Long Island (Andamans)
Long Island has very little infrastructure. There is one small village, and only 1 government rest house that must be booked through Port Blair. However, there is a wonderful hotel (eco huts) run by very hospitable people called the Blue Planet. The rates for the eco-huts are reasonable and the food is quite good. They can also make arrangements for visits to nearby islands through dongis (small motorised catamarans)
The village is spread out on the western side of the island within a good walking distance of the boat jetty, and you have to walk: there are no cars or rickshaws, only narrow concreted paths if you are lucky. Much of the island is forested and unexplored, and not even mapped: even the police do not have an accurate map of the island!
As in the rest of the Andaman Islands, the climate is a fairly steady 27-32C throughout the year, with a good chance of torrential monsoon rain between May and September. The main tourist season starts in October and goes through to March/April. Long Island is sheltered on the western side by other islands and the village was not too badly affected by the tsunami. Lalaji Bay is more exposed.
The permit you receive on arrival in Port Blair is good for Long Island. The officer in charge on the Island will gently remind you to register as you walk to the Blue Planet resort. You do not need to check out when you leave the Island.
Getting around is limited to the village near the Jetty, a walk on the beach or a trek to Lalaji Bay. Only a few motorised vehicles circulate so you'll have to use your feet like everyone does here. A walk with luggages from the Jetty to the resort can be long, but you may ask for a ride if you see a motorcycle. You may want to take a boat to the beach (beware that the boat owner(s) don't do trips in the dark.
If you want to cross the Island to go to Lalaji Bay, you absolutely need an additional permit (Forest permit) delivered by the Forest Office near the Jetty. This office is closed on Sundays, so have you permit ready in advance. The Blue Planet manager will be happy to help you with it.
See & Do
There are two reasons to come to Long Island:
- To appreciate an unspoiled island where there is very little tourist development and a lovely village atmosphere.
- To explore the forests, beaches, go snorkelling and maybe get out on day trips to nearby uninhabited islands.
- Blue Planet Diving (in the Blue Planet resort). The only diving center on this island, it offers Open Water and Advanced Courses on site as well as fun dives on dive spots that are generally not reachable from other islands. A permanent dive master insures the seasonal dives, but you may need to book in advance for a dive course. Locations include a sandy dive at Gobra with a Manta Ray cleaning station and several shallow dives on the Campbell Shoal reef. Another shore dive at House Tip offers a rich diversity of reef life. Equipment is recent and very well maintained and the dive masters are competent and friendly. 2 dives ₹5000, special discounts for dive masters.
- Lalaji Bay forest trek (follow the red arrows painted on the road and the red signs on the trees.). Make sure you have your forest permit stamped and head to Lalaji Bay in a 1-1.5 hour easy walk in the forest. Expect village life scenery, a few stray dogs and a long path in the shades before to hit a beautiful coconut-shaded beach. The path is well delimited but a steep downhill at the end requires good walking shoes (no flipflops). A small community leaves here ; you can walk down the beach for kilometers to find your private sandpatch. You will only be disturbed by passing cows or a few fishermen. Depending on the locations, sandflies can be aggressive. If you want to snorkel, ask the Blue planet manager for the best site since the beach is quite long and the reefs not easy to spot. Make sure to leave before sunset as the forest path darkens pretty fast.
You can buy all the basics in the village shops. Definitely no souvenir shops!
Eat & Drink
It's theoretically impossible to find alcohol on this island, but a few road booths will be happy to hand you a couple of beers under the table. As for food, options are limited:
- Blue Planet. This place has excellent fresh seafood dishes, as well as a wide range of Indian food and the usual tourist fare (banana pancakes if you want!)They have fresh fruit juices and the best espresso coffee anywhere in the Andamans.
- Corner bar (in the longhouse near the jetty). Definitely try the rosemilk at the bar on the local "square"! It's excellent and home made. Also good for some quite illegal "moonshine" which is actually really not bad at all and is sold in soda bottles.
- Laxmi Hotel. The best place in the village for good cheap South Indian fare as well as samosas, pakoras, or you can just go there for coffee or chai.
There is one government resthouse close to the boat jetty with only two rooms: you must book in advance with A&N Tourism, in reality it is often occupied by government officials.
- Blue Planet (from the Jetty, follow the blue arrows painted on the road for 1.4 km), ☎ +91 3192 215923, +91 9474212180, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The only accommodation on the Island, Blue Planet gathers a row of small huts around a nice patio. Expect basic comfort and shared intimacy, but friendly and safe atmosphere. The kitchen will serve you delicious currys between 7AM and 7:30PM. Also a diving center, the place is separate from the beach by a 5-minute walk through a clear forest. 2-person hut w/ shared bathroom ₹500, hut w/ attached bathroom ₹950.
Camping is illegal on public land and on beaches anywhere in Andamans, and can only be done if it is arranged through a guest house where you have registered. Check with the local Forest Office in case there has been any change in the rules.
You can walk to Lalaji Bay in 1 or 2 hours or you can hire a local boat. Or you can go by boat to a deserted island. The trip to North Passage Island is well worthwhile: the beach is beautiful and deserted and you are very likely to see dolphins on the way to or from.