Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is in Andaman and Nicobar.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is a national park of India in Wandoor on the Andaman Islands. Situated 29 km. from Port Blair, the Park is located on the South Western coast of South Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal. The parks boundary runs along the coasts as well as some time along island within the range of latitude between 11°22, 06" and 11° 36 -34" N and longitude between 92° 30.00"W and 92° 40.33' E covering a total area of 281 50 ha (281.5 sq km).
15 islands and several islets of the labyrinth group of islands, like Alexandra, Red Skin, Boat, Hobday, Tarmugli, Grub, Chester, Snob, Bell, Pluto, Malay, Jolly Boys, Riflemen, Twins and parts of Rutland island make up this park.
The park was closed for rehabilitation after the 2004 tsunami, but has since reopened, with damage seeming to be less than originally reported. Both Red Skin and Jolly Bouy islands are open during season. The park is under the overall administrative control of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the forest department of A&N islands administration. Though the park is uninhabited, there are 8 villages adjacent to the park area with a population of about 3000 (1981 census).
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor was established on 24th May 1983 for the protection of marine life including corals and nesting sea turtles.
Flora and fauna
The area includes vast stretch of enchanting marine waters, bushy vegetated islands, magnificent coral reefs and sparkling sandy beaches and mangroves. Rich marine life consists of variety of coral reefs, colourful fishes, molluscs, shells, starfish, turtles, salt-water crocodile etc.
One can also view a variety of birds like White-Bellied Sea Eagle,Parakeets,Andaman Teal,Heron, Terns, Waders, Swifts etc. To see these one would required more than few hours in the park and thus ant serious birdwatcher should consider taking special permission from the forest department for a longer stay.
Climate is typically tropical. During Oct- Feb is most comfortable. Nights are quite cool and comfortable.
June to August is monsoon and practically all tourist activities are closed down due to heavy rains.
Wandoor, a small fishing hamlet is the entry point to the park. Wandoor is about 30 km from Port Blair.
One can reach Wandoor by hired taxi or by bus in about 45 min. from Port Blair.
Local bus service is reliable and offer economical alternative to taxies. Buses are available from and for Port Blair every 30 min. or so. Tickets cost Rs.10 one-way. Local buses ply from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Tourist Department of Andaman runs 2-3 mini bus trip each day. Return trip costs about Rs.90. The buses start from Andaman Teal House and can be boarded from office of Director of Information and Publicity and Tourism (IP & T), Port Blair.
The general visitors permit you receive on arrival is good for here, but additional fees will apply when hiring a boat or arranging a dive trip since this is a National Park.
To enter the park, you need entry permit. The Forest Department permit costs Rs. 50/person and is available at the counter on Wandoor jetty. Normally only 150 permits are issued each day on first come first serve basis, but in high season the number of permits are sometimes increased by Forest department.
Each camera requires additional permit of Rs. 25.
Apart from the park permit, one needs ticket for the boat ride to Red skin island which is for Rs. 300/person and includes a small boat ride in glass bottom dingy, snorkeling and return.
Plastic bottles and bags are not permitted in the park and one need to deposit money for each bottle carried. The security deposit is Rs. 100 for up to 3 bottles. On completion of the trip, you are expected to show the required number of bottles to the forest official to claim your deposit.
Jute bags are available in the forest office for hire.
Boat operators approved by forest department seems to be the only means to get around. One may explore hiring smaller dingies for moving around the park. Apart from boats in Wandoor jetty which take you in the park, local powered boats are also available at Wandoor beach which take you around for snorkeling in glass bottom boats.
The alternative to other overrun tourist spots in the Andamans. Snorkeling here is excellent here during the season when the water is flat and clear. A very professionally run PADI/CMAS dive centre is now at Wandoor - Lacadives.
Being a Marine park the place it does offer an opportunity for excellent snorkelling.26 km by road
It is a MUST to carry food and water to Jolly Buoy as you won't find anything there. You can pick up something from Wandoor, however Visitors are advised to bring packed lunch packs and Water bottles from Port Blair. PLEASE DO NOT THROW RUBBISH ALL OVER THE AREA. PLEASE KEEP WANDOOR BEACH CLEAN!
Food options are limited in Wandoor. There are few small joints which offer limited options of eating. One can get "puri" (fried Indian bread) and potato / peas gravy etc. for breakfast & lunch.
There are some small eating joints near/ on Wandoor beach (~1.5 km from Jetty) which offer Indian, Chinese and Sea Food.
Packaged water, aerated drinks and fresh coconut water is available in Wandoor. Visitors should carry their own water when entering the park.
Beer or other drinks are available at bars or resorts nearby.
There are a few resorts/hotels at Wandoor, like Sea Princess or Anugama resort. Food and refreshments are available at these places. There are bars where one can get a cold beer.