Nicobar Islands Tourism

How to visit Nicobar islands

With 200.000 people visiting Andaman Islands questions about possibility of Nicobar Islands Tourism are becoming more frequent. Is it possible to visit Nicobar islands? As of July 2018, the answer to this question still was: "there's no way". With the recent announcement of the opening of the Nicobar Islands for tourism, there is a way how to do it.

Facts - One of Nicobar Islands is already open to tourism

At the beginning of August, Indian government decided to remove RAP requirement from Andaman islands and threw in a few more islands into the open list, including Nicobars.  The list of 29 Islands removed from Restricted Area Permit is here:

Andamans -

East Island; North Andaman; Smith Island; Curfew Island; Stewart Island; Land Fall Island; Ayes Island; Middle Andaman; Long Island; Strait Island;  North Passage;  Baratang;  South Andaman;  Havelock;  Neil Island;  Flat Bay; North Sentinel Island;  Little Andaman; Narcondam Island and Interview island.

Nicobars -

Chowra;  Tillang Chong Island;  Teressa;  Katchal;  Nancowry; Kamorta;  Pulomilo; Great Nicobar and Little Nicobar
In addition 11 uninhabited islands will also be accessible for foreigners and Indians alike.

More questions than answers about Nicobar Islands Tourism

Before us, adventure seekers, open a bottle of champagne and book our tickets, I have to say that the announcement created more questions than brought answers:
  • Is is already valid or is it just a good intention and it will come to force later? When?
  • Will all the islands be open also for overnighting or some of them just for a day visit?
  • How can I travel to Nicobar islands?  (Here I try to help.)
  • Are there any accommodations, hotels on Nicobar islands?
The answer to the first two questions is simple. RAP is cancelled, but "Tribal Permit" is still necessary to visit all Nicobar islands, but one.

MV Nicobar docking in Port Blair

What do Nicobar islands look like and how can taste the Nicobar islands Tourism

Even if Nicobar islands were closed for outsiders to visit, there still is a population which lives there. According to the 2011 census, more than 36000 inhabitants dwell there. And they need to be supplied with everything from food and petrol to mobile phone services, as well as provided with access to education and medical treatment. Nicobar Islands have no infrastructure for tourism. When you visit you will be exploring an unchartered teritoty. Well almost. We chartered something for you.
In February 2018 we have visited Little Andaman, which has been as south as you could get in the archipelago. Having a chance to observe live on Little Andaman, I have a pretty good idea what life on Car Nicobar or Great Nicobar looks like.

OK so how to get to the Nicobar Islands?

This part is easy. Fly to Port Blair and then board one of the ships heading down south. At the time of writing,10th of August 2018 there are two ships sailing the waters between Port Blair and Car Nicobar. MV Sentinel and MV Campbell Bay. The journey to Car Nicobar takes around 24 hours and ships stop at Hut Bay on Little Andaman. The journey to Campbell bay on Great Nicobar takes some 40 hours with a stop at Nancowry.
Strange thing is that Car Nicobar, thought pretty developed island, is not on the open list. This is most likely due to its military importance. Unless this changes, you would have to travel all the way to Great Nicobar. Yes! Great Nicobar is the one and only of Nicobar islands that you can realistically visit for the purpose of tourism.

How much is a ticket from Port Blair to Campbell Bay by Ships for non-Islanders

Prices for sailing one way are as follows:

Deluxe (2 Pax) Rs. 2625/-
Semi Deluxe (2 Pax only in MV Coral Queen) Rs. 2415/-
Cabin First Class (4 Pax) Rs. 2205/-
Bunk (Dormitory) Rs. 1995/-

Nicobar Islands Tourism Tips:

  • I would really suggest anyone heading south to Nicobar islands, to stop for a few days on a Little Andaman. That place is fantastic and it is quite well connected with the outside world. There is daily sailing from the Port Blair to Hut Bay.
  • Avoid cockroaches infested MV Bharat Seema, take clean and well maintained MV Corral Queen.
Nicobar Islands Tourism

Avoid Bharat Seema on the way to Little Andaman

Nicobar Islands Tourism

Sail on Coral Queen whenever possible

Accommodation in the Nicobar Islands

At the time of writing (June 2019), there is no private accommodation, no homestay, no resort in Great Andaman Island. There are three government Guest Houses in Campbell where you can theoretically stay.

APWD (Andaman Public Works Department) Guest House and ALHW (Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works) Guest House) have Air Conditioned rooms and provide the basic facilities for a comfortable stay. The third guest house, run by the Campbell Bay Panchayat, have Non-Ac private rooms with common toilets.

Let us be realistic here. Both APWD and ALHW guest houses will only accommodate you IF they have a vacancy. These guesthouses are intended for managers and visiting staff working for these government departments here. We tried to show up personally APWD guesthouses twice, in Mayabunder and Hut Bay and they were twice full. Book ahead if you can. (Contact me thru comment section below, or via Facebook, I will try to help.)

Food and prices in the Nicobar Islands

While Campbell Bay only boost the population of 5-6000 inhabitants, the geopolitical importance of Great Andaman island for India is tremendous. Island is supplied regularly by boats from Port Blair. MRP, the maximum retail price, is observed here as anywhere in India, Thus packaged goods are sold at the same price as in the mainland, which is great.

There is "restaurant", bakery and small eateries around Campbell Bay. Same as elsewhere in Andaman and Nicobar islands, we recommend to visit the government-run guesthouses for lunch or dinner. Their hygiene standards are better than those of private operators. They have mostly been surprised when we did so, but we were never turned down. Also, it is wise to order your food well ahead, like ordering lunch in the morning and dinner at lunchtime.

Is there electricity, mobile signal and internet on the Nicobar Islands?

Indeed it is. All of those modern world things are available in Campbell Bay.  Most of the inhabited areas of Great Nicobar have electricity supply 24/7 and BSNL Mobile signal for communication. BSNL 2G Internet is available here and there is even a Cyber Cafe in Campbel Bay. Expect poor speed and patchy connection. Good enough for checking email or text messages, though.

Sea Sickness

There is no way to avoid sailing while on Andamans, thus take motion sickness pills from home country or buy them in India. (Drugs are ten times cheaper in India then in Europe.) Me and my wife, we suffer from motion sickness easily and we can honestly say, that sailing in Andamans was quite bad, but we survived. When the ship begins to swing, assume horizontal position quickly.

Updates on Nicobar Islands

The topic of Nicobar Islands opening is so new, that we can all expects frequent updates and more information coming in.

Subscribe for updates in the comment section below and we'll follow the development and make sure you are well informed.

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