By Neha – Revolving Compass
Traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants might sound like a crazy idea to many people. And I can totally relate. The Andaman Islands, although home to some of the best and most exotic beaches in Asia, are located approximately 1,400 km east of mainland India. While it’s important to travel to the Andamans responsibly, if you do so, you can have a splendid time.
Whenever I tried to visualize the Andamans in my mind, I pictured remote islands covered with dense tropical rainforests and pristine beaches.
I imagined tribal people, very limited facilities, a limited healthcare system and difficult commuting options. So, after my first baby was born, I kept waiting for her to “grow a little” before we made the journey. But as it turned out, I simply could not summon the courage to travel to the Andaman Islands with my infant at that point in time.
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We Kept Waiting
We waited and waited. Eventually our daughter turned four. Again, we considered planning a trip to the Andamans, but then we found out our second baby was on her way. And yet again, we halted our plans.
Call it the wit of an experienced mom, but I felt much more confident with my second baby. Also, I was ready to plunge into travel adventures with her while she was still an infant. So, I began researching how to travel to Andaman Islands with kids and infants. The more I read and came to know about it, the more my confidence grew.
Then We Took the Plunge
I quickly discovered that the Andaman Islands are doable with kids and infants, provided you plan appropriately. So, here I am, back from a week long trip to the Andamans, and I can now say that I have traveled there with a five year old and an infant. I’m ready to share my experience and tips with all the families out there who are also craving a similar experience but have simply been putting it off because you think your baby is too small.
Background Info The Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are an archipelago of Islands in the Bay of Bengal, to the south east of India. The Andamans are comprised of 325 islands which cover an area of 6,408 km2 (2,474 sq mi). Port Blair is the name of the main island. There is evidence that people have inhabited these islands for nearly 2,200 years! There are a number of indigenous tribes that still live on the Andamans, but out of respect for their culture and survival, do not participate in anything even vaguely resembling a “human safari.”
It is common to find people who speak Hindi, English, Tamil and Bengali. Both North Indian and South Indian food is available throughout the Islands. Also, compared to many of the smaller islands in the Andamans, Port Blair has good medical facilities, buzzing markets and modern means of communication. But then, most other islands are very small – so much so that you can walk around many within an hour!
How To Get There Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
The most direct way to get to the Andamans is by flying. There are a number of direct flights to Port Blair operating out of most of the major cities in India. The Andamans could be a nice next stop after a Sundarbans National Park tour. If you have the time and budget, you can even reach the Andamans by sailing from Thailand. However, if you’re traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants, this option could prove extremely challenging.
Traveling Between the Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
Once you’ve reached the Andamans, you’ll likely want to explore more than one island. To get around the Andamans, you have a few options.
These ferries run all day, but they usually have long queues. You will have to buy a ticket from the counter. While these are the cheapest way to get around the islands, they are often crowded and uncomfortable. The safety measures are also not very stringent on these ferries. They will provide you with a lifejacket, but I do not recommend this option when traveling with kids or an infant.
Cruises Run by Private Operators
Private operators, like Macruzz, have routes that connect the major Andaman Islands like Havelock and Neil Islands with Port Blair. These cruises can be booked online, run as per schedule and are comfortable and hygienic. The crew is also available if you need some assistance. If you are traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants, I recommend this option. We booked with Macruzz to for our island hopping trip, and we were very pleased. Our route was: Port Blair -> Havelock Island -> Neil Island -> Port Blair.
Day Trips Across The Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
For exploring islands which are close to Port Blair like Ross Island, North Bay Island or Jolly Buoy Island, there are again ferries and speed boats run by both government and private operators. You can book a shared or a completely private one. Tour operators can book the day trips for you, or your accommodation can help with these. For these small island hopping excursions, we got an operator’s contact through our hotel, and he arranged it all for us.
Getting Around the Islands Themselves
For commuting around the islands themselves, there are taxis available. You need to pre-arrange the time with the taxi drivers to meet you at your accommodation. As the phone network is poor and doesn’t work at times, auto rickshaws are nearly always available.
Visit Them All North, Middle and South Andaman
Apart from Port Blair, there many other places to visit in the Andamans that are accessible to tourists. A few such places include:
- Ross Island
- Jolly Buoy Island
- Cinque Island
- The Havelock Islands
- Neil Island
- Baratang Island
- Long Island
- Smith Island.
Some of these are very close to Port Blair while others are quite far away. Then, there are even more remote private islands, some of which can be booked as well for an exclusive holiday experience.
What Andamans Are Known For
Andaman Islands are world famous for their dense rainforest covers, pristine blue waters, beautiful white sand beaches and calm atmosphere. In short, they make for an ideal holiday destination. There is also plenty of opportunity for adventure. Of the many options there is snorkeling, SCUBA diving, sea walking, kayaking, sailing, etc. The Andamans are home to countless beautiful coral reefs. And of course, you’ll get to see some of the best sunrises and sunsets of your life.
Many of these Islands are home to tribal groups whose traditional ways of life are still well preserved. Most of them are not accessible to tourists, such as the North Sentinel Island, in order to prevent onlookers from disrupting their tribal way of life. However, some areas, especially the Jarawa Territory has been exploited for sake of human safaris. Do not participate in these, as they threaten these peoples’ very survival.
Best Time to Visit The Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
People visit the Andaman Islands all through the year, as the temperature hovers around 30-35 C (86-95 F). However, with monsoon season starting in May and continuing until August, sudden bursts of heavy rain will likely disrupt your travel plans at this time. Monsoon season is particularly challenging when traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants, so I suggest you choose another time.
October to February will be the best time if you are planning on traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants. We did our one-week vacation in the first week of October, and we had a lovely time. The days were bright and hot albeit quite humid – but that’s island life – and the evenings were pleasant. All the activities were operational. Best of all, it was just the start of the tourist season which meant the crowds were much smaller than peak season. To put it simply, October was a perfect time for us to explore with our infant and 4 year old.
Things To Do Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
Generally speaking, I recommend you keep your itinerary slow paced and comfortable so that it doesn’t get hectic. We allocated at least 2 days per island, and we were happy with our decision. With that said, there are plenty of things to do in Andaman.
SCUBA Diving and Snorkeling
Many go to the Andamans for adventure activities. SCUBA diving and snorkeling are high on most people’s list. But yours might be different when you are traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants. My husband did manage to go SCUBA diving on the North Bay Island while I stayed behind with the baby.
Stroll on the Beach
What we enjoyed most as a family was our morning and evening walk on the pristine beaches. Some of our favorite beaches included:
We also enjoyed a number of beach side picnics in the shade of the trees. The premises of our resorts were also nice for picnics.
Glass Bottom Boat Rides
There are a number of different options for experiencing a glass bottom boat ride. Ask your accommodation to help you arrange this, and then get ready to see the beautiful sea life of the Andamans.
Explore Historical Sites
Where to Stay Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
We stayed at Hotel De Marina in Port Blair. It was comfortable, and came with all the basic facilities. What we really loved was the location of the hotel. The Aberdeen Bazar, Cellular Jail, Ferries to Ross and North Bay Island were all walkable from our front door.
We stayed in resorts close to the beach in both Havelock Island and Neil Island, and we had a very good experience there too. So, I highly recommend you book a resort where there is both enough space for the infant and kids to play as well as a beachside that is easily accessible.
What to Bring for Kids and Infants
Although the Andaman Island are beautiful, the fact remains that they are far from the mainland. So, you will have to be completely prepared when visiting the Andaman Islands with kids and infants. The following is my packing list for such a trip.
Clothing For Kids and Infants
For a week, pack your usual number of light cotton clothes, and then pack a few more. Also, if you don’t plan to wash them, bring a couple extra on top. Due to the high humidity, it is unlikely you’ll be able to reuse your sweaty clothing. Also pack swimwear if you plan to venture into the water, which you most likely will. Bring a light jacket as well. In the airports, ports and within hotels you will likely be in air conditioning, and it can get quite cold.
Medicines are very important, as it’s likely you will not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for on the islands. While Port Blair has a buzzing market, when your child is sick, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with new medicine brands. Especially when you leave Port Blair, make sure you have all the medicines with you that you think you’ll need. It also won’t hurt to keep your pediatrician’s contact number on hand as well as copies of any of your childrens’ prescriptions.
If you’re using organic baby formula, make sure you have enough for your trip plus some extra just in case something prevents you from departing when planned. Again, you can find formula in Port Blair, but you might not find your favored brand. Make sure to bring non-perishable snacks too. We brought a small electric cooker with some raw ingredients so we could cook all of our daughters meals without having to disrupt her feeding chart. Lastly, don’t forget a water sipper.
Don’t forget to bring your mosquito repellant. We also made sure to bring a lightweight hat and a hand-fan. We also were glad to have a sun-umbrella. And of course, we brought some toys to keep the kids occupied as well as sand toys.
What You Can Buy on The Andaman Islands
- Diapers (Only bring your own if your child needs a certain brand.)
- Formula and baby food (Again only bring your own it if your child needs a certain brand.)
- Baby lotions, creams, etc.
What to Expect While Traveling to Andaman Islands with Kids and Infants
The good news is that the Andaman islands are well maintained, quite unpolluted, and seldom crowded. This makes for an ideal holiday spot for both kids and infants. While the hot and humid weather makes kids and infants sweat a lot, it consequently improves their appetite. This was an unintended consequence I did not realize until after our trip. Being a mom to a picky eater, and one who struggles to gain weight, it was such a relief to see her eat well while on the Andaman Islands.
If you are wondering whether or not you should hold off on traveling to the Andaman Islands with kids and infants, you need not! Just be prepared with your bookings and overall trip plan. Choose the right activities, keep the days light, and you as well as your family are going to enjoy your trip to the max!
Neha is a travel blogger from India, and she travels the world with her husband Abhishek and her two kids. Together, the couple likes to capture their travel memories and likes to provide information and itineraries on destinations, family travel and many more tips related to traveling the world. Check out their travelogue at Revolving Compass.