Despite its name, Little Andaman island is actually the fourth largest on the Andaman islands. The island packs in plenty to do in the form of chilled activities, boating through mangrove-lined creeks, snorkelling and viewing the colourful corals and relaxing on the white sands of the beach. There are cute tourist huts that sit on the beach itself, flanked by coconut plantations, like a scene from a post-card.
Tourism on Little Andaman
Little Andaman is the furthest point south in the archipelago that foreigners can travel to on their tourist permit. Most of the island has been set aside as a tribal reserve for the Onge and is thus off-limits. It was also the only island open to foreigners to sustain extensive damage in the 2004 tsunami, but although a number of buildings were destroyed, and 64 people died, Little Andaman has recovered well. Relatively few visitors make it down here, although a slight improvement in tourist infrastructure renders it increasingly worthwhile for those who do. Still, it is worth noting that boats can be infrequent outside peak months and not all accommodations operate outside high season.
Navigating Little Andaman
The main settlement, Indira Bazaar, is 2km north of the jetty at Hut Bay, which curves gradually round in a majestic 8km sweep, the quality of the sand and beauty of the adjacent jungle increasing the further north you go. The top stretch is named Netaji Nagar after the village on the island’s only road, which runs behind it. En route, you can detour 1km inland at the huge signpost about 2.5km north of Indira Bazaar to see the White Surf Waterfalls. Made up of three 10- to 15m-high cascades, it’s a relaxing spot; you can clamber into the right-hand fall for a soothing shower – yet crocodiles are said to inhabit the surrounding streams. Over the headland at the top of Hut Bay, 12km or so from the jetty lies the smaller but equally picturesque crescent of Butler Bay. There’s not much to do here but swim, sunbathe or look around the slightly eerie remains of the government beach resort, which was swept away by the tsunami – that is unless you’ve brought your surfboard with you: Little Andaman has a cult reputation among surfers for having some of the best conditions anywhere in South Asia.
Early archaeological evidence suggests that the first inhabitants on the island date back 2,200 years ago. The indigenous people have been isolated for thousands of years, and have therefore diversified into linguistically and culturally distinct, territorial groups. During the 2004 Boxing-day tsunami, the indigenous Onge tribe living on Little Andaman Island miraculously survived due to ancient knowledge of the movement of the wind, sea and birds that warned them to evacuate deep into the forest.
During World War II the island was occupied by the Japanese but was surrendered back to India in 1945.