Neil Island Information
Tiny, Triangular shaped Neil is the most southerly inhabited island of Ritchie’s Archipelago, and is barely two hours northeast of Port Blair on a fast ferry. The source of much of the capital’s fresh fruit and vegetables, its fertile centre, ringed by a curtain of stately tropical trees, comprises vivid patches of green paddy dotted with small farmsteads and banana plantaions. It’s quiet, atmospheric place, and whle most of the beaches are mediocre by the Andamans standards, is worth a day or two en route to or from Havelock. Boats leave Port Blair on a fast ferry. The source of much of the capital’s fresh fruit and vegetables, its fertile centre, ringed by a curtain of stately tropical trees, comprises vivid patches of green paddy dotted with small farmsteads and banana plantations. It’s a quiet, atmospheric place, and while most of the beaches are mediocre by the Andamans standards, is worth a day or two en route to or from Havelock. Boats leave Port Blair’s standards, is worth a day or two en route to or from Havelock. Boats leave Port Blair Phoenix Jetty for Neill all services connect with Havelock, and also run to Rangat. When you disebark, you will be asked to register your permit numner with a police officer one awaits all ferries at the jetty.
Neill boats three beaches, all within easy cycling distance of the small bazaar just up the lane from the jetty(you can rent cycles from one of several stall holders from Rs 40 to 50 per day). The best place to swim on the east coast is Neill Kendra, a gently curving bay of white sand that straddles the jetty and is scattered with picturesque wooden fishing boats. This blends into Lakshmanagar, which continues for 3km north to get there by road, head right when you reach the main road and follow it for around twenty minutes until it dwindles into a surfaced track, and then turns right. Wrapped around the headland, the beach is a broad spur of white shell sand with shallow water offering good snorkeling, although entry into the water is tough except at high tide. Exposed to the open sea and thus prone to higher tides, Sitapur beach, 6km south at the tip of the island, is also appealing and has the advantage of a sandy bottom extending into the sea. The ride there, by hourly bus or bicycle, across Neill’s central paddy land is pleasant, but there are no facilities when yo0u get there, so stock up for the day. This will change, however, when the new venture by the owners of Wild Orchid on Havelock opens some tie in 2008.
Currently, the island ha sforu accommodation places. From the jetty, a two minute walk brings you to A&N Tourism’s Hawabill Nest, which has a dozen a/c rooms with sitouts ranged around a central courtyard and restaurant, best booked in advance from Port Blair, there is also an Rs 150 dormitory. The three private options are all as Lakshmangar or en route to it the best of the bunch is Tago Beach Resort, a friendly place right on the beach, with two deluxe and ten much more basic bamboo huts, as well as several cement rooms. Before Tango, a little over 500m from the jetty, you pass Cocon Huts, which has a similar rage of huts and nicely thatched rooms, although the bar can attract rowdy revelers and may consequently be moved closer to the village. The furthest option, 1km north of Tango, is Pear Park Hotel, which has some small huts and larger but somewhat overpriced a/c bungalows. Although many people stick to the restaurants at these three establishments, far and away the best place to eat is the delightful and welcoming Gyan Garden, opposite the football pitch 500m along the road to Lakshmangar, where fresh fish and home grown veg dishes are a specialty there’s even space for a handful of people to stay if the island’s full. Of the few tiny eateries in the bazaar, Hotel Chand serves up the tastiest, albeit somewhat oily, food.