Situated at 37 km to the south of Andaman Island, Neil is a small but immensely beautiful island. It is one of the hot tourist attraction in Andaman Islands with its unexplored coral reefs, excellent bio diversity, scintillating white sandy beaches and exotic forest and vegetation. Owing to the farming practices that take place here, Neil Island is also known as the ‘vegetable bowl’ of Andaman.
The long and pristine island of Andaman, Neil Island is adorned with exquisite setting with its long and immaculate beaches, laid-back relaxing vibes and lucid charm, this island proves to be a perfect holiday destination. The bright blue sea and the lush foliage is a soothing treat to the eyes. For tourists looking to escape the monotonous life and hustle and bustle of the city life, this secluded place is no less than a paradise. All the beaches of the Neil island are named after characters of Ramayana, as inspired from Hindu mythology.
Neil island didn’t see any trace of inhabitant until the settlers arrived in 1960. The vast majority of settlers were refugees from Bangladesh. The island was named by a British officer after Scottish military officer of East India Company named James George Smith Neill who was infamous for the indiscriminate killing of Indians during 1857 uprising period. It has never been renamed afterwards.
Neil Island is comparatively smaller than the other islands in Andaman. The island belongs to Ritchie’s Archipelago and is situated between Havelock Island and Ross Island, 35 km away from Port Blair. The island is a volcanic region and is home to beautiful corals at the beach. The widest part of the island is about 5 km in length and one can take a walking tour of the whole island within 2 hours. The temperature here tends to remain one or two degrees warmer than the Havelock Islands.
How to reach?
There is no direct way to reach the Neil Island from the main land or any corner of the world. One must go travel to Port Blair first and then travel directly to Neil Island or via Havelock, by water ways to reach this pristine destination.
There are number of private and government operated speed boats and ferries plying regularly from Port Blair and Havelock Island. It takes about 2 hours from Port Blair and 1 hour if you’re riding from Havelock.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Neil island is between October to May because of the tropical climate of this island. During these months, the weather stays pleasant enough to go on sightseeing excursion and enjoy water sport activities.
Things to do in Neil Islands
Neil island is all about beaches, so most of the things to do here revolves around water or is related to water sports. Apart from witnessing the amazing beauty of the island, one can participate in different adventure activities like Scuba diving in Jetty area, snorkelling at beaches in Sitapur, go for a jungle trek, swimming, cycling, game fishing and also take a Glass bottom boat ride to have a much clearer sight of the exquisite marine life of this island. You can also hire a two-wheeler to explore the island on wheels. These are some of the most popular activities that tourist like to take part in.
Neil island is known as the vegetable bowl of Andaman as many locals still work in the agriculture fields. There are also plenty of fisherman in this area. There are no fancy restaurants and one can expect shacks by beaches and the food being served in plastic platers. Almost all restaurants serve Indian food and Chinese as well, but one can also find Israeli, Italian and French cuisine as well. One can also expect a long preparation time depending on what and how much you’ve ordered. The Seafood is the delicacy of the Andaman and can be found on this island as well.
The Andaman and Nicobar police are the law enforcement agency for the Union Territory of Andaman and they take care of everything from discipline to implementing laws. It is an efficient police agency who performs their duties with all their heart. Neil island is a safe tourist destination, but a wise person always stays cautious while exploring a new city.
With only basic restaurants, pristine beaches with free entry and mopeds or bikes costing ₹400 per day, Neil island is quite a budget friendly place to visit as traveller. It is listed at top in many backpacker’s list as a must visit place. Many entrepreneurs have invested in this island in the past few years and few luxurious properties can now call Neil their abode and provide extravagant resort experience for the people looking for a luxury stay.
Neil Island is situated in the Bay of Bengal and it experiences heavy winds during the monsoon season and a tropical climate. The best weather on this island is witnessed from early November until mid-May.
Indian Rupee Currency is used to trade in Neil island, like the rest of the islands in Andaman. An important point to note is that the island has only two ATMs and there’s no facility to exchange foreign currency. So, it is advisable to carry cash when you visit Neil Island.
No broadband connection is facilitated on Neil Islands. BSNL is the service provider with the strongest networks amongst others. Data networks are available on phone sometimes, but it can be very disrupting.
Hotels and other accommodation
From the affordable basic huts that matches the warmth of Neil island to luxury resorts with astonishing views and modern settings for people looking for a luxurious vacation, Neil islands is no longer just a backpacker’s destination. It has a stay pattern for almost all sorts of tourists.
Transfer to other Island from Neil
Ferries are the best way of reaching the islands in Andaman although Helicopters do fly to and from Neil island. The government ferry leaves for Port Blair every day at 8 am and 2 pm. Two ferries connecting to Havelock and three ferries for Long Island and Rangat, also ply regularly from Neil.