“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” This quote accurately describes a journey to Port Blair where time freezes and you can just enjoy the beauty of the present. This capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is located on the eastern bank of the Southern Andaman Island.
There are plenty of things to do in Port Blair from discovering a rich tribal culture to exploring shorelines and islands and picking up coral artefacts at Aberdeen Bazaar. Water sports activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, deep sea diving and ocean walks are also aplenty here and make for a great holiday adventure in Port Blair.
How to reach Port Blair
Port Blair is well-connected by flights and there are regular direct flights from Kolkata and Chennai. Foreigners and NRIs need to get a Protected Area Permit (PAP) on arrival which is valid for 30 days in Port Blair.
You can also travel here by boat from Visakhapatnam (56 hours), Chennai (60 hours) and Kolkata (66 hours) and the tickets can be booked at the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI)’s headquarters.
Best things to do in Port Blair
From shimmering beaches to anthropological museums and colonial jails, there is plenty to keep you busy in Port Blair.
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Sightseeing in Port Blair
1. Explore the architectural marvel of Cellular Jail
The Cellular Jail or Kaala Paani is one of the most popular places to visit in Port Blair. Take a trip around the jail blocks of the Cellular Jail where Indian freedom fighters were once imprisoned. Take a guide along to know about the history of Kala Pani and the British used to treat the freedom fighters.
Key attractions: Veer Savarkar’s cell, oil mills, gallows, Netaji Gallery, Library on Freedom Movement
2. Attend the Light and Sound Show
One of the most famous things to do in Port Blair, attending the light and sound show, will leave you with a tear in the eye and a gush of patriotism. It’s the saga of the heroic struggle of the revolutionary men in the history of India’s freedom struggle.
The history of Kala Pani is brought alive by a soulful narration from the viewpoint of an old peepal tree in the complex that witnessed all the tragic events in this cellular hell. The voice of the Peepal tree is that of one of the most famous Bollywood actors Om Puri.
Timings: Two shows daily at 18:00 and 19:15 in Hindi except for on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when the second show is in English.
3. Go on a museum tour
Taking a half-day museum tour is one of the most interesting things to do in Port Blair. Museums in Port Blair uncover city’s tribal history, marine life and more. From a plethora of island artefacts at Samudrika Marine Museum to lively tribal murals at Anthropological Museum and endemic marine species at the Fisheries Museum – there’s a lot to see and learn. And it’s all the more fun if you are on an Andaman family holiday.
4. Spot exotic birds at Chidiya Tapu
Besides grand sunsets, Chidiya Tapu is also a good spot to go birdwatching. Different kinds of birds from all over the world flock here and are a spectacle to witness. The best time to go birdwatching here is during the morning when they are highly active. To enjoy the beautiful sunsets, stay till around 4 pm.
Distance: 17 km from Port Blair
How to reach: 45 minutes by car from the main Port Blair city
Fun things to do in Port Blair
5. Enjoy lip smacking seafood at the best restaurants in Port Blair
Port Blair is a haven for any food lover as there are plenty of seafood restaurants as well as international restaurants serving some delicious fare. Sumptuous red snappers, tiger prawns, barracudas, lobsters and squids will delight your taste buds at the Lighthouse Residency located at MG Road.
Blue Marlin at Maulana Azad Road is another popular restaurant that not only has one of the most interesting decors but also has a special seafood menu you will love. For some of the tastiest Bengali fare like Nicobari fish, crab curries and coconut chicken, you should try the local favorite, the Gagan Restaurant.
Excel restaurant at Hotel Lalaji Bay View is one eating joint that serves up some of the best international dishes. Their Israeli dishes are definitely worth a try on a trip to Port Blair.
If you are craving a fun night out, stroll over to the Sea Sip bar that is open at night. There are plenty of tasty cocktails and mocktails you can sip on throughout the night. Friendly staff, customized drinks and tasty food will keep you entertained all night long.
6. Enjoy nightlife in Port Blair, listening to live bands
For a night out in the city, the luxury hotels offer the best kind of entertainment with live bands, a delectable mix of cocktails, sumptuous food and scintillating views of the sea. Some good options are Peerless Beach Resort, Sinclairs Bay View at South Point, Fortune Resort Bay Island at Marine Hill, Corbyn’s Cove and Hotel Shompen at Middle Point. At Nico Bar, your drinks are served in coconut shells.
7. Pick souvenirs from Aberdeen Bazar & Samudrika
If bargaining is your expertise, head to the Aberdeen Bazaar where you can pick up a number of items from the roadside stalls as well as government emporiums. Colored fabrics, wood artifacts, jewelry, Port Blair T-shirts much more are aplenty here. After a good shopping extravaganza you can enjoy a delicious meal at the Lighthouse Residency in the market itself.
Best things to pick from the Sagarika Government Emporium are pearl jewellery, home decor accessories made from shells, coconut lampshades and bangles and paper mache tribal masks.
8. Sit back and enjoy a breezy evening at Gandhi Park!
If you are wondering what to do in Port Blair in the evening, visit Gandhi Park where you can enjoy the beautiful sunsets while reading a book or just gazing at the endless ocean. There are also plenty of food stalls here where you can munch away on Chinese fast food, paani puri and ice cream!
Adventurous things to do in Port Blair and nearby islands
9. Explore colonial heritage at Ross Island
One of the most famous things to do in Port Blair is to visit Ross Island – once the colonial capital of the British. It takes you to another world with its British vestige places – you will come across an old church and a bakery from colonial times.
Key attractions: Friendly deers, the beautiful Ferar beach, Japanese bunkers, and the museum
How to reach: Travel by road to Aberdeen Jetty and then take a ferry to Ross Island. Ferries are available at 08:30, 09:30, 10:30, 12:30 and 14:30 hours and the fare costs INR 75.
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10. Take a walk underneath the sea at North Bay Island
Watch time fade away on an underwater sea walk at North Bay Island where you can experience the amazing marine life of the Andamans. Spot fishes, see coral reefs up close, watch lobsters in action while walking on the seabed of this exciting island. Besides, there are plenty of fun activities in Port Blair like snorkeling and scuba diving you can try here.
Maximum depth: 15 – 25 feet deep
Suggested Read: 11 Thrilling Water Sports In Andaman: No Swimming Required!
11. Take a glass bottom boat ride, go snorkelling & try scuba diving at Jolly Buoy Island
Jolly Buoy Island is an adventure lover’s delight where you can watch the coral reefs and underwater sea life as you go along in a glass bottom boat. The island is only open for seven months to protect the reefs and the rates for the boat ride varies from INR 300 to 1000. Besides this you can also try snorkeling and scuba diving that are fun activities in Port Blair you should try out.
12. Trek your way to the Munda Pahar Beach
One of the best things to do in Port Blair is to trek your way to the shimmering waters of the Munda Pahar beach that lies around 2-3 km from Chidiya Tapu. The water here is absolutely clear and there are no waves at all. Stroll along the shore or relax on the white soft sands of this grand beach. There are patrolling boats all around the beach to ensure that you are safe.
Distance from Port Blair: 25 km
How to reach: 29 minutes by car via NH4
13. Go camping & trekking while exploring the marine life at Wandoor & Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
One of the best things to do in Port Blair is to visit the Wandoor beach and the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park that lie side by side and offer a glimpse of Andaman vibrant marine life. The man made Mahatma Gandhi park has a number of flora and fauna that are maintained under specific climatic conditions – from models of saltwater crocodiles to turtles, starfishes etc.
The coral reef is a delight and so are the variety of birds here – you can spot birds like White-Bellied Sea Eagle, herons and parakeets. Besides, the park is famous for adventure sports like scuba diving, snorkelling and glass bottom boat rides. There are also regular treks and camping trips that are famous things to do in Port Blair.
Distance from Port Blair: 18 km
How to reach: 30 minutes by car via NH4 and SH8. State transport buses also run regularly.
14. Go birdwatching at Mount Harriet
Go for a birdwatching tour at Mount Harriet National Park on your trip to Port Blair whilst surrounded by over 393 plant species, 90 species of birds, mammals and more. There are a number of unique species of moths and reptiles here as well as marine turtles and elephants. There are also grand sunsets and sunrises you can enjoy while relaxing at this park.
Distance from Port Blair: 42.5 km
Entry Timings: 7 am to 5 pm
15. Visit the only active volcano in Southern Asia at Barren Island
Witness one of nature’s greatest feats at Barren island where a chartered boat will take you past South asia’s only active volcano. The volcano has erupted only twice, once in 1991 and then in 1994-5. The entire island is barren as its name suggests with the exception of a few goats and rodents. It is a day trip, and you will not be permitted to set foot on the island.
Distance from Port Blair: 135 km
How to reach: Chartered boats from Port Blair to Barren Island
Further Read: 9 Best Hotels and Resorts in Andaman For Every Budget
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