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5 amazing islands to visit when island hopping in the Andaman archipelago

There are over 500 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in India. So remote are the islands that only 38 are permanently inhabited. While those that are inhabited do see a huge influx of tourists lusting for the white beaches and emerald green waters, you can still find many niches where you can almost feel like you are on a private island. While Andaman promises to have Sea Sun Anytime, choose a slightly off-beat time to visit and you may just about find your slice of paradise on earth. Here are 5 amazing islands that you shouldnt miss during your visit

1. Little Andaman

Lying at the southern end of the Andaman archipelago, it is one of the largest islands in Andaman open to tourism. Yet, the remote location of the island makes it one of the least visited. This makes it perfect for you! The Butler Bay beach is one of the best among all of Andaman. The white sandy beach and the clear blue waters is something you can spend all day watching. And the best part is that you have other equally wonderful things to do. You can rent bikes to drive your way around the island or use local transportation. You can even leave the roads aside and instead take a boat ride through the creeks which is a perfect journey into unexplored wilderness. The beautiful White Surf waterfall is in the centre of Andamans amazing rainforest. The trek to this waterfall is about 4kms through the jungle and can be thoroughly enjoyed too. Quick note: Some parts of the island are restricted so do check with your local tour operator before you head out on your own.

2. Cinque Islands

A day trip to Cinque Islands is a must during your Andaman trip. Staying overnight on this island requires special permits so be sure to connect with your local tour expert if you want the permits organized. Otherwise, a day trip is equally wonderful to take in the sights and have a good time. The Cinque Islands is made up of two islands north and south Cinque Islands which is connected with a beautiful natural white sand bar. The view from one end of the sand bar to the other is like no other. The underwater visibility at the islands is simply amazing and you can see several feet inside if you are on a boat. This makes it perfect for reef diving.

3. Barren Island

Home to the only active volcano in South Asia, the island saw the latest eruption in 2017. Although you cant visit this island per se, the sea around the island is a very popular destination among expert scuba divers around the world. The sea can be accessed from either a live aboard ship or by connecting with scuba operators on Havelock Island. The topography of the past lava flows and the basalt formations along with the clear waters and manta rays offer a truly unique scuba experience.

4. Long Island

The long island doesnt have much in terms of stay options. This makes it all the more alluring if you are looking to get away from the bustle. The only set of eco-huts on the island though offer wonderful food and hospitality. They also arrange for catamarans for you to visit the nearby islands. You can explore both forests and beaches on the island by taking an idle trek. It is just like you read in in books head out one day with no set path in mind and take the road less travelled. The popular beach on the island is Lalaji Bay which is a couple of hour's walk from the jetty. Enjoy the sea food, banana pancakes and the view.

5. Havelock Island

It wouldnt be right to not mention the island that is home to Asias best beach and the 7th best beach in the world Beach No. 7 or Radhanagar beach. Havelock is the most popular tourist destination in Andaman so youll always see some crowd here. But heres what to look for beyond this beach. Havelock is actually a group of islands to the east of Great Andaman. The other popular beaches on the island are Elephant, Vijaynagar and Kalapathar beaches. There are ample water activities like sea walk, scuba and snorkelling available too.

Rathnam Rathnasamy is the Founder of Andaman Holidays.

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The worlds first underwater lounge on a cruise ship

Luxury cruise company a la franaise, Ponant, have announced new fleet plans for 2018 that will offer the world's most sensory cruise line experience. Ponant's Le Laprouse liner will feature an underwater passenger lounge: the Blue Eye lounge. Think along the lines of James Bond meets The Big Blue.

A multi-sensory experience

Ponant have described the Blue Eye lounge as a multi-sensory experience for passengers. Located below Le Laprouse's water line, the Blue Eye will be a futuristic space of 75m2, with a capacity for 40 people. It will set sail in 2018.

Become a modern-day explorer of the sub-aquatic world

The Blue Eye lounge main focal points will be two gigantic curved portholes of 1.6m by 3.4m, enabling guests to explore and experience the sub-aquatic world. Specially designed lights, which don't harm the marine biosphere, will be installed outside the ship's portholes, to allow observation of photo-luminescent fish, plant-life and the seabed.

Architect Jacques Rougerie has made bringing in the sub-aquatic world a top priority. The Blue Eye lounge will feature high resolution digital screens, dotted around the lounge, which will display live aquatic images. This stream will be brought to you by underwater cameras positioned on the ship's hull. These images will also be available to guests in their cabins.

Curves, dolphins, whales and jellyfish

The lounge's interior design will flow perfectly with its curvaceous theme continued from the portholes to white curves of resin, fluidly sweeping down from the lounge's stairs and surrounding the seating. A distinctive ridged ceiling and mirrored panels will accentuate the stunning, curvaceous design. Murals of dolphins, whales and jellyfish have been commissioned.

Be at one with the fish

Hydrophones will also be provided. These are special microphones to capture deep sea sounds as far away as a five-kilometre radius. These underwater sound waves will be streamed on a 3D sound system.

The final touch of this incredible sensory experience are the "body listening" sofas, where you can relax. These amazing sofas vibrate as they respond to sea sounds, ensuring that you feel at one with the fish on the ocean floor.

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