Neil Island or Shaheed Dweep is a small Island situated between Havelock & Port Blair. Subhash Chandra Bose liberated the Andaman Islands from British rule in 1943. It was renamed to Shaheed Dweep in Dec 2018 as a tribute to Mr. Bose. Shaheed Dweep is situated around 38 km from Port Blair & around 18 km from Havelock. I did not know that this Island is popularly known as the Vegetable bowl of Andaman as the soil here is very fertile & good for cultivation. I hope its a new fact for most of you too. Most of the people on this island are either farmers or fishermen.
This is a small Island that is around 7 km long and is famous for its coral & marine life. In fact, it is one of the best places for snorkeling.
Also Read – Andaman Islands- Port Blair
How to Plan your Stay
It is advisable to visit Andaman from November-Mar. Mar onwards the weather becomes hot & humid. I would recommend visiting the Andaman Islands in this order.
Port Blair > Havelock > Neil > Port Blair.
Two days’ stay is sufficient for Neil Island. Just a day’s stay is too short if you want to explore it without any hassle.
Only the Indian currency is accepted here. FYI only 2 ATMs are available on Neil Island so if you don’t want to waste your time like me standing in ATM queue for money then it is advisable to carry enough cash.
Mobile Network connectivity is pathetic and only BSNL works here. Even the Wi-fi connectivity available in resorts is disappointing.
How to Reach
Neil or Shaheed Dweep can be reached from Port Blair in 1.5 hrs and from Havelock in around 45 mins. Private & govt ferries are available but it is advisable to check schedule & book your tickets on time to avoid any inconvenience.
Private Ferry from Havelock to Neil costs INR 1100 & Neil to Port Blair costs around INR 1300.
If you want an economical ride via Govt run ferry then please book your tickets one day in advance of your departure date from Govt office counter situated at Neil Jetty. It just costs INR 740. Just to ensure that I get a ticket, I reached ticket counter at 7 AM as limited seats were available. You only need to show an Identity card while purchasing a ticket.
How to explore the island
Neil Island can be best explored on either scooter or on a bicycle. Rented scooty or bicycles are easily available in the Bazaar area. Resorts & hotels also provide renting facilities. You must enquire about the same during check-in.
A scooter will cost INR 400 per day & Bicycle INR 150 per day. You can also hire Auto-rickshaws from the market area but that won’t give the adventure that you would be looking for.
What to See & Things to do
Neil has 5 major areas to explore which include Ramnagar, Neil Kendra & 3 famous beaches namely Bharatpur Beach, Sitapur beach & Laxmanpur beach. All 3 beaches are unique & have distinct things to offer.
1. Bharatpur Beach is famous for its natural rock formation & sports activities. Almost all water sports activities are available here & are cheaper than Port Blair & Havelock. I would recommend doing the Jet Skiing & Glass water Boat ride here.
2. Laxmanpur Beach – This beach is famous for its white sands & breathtaking sunset views. You can’t swim there due to coral reef & shallow water but this site is ideal for snorkeling & you can find many divers doing the same. I recommend enjoying snorkeling here as you will not find any other beach better than this for snorkeling in whole Andaman.
3. Sitapur Beach – This is a rocky beach famous for its picturesque sunrise view. I especially went there early in the morning to witness the same and there were many others too that has come to enjoy on the beach. You won’t be able to resist yourself from clicking some of the best mesmerizing sunrise shots.
4. Explore Night market – Neil has a market that opens at around 5 pm every day till 9 pm. You can buy essential items & eatables in the market. There are many food stalls in the market offering a wide variety of mouth-watering local dishes.
Where to Stay & Eat
Hotels in Neil Island
Like the other islands, Neil Island also offers a wide range of hotels from budget to luxury resorts. Few luxury hotels with ample facilities & comfort services are SeaShell Resort, Summer Sand Beach Resort & Silver Sand Beach Resort. Seashell has a private beach & luxury restaurant which offers a great variety of seafood dishes. Luxury hotels’ price ranges from INR 5000 to 8000 per night including breakfast. No need to get disappointed as Budget travelers can stay in hotels ranging from INR 800 to INR 1500.
Restaurants in Neil Island
I would recommend eating in SeaShell restaurant once as they serve an authentic tasty variety of seafood. You should visit their beach too + free Wifi is an additional boon. I enjoyed the quality time at the beach while the food was getting prepared for me.
You must explore the market in the bazaar area during evening hours and do try the local food there. I tried the pakoras & few local fried vegetable dishes from the stalls which were very tempting.
How much will it Cost
Traveling to Neil Island is less costly than Havelock & the reason being its a small island.
If you are a budget traveller then one day will include:
Transport – INR 200- 400
Hotel – Around INR 900 – 2000 per night for 2 people.
Food – Around INR 500 – 1000
Sports Activities – Depends upon what you like to do. The average cost is around INR 1500 which includes at least 3 activities.
Total – Approx INR 2000 for budget travellers & INR 8000 for those who prefer luxury travel.