As the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands off the Indian peninsula, Port Blair offers much to the roving traveller’s eye. For starters, it’s surrounded by the vast ocean shored by gorgeous beaches and tropical palms. A drawcard of the city, though, is Chidiya Tapu. Translating to ‘bird island’, Chidiya Tapu is an island and biological park that, despite being close to the capital island, is an incomparable natural paradise in a league of its own. If you’re planning to head to the Andaman Islands, you must make a visit to the stunning park and its surrounding areas. Here is a guide to Chidiya Tapu, Port Blair.
Things to do
Visit Chidiya Tapu Biological Park
This gorgeous forested setting boasts of indigenous wildlife that runs the gamut from Andaman wild pigs to saltwater crocodiles. Established in 2001, the park aims to conserve and study indigenous endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna. There are natural enclosures that allow animals to thrive in their natural habitat while still allowing visitors to observe them. It’s a massive park, spread over 40 hectares (98 acres) and also houses a reptile centre perfect for those keen on observing snakes and crocodiles. Visitors are free to roam about after entering, but those interested in learning the history and efforts of this park can enlist the help of a local guide for an extra fee.
Stretch out on the rocks at Kalapathar Beach
On the way from Port Blair to Chidiya Tapu is the stunning Kapapathar beach, translating to the ‘beach of black stones’. It gets the name from the long trail of dark rocks and boulders that line the beach. Between the confluence of the rocks and the azure sea lies a strip of white sand that you could curl your toes into in delight. If you’ve been on the lookout for solitude and an introspective few moments away from the crowds, this beach is where you need to be.
Going off the name, it’s obvious that Chidiya Tapu is one of the best places on the islands for bird-watching. The Andaman Islands are home to 270 bird species, both migratory and endemic, and a lot of them gather at Chidiya Tapu. The Andaman Serpent Eagle, Collared Kingfisher and Black-naped Oriole are just some of the species that headline the guest list. For the best chances of catching these wonderful birds in their daily routine, consider trekking from Mount Harriet to Chidiya Tapu or the other way round. Birdwatching is best done early in the morning when the paths are free of tourists.
Watch the sunset
Chidiya Tapu is known to frequenters as the Sunset Point and for good reason. When the sun sets, vivid colours of orange, pink and yellow take over the horizon, slowly transitioning into an inky black as the sun dips. Pick a good vantage point to see the sight without being disturbed; don’t forget to linger for a while to see and hear the sights and sounds of the park coming alive all over again. Bring your camera but watch the sight with your bare eyes because it’s just that stunning.
Feed your adrenaline levels with adventure
Being an island with a stunning set of beaches, adventure enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. If adventure and water sports are right up your alley, Chidiya Tapu is the perfect place to be. Look at the naturally-formed corals on the seabed through snorkelling or venture into deeper waters while scuba diving or deep-sea walking. For those who would rather be atop the water instead of under it, plenty of boats do the run on the water, stopping in gorgeous coves and inlets to allow the more adventurous of the lot to jump into the sea.
Book a guided tour
If you’d rather book yourself into an exclusive tour of the island than blindly follow the crowds, you can book a slot on this full-day excursion to Chidiya Tapu from Port Blair. Lush green mangroves and picturesque beaches line up along the route, so take a camera with you. The full-day tour also includes a guide who tells the tale of Chidiya Tapu in the most riveting manner. The last stop on the route is the much-awaited sunset that you can enjoy on your own or with a special someone.
Time your visit well
Since Chidiya Tapu is famous for its sunset, it only makes sense to go there right before dusk so that you have enough time to settle into your vantage point. However, do consider going there in the afternoon so you get a few hours to wander around the park and do some bird-spotting. This is the best way to cross Chidiya Tapu off your travel list!
Mobile connectivity is weak
Unlike other parts of the Andaman Islands like Port Blair and Havelock Islands, Chidiya Tapu has rather a weak cell reception. Be prepared to be off the grid for a few hours, whether that’s by informing your hotel of where you’ll be or letting your family and friends at home know. Ensure you know the route you’ll be taking as well because map applications are unlikely to work in the region.
Carry water with you
It isn’t safe to drink tap water here; running rivers or streams are also best avoided because they may not be entirely clean. To be safe, carry a few bottles of water with you to last the hours. Don’t forget to carry your empty bottles back with you and try not to litter if you’ve stayed for a picnic.
Keep a first aid kit
Since Chidiya Tapu is a natural island and biological park, you may well run into brambles or tree branches and injure yourself. To be on the safer side, carry a first aid kit with you when travelling and ensure it’s stocked with the essentials– bandaids, sprain bandages, ointments, needles and thread and surgical tape. If you have space, keep a spare bottle of water in it for emergencies!
How to get there
Cycle or motorcycle
From Port Blair, you can hire a motorcycle or bicycle to traverse the road leading to Chidiya Tapu yourself. It’s the ideal way to see the rolling hills and thick jungles for yourself.
There are many cars and taxis available for rent in Port Blair that you can use to drive to Chidiya Tapu. If driving by yourself, ensure you have all the necessary documents and licenses to drive on the islands.
Chidiya Tapu information
Address: Andaman and Nicobar Islands 744105
Department of tourism: Andaman Tourism
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 1 USD
Chidiya Tapu Full Day Private Tour from Port Blair
Duration: 6 Hrs Duration
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