The islands are home to a thriving tribal population, especially in the Nicobar side. The indigenous people here are mainly Negroids and Mongoloid in race. They are the Jarawa, the Jangil (or Rutland Jarawa), the Onge and the Sentinelese. Making contact with these tribal people is prohibited at all costs. However, there has been much controversy over the increasing interactions of visitors with the tribes. Some visitors bribe local law enforcement and speak to, touch and even throw food at tribal members. Click here to view a video of more photos of Jarawa tribal members. In the Andamans, the main spoken languages are Tamil and Bengali but inhabitants also speak Telugu, English and Hindi. An eco-tourist's/scientist's dream... There are many educational opportunities here, aside from enjoying the near untouched beaches. Passenger ferries (and in some cases helicopters) are the only way to travel between islands. Here are some highlights of what you can find on a few of the islands you are allowed to visit:
- Port Blair - the laid-back capital of the Andamans and the sole entry/exit point; it has a few historical monuments including bunkers built by the Japanese and a (British) colonial jail which is almost intact. Surfing, diving, snorkeling, moon bathing and sun bathing are some of the beach-related activities available. Apart from these, you can also enjoy a car or jeep ride through the reserves forests which are quite stunning.
- Barren Island - is home to India's only (active) volcano.
- Havelock Island - is the most visited island. It boasts floury white sands, turquoise water, lush green jungle teeming with exotic birds and iguanas, and turtles nesting along the shore. Radhanagar Beach or simply “Beach no. 7” on this island has swimming elephants bathing in a lagoon!
- Rutland Island - is pristine, non-polluted and the least visited island. Here you will find a beautiful mangrove forest and coral reefs. welcomes you to the 274 sq.km island.
- Neil Island - quieter than Havelock with nice beaches and decent snorkeling.
- Wandoor - is the gateway to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. This is a marine scientist's dream; located around 30 kilometers southwest of Port Blair, covering an area of 281.5 sq. kilometers of open sea, creeks and 15 small and large islands. Animals you can see here: a plethora of rare fish, corals, schools of dolphins, white sharks, Hammer-head sharks, manta rays and bluefin jack.
- Baratang Island - has a small mud volcano, limestone caves, and mangrove creeks.