Andaman Islands
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Andaman Islands

Travel article
LAST UPDATED 01/03/2010
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The old prison, Port Blair

The Andaman Islands are the northern group of islands making up the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India that lies some 900 kilometres off India’s east coast in the Bay of Bengal. The Andamans extend north-south for about 360 km and include more than 300 islands, some two dozen of them inhabited. There are three major islands: North Andaman, Middle Andaman, and South Andaman, as well as the smaller Little Andaman the farthest south.

The islands have a checkered history. The British arrived in 1789 and established a penal colony on South Andaman Island, but had to abandon it seven years later because of the unhygienic living conditions. In 1872, they annexed both groups of islands. However, the only point of settlement developed by the British was Port Blair, which was converted into a prison for convicts serving life terms. For the next 70 years, the atolls remained untouched by time until the Japanese occupied them in World War II. In December 1943, the Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose, who was working in tandem with the Japanese, unfurled the Indian tricolour at Port Blair. However, the territory reverted to the British after the defeat of the Japanese in World War II. In August 1947, Andaman and Nicobar became part of India.

The islands are quite mountainous and covered in tropical forests. The sandy beaches complete with coconut palms dot the edge of meandering coastline.  Many rare flora and fauna, are home to the islands.

The Andaman Islands offer the travelling surfer a true remote adventure surfari experience.


Peering from above

The main known surf spots are located on the southern part of South Andaman and on Little Andaman.  The islands are thought to be first surfed in 1998. The coast of the Andaman Islands was devastated by the boxing day 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, reportedly being swamped by a 10-metre (33 ft) high tsunami, and many of the spots suffered damage.


Climate-wise, the area is subject to two monsoons: the drier north-east monsoon from November to Arpil, which provides ideal offshore winds at most spots, and the wet onshore southwest monsoon from Mat to October that blows everything out. The main source of swell is from the southwest from distant southern hemisphere storms, and if you can catch an early southern hemisphere winter swell, at the end of the dry season you will likely find wave gold.


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