The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park was established in 1983 and is also called Wandoor National Park. Additionally, it is often abbreviated as MGMNP. It is said to be the oldest marine national park of the country and is spread over a group of 15 small and big islands with rocky terrain and tropical climate and open sea creeks.
It has an estimated area of about 282 sq km. Tarmugli, the biggest of the group is covered with thick mangrove vegetation, creepers and scrubs. Some of the other islands are Alexandra, Rutland, Boat, Twins, Red Skin and Jolly buoy. Tarmugli, Twins and Boat are known for turtle nesting while Rutland and Alexandra are home to salt water crocodiles.
This national park is home to almost 250 varieties of birds. Of these, the more famous ones are the white bellied sea eagles, parakeets and Andaman teal. Its surrounding waters have beautiful corals and a diverse variety of fish among which bat fish, parrot fish and sharks are said to be the main attraction. The wild life here includes wild pigs, spotted deer and civets. Its rich flora and fauna makes it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
This park also has an auditorium and a world class marine interpretation centre showcasing a three dimensional depiction of the marine world. Tourists are allowed only on Red Skin and Jolly Buoy Island. Red Skin is open for tourists from May to November while Jolly Buoy can be visited only from December to May.
One can spend 2 and half hours on these islands as part of the conducted tours. The main attractions are snorkeling and scuba diving. And for those who cannot snorkel or scuba dive, a ride in a glass bottomed boat is advisable as it enables you to see the beautiful world of corals in addition to shoals of fish.
This national park is under the control of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the forest department and a permit from the forest department is required for a visit here. Boat tickets can be obtained from the single window operated by the director of tourism. Boats are available from Wandoor jetty. There is a regular bus service from Port Blair bus terminal to Wandoor.
Nature lovers will definitely like this trip. So, do remember to grab your own food and drinks, sun protection and cameras and enjoy yet another day in the Andaman!