Snorkelling into the deep blue sea

Snorkelling into the deep blue sea

Travel tales

Snorkelling into the deep blue sea

They say one turns wise as one grows old and years flick by like seconds. However, I trust the growth of my wisdom only after a bout of travel. So on my birthday last year, a day when I ‘’formally grew old’, I decided to take my hint of wisdom a notch higher by unravelling the mysteries of the land, investigating the secrets under water and soaking up the sound in the air. This is how a trip to the islands of Andaman and Nicobar ticked off from my bucketlist. My memories are crystal clear in my mind, just like the deep, blue uncharted waters.

As the flight was about to land at Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair,  tiny islands shone like nine gems from the air.  I landed with just a flight ticket, a bag of essentials and full of anticipation. In Port Blair, I noticed that voices fluttered while people floated but what lay at a standstill was nature’s bounty. Swaying palm trees and crashing waves which chimed welcome tunes hadn’t succumbed to death yet. I checked with the local people about lodges for the night.

They instantly warmed up to me. Stories of the city seeped in as I spoke to shopkeepers and auto drivers. Tourist hubs like ‘North Bay’ and ‘Ross Island’ didn’t impress me much as I felt that they were on the brink of commercialism. So I rented a bike and went to ‘Chidiya Tapu’, a place in the South Andaman and tried out a few snorkelling activities. Though it was only a ‘scratch’ on the surface, it was a thrill to watch sea creatures like corals and starfishes dancing at their own rhythms to the tides. At one time, I also stopped at a place 100 metres away from the main beach and waded in the water alone. Later, a police man saw my wet clothes at the main beach and told me that I shouldn’t have gone out there as crocodiles were spotted a few days back. Fear rushed in but soon I settled down. I felt a sense of accomplishment for I had emerged unscathed. 

On the third day, I went to ‘Havelock’ islands and spent an afternoon by sampling seafood. My eyes roved on. The locals helped me choose  from the diverse platter. I ferried around, relaxed on white sands and felt like the protagonist out of an Enid Blyton fairytale. The next day was my birthday and I decided to surprise myself by signing up for a scuba activity. I was extremely nervous and actually had planned for just one dive but did four. Somethings remain best when untouched and the secrets of the sea are one among them.

I felt like a sleuth as I intrigued upon colonies of corals, shoals of fish and sundry seaweed. It would have been criminal to stop so I told my guide to take me further, where tourists don’t usually venture into and thankfully, he agreed. A clown fish jumped right in front of my face, whisked his tail and splashed away. Apart from scuba diving. witnessing the sunset at Beach 7 and staying at ‘Neil Island’ was divine.

As waters receded from a shallow sea, they left behind a pink, evening glow on the skies and land. I felt blessed as rays of hope and promise touched me. I reached Neil island with just Rs 400 and needed the money to book a ferry back to Port Blair. There weren’t any ATMs as well. However, a local welcomed me at his place for a night, which was the last warm breeze of my trip. I didn’t want to leave without a glimpse of the gallows and made my last stop at the ‘Cellular Jail’, also called ‘Kala Paani’ jail before I came to Chennai.  I would advise people to take a month off to visit Andaman islands. I can promise that you will come back with the sound and scent of the rushing, rolling rivers.

How to get there

I took an Air India flight from Chennai to Port Blair. The round trip came to Rs 6,000.

Places to stay

  Break Water Beach Resort in Palm Groove island, Port Blair. The cost is Rs 800 per night.
  Eco huts in Barefoot Scuba, at Havelock Islands which costs Rs 300 per night.

Vignesh Narayan

(As told to Anushka Sivakumar)
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