Andaman Diaries: Jolly Buoy Island, Corals and Dolphins

Our orange and green boat, MV Belle made its way to the Jolly Buoy island cutting through the placid waters of the Wandoor jetty.

A boat at Wandoor jetty


The reflections of the lush green mangrove forests imprinted on the dark green waters, looked picture perfect.


The mangroves as seen from the boat


I was on my way to see corals so closely for the first time in my life. The Great Barrier Reef was always on my travel bucket list. But here in Andamans, they say Jolly Buoy is the best place in India to witness a plethora of corals.


The island is one of the fifteen islands forming the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National park, introduced with the purpose to educate citizens about marine life and its conservation.


Pristine green waters


Out of the fifteen islands, only two are open for tourists. Red Skin Island and Jolly Buoy, each of which is open for 6 months.

So while Jolly Buoy is open from November to May, Red Skin takes in tourists from May to November. This maintains a perfect equilibrium.



The visits are regulated of course. This keeps the island away from excessive tourist erosion. And one of the best measures to keep it eco friendly is the intense checking for plastics.

Enroute, as the boat moved, the water colour changed from dark green to a deep indigo to a mystical cyan, while Suresh, our guide briefed us about the island, the dos and dont’s and all the water activities at Jolly Buoy.


The changing hues of water

It was heartening to see Suresh immensely proud of the island, proud that it is crime free and proud of the marine life at Jolly Buoy. His eyes were filled with passion for his job as he urged all tourists to keep the island as it is.

At Jolly Buoy, visitors can go snorkelling or/ and opt for a glass boat ride to see the wide variety of corals. Scuba isn’t allowed in view to protect and preserve the corals.


As the boat reached the island the green waters glistened in the sun and I was left in awe.

Bigger boats aren’t allowed close to the shore lest they damage the corals, so we hop onto a platoon and then into a small boat.

One can clearly see the demarcation in the watercolour: At a distance, they are dark blue, then a blazing turquoise and then an absolute crystal clear green at the shore.

I cannot wait to snorkel here. The water is pristine and the marine life preservation is fantastic. Not a speck of plastic on the island and due to crowd regulations, very few tourists.


Water currents at Jolly Buoy are strong and within seconds the sand drifts beneath your feet. So it’s best to be close to the shore and not venture further even if you are an expert. Currents have a way with pushing you into the sea.

We had a near drowning incident and a double thumbs up to the life guard who was alert and the rescue boat which reached within a minute.

Snorkelling with Suresh was fun. He was patient and ever helpful, encouraging even the petrified ones to see the underwater world.

Snorkelling surely is the easiest way to see marine life, but doing it in Jolly Buoy is a delight. The endless spread of corals and the variety is mind blowing.


With an orange float around me, magnifying glasses and a breathing apparatus off we went. I dipped my head underwater and the scene was spectacular.

Crystal clear, undisturbed waters and a mystical environment.

Sea cucumbers lying aloof on the sea bed, star fishes perched on huge magnificent corals, tiny colourful fishes playing hide and seek: the underwater world just came alive.


Here was ‘Finding Nemo’ live in front of my eyes, magnified with glasses and 100% real. Suresh kept asking if I was okay. I struggled a little with the mouth piece, but the silence wasn’t because of the struggle. It was because this was my first ever intrusion in the underwater world.

Corals stood indifferently around me as we moved further watching a school of deer fish wade past.

The world’s best aquariums fail, when you see a live one. The sea is mysterious, oysters opening and closing, corals changing colours and sunlight gleaming through creating a magical effect. If there is magic, this is it.

The mystical underwater world

One breath and you’re up above the water, breathing in the real world, one dip in the water and you’re living magic yet again.
And then I dip again, cupping my hands and forming a water pool in my hand, only to find the tiny orange ‘Nemo’ fish, swimming in and out of my hand. My heart danced. If there is one memory of snorkelling which is etched in my mind, it is this one. The flip of my heart when that tiny fish swam in and out of my hands.

An hour later I saw the same scene from the glass bottom boat. The ride, where you could sit in a boat and see the corals beneath through a glass bottom which is magnified.

The boat traverses over varieties of corals: boulder, finger, mushroom, cauliflower, with clear sightings of a variety of fishes too: the colourful parrot fish, deer fish, tiger fish and the likes.


A starfish amidst corals

I am amazed that the glass is surprisingly clean (Kudos to the boat man). The ride isn’t as exciting as snorkelling but a great way to study the corals.


The glass bottom boat

My hair are wet, with sand all over, my skin burnt with the blazing sun, but I don’t want to leave the island.

The green waters are mesmerising and I wonder why people go gaga over ‘firangi’ waters, when India has so much to offer. The diversity is unbeatable.

Sun , sand , sea and a happy me!

MV Belle is here again and I board it back again, thanking Suresh for his efforts. He asks me if I’d like a picture on the deck. I agree wholeheartedly and climb the wooden stairs.

The view beyond the wheel is spectacular. Green forests on either side, a bright orange hull of the boat and deep blue waters.



The photo sessions were on, A la Titanic, when Doreen suddenly gasped “DOLPHIN!” I couldn’t even register it, when I saw a fin. More gasps, then I saw it, dancing underneath the clear blue waters, its grey body well defined.
And then it jumped. The excitement was inexplicable. We hooted and clapped, while another one joined and they led the boat, jumping in delight. Every time they jumped, we squealed in joy.
These Bottled nose dolphins are a very very rare sight here in Wandoor and I guess we were plain lucky to be on the deck when they swam to the boat, as eager to to see the boat as we were to see them.

Seeing them dancing and swimming freely in the wild was another memory etched in my mind.


There are days when you’re far away from cellular network, like really really far away. And you don’t miss the beep on your cell. Those are most often the happiest days, when you connect with a life so mystical that life on land appears mundane.

This was one such day.
A day of finding Nemo and being led by Dolphins!

Wandoor jetty


Andaman Jolly Buoy
Jolly Buoy Island

53 thoughts on “Andaman Diaries: Jolly Buoy Island, Corals and Dolphins

  1. I can’t imagine the pristine waters out there! I was always afraid to go to any beach in India thinking it would be filthy, but I guess few are comparable to what I saw abroad.

    Great Barrier Reef has been on my bucket list too, but we had to strike it off on our Australia trip. I avoided snorkeling too in Florida – one of the best places for it. But if the boat-bottom is a glass, that’s the next best experience you could have had. Great to read your experience.

    1. Alok, Andamans is a MUST visit. The place is cut off from the mainland and feels like another country. If you do not want to snorkel, the glass bottom ride is a great option! 🙂 Most of the boatmen have their glass kept sparkling clean.

  2. Hi Divya, lovely post and pics. Relived our trip on Jolly Buoy. and those llovely dolphin sightings. Wishing you many more ‘ Finding Nemo ‘ moments and magical trips.

    God Bless.

  3. Heart soaring photos and write up of our tour.
    I thought you would include the dolphin sightseeing video.
    We were very lucky to see them as they normally appear only in the monsoons or that’s what the boatman said

  4. Wow it looks really beautiful out there! I love snorkeling and all water activities too. There’s just something so fascinating and calming about dipping your head into the water and seeing the underwater world. I am glad you had a great time! Andaman is one of those places that’s been on my travel list for some time now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. Loving these pictures a lot!!! The colors of water there amazes me. And the wildlife… what to say!!! The kind of post that urges me to pack my bag and set off.

  6. I’m just amazed at how clear the water is in the Andaman. It looks incredible for snorkeling and like you said, the way the water changes colour is mesmerizing! However, what really caught my attention here were the private islands – you said only two of them are open to tourists? Are the others private owned and occupied? Thanks for the write-up, I would love to pay this part of the world a visit!

  7. Thanks for the beauty of pictures and sparkling words….I love the Andamans and wish you have many more trips to different islands there 🙂

  8. After hearing all about it from you in person and reading it in detail here, I cannot wait to visit this place.
    Please send me your itenary, so I can witness the pristine waters as well 😍
    Lovely pictures and the dolphin video was super exciting and adorable.

  9. Wow, Divya, you left me speechless! Your photos are absolutely breathtaking! Enjoyed Jolly Buoy once again…. Cheers! God bless.

  10. Oh, it looks like paradise, so colorful, so warm!! I am really glad that they want to preserve the islands and just have open to of them to the tourism!!

  11. Woah! What a lovely place it is.I have never seen these many shades of blue in one picture. You have left me itching to plan the visit to Andamans.right away. I believe, the dolphins show made the trip even more special and worth remembering, no? Also, Fab pictures as usual 🙂

  12. My parents recently visited Andaman and sent me pics of Ross Island and Jolly Buoy that made me all sad because I couldn’t go there. And now you wrote this post and THESE PICTURES!!!
    If I come to India in December I think I have some idea about where I would be going now! B-)


  13. Your pics look abslutely gorheaous. I’d love to visit those Islands and dive into that turquoise coloured sea! This must be heaven on earth and although I’m not a person who likes to lie around the beach all day long, I can picture myself a few days chilling out over there 🙂

  14. What an absolutely gorgeous place that looks so untouched by the outside world! I really love that it regulated to only allow a set number of people to visit so as not to spoil its beauty and keep it clean! I wish more places did that!

  15. I’m so envious and amazed that you actually saw the dolphins! must have been amazing feeling. Andaman seems to be wonderful with the clear waters and corals.

  16. The water is so coear and the reefs look amazingly beautiful 😀 Looks like you had a great tike snorkelling there and I would love to do the same!

  17. I agree that when India has so many beautiful landscapes, oceans then why we go GAGA over the firangi lands.It is good that there are strict regulations to maintain the islands and ecological balance. I loved all your pictures. They are so magical and beautiful. I am myself planing a trip to Andaman this year, so Jolly Buoy Island and snorkeling here among fishes for sure is in the to do list.

  18. Your post made me nostalgic about my trip to Andaman and Nicobar few years ago! Jolly Buoy Island is quite surreal and I feel that it is a hidden gem as most of the tourist travel to Port Blair, Havelock and Neil islands!

  19. Sigh! You are making me miss Andamans even more. I missed Jolly Buoy on my trip and after seeing your pics, so regret it. Though I stayed for a week, it did not seem enough. Good to know there are some measures being taken to preserve this natural beauty. Truly Andamans are our hidden secret.

  20. This is very nice as a place. I too heard about the 6 month rotation between jolly buoy and red skin. I went all the way to Wandoor, but did not know about pre-booking this a day in advance. Since I did not use a travel agent I did not know that they can help with the neccesary permissions to go here. very serene and peaceful from looking at your pictures. One of the wooden structures started to look like that wonderful swing in the sea that you had in Gili-T 🙂 but I guess it was not a swing here in Jolly Buoy.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This function has been disabled for Quirky Wanderer.

%d bloggers like this: