(30th March 2009): The next day we proceeded to Wandoor, which is about 29 Km from Port Blair to catch the ferry to Jolly Buoy. Wandoor consists of stunningly beautiful group of 15 islands that form part of the 280 sq kms of Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. It took us about half an hour to reach the jetty where the boat was ready.
The best time to leave for Jolly Buoy is around 9:00am when both the boats leave the jetty together and also return together. Jolly Buoy is an uninhabited island and so we had to carry packed lunch and snacks with us as also drinking water. The island is a strictly "No Plastics" zone and so you are not allowed to carry any polythene bags with you to the island. We were also told to bring back all the empty water bottles back with us. A thorough checking of our bags was done before we were allowed to board the boat.
We reached the jetty well in time as we were under the impression that the boat would depart at 8:30am. As we had enough time to spare, we sat in a nearby tea stall and had hot tea accompanied with fresh hot "medu vaddas". They were absolutely delicious.
We then proceeded to the ticket counter to pay extra fare for the cameras and handycam that we were carrying along with us. We then boarded the boat and started off for Jolly Buoy with great anticipation.
One can visit both Jolly buoy and Red skin island from this jetty point in Wandoor beach. Red Skin island is also similar to Jolly Buoy and offers the same attractions of pristine clear water beaches with silvery sands, under water coral view, snorkeling, scuba diving etc from glass bottom boats that are available at the islands.
The boat ride took about an hour to reach the island and I enjoyed the ride thoroughly. It was the first time that I was seeing such clear blue water in my life. Since the weather was calm, the water too was absolutely calm and looked very inviting. I felt a strong urge to jump into the water (if only I knew how to swim)!
We reached Jolly Buoy about 10:00am and the boat anchored at some distance from the beach. Two glass bottom boats took the passengers in trips to the beach. We boarded the first boat and had an amazing view of the corals and the underwater marine life through the glass bottom. It was absolutely breathtaking. However, most of the corals in the area are dead due to the effect of the tsunami and some new growth could be seen at the tips of the dead corals. It was sad to see so much destruction in the sea bed.
We were safely deposited on the beach along with our bags from where we proceeded to change our clothes and jump into the water for a swim. There are straw thatched umbrellas with benches where you can sit in the shade and also a special shack made with cubicles as a changing room for the "ladies". We quickly grabbed one of the umbrellas for ourselves, deposited our bags there and then ran into the water.
The beach is absolutely beautiful with white soft sand that does not cling to you. The waters were calm that day and so the waves were very soft and gentle. This was the first beach where I actually enjoyed getting into the water and did not want to come out at all. There we got an opportunity to do snorkeling too. I was scared initially, as I did not know to swim. But, the guy whom I was with was very patient and assured me that everything would be alright, if I just followed his directions. Well, I managed to go to the deeper water along with the life buoy around my waist and I enjoyed the experience thoroughly. It was nerve racking, but the view of the corals and colorful fishes and other marine life was fascinating and definitely worth it. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.
We enjoyed playing in the water for a few hours and then got out to have lunch. Soon after lunch, the boats came back to pick us up for the journey back to the jetty. We were all tired and exhausted from our beaching and the sun too was beginning to get hot. Earlier in the day the sky was overcast with clouds and so we were very comfortable throughout the morning.
We returned at the jetty around 2:30pm, just in time as it started raining. We ran for cover to the same tea stall nearby and had some hot tea and vadas again while we waited for our car to come and pick us up and take us back to Port Blair.
We didn't do anything else that day as we were tired from the trip to Jolly Buoy and just relaxed in the room. Later at night we had dinner in "Annapurna" restaurant. We had some nice hot dosas, idlis and vadas dipped in sambhar and enjoyed the meal.
The next day we were to go by the early morning (6:45 am) ferry to Havelock Island, so we retired to bed early that night after watching some television. But, then that's another story and you can read all about it in my next byte.