The ocean around the Andaman islands is one of those blue colours which you get in tourist brochures and which makes you wonder how much the photo was tinted! Not so – the blue is intense and true, arising from white coral sand reflecting a blue sky through relatively shallow unpolluted water.
People have come here for diving for many years, despite the difficulties in getting here: and I see that recently the surfers have started to eye up the Andamans and their waves. It is nearly 900 miles from Chennai to Port Blair, and there’s nothing to the south-west except Antarctica, so the waves have a chance of building up.
We went there for a week’s relaxation and bird-watching. I had marked off in the bird book the endemic species and in 6 days we managed to see 2! We weren’t straining ourselves! Many birds could be found around the lodge where we were staying, and could be viewed from the veranda with binoculars in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other, which is infinitely preferable to lying face downwards in a mosquito-infested swamp or freezing to death on a Scottish moor.
The resort – Barefoot at Havelock – was on Havelock Island, which is one of the few islands open to tourism, and had a resident elephant which swam each day off the beach. The elephant had been employed by loggers when it was younger, and the animals were persuaded to swim from one island to another following the work teams. However Havelock was not completely logged in earlier centuries and we were stunned by the height and variety of the trees.
One photo perhaps needs explaining – the tiny sand crabs created the most complex designs we have ever seen. Twice a day – between the tides!