The Andaman Islands are finally in your sights. You’ve been dreaming about these remote islands for years. You’ve come for some of the best beaches in the world, the pristine reefs, and the swimming elephants. Yes, swimming elephants! Havelock and Viper Islands, Jolly Buoy and North Bay are all on your must-visit list. You just have to get through Port Blair first.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are an Indian territory. The archipelago sits where the Bay of Bengal meets the Andaman Sea. The islands are largely protected from development, and they’ve recently—and quietly—became an eco-tourism destination. The former penal colony is only a two-hour flight from the mainland of India. Then ferries regularly depart from Port Blair, the capital and only real town, for the outer islands.
Given the ferry schedules and the painful amount of time you spent in the air, you decide to pause in Port Blair, instead of racing for your next connection. Besides, it will give you time to learn more about the islands. The British built the Cellular Jail to exile political prisoners in the late-19th century. It’s now a national monument. The Samudrika Naval Marine Museum has a collection of corals, shells, and artifacts from local tribes, who continue to be isolated from the modern world. You will not be visiting North Sentinel Island, home to the dangerous Sentinelese tribe, on this trip. You can immediately recharge with a healthy dose of vitamin D at coconut palm-fringed Corbyn’s Cove. Plus you can finally sleep.
The only other thing you need at the moment is a decent hotel. Sinclairs Bayview is far enough outside of Port Blair’s hectic center that you won’t have any trouble falling asleep. The views of the turquoise Indian Ocean don’t hurt either. You arrive to find simply decorated rooms with cool floors and red curtains. There’s a freshwater pool, a small spa, and a Spanish bar. The Bayview restaurant spills onto a wide terrace and is known for its tiger prawns. The thought of them is making your stomach grumble. While a Japanese bunker and canon, leftover from World War II, remain undisturbed, save for the thick greenery growing around it. Sleep may have to wait until you reach the outer islands.