The clouds mercifully gave way and the sun was shining bright, well a little too bright. But we were not complaining. Malik put us on a morning boat ride to Elephant's Island (or thats what we were told) for snorkeling. We were told later that snorkeling in that area is quite dangerous and illegal ! But we knew nothing then. After a 30 min speed boat ride, the boatman anchored the boat. The water was so clear here that we could see the corals right from the boat ! Then we went for the snorkelling which is not as easy as it looks. It has a air-tight mask with large goggles to prevent the water reaching your eyes and nose. You have to breathe the air using your mouth through a small pipe fitted with a denture like fixture. You have to hold that fixture by your teeth and seal it tightly with your lips, the most difficult task which cannot be mastered before gulping down mouthful of salty water. Once you get the technique its a unique experience. The moment you dip your head it looks like you have entered a Natgeo or Discovery documentary. It is a beautiful world
out there. There are small fishes of bright colors swimming along, corals of different sizes and different colors, one was an incredible violet and plants octopus like tentacles. And the guides were incredibly patient till we got it and was more interested in actually showing us all the corals. He was all smiles when we told him what a fantastic mesmerizing experience it was. The people on the island are simple and extremely honest. When we came back, the family of the guy who conducted the snorkeling activities offered us some sweet Papaya till the driver brought his car. Not used to free lunches, we offered them some money and they actually seemed to be offended and refused! They treated us as their guests and not customers. Even the driver, always smiling and very polite, was a bit awkward while accepting the tip. Delhi and Mumbai taxi drivers should get a crash course from these guys.
The next stop was the Radhanagar beach, the high point of our trip. The guide claimed it to be the second most beautiful world in Asia and fifth in the world. I do not know which survey that is or what criteria was
used but undoubtedly it is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. The rains had still mercifully kept away. The sun popped out periodically from the dark clouds and it was a perfect day to be on the second most beautiful beach of Asia. It is a beach that I have only seen in the movies or kingfisher calender and always wondered if they were photo-shopped. I would definitely recommend a stay of a day or 2 in the government huts or if you can afford the famous Barefoot resort. After spending some 3 hours on the beach we returned to the jetty to take the mini-ship back to Port Blair.
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