Neil Island is in the Andaman Islands.
Neil, with its very relaxed vibe and long, deserted beaches is a place to chill out after the "bustle" of Havelock Island. Neil is quite small compared to Havelock. Its widest part is about 5 km in length. You can walk the whole island in about an hour or two.
The total population of this island is 2675. In Neil there have three good sand beaches. The colour of sea water is light blue, dark blue and green. Neil Island is a peaceful island.
The goverment ferry from Port Blair to Neil takes about 2 hours. Two boats (6:30 am and 11:00 am) leaving at Phoenix Bay Jetty make the round trip from Port Blair to Neil Island every day. Tickets can be booked in advance in Port Blair and Havelock.
From Rangat Rangat (via Long Island and Havelock) there is also a ferry coming from the north to Neil.
Boat timings are subject to change/cancellation due to weather and you should check the latest boat schedule (incl. fares) at http://www.andaman.gov.in while planning for your trip.
There are also 2 private boat companies operating between Port Blair, Havelock and Neil: Mackruzz and Ocean Green
There are two ATMs available but both might not accept your cards, so be sure to bring enough cash with you.
On arrival, there are tuck tucks for about 100 Rs to practically everywhere on the island. If your guesthouse owner is not at the jetty just call for a tuck tuck.
Bicycles can be rented for a price between Rs 100-150 per day. Though not needed they can be useful if you want to travel around Neil in a day.
You can get an auto-rickshaw and go around to see self-declared private 'resorts' to find accommodation.
Two Wheeler Hire:
You can hire a two wheeler for Rs 500 per day. This is the best way to explore the island as you have the freedom to go to any place at any time. Definitely much more cheaper than hiring a taxi or an auto. Make sure to fill fuel before 5 in the evening, as you might not find any later. Having a bike would also help you to stop at any part of the beach to click pictures and enjoy the place. Also one can use a two wheeler to explore other resorts for better food, if the food given by their resort is not so good.
There is also a local bus about every 1,5h except for lunch break (12-3).
Please note that only BSNL and Airtel service is available on this island. All other mobile services do not work.
- Natural bridge: A small strip of land that connects the mainland to a small(3*3) island of sorts (not worth it but the rockpools around this at low tide are worth checking out).
- Beach #8: Snorkeling here plus a small cave to check out. Lots of shells around if you are a shell collector.
- Sitapur beach: Lovely sunrise. Serene beach. Good for a swim.
- Ramnagar beach: Beautiful shady beach. Light blue crystal clear water. See corals in glass-bottom boats. Huge coral beds with lot of fish present. Very good visibility. Snorkeling, water scooter, bathing and other water activities can be done here.
- Lakshmanpur beach: Lovely sunset. Serene and long beach.
- Sunset point is the west most point of the beach west of the jetty which the guesthouses are on. There are ravenous sandflies, so if you're spending any time there then take a hammock. It's good for snorkeling but only during high tide. Be aware of the current there, only good swimmers should go out.
- Snorkelling is also very good around the jetty at Neil. The edges of the shallow reefs have some live corals, many different kinds of fish and lots of anemones with resident clown fish. Great variety of shells are available but are not supposed to be taken from the islands.
- India Scuba Explorers, Beach#1 (go to beach #1, on the right side of the road about a 600m before Tango Resort), ☎ +91 0 9933271450, . 1st and oldest PADI Dive Resort offering all PADI courses and daily dive boats to spectacular new dive sites around the unexplored waters of Neil Island.
- DIVEIndia Scuba & Resorts, Aamantran Beach Resort (Near Neil Jetty), . 7am-6pm. One of the oldest dive establishments in the country, they offer PADI and SSI courses, fun dives for licensed divers and introductory dives for beginners wanting to scuba dive. Their dive boat is the fastest boat on the island so they can schedule their dives according to the best visibility of the day. Amazing coconut cookies can be had on the boat. Run by a small but professional team of divers. Prices are comparable to other dive centers in the Andamans. Sometimes they are closed so please check before if their Dive Center on Neil is open during the time you are there.
- The Infiniti Live-aboard yacht now includes Neil Island as part of some of its trips. Its the most comfortable option to get to Neil island, stay there & dive as it provides all three services (it brings passengers from Port Blair).
The main market has a few eateries serving the usual Indian fare.
At the beach resorts, food has to be ordered generally at least two hours in advance as the "cook" travels to the market gets the supplies and prepares it.
- Green Heaven restaurant, (300 meters back towards town from Tango Beach Resort). The restaurant is very friendly, has great food (try the grilled fish or chocolate pancake) and the service is positively instant compared with the glacial service at the resorts!
- Gan Garden Restaurant, (500m from main bazaar). Take main road from bazaar towards sunset point, opposite football pitch is Gan Garden, nice family run restaurant, good choice of meals and they will happily cook any fish for you that you manage to catch yourself or buy from the fish market for a small charge! The family will also happily arrange other activities for you, Gan can organise jungle trips and Sanjay can organise snorkelling or fishing trips on their speed boat! Trips are all around 500Rs per person and will be a full day trip including lunch!
Tango Beach Resort and newly opened Sea Shell Resort (both on Laxmanpur beach) have good restaurants serving conventional Indian and seafood. Try Sutapa Sweets in the main market if you like Indian sweets and samosas.
Coconut milk and mango juice.
Alcohol is also available in most of the resorts. There is no liquore store and only one offical bar in town.
- Break Water, Beach No 3. This is one of the three budget places at Neil on Beach no. 3. There are three types of huts: simple with shared bathrooms (400 Rs), simple hut with attached bathrooms (700 Rs), and concrete huts which can be booked in advance. The restaurant is known for its good food but be aware of a long waiting time if the place is busy. Meals can also be ordered on the same day in advance, especially for whole fish this is a good idea. Fairly decent Wifi for the island (60 Rs per hour) is also available in the restaurant. Snorkeling gear can be hired for 50 Rs but might not be the best quality. Harish, the owner, is very friendly and helps you for the trip planing. 400-2000.
- Elephant & four wise men, Beach No. 3. This is the first place of the three budget places on beach no. 3. They offer about 7 simple huts for about 300 Rs. Bicycle rents (100 Rs / day) and water bottle refills (10 Rs / Liter) are also available. 300.
- Kalapani, Ramnagar (Village No.3), Neil Isalnd (Neil jetty towards No.3), ☎ 9474274991. This is newly country style made resort. Managed by a young couple, Prakash and his wife Bina. Very unique location, five minutes walk to the sea-shore. enjoy snorkling, swimming and diving. they have a small restaurant and prepare hot food especially for their guests. They have huts with attached bathroom (cost Rs 800-1000) and with common bathroom (RS 400-600). Rooms can be booked by call on mobile no given above and more over you will be recieved on arrival.
- Cocon-huts Resort, 1km from Jetty. Come out of the jetty and walk straight up to main road, turn right and and walk about 500m down road, then turn right straight after the football pitch, nice friendly staff, 10 basic cheap huts with decent communal shower and bathroom facilities set in nice large open area, opens out onto beach, 4 bungalows are available but apparently have to be booked from Port Blair. Abhay Rs 150-250.
- Hawabill nest guest house (IP&T), ☎ 282630. Near the jetty proved to be a very decent place. The Dorms are clean with proper beds and a community bath/toilet. Good news, there were no other tourists except an occasional day tripper family. They also have a chef who can prepare the food on request. To book contact A&N TourismAbhay Rs 150.
- Pearl Park Beach Resort, (2.5 kms west of the ferry dock), ☎ 01392-0282510. 01392-233880. Another 500 metres further west from Tango and pretty much the same except it doesn't front onto the beach. Similar pricing to Tango.
- Tango Beach Resort, Laxmanpur Neil Island Near Halipad (2km west of the ferry dock), ☎ +91 9434270454 / +91-9434270364, . This is a lovely beachfront resort and amazing place to relax. The Cafeteria has wonderful ambience and the sea wind helps you to relax a lot, but service is slow. Connect your phone to the speakers there and you can just spend the whole evening with a good drink (although the resort does not have a bar now so you have to buy from outside). At high tide you can swim here and the reef is 50 metres out and extends west (left) to Sunset Point. Rs 1800.
- Hotel Kingfisher, (few metres from the main market area or the Neil Grampanchayat Kendra). checkout: depends on ferry timings, usually 8 AM. Centrally located. Very close to the market place and the jetty. Big, neat and clean rooms. Both A/C and non-A/C rooms available. Very courteous and helpful staff. Includes a restaurant and bar.
- Silver Sand Beach Resort - 10 min away from Harbor. There are 3 types of rooms and price ranges from Rs 8000 to 1000 per day. The hotel has in house bar, restaurant, swimming pool and spa.
- Dhungi Charles Pani Resort (Black Water Resort), Ramnagar, No.3, Neil Island (Neil jetty towards no.3), ☎ 9474274991. This is surely one of the best place to stay in Neil Island.It's a newly country style made resort. Managed by a young couple, Prakash and his wife Bina. Very unique location, surrounded by natural forest, five minutes walk to the sea-shore. enjoy snorkling, swimming and diving in deep blue sea. Can have loads of fun by going for fishing and visiting the agricultural farms of the owners. They have a small restaurant also a grocery shop located nearby.
The goverment ferry for Port Blair leaves at 8am and 2pm. There are also two ferries a day connecting to Havelock. Three times a week there is a ferry to Long Island and Rangat up north.
All goverment boat schedules and Fares can be checked here: http://www.andaman.gov.in
The ticket office with a waiting room is right next to the jetty. The ticket office opens at 6:30 am and tickets are only sold for the same day, so line up early for the morning ferry as tickets may sell out fast.
Also, the two private boat companies Makruzz and Ocean Green have ticket booths, but may only accept cash if the ticket is not paid in advance.