Neil – the tiny, beautiful island located south of Andaman Islands on the East Coast of India, with unexplored coral reef and brilliant bio-diversity, white sandy beaches, forest & vegetation is one of the best tourist spots in Andaman. 37 kms from Port Blair, Neil is one of the closer island destinations to Port Blair. Neil and Havelock islands are part of Ritchie’s Archipelago. Connected by speedboat from Port Blair daily, it provides ideal holiday destination for eco-friendly tourists in natural settings. The sea encircling the island is shallow and full of colorful corals.
Neil Island is also known as the vegetable bowl of Andaman as it is here the local vegetables are cultivated and supplied to other islands. The settlers named the beaches after the mythical characters of the epic Ramayana like Bharatpur, Laxmanpur, Sitapur Ramnagar etc. The beaches are popular for their hammocks under shady trees.
Neil, with its very relaxed vibe and long, deserted beaches is a place to chill out after the “bustle” of Havelock. Its widest part is about 5 km in length. You can walk the whole island in about an hour or two.
Unlike most of the islands in the Andaman Group, Neil has a flat terrain. The island is also comparatively small with an area of 19 sq.kms. It has a population of 2868 people. (2001 Census).One can feel the serenity of village life here. There is no broadband or internet connectivity in the island. No ATMs or scheduled banks. Mobile services reaches Neil Island but only BSNL has its mobile tower. Power generation is by Diesel Generating sets. There is one Primary Health Centre and also a sub-centre functioning in this island with the service of three doctors. Public transport is by means of autos, motorbikes, cycles, omni vans. There is no bus service. Law and order is manned by Police outpost. Helipad is available.
The calm and quiet life in this Island called ‘Vegetable Bowl’ moves at its own pace. People are either busy with agricultural or tourism related activities. The culture is a mix of rural and semi-urban, with the tropical living witnessed at its best. The friendly culture encourages the visitors to stay in Neil Island, which signifies the warmth and friendliness that lingers in this part of Andaman.
The Island is comparatively small with less than 5000 people distributed among 5 of its villages. The 5 villages are Sitapur, Bharatpur, Neil Kendra, Lakshmanpur and Ram Nagar. The sole entry and exit point for the Island is the single jetty in Bharatpur. This place is the prime vegetable supplier for the rest of Andaman, agriculture being the main occupation of the residents here.
The lifestyle here at Neil Island is not ultra-advanced. Nor is it purely tribal. There is a sort of semi-developed flair that dominates this small Island. The population is decent and welcoming. Attire does not include anything specific that can be tagged with Neil Island in particular, but this place has been borrowing the fashion trends from Port Blair and Havelock Islands lately.