To the east of the Indian mainland, in the blues of the Bay of Bengal, floats the splendid archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Separated from the mainland India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group a group of 572 small islands having thick majestic forests and exotic flora and fauna which will take your breath away. The glistening white beaches, which attract tourist from the world over, are nesting homes to turtles which if you manage to catch a sight is one of the most mesmerizing experiences of a visit to Andaman. The jewel in the crown of the Andaman is the marine life. The elegance of the crystal clear, blue waters, incredible corals, and the myriad creatures that inhabit the ocean leave you spellbound. Exploring the marine life first-hand through activities like scuba diving and fishing guarantee an enriching experience of coming an inch closer to nature. Havelock Island is most famous for having the finest infrastructure to support these activities on its various beaches. Consisting of several small villages, it comprises an area of about 113.93 sq. km. and it lies towards the east of Great Andaman of the Andaman Islands, at a distance of about 57 km north-east to the capital city, Port Blair. It is a natural paradise full of white sand beaches, coral reefs with a colorful array of aquatic life, palm trees, as well as dense forests in the interiors. A visit to Andaman Islands is incomplete without spending at least a day exploring the beauty of Havelock Island. One problem at Havelock is that of power generation. Of the 572 islands, 38 are inhabited and almost all these islands depend on diesel for electricity! Considering diesel has to be imported from the mainland and electricity is provided at highly subsidized rates, the government incurs huge losses and it leaves a huge carbon footprint. Not only is it an unstable form of power but also harmful to the delicate ecology of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
How to reach there?
To reach Havelock Island, one has to take a ferry from Port Blair, which is the largest town in Andamans and where your flight will drop you. Regular ferries, both private as well as government run, operate from Port Blair. Boats route is from Port Blair to Neil Island, which is other Andaman island well known for its serene beaches, and then finally to Havelock and then back. The government ferries start pretty early from Port Blair to Havelock. There are three timing slots: 6 am, 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Whereas the timings for the private boats differ as they leave at 8 am and sometimes 1 pm. It is better to opt for government ferries as they are fairly regular and a much cheaper than the private ones. The average cost is between Rs 300 to 350 per person each way between any destinations. It takes around two hours and thirty minutes to reach Havelock from Port Blair. It is better to leave early so that you can spend the entire day exploring the beautiful Havelock island and partaking in activities such as trekking, snorkeling, scuba diving and lazing around on the beach.
Getting around Havelock Island is not much of a hassle. The modes of transportation available include buses, shared jeeps and taxis. Buses mainly operate between Beach # 1, Beach #5 and Beach #7. Tourists can also hire bicycles, scooters or private cabs to roam around the Island. The scenic beauty of Island can be enjoyed by walking along the beaches.
Things to do in Havelock Island
Havelock Island is a popular spot for activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, trekking, island camping, kayaking, sailing, etc. with its main appeal being its white sand beaches with crystal clear waters and rustic atmosphere with its relaxing ambience making it a tourist haven all year round. Some of the main attractions of Havelock Island are Vijay Nagar Beach or Beach No. 5 and Radha Nagar Beach or Beach No. 7. Both of which are recipients of A rating from the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Elephant Beach is famous for its coral reefs and rich aquatic life.
The ferry would drop you off at the left side of Beach #1 and from there you can walk towards beach #2 which is situated at a distance of about 500 meters. Most of the diving schools conduct their basic diving courses/confined water dives/swim and float tests here. Here you should look out for Mangrove trees which are spread out throughout though it is better to watch out for their roots. Govindnagar Beach (Beach #3) is away from the eyes of the people and not visited by many tourists. Since it’s not very crowded, it is an ideal place if you want some privacy and quiet. It’s a nice place for sunbath as well as ideal for swimming.
The most well known beach of Andamans is the Radhanagar Beach, which was named as “The Best Beach in Asia” by TIME magazine. A coastline full of white sand spread over one km, this beach is a perfect place to enjoy the sunset in whole Andaman Islands. Best way to reach here is by using a public bus from the main Jetty which leaves at regular intervals throughout the day. There are also bikes for hire which are available for cheap all over in Havelock. Radhanagar beach is a tourist favorite for water sports such as scuba diving and swimming. Visit this beach during the morning hours to watch the sun’s rays leap off the untainted white sand making it dazzle like scattered diamonds, a scenic beauty that will take your breath away.
Elephant Beach is another popular beach in Havelock Island and the most difficult to reach. It is stunning with its picturesque backdrop of lot of fallen trees. Another great beach for plentiful water sports at Havelock you can enjoy full range of activities like jet-skiing, boating, snorkeling, kayaking and boating in the glass bottom boats to admire the magnificence of corals. You can reach here directly by ferry taken from Beach #1. But if you are a trekking enthusiast you catch the bus to Radhanagar and de-board near the trekking path to Elephant Beach. A well marked trekking trail through a dense forest for 2 kilometers leads you to this beach. That is, if thick forests with their creepy crawlies don’t scare you.
There are also a few other beautiful beaches like Vijaynagar Beach (Beach #5 that spreads along the village of Vijaynagar, having large Mahua and coconut trees along its trail. Kalapathar Beach, which is a nice spot for snorkeling, has a village about 3 kms away where you can observe the local village life, local agriculture, vegetables and fruit plantation.
Best place to stay.
Hotel and resort prices skyrocket during the peak of tourist season which is from December to April. Tourism being the main source of commerce in Andaman Islands, there are plenty of hotels and resorts all around Havelock Islands. But a reliable favorite among all is Barefoot Resort which is one of the few hotels located at secluded Beach #7. It’s the first eco-friendly resort in the Andaman Islands, it’s a place where you can truly get away from it all. There’s no TV, Internet, or phone network. Do prepare to be isolated! The resort has 18 thatched wood cottages and villas distributed over its seven acres of grounds. Rates vary widely depending on the time of year. They start from 6,300 rupees per night for a fan cooled Nicobari Cottage and go up to 12,000 rupees for a fan cooled Nicobari Villa. Arguably the top resort on the most popular beach #5, Silver Sand is also amongst the most expensive options for staying on Havelock Island. In terms of appeal, it’s perfect for honeymooners or holidaymakers wanting a peaceful stay, as it has its own private bit of beach. Seashell is a rustic and charming village-like beach resort, with 30 timber Nicobari “huts” and cottages surrounded by coconut trees. And many more!
Food to eat
Seafood lovers will find their paradise in Havelock island. Most beach resorts serve lip-smacking white snapper fish, lobster, king crab and barracuda fry. The food is fresh, fantastic and inexpensive.
Don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian, there are plenty of vegetarian meal options provides by local restaurants and resorts at which you’ll stay. Try the fresh sweet coconut water after a long walk at on the beach to refresh yourself. Also, it’s the perfect way to end a delicious meal.