A couple of hours after falling asleep at the anchorage near to the ferry terminal at Neill Island in the Andaman Islands we were woken by the most ferocious rocking we had experienced for a long time.
Lurching from side to side we were sliding into each other and then into the wall of our cabin. It was like being on an extreme theme park ride but without the option of getting off!
We drifted in and out of fitful sleep dreaming of being pushed off steep cliffs and being rolled down hills until the first cracks of daylight appeared when we sleepily pulled the anchor up and motored round to the northern anchorage which was well protected from the swell by an extended reef.
We had arrived in the dark the previous night and couldn’t risk going into an anchorage in the dark with so much coral to avoid.
Our lack of sleep soon forgotten we headed off to find the resort for breakfast and after a short walk along a path that followed the coast around and then meandered through vegetable gardens and a stand of old trees, arrived at the Pearl Bay Beach Resort.
The cruising guide mentions a backpacker resort but it had obviously been upgraded since the version we have was published. As we sat waiting for our scrambled eggs, hot tea and mango shakes we watched the staff turning out the thatched chalets, carrying armfuls of snowy white sheets, many of which were already drying draped over the hedges around the resort.
Our mango shakes were delicious and couldn’t have been any fresher as our waiter collected the fruit from a tree right next to the restaurant before our eyes.
Later we spent some time on the beach – the skipper making himself very comfortable in the blow up mattress that is filled simply by pointing the opening to the breeze and the folding the mouth over and over and clipping it in the same way as our trusty waterproof carry bag.
It’s very effective although when there is no wind it is necessary to run back and forth along the beach in an ungainly fashion in the same way you would try and launch a kite.
Leaving the skipper for a well deserved snooze, our daughter and I went for a swim and ended up making it out to Bali Hai with the vague idea of getting our masks and snorkels. Having left by dinghy we hadn’t left the swim ladder down and despite a valiant attempt by our temporary crew member, found it impossible to climb on board.
As we walked up the white sand after swimming back, our daughter said “life would be perfect if there was a fresh coconut drink waiting for us.” Minutes later sitting on a log engrossed in a book she didn’t notice that a stall had been set up selling that very thing and was therefore surprised and delighted when “her wish was my command.”
Once again, the rate at which the tide changes in this part of the world took us by surprise and we had to scramble to get the dinghy across the reef before it was too late.
We bumped and lurched over the rocky bottom until we reached the deep water of the anchorage. Another few minutes and we would have been marooned on land for the day.
Late in the afternoon we were intrigued to see that the beach near where we were anchored was inundated with people – most of them with cameras pointed our way.
It took us a while to realise that they were there for the sunset – we just happened to be in the way of the view!
Fortunately, after a restful afternoon we were able to take the dinghy into shore safely and had a delicious meal at the resort.
An early start the next morning before leaving for Port Blair meant we could have a snorkel and go for a delightful walk through a lovely wood where a variety of birds sang their hearts out.
We joined the road leading to where the ferry jetty and it was interesting to see the small farms and vegetable gardens, the low key resorts and the local homes. There was one huge resort that was in the process of being built and we felt that this could mark the beginning of a different Neill Island to the one we had enjoyed so much.
If you would like to read more about our day in the beautiful and fascinating Andaman Islands go to:
Or see the previous blog update at: