Port Blair, India
The epitome of exotic, the capital city of the remote Andaman Islands blends quirky British colonial heritage with India's cultural melting pot against a backdrop of rainforest, coral reefs, and rural Asian life.
What We Love
Aberdeen Bazaar: Port Blair's chaotic market area is a rich mosaic of everything Indian, including the smell of spices, the flash of saris, the sound of Bollywood music blaring from second-story windows, and merchants who love to bicker.
Havelock Island: Even more remote than Port Blair, Havelock offers drop-dead gorgeous, white-sand shores and better snorkeling. Get there in 90 minutes via high-speed ferry.
Best Known For
Ross Island: This Victorian-era headquarters of the colonial government was destroyed by a 1941 earthquake and never rebuilt. The extensive ruins, now overgrown with jungle, offer the British Empire version of Angkor Wat.
Jail Time: Called “Kālā Pānī” (black water) by the locals, this notorious prison functioned as a Devil's Island for British India. The museum features the original gallows, as well as exhibits about the many political prisoners incarcerated here between 1906 and the late 1940s.
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Who It's Best For
Indiana Jones Wannabes: Those who thrive on traipsing through jungle-shrouded ruins and rainforest trails will be in their element.
Culture Vultures: Anyone who’s into a place that features Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and even Christian cultures — sometimes within feet of one another — will like it here.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Not the Best Place for Indian Food: The local restaurant scene is rather spartan and doesn't come close to the excellent quality of Indian cuisine on the mainland.
Jolly Buoy Island: Despite its fame, this popular tourist destination doesn't have great snorkeling.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.