The afternoon sun was fading as our boat docked in the harbour, and we immediately fell for Neil Island and its lazy, laid-back vibe.
As the majority of our fellow boat passengers sailed onwards to bustling Havelock, we felt pretty smug with our little piece of deserted paradise. But besides the breathtaking beaches and electric blue ocean, it was the simplicity of life on Neil that we loved the most. So we hopped in a rickshaw towards our guesthouse, abandoning all worries & wifi for a perfect week on this happy little island....
There's no surprise that we easily fell into island life on Neil, with our days generally consisting of beach lazing, frisbee, lots of mangos & cycling through fields of palm trees. The island's small size makes everywhere reachable via bicycle, and so we'd happily cruise between the beaches - bazaar - home, greeting friendly locals as we passed by. The lack of traffic was one of our favourite parts of the Island, and although our bikes were pretty rusty, we loved the freedom of cycling everywhere!
The beaches on Neil are lucidly named with numbers, and each of the 5 beaches have something different to offer. We personally fell in love with Beach No. 1, and found a precious spot of our own to return to each day. Shaded by hauntingly huge, overhanging trees and woodland forest, we were almost always the only people on the beach. If you're after that castaway, desert-island feeling, then there's nothing more you could ask for in life.
After sun-kissed days and sun-set swims, we'd cruise back into town for our sweet evening ritual of chai, samosas and sitting with locals. The main-bazaar is wonderfully lively in the evening and we became regulars at the same shops, stalls and fruit/vegetable stand (the only one on the island!)
Five months later, and we still feel dreamy about our week on Neil Island. It's no wonder the locals have so much warmth to offer - they've got life pretty sorted , with more coconuts than you could wish for. Our Andaman adventure continued onwards to Havelock & Little Andaman, so check back soon for part two of the journey...
-We stayed at Beach No.3 at Breakwater Resort, making a humble little beach hut our home for a mere 200RS (£2) per night. There's not a huge range of accommodation to choose from on Neil, but we definitely recommend this place for it's amazing setting, good food and cheap bike rent!
-If you head into the Bazaar in the evenings, make sure to get a samosa from the small set-up stall in the square. The owner is the loveliest guy and has some of the best samosas we had in India… accompanied with the most delicious green chutney!
-If you're ordering any food on the Island, be prepared to wait a long time before it arrives! With all the locals running on 'island time', speed isn't a priority when dinner is due. Bring some cards, snacks and have a beer/juice while you wait… we're on an island after all
-Be aware of the changing tide times all across the island. On our first day we turned up to the beach, ready for a swim, and had to wait hours for the tide to come in. Just check with locals to be clued up about when to go.
Read more about our adventures on Ross Island here.