Andaman or Goa is a choice that most of us will face sometime when it comes to choosing a beach vacation. Goa is known for its party scene. Andaman is known for its exotic appeal. Which one you choose will depend on your life calling at the moment.
You see, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Here are some points to help you plan out with some reference lines on the true purpose of your holiday and where you can realise it.
As working professionals, students or parents, we all come with a restriction on the number of days we have to take a vacation. Because of which, we try to factor in travel time when choosing a destination. While Goa is an easy choice for Mumbaikars (especially because of the rail connectivity), as much as Andaman is for Chennaites or even those from Kolkata.
Even if you factor in flight travel for either destination, consider one day travel time one way because of the travel and wait time. Most people want to stay put on the day they’ve just reached the destination or explore something close by. That way, give or take the 24 hours of the day you reach the destination, you are on level ground.
Both Andaman and Goa are a hot hub for water sports. But the clear winner has to be Andaman because of the sheer beauty of its coral reefs. Scuba diving, snorkelling and sea walking are spectacular activities here which will transport you into a different world that will leave you mesmerized. After an experience like this, most people fall in love with undersea activities and many even come back to Andaman for it. Activities like parasailing and banana boat rides, however, are more fun in Goa.
Type of holiday
This is the biggest reason that should swing your destination decision one way or the other. Though both Goa and Andaman are popular honeymoon destinations, Andaman emerges as a winner among newlyweds simply because of its exotic appeal. Another kind of vacation is the one you take with your family. Ask anyone who has taken a family vacation in Goa and they’ll tell you it is nothing short of a cardinal sin! Of course, you can go, but it wouldn’t justify Goa’s true spirit.
But if one was to plan a getaway with friends, there is nothing like some Goa magic. With a vibrant party scene and nightlife, Goa means to youth what pilgrimage is to the old. There is a ‘calling’ and once you are ‘called’, you just have to go.
Goa has a few beaches known for their shacks and the pub-hopping party scene primarily in and around Baga beach. But move down south and you’ll find nice stretches of beach where you’ll feel you are the only one.
At Andaman too, you’ll find the popular Radhanagar beach to be amazing but tad crowded. Move a little away from the humdrum and you are bound to find azure clear waters and white sand beaches that pop out straight out of a picture postcard. There is a chance you’ll wonder if you landed up in heaven when you see the sights.
Being more of a beach party scene, Goa is extra particular on keeping tourists safe and the police regularly patrol the beach where such crowds tend to hang out. Similarly, Andaman police too work hard to ensure that people understand the time and social limits of the beaches and adhere to it. Both players are relatively safe for sole women travellers too. As always, it is important to excise primary safety measures, common sense and advice from locals before you head out into the unknown. Goa, Andaman or any other place, it is a must to keep emergency numbers handy, have travel insurance, ensure someone outside your group knows about your whereabouts and plans (like your tour operator or hotel manager) and follow the law of the land.
The icing on the cake
Both Goa and Andaman have their own little unique offerings. The Basilica at Goa is a place where people head to fulfil their wishes. The carnivals are an amazing time to get down and party. Fort Aguada (the Dil Chahta Hai fort) gives you a chapter from Goa’s history. There are ferry rides in the evening that again have a dance and song scene. Goa is home to Dauna Paula’s tragic love story too. It is close to the Doodhsagar waterfall which was made popular through various movies. Goa offers a day trip to a distant island which is a fun activity.
On the other hand, Andaman has so much beyond the beaches to discover. The Cellular Jail from Kaalapani stands as a witness to the sacrifice of hundreds of India’s martyrs during our freedom struggle. The rainforests and distant islands hold secrets to ancient life that continues to remain hidden from worldview. The Ross and Smith islands have a unique white sand bridge connecting the two islands. The natural stone bridge of Neil Island called Howrah bridge is a popular tourist attraction. There are mountains like Saddle peak and Mount Harriet that offer the pleasure of short treks. There are waterfalls that give a wonderful view within the jungle. The Ross Island is home to historic buildings that have been taken over by a massive tree root system which gives it an ethereal feel. Andaman is home to a number of endemic species but the nesting of the Olive Ridley and other varieties of turtle is an unmissable sight. The Dugong – the state animal of Andaman is an amazing sight. The Elephant Island was home to our only swimming elephant – and what a spectacular sight he was. Andaman is home to several museums including the Samudrika museum that is home to the treasures of the sea. The limestone caves is a natural phenomenon and rare sight where you come across both stalactites and stalagmites. The caves are home to the Swiftlet birds which make edible nests. The mud volcanoes of Andaman constantly spew out mud rivers which is the closest you can get to a volcano. Andaman has a great calling for bird watchers who come across several species of endemic birds. The Chidiyatapu and Parrot Island have beautiful sights for those who come with a streak of patience. Andaman’s last tragedy was the 2004 Tsunami and it has a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives. Last but not the least, it is also home to Asia’s only active volcano (which, luckily for us, is distant and dormant for now)
Wow! That’s quite a list!
A corporate retreat is often done at slightly distant and beautiful locations to ensure employees are removed from their daily humdrum and get to relax and rejuvenate as they recharge with new ideas and action plan.
Goa is great if you want to keep it short and have more pleasure and some business. Andaman is perfect if want an ideal mix of both. The travel time, the feeling of distance and the beauty and serenity around makes it great for a corporate retreat. Contrary to popular belief, everything you need can be arranged flawlessly if you choose the right local operator with the required expertise.
Goa’s popular beachside markets that are open until late offer beach clothes, shells, trinkets and more to the tourist. If you want something to take back home, you can buy Dodol, Bibnica and local delights including the Goan sausage. Andaman offers shell and wooden artefacts and pearls among its prime shopping attraction for tourists. Take advice from a local in both destinations to know about the pricing and what suits your specific needs.
Being coastal zones, seafood is great in both Goa and Andaman. Also, both destinations cater to a wide influx of tourists which allow a lot of external influence. Goa is also the second home of sorts to several international tourists so the cuisine influence is wider here.
Time of the year
Though both destinations take on the ‘hot and humid’ tropical climate of India, Andaman sees an early onset of monsoons starting in May. Andaman also sees some hurricanes depending on the pressure build up in the surrounding sea. Otherwise, they are both quite on par.
Travelling to Andaman is likely to be costlier than Goa because of the flight rates. Both destinations offer a variety in accommodation which one can choose according to their budget. The tourist rates for local transportation works out to be similar if you take a car on hire for the day.
The big verdict
It’s not us. Trip Advisor voted Radhanagar beach from Havelock as the best in Asia and the 7th best in the world. All beaches are created equal but some are more equal than others.
There is a point in life where you will choose Andaman over Goa or vice versa, simply because the calling is clear. But the only real way is to visit both destinations and experience the best of both worlds. If you’ve never been to Andaman before, this is your calling. The white sands and clear blue waters are waiting for you. Find out how you can realise this dream vacation.
Here’s a quick comparison of Andaman v/s Lakshadweep