Neil – the tiny, beautiful island located south of Andaman Islands on the East Coast of India, with unexplored coral reef and brilliant bio-diversity, white sandy beaches, forest & vegetation is one of the best tourist spots in Andaman. 37 kms from Port Blair, Neil is one of the closer island destinations to Port Blair. Neil and Havelock islands are part of Ritchie’s Archipelago. Connected by speedboat from Port Blair daily, it provides ideal holiday destination for eco-friendly tourists in natural settings. The sea encircling the island is shallow and full of colorful corals.
Neil Island is also known as the vegetable bowl of Andaman as it is here the local vegetables are cultivated and supplied to other islands. The settlers named the beaches after the mythical characters of the epic Ramayana like Bharatpur, Laxmanpur, Sitapur Ramnagar etc. The beaches are popular for their hammocks under shady trees.
The calm and quiet life in this Island called ‘Vegetable Bowl’ moves at its own pace. People are either busy with agricultural or tourism related activities. The culture is a mix of rural and semi-urban, with the tropical living witnessed at its best. The friendly culture encourages the visitors to stay in Neil Island, which signifies the warmth and friendliness that lingers in this part of Andaman.
The lifestyle here at Neil Island is not ultra-advanced. Nor is it purely tribal. There is a sort of semi-developed flair that dominates this small Island. The population is decent and welcoming. Attire does not include anything specific that can be tagged with Neil Island in particular, but this place has been borrowing the fashion trends from Port Blair and Havelock Islands lately.
As you disembark from the boat at Neil Island Jetty and walk towards the market village of Neil Kendra, the beach appears before you is in the form of a long arc. Neil Kendra, a gently curving bay of white sand, straddles the jetty, scattered with picturesque wooden fishing boats. Neil Kendra is the heart of the island. On the left side of the jetty is Bharatpur Beach and on the right Laxmanpur Beach. Silver Sand Beach Resort is located at Neil Kendra.
The secluded beach of Lakshmanpur lies 2 km north of the Neil jetty. The beach is a broad spur of white shell sand with shallow water and offers a good snorkeling option. Sunbathing and swimming are other activities. One can view spectacular sun-set from this beach. This rocky beach lies about two kilometers from the jetty with lots of coral formation , ornamental fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, star fish etc. which are best suited for people of scientific temperament. The rocky surface can get slippery and one needs to be on ones guard. The main attraction here is the natural rock formations.
Half a kilometer from the jetty, Bharatpur is one of the best beaches known for swimming and coral-watching with a vast sandy stretch. This beach is ideally recommended for youngsters because of activity options. One can hire glass-bottom boats for coral viewing. The Sea around the Jetty area is full of corals with schools of fish swimming around. The colour and form of vegetation along the beach soothes the senses.
This beach is exposed to the open sea and thus prone to higher tides. It is 5 kilometers to the south and at the tip of the island. This beach is best suited to watch the sunrise with an impressive backdrop of natural vegetation and limestone formations. The journey from the Jetty to Sitapur beach itself is refreshing with green fields and a variety of crops and forest trees.
Sir Hugh Rose Island
This tiny island is located at the southern tip of Neil Island and is locally known as ‘Chhota’ Neil (‘Small’ Neil). This island has been declared a wild life sanctuary and is a turtle-nesting ground. Individuals have to obtain permission from the Deputy Range Officer, Forest Department at Neil Island to visit this island. Only day visits are permitted.
Natural Rock Formation
A natural rock formation in Laxmanpur beach is locally known as the Howrah Bridge. Visit the place during low tide as the retreating sea leaves behind many a secret from its treasure trove.