Friday, June 9, 2023

Tourism      Wildlife      Marine National Park      Andaman and Nicobar Islands     Port Blair    

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park

Wandoor, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Best season

October to early May

Nearest Town
Port Blair (29km)
Best location for scuba diving and snorkeling
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Mahathma Gandhi Marine National Park is located at Wandoor, 29 Km from west of Port Blair in the south Andaman Island. Also known as Wandoor Marine National Park, it is near to Wandoor Beach, about an hour's drive from Port Blair town and the open sea itself is the park.

Established on 24 May 1983 under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 to protect marine life such as the corals and nesting sea turtles, the park is one of the major areas for viewing marine diversity. The park is placed under the protection of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the forest department of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Mahathma Gandhi Marine National Park is spread over 15 lushly vegetated islands in the labyrinth group and covering an area of 281.5Sq Km. The islands includes Grub, Redskin, Jolly Buoy, Cinque, Pluto, Tarmugli, Boat Island, Kalaphar (Rutland) and the Twins. Besides rich Marine life, these islands has variety of tropical flowers and birds.

The biodiversity consists of tropical evergreen forests, luxuriant mangroves and a variety of marine fauna. More than 50 different variety of corals can be seen here. Sea anemones and coloured coral reefs including Brain, Finger, Mushroom and Antler thrive abundantly here. There are Sharks, Crocodiles, Sea cucumbers, Water snakes, Hawksbill , Green Turtles and a variety of shells - Cowries, Turbots, Spider conch and the rarer Giant Clam. The Coconut Crabs and  plentiful of Turtles found on the South Sentinel Island. The Roseate Tern and Black-naped Tern, Sooty Tern are also breeds here. 

A variety of tropical fauna like White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Andaman Teal, Reef Heron, Terns, Parakeets, Waders, Swifts, Black Surgeon, Blue Damsel Fish, Yellow Butterfly etc inhabit the park.

Only three islands Jolly buoy, Cinque and Red skinare Islands are open for tourists. Situated in the center of the park, Jolly buoy island, the fascination world of tropical forest and sandy beaches coupled with clear blue water creates a breath-taking aura. It is one of the best scuba diving and snorkeling location in Andaman. It boasts a beautiful golden beach with soft sands and lush green surroundings dense with coconut palms. It is encircled by a reef which can be seen above water in low tide. Jolly buoy island is not always opened throughout the year because it is protected for live corals. Beware of going deeper because when the tide is going out there are strong currents around the island.  

Red Skin island has limited beach coastline but it is best for snorkeling like Jolly Buoy. There are a couple of forest trails and a small fresh water spring. Open on Mondays. Usually, Red skin island will be opened for visitors when Jolly buoy island is closed for visitors. 

Cinque Island is a two hilly islands joined by a sand bar. An ideal place for scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing and Camping, the sunset at the Cinque Island is a worth watch. A special permission is needed to visit this island. 

Mask and Snorkel hire available from these three islands and in Port Blair. Boats are available only to reach Jolly Buoy and Red Skin and it's operate from the Wandoor Village Jetty. Starts at 10 am and return by 2.30 pm. Boat Fee : Rs. 300/- per person. For Cinque, there is no boat service, but can hire one's own boat. 

Entry fee Indians Rs 50/-, foreigners Rs. 500/-; Timings: Sunrise-sunset. Fee for Scuba Diving : Rs.500/- for Indians and Rs. 1,000/- for foreigners. Note : All foreign tourist desiring to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands require Area Permits.