Neil Island is one of the many beautiful islands in the Andaman Archipelago. Currently, it is known as Shaheed Dweep after PM Shri Narendra Modi renamed Neil Island to Shaheed Dweep on the 30th of December 2018. The island is located about 37 km by sea route from Port Blair and is one of the major attractions of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The island has breath-taking coral reefs, thick tropical forests, and magnificent bio-diversity that is worthy of visiting. If you are planning a trip to the Andaman Islands then you must visit Neil Island and explore the stunning beauty that this island has to offer. The people of this island are very friendly and welcoming, you are sure to enjoy yourself on this amazing island. This island has the most enchanting beaches in the entire Andaman Islands; most of the tourists miss out on this island due to the overshadowing of the Swaraj Dweep (Havelock Island). Shaheed Dweep is alluring and nature here is at its utmost beauty. The network at Shaheed Dweep is not very good just like any other place in the Andaman Archipelago. With its laid-back vibe, this hidden gem is a perfect place for you, if you are planning for a serene trip.
Neil Island is popularly known as the vegetable bowl of Andamans due to a variety of vegetable yields. The reason the soil at Neil Island has been certified as organic by the Government of India. Agriculture is the primary occupation of the villagers the production of fruits and vegetables is in large numbers. To the abundant yield, Neil Island supplies vegetables to the whole of Andaman. The farmers practice organic farming to produce vegetables, organic farming is a method of farming that involves growing and nurturing crops without the use of any chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides. The soil here in Neil is naturally organic that retains the quality of the vegetables and keeps them chemical-free, fresh and healthy.
Lifestyle of People at Neil Island
Neil Islands were uninhabited until the 1960s and later people began to settle down in the islands to start living. The majority of the people living in Neil are mostly refugees from Bangladesh and the rest of them are from native Indians. The villagers are very friendly and welcoming and they mostly speak Hindi and very few converses in Tamil, Bengali and English.
The main occupation of the villagers is mainly agriculture and fishing. The plenty of fish in the sea and the rich organic soil makes the agricultural produce flourish well in the islands.
What to expect at Neil Island
Neil Island is a thinly populated village and the people who live here lead a very simple life. The facilities available in Neil are comparatively lesser than what is in Havelock or Port Blair. Even though accommodations of all categories are available here do not expect the facilities like that of five-star properties because this place is developing and almost all of the products are transported from Port Blair. The basic amenities such as transportation, restaurants, and accommodations are available. Internet Connectivity is poor compared to the other islands; internet connection will automatically shut down when you reach the island. Basic first aid medical needs and facilities are available but the main health center is located in Port Blair only. So if you are a person who is under medication it advisable to carry all your medicines.
How to reach Neil island?
The Shaheed Dweep aka Neil Island can be reached via sea only. There are Government ferries and private ferries that are available, you can choose as per your preference.
By Government Ferry
Regular Government ferry services are available from Port Blair to Shaheed Dweep and vice-versa. The sailing schedules for these ferries are published in the Administrative News of Andamans daily. The government ferry tickets have to be booked in advance only and the tickets are subject to availability. If you wish to take a government ferry you will have to book your tickets manually at the STARS counter by standing in a queue and you will have to book the tickets 3 days before your trip. You can request your tour agent to book your tickets in advance but you will be charged extra for it.
By Private Ferry
Private luxury cruises are plying from Port Blair Phoenix Bay Harbor & Haddo wharf for Shaheed Dweep daily. There are also cruises from Swaraj Dweep to reach Shaheed Dweep. Tickets for these cruises can be booked with ease. We at Experience Andamans undertake ticket bookings for ferries; usually, it is inclusive of the package.
All the ferries and cruises that function to Shaheed Dweep are available from both Port Blair and Swaraj Dweep.
Cruise Operators – Sea Link Cruise, Makruzz, Green Ocean Cruise and ITT Majestic.
Accommodation Options on Neil
There are few properties on the island that offer hotels and resorts for accommodations. They are well equipped with basic amenities and well maintained. We recommend the following hotels and you can choose the kind of property you prefer based on your budget and requirements:
Budget: Seven Seas
Mid-Range: Pearl Park Beach Resort (located near the heart of Laxmanpur Beach)
Deluxe: Holiday Inn Neil
Luxury: Sea Shell Samara & Summer Sands
Shaheed Dweep has plenty of restaurants offering great foods of both pure vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. Do not miss out on the variety of seafood at the restaurants and food joints as the Andamans is a paradise for seafood lovers. Also there many beach-side cafes, you can stop by at a café for a snack or a drink and spend time with your loved ones in the amazing ambiance that surrounds.
Bars and Lounges are available too; you can drop in for some fun and drink and enjoy your evenings here.
Travel within Shaheed Dweep
When you are in the Shaheed Dweep and want to travel within the island you can hire cab services or two-wheelers. Auto-rickshaws are also available for inbound transfers. Cycling is another option that you can go for; it is a good choice to take bicycles if you want to explore the island. Hire a bicycle and go about discovering the beauty of this quaint island.
Havelock Vs Neil Island
Havelock is the most visited island in the entire Andaman Archipelago and houses the famous Radhanagar and Elephant beaches. This island is pretty crowded and has almost all the facilities available in Port Blair. Whereas in Neil Island, people do not visit this place often compared to Havelock. Until today few parts of Neil are still unexplored and untouched by man. The island is pristine, serene and thinly populated which makes it a great spot for travelers looking for a peaceful trip with seclusion. Often most of the beaches in Neil are not much crowded sometimes even isolated. The cellular network is extremely weak here and is ideal for people who want to connect with nature without human interference.
Who can visit Neil Island and who can avoid?
Honeymoon couples and people looking forward to spending time away from the crowd can visit Neil to enjoy and take pleasure in the beauty of nature here and nothing else can plan for a one night stay. We recommend a minimum of a 1-night stay and a maximum of 2 nights.
Those who are on a short duration trip can avoid Neil as it is a mini replica of Havelock and people who have limited time can just visit Havelock and avoid Neil. There is another option, you can go on a day trip to Neil and return to Port Blair.
If you have a have major difficulty in walking long-distances then you should avoid Neil because the main attraction of Neil is The Natural Rock Formation. It needs a long walk through a rocky patch of trekking trail. In addition to that, the jetty of Neil Island is about 1 Kilometer long and vehicles are not allowed inside the jetty. So, when you come down from the cruise, you will have to walk on a long jetty to board the waiting vehicles.
What is the best itinerary to Neil Island?
The ideal itinerary to visit Neil Island is 5 Nights and 6 Days. You should have at least 4 nights to cover Havelock & Neil Island in their itinerary but we recommend a minimum of a 1-night stay in Neil and a maximum of 2 nights. Spending more than 2 days as there is nothing much to see at Neil.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
How many days are recommended to stay at Shaheed Dweep?
We usually recommend just 1 Night on this island as all the attractions and activities can be covered in a single day. If you wish you to extend your stay then you can spend an extra day here.
Who can avoid visiting this island?
If you do not have enough time or want to spend more time in the other islands you can avoid visiting Neil.
- When is the best time to visit the island?
The island can be visited throughout the year but the best time to visit is from November to March.
- How expensive is Shaheed Dweep?
Neil Island is quite expensive as all the supply comes through the capital city, Port Blair. If you are looking forward to the cheapest ways of visiting this island then either visit this island for day trips or stay in NON AC Cottages/Huts/Rooms or Government Operated Hotels