For a tropical getaway, book a cheap flight to the Andaman and Nicobar islands, located off the eastern coast of India, some 1400 kilometres from the mainland. As one of the most remote places in the world, getting to the islands is no easy feat. Port Blair on the Andaman Islands is the sole point of entry and is accessible only via flights from Chennai and Kolkata. Non-resident Indians require a Restricted Area Permit to visit the islands. Fortunately, you can get a permit at the Port Blair airport itself. Cheap flights to Andaman and Nicobar are difficult to find, so be sure to book your tickets in advance. Andaman and Nicobar flights are often delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, so be sure to factor that into your travel plans as well.
A less expensive option than Andaman and Nicobar flights is to take a boat from Chennai, Kolkata or Vishakapatnam to Port Blair, although this trip can take up to four days. To book a boat ticket, you must either call the Directorate of Shipping Services, or buy tickets on the mainland at the aforementioned cities.
There are 572 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, and you'll likely want to visit a few of them. There are regular ferries from Port Blair to the major tourist destinations such Havelock and Ross Island. You also have the option of taking private luxury cruise vessels — or air-conditioned catamarans — that cost more but also travel daily. Port Blair is the only city amongst the islands and is well serviced by a network of local buses. Fares tend to be extremely low, although bus routes and schedules can be difficult to follow. Auto-rickshaws are plentiful and are a popular, cost-effective method of getting around Port Blair and nearby land destinations. Walking is also an excellent option for tourists since Port Blair is quite small and sparsely populated. The warm, tropical climate with a fresh breeze blowing in from the sea is an added bonus.
Rated one of the best beaches in Asia, don't miss the pristine sand and clear waters of Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island. Explore the island from the water; take a glass bottomed boat to Jolly Buoy Island, which is teeming with colourful tropical marine life, and try snorkeling.
If you're in Port Blair for a while, check out the historic Cellular Jail, the informative Samudrika Marine Museum filled with shells and coral, and the Government Saw Mill Chatham, which is one of the oldest in Asia. For a different kind of adventure, visit the limestone caves on Baratang Island. It may be a long boat ride, but the mangrove forests and caves bring you to an altogether different pre-historic world. The decaying, mangrove covered buildings of Ross Island, some 2 kilometres east of Port Blair, are another major attraction.
For breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Havelock Island, look no further than the Full Moon Café, which serves spectacular seafood, great sandwiches, and fresh-squeezed juices all in a beautiful open-air café overlooking the beach. If you're looking for a break from seafood and Indian, check out Clownfish Restaurant, also on Havelock, which has great thin crust pizzas. If you're in Port Blair, Icy Spicy is a great option for vegetarian fare. Nightlife in the islands is virtually absent. Most restaurants don't serve alcohol, so be sure to check ahead if you want to get a drink or two.
For shopping, visit the Aberdeen Bazaar or the Sagarika Government Emporium in Port Blair which sell authentic native wood carvings, t-shirts, and sea shells (be careful about your country's import laws!).