Neil Island is another exotic gem in the Andaman archipelago. Neil Island’s name was changed to Shaheed Dweep by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2018. Shaheed Dweep has an area of 13.7 square kilometers and can be explored in a day. Neil Island is also known as the vegetable bowl of the Andamans as it produces rice along with fruits and vegetables.
The island is a paradise for tourists who are looking to spend a relaxing holiday in the lap of nature, strolling by the long deserted beaches, exploring the authentic village lifestyle, and away from the real and the digital world! Neil Island’s weather always remains pleasant due to its coastal geographical location. The best time to visit Neil Island is the winter season from October to February. The island is known for its terrific trio of beaches (Bharatpur Beach, Sitapur Beach, and Laxmanpur Beach) that attract tourists, nature lovers, photographers, and beach lovers from across the globe.
History of Neil Island
History books do not talk much about the ancient and medieval history of Neil Island. Locals claim that the island was inhabited only after the 1960s by native Indians. Switching focus to its demography, the island has a population of around 3000 people as per the census 2011. People here speak Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, and English. The main occupation of the locals here is agriculture and fishing. The land of Neil Island is organic and rich in nutrients that are apt for bumper yield hence, people here cultivate fruits and vegetables without using fertilizers or pesticides. Another impressive fact about Neil Island is that it provides a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables to Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and other adjoining islands.
Places to Visit in Neil Island
Popular among tourists and locals, Neil Island is one of the best tourist places in Andaman. Here's the list of places to visit in and around Neil Island.
1. Bharatpur Beach
Bharatpur Beach is another exotic beach that is worth exploring. This serene beach is a hub of fun activities like boat rides, swimming, and water sports. The vibrant coral reef is another highlight that is hard to resist!
2. Sitapur Beach
Tourists arrive here to witness the beautiful sunrise, and this popularity has also given Sitapur Beach another name, which is Sunrise Beach. You can enjoy fresh coconut water, swimming, or may walk by the shore without getting disturbed by loud music or tourists around.
This is the smallest beach out of all three beaches on Neil Island. Laxmanpur beach has a shoreline of about 2 km and is in a triangular shape with one part covered in a dense forest. The white sand on the beach and the colorful dead coral around the shore make it one of the most beautiful sites.
Things to do in Neil Island
1. Water Sports
You can indulge in adventurous water sports such as scuba diving, swimming, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat ride, or may stroll on the island on a bicycle. Neil Island, unlike the other islands and beaches in the Andaman archipelago, is not crowded, hence you may enjoy all the water sports to the fullest.
Though Neil Island is tiny, it has got numerous sites and things to keep you hooked during your stay. You can stroll by the villages, beaches, and local markets to get the vibe of the place and relish the local food at eating joints. You may go for a walk after dinner to catch the twinkling stars or early in the morning to capture the most beautiful sunrise!
3. Beach Time
The best part about the beaches of Neil Island is that they are not crowded hence you may spend the entire day with nature uninterrupted! You can lie down in the golden sand, have a fulfilling meal, gaze at the horizon, and spend quality time with your loved ones. If this is what your ideal vacation looks like, then Neil Island is your next vacation destination!
How to Reach Neil Island
Ferry service is the only way to reach Neil Island. You can take government or private ferries from Port Blair or Havelock Island that operate on fixed timings at economical rates. You must book your tickets in advance to avoid the last-minute rush. Airways and seaways are the only two travel modes to arrive at Neil Island, and some of the best options have been listed below for your consideration.
By Sea. Ships between mainland India and Andaman and Nicobar Island run at fixed intervals. The schedule of these ships can be accessed online, and you may also book a seat online. These ships leave with passengers from Visakhapatnam, Chennai, and Kolkata port.
From Chennai - MV Akbar, MV Nicobar, MV Swarajdweep, MV Nancowry
From Visakhapatnam - MV Nicobar, MV Campbell Bay, and MV Nancowry
By Air. Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair is where you must deboard the flight to explore the exotic islands of Andaman and Nicobar. The airport manages the arrival and departure of numerous domestic and international flights on a daily basis. Here is a compilation of non-stop flights from mainland India to Port Blair along with an airfare estimate.
From Delhi - Board AirIndia flight from Delhi. The airfare starts from INR 7000
From Mumbai - Board GoAir flight from Mumbai. The airfare starts from INR 9000
From Kolkata - Board Vistara flight from Kolkata. The airfare starts from INR 5000
From Bengaluru - Board GoAir flight from Bengaluru. The airfare starts from INR 8000