity center in the resort to know more about what is available and book accordingly. The day trips (to Tamarind Bay and South Button) are conducted only if sufficient participants are there so that the trip is viable to the resort. So keeping them informed makes the planning easier.
  10. The food at the Barefoot main resort is excellent and very cheap. So binge!! You do not know the best part yet, if you order a curry, a big bowl of rice or 4 phulkas are complimentary with the curry! (the waiter informed us this as if it was so obvious, err…hello, no it is not obvious, we shell out sometimes up to 20 bucks each for a single phulka back in the mainland).
  11. There might be a few creepy crawlies in your room or in the resort on the pathways etc but like John, the manager said when a girl complained of one in the room, "they are not the intruders, we are, in their habitat". So it really is ok, they don’t bother you and it is best we do not too. And no, we did not find any creepy crawlies in our room (if that makes you feel better) but we did see a giant crab in the walkway (now don’t get scared :D).
  12. Mobile signal is there and it is not that you are in the middle of nowhere with no means of communication. You just might have to walk a bit till the main road (5 min) to catch a signal (vodafone was present).
  13. The transfer charges from and to the resort (including pickup at Port Blair airport to the Nest and from there to the jetty and the ferry ticket and the cab ride to the resort at Havelock) is 2500 per head. We felt it was a bit steep considering the ferry ticket cost was only 250 and the rest was for the cab charges and the welcome and goodbye kit having a some snacks and water bottle. If somehow you can manage to get the ferry tickets (which are sold only two days before the date of journey, you can save some bucks). Again it might be possible only if you stay two days or more in Port Blair and then head over to Havelock.
  14. You do not have to stay with Barefoot to go for the scuba/snorkel trips or other activities conducted by Barefoot Scuba. There are a lot of stay options on Havelock. You can just book your seats for the trip and report there on time :)
 The rooms in Barefoot Scuba Resort on Beach No. 3 (the hammocks are super comfy as you can see)

 The Barefoot Scuba hub at Beach No. 3

 You can swim with Rajan for a bomb (we did not, this is just a pic of the poster there :P)

The mentioned creepy crawly :D

We hired the two wheeler here

How much (Kitna hua :P) –

Transport:
Airfare (Chennai to Port Blair round trip by Go Air)
12600 per head
Pick up and drop from airport to resort (including the ferry)
2500 per head
One way drop to Barefoot Scuba (Beach no. 3) by cab
350 per trip
Rent for two-wheeler
400 per day

Accommodation:
Non A/C Nicobari Cottage (Barefoot Resort, Havelock)
8300 per night
A/C Andaman Villa (Barefoot Resort, Havelock)
11000 per night
Premium A/C room (The Nest, Port Blair)
2500 per night

Activities:
Inglish Island Snorkelling Day Trip (including packed lunch)
2900 per head
Tamarind Bay Day trip (one scuba and one snorkel plus lunch)
6000 per head
Underwater photos of scuba
500 per dvd
Head, Neck and Spine Massage (at Barefoot Resort)
1500 per head


NOTE: All the prices mentioned above are in INR and exclusive of taxes. Also these were the rates in Dec 2012; they may have revised the rates now.

What to Carry
  1. Clothes wise girls, this is the best place to wear anything you want (or don't want :P). No one stares or gives you the creeps. You will feel confident and at ease and so will be the guy with you (Puneeth was relieved to say the least :D). So you can carry all your cute beachwear :)
  2. Carry hair-dryer if you can, you are not allowed to scuba if you catch a cold.
  3. Most of the resorts give you beach towels, even for day trips so you won't need to carry them. But carry one just in case :)
  4. Carry any specific medicines/cosmetics you need. You might not get all brands on Havelock.
  5. The beach staples like sun-screen, hat, flip-flops etc.

Good time to visit Andaman
Good time starts from October and goes on till February. Best time would be late November to early January. We went in mid December and the weather was glorious. It was sunny but the sun was not at all harsh. Surprisingly it was not that humid too ( we were expecting it to be a sweat fest, we had such a wrong notion of the place :D). The sun sets around 5.30, so you get very little day time unless you start your day early (I know, early on a vacation. But its worth it!).

Read the complete Andaman series for all the info:
Why Andaman
Andaman - Day wise itinerary

Hope this post was useful to you. Drop in a comment or an email in case you want any more info J

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