My England

North Bay : Soak in the sea for a day

North Bay is an island right opposite Ross, and 20-25 minutes by ferry from the Aberdeen Jetty. Best known for being a diving hub for tourists, it is known more for its Light House (which was closed down after the Tsunami of 2004).

This iconic light house still stands tall and if you’re allowed upstairs, offers the best view for miles and miles around. Interestingly, what most people don’t know is that this light house is the very same one that is depicted on the Indian 20 rupee note. Did you just pull out a note and check?

The island is totally uninhabited but comes alive during the tourist season; it is a famous spot for ‘sea walks’, snorkeling and scuba diving. Sea walks conducted here are well organized and monitored by experienced guides.

So popular is the sport here that during the peak tourist season, long queues of tourists can be seen waiting for their turn. It can actually take up to 4-5 hrs for your turn. Hence, it is best to avoid the peak season or get the booking done well in advance.

Changing rooms within each dive shop as well as common toilets and changing rooms are available there. Since fresh water is a precious commodity, you can pay a certain amount to get one bucket to rinse off with. However, it may not always be available.

That’s okay, a little salt in your hair doesn’t really matter! There are food stalls and stalls selling trinkets and t shirts which you might want to purchase. Also, if you’re a dog lover, do give a belly scratch to the friendly strays there; you’ll get them in all shapes, sizes and colours there.

Because it is so heavily commercialized, the marine life at North Bay has been affected. However, if you do choose to go there for diving (most open water courses are conducted here), keep your eyes open for wrasses, triggerfish and damselfish. Also, stay clear of the sea urchins; they pack quite a painful sting!

Tickets for North Bay can be bought at the counter near the jetty. Often, you can club visits to both, North Bay and Ross in the same day and buy the tickets accordingly. Currently, the Andaman administration is constructing a road to North Bay via Panighat. It should be open within the next one year or so. The road will offer a scenic drive along the coast.

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