Andaman Islands, India
Because the Maldives Are Getting Crowded
A swimming elephant with his mahout off an Andaman beach.JAMES R.D. SCOTT
Sometimes it seems all the best beaches are overrun: by backpackers in Phuket, honeymooners in Bora Bora, in influencers in Tulum. Yet India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, long among the world’s top diving destinations, have somehow managed to avoid that fate. Nearly 600 isles, all but a few uninhabited, make up this archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. It’s a two- or three-hour flight from several mainland Indian cities, followed by a two-hour ferry from Port Blair to Havelock, the largest and most developed island. Of course, development is relative: The hostels, restaurants, and dive centers catering mostly to homegrown adventure tourists and honeymooners (and a smattering of foreign backpackers) are still outnumbered by betel nut plantations, overgrown mangroves, and immaculate beaches. But that’s about to change—thanks to the islands’ first true luxury hotels. First came Jalakara in 2016, the platonic ideal of the chic jungle hideaway, on the crown of a hill in the island’s rugged interior and thoughtfully accessorized with items procured by the British owners during their adventures all over India. And then, last April, India’s venerable Taj Hotels debuted a sumptuous resort with 50 stand-alone thatch roofed villas, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, at Radhanagar Beach, a swath of sugary sand that often tops rankings of Asia’s best beaches. Strict government restrictions mean the islands are unlikely to go the way of the Maldives, but you should still get there ASAP—before everyone you follow on Instagram does.
TO BOOK: Tanya Dalton can help with logistics, including a tour of Port Blair on your way to or from the islands; the 19th-century Cellular Jail is a heartbreaking part of India’s colonial history. TDALTON@GREAVESUK.COM (S.K.)
Jalakara READ REVIEWS
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa READ REVIEWS