27 December 2014
|Beach at Jolly Buoy island|
Jolly Buoy is a small coral island in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor. Being under the control of Forest Department, the number of tourists visiting the island is restricted. It is necessary to get a permit from their Office one day in advance before the trip. These restrictions make many tourists to avoid Jolly Buoy and head towards Havelock. A tourist with packed itinerary, it was not feasible for me to find out the Forest Office and stand in the queue for the permit. The task was delegated to a travel agent who did this job for a price.
|Forests on the way to Jolly Buoy|
When we arrived at Forest Office at Wandoor people were already standing in the queue for the boat. Plastic is strictly prohibited in Jolly Buoy; the bags are checked before boarding the boat. Even bottled water is not allowed. The Forest Department rents water bags (The old styled one we used to use in our childhood). So, we took those bags and stood in the queue.
|Jolly Buoy island|
One needs to have little patience here. It is common to see people with Government connection bypassing the queue jumping into the boat directly. Other than boarding the boat little early, they do not gain anything.
Finally our turn arrived and we were in the boat. For the first 30 minutes the boat moved in between the mangrove islands. It was a treat to our eyes to see Mangrove forests grown in such density. The forests were thick and thriving with life. Our Western Ghats would have been in similar shape several decades back.
After 30 minutes the boat entered into wide waters. In another half an hour we were near Jolly Buoy. The boat would anchor little distance away from the island allowing the glass bottom boats to take us to the island. Since viewing coral on glass bottom boats was part of the package we were taken through a trip. I was simply amazed at the beauty of the corals here. Nothing like I had seen before!!
As soon as we reached the island, we jumped into the waters. It was so clear and clean. I would rate it as the cleanest beach in India!! The real beauty of the island opened up when I went for snorkeling. The water was so clear that I felt that I was looking at sea life in clear air. Corals were colorful and so were the fish. Unlike the dull fishes we see in our sea they were present in various colors. The variety of marine life was simply great. I was tired by the number of star fishes I saw!! No photographs as I did not had a waterproof camera.
For people who are not clear on Snorkeling have a look at this link. Non swimmers can also do this with the help of a guide. If one is a swimmer I would suggest buying a Snorkeling kit. And then they can spend a good amount of time looking at corals without any assistance from guide. In Andaman, the kits were available for Rs 650/- to 1000/-. Scuba diving and sea walk is not allowed in Jolly Buoy.
The kind of clear water I saw in Jolly Buoy was also not seen in Havelock. The Elephant beach in Havelock is very clear but it does not have the variety of Jolly Buoy marine life. The restrictions from Forest Department has ensured that the serenity of the island remain intact.
Do not miss Jolly Buoy if you are visiting Andaman. Reaching this place is not hassle free but it is worth the effort. Also note that food not is available at Jolly Buoy. Not even a drop of drinking water is available for sale. So plan accordingly. The boats normally leave Wandoor between 8:30 – 10AM and return back between 2:30 – 4PM. One would get about 2-3 hours to spend in the island. There are some hotels at Wandoor for food.