““The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands." —Sir Richard Burton

Havelock Island, India. Stunning Tropical beauty.

I planned to go to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands whilst I was in India, and when in Chennai (formerly Madras) i Checked the way. Firstly you have to get to Port Blair, the Capital. Either take a three day boat across the Andaman sea or fly. I flew. it cost about £60 (seasonal variations) with Jetairways. Or just search for flights to suit you, there are several Indian airlines who fly in.

It took about two hours. its 450K from mainland India. On Landing, getting through the Indian administration was fun, passport being passed from one person to another, one looking at my restricted area permit, who then walked off with it. Then another came and asked me to fill in a form for a permit, which I already had in my passport. Anyway after about forty minutes i was out, and got a tuk tuk to my pre booked hotel in Port Blair. I only stayed in Port Blair two days and didn't do much at all, hence not having much info about it. Apart from its a working town with plenty of hotels of all price ranges and quite pleasant to walk around. Next time I may spend more time exploring.

First dip at the Emerald Gecko, beach No: 3 Havelock.                  

 

Next morning I went to the Govt ferry port, carrying my bag and queued for a ticket to Havelock. After a two hour wait, the clerk announced the boat was full, come back tomorrow. I tried to book for next day but they don't have advanced booking. So we ( friends I'd met the day before) were planning on going back to our hotels for another night, and a tuk tuk driver told us there was a private ferry, (Almost twice the price, but hey the Govt one was only 550 rupees about £6 U.K.).

Click to see Private ferries.

So he drove us there, six of us, there are only four allowed in the Tuk Tuk, and when he saw a policeman near a junction, he asked two of us to jump off and run on ahead... which we did. we didn't want the poor man to lose his licence did we!l. We got to the ferry office in good time for the next one. and got to Havelock in a couple of hours or more.

andaman Islands, India.

When you've had a long morning cycling around. Time to relax

Havelock is the most visited of the Andamans but nowhere near as many who turn up at Thai Islands.

If you thought time went by slowly in Greece or Morocco, think again, this is the slowest pace of living I have experienced.

While many of the accommodations are called Resorts they are nothing like that for the most part. Usually a few huts or bungalows set back from the beaches.

I stayed at the Emerald Gecko, quite by accident, as my friends had pre booked, and i went along in the jeep which picked them up from the jetty, to see if there were vacancies, There were. I booked a hut in the resort. I'd normally book in advance as I've said before using booking.com but I was travelling with friends I'd met and I took a chance at finding one locally at less price than using an online agency, particularly as we arrived at lunchtime, so I had all day to find one if neccesary.

 

emerald gecko, havelovck Island, india

the 2nd hut from the right was my home for a couple of weeks.

There are several Similar places to Stay on Havelock Island, and, as its the most visited, restaurants too, though you need to walk or get a tuk tuk along the main road (such as it is) to get to them. I only stayed at the Gecko so can't comment on the others, although I ate in some of their restaurants.) Once you have booked somewhere in advance for a couple of nights, visit the others and see if you can do better or maybe cheaper.

 

 

The President of India visited the place next door for a few days, so there was a lot of security, but its a hint that investment is coming and bigger "resorts" will n doubt appear. Their 6 car motorcade caused some disruption on the Island and we could leave our place for 4 hours one day as they closed the road when he drove out to beach number 5, which they also closed for the morning so he could have a paddle. (The very morning i went out there.. however a cafe owner on the road to the beach told me of a route to the other end of the beach)

 

Its a very easy Island to spend time on, and Yes i did snorkel. the sea life is utterly amazing, swimming in a tropical fish tank. We asked at the Gecko reception if they knew where we could snorkel, and he arranged a small boat to take six of us none divers out to a nearby deserted island just above John Lawrence Island (see map) for the day.

On our way to the Island known as "Island" for a snorkel ling day It took about 40 minutes to get to a small uninhabited Jungle back Island. There was a short stretch of beach, where we landed, and the boatman pointed out to sea and said, "coral here, and here", then he walked away and went to sleep under a tree.

View from our boat on approach to that shady bit under the tree on the beach

Yes, I did  things as well as walking in the jungle, cycling, sunbathing

Snorkelling was terrific, shallow coral and crystal clear water meant i stayed out for ages, forgetting my back was exposed to hte sun's searing rays...fortunately I had already beein in India for six weeks so I was getting used to it.

I really was swimming with tropical fish. it was stunning.

I was in fishy paradise, so many varieties, which only dispersed if i got too close. Seemingly embedded in the coral were molluiscs of a deep blue which opened and closed as you came close. One of the othersw took the pic of me and the one with hte fish, as my camera didnt work underwater lol.

 

A few days later, took a small scooter out in search of elephant beach which can not be reached by road, after a mile or three driving along a deserted road, i was told there was a footpath near a bus stop. There was a tree with a hand painted sign "elephant beach" and another scooter parked by it. i parked up and set off. 40 minutes later after a long hot walk through tropical Jungle, worrying in case a wild elephant came my way, (An Indian chap had told me the best thing to do if I met one was stand behind a tree.!!!) I got to the beach.

Track leading deep into the Jungle ahead, a 40 minute walk to Elephant beach.

 

Alone and in the thick of the Jungle, I saw ominous large footprints in the dried mud track, some bushes clearly had been knocked over by something large. Looking down I saw few small snakes I later found were poisonous. and finally arrived at huge expanse of beach with many fallen petrified trees, remnants of that devastating Tsunami years before.

But I didn't encounter any Elephants They do swim from other Islands apparently.

Destruction on the shoreline from the Tsunami still evident on Elephant beach

The coral off this beach is well renowned for being exceptional, and there were several small boats out at sea where no doubt diving was taking place.

Havelock, like Neil Island numbers its beaches, and Beach number 5 also known as Radhanagar Beach was named National Geographic's best beach in the Asia, Photos don't do justice to it, really!! However . here is my pic of it. Indian Tourists will be in the majority on this beach as Havleock is easier to fly to from India nowadays. Even so its never overcrowded, its not the Maldives, this is more remote and pristine.

beach number 7, havelock Isnald

Jungle backed gently sloping white fine sand on Radhangar beach. No:5

Back on the road to the beach Food stalls serve seafood and the usual. The evenings are quiet, as there no bars to speak of, there are restaurants, so groups of people will congregate in one of the places. There's no traffic as such, so there is a tendency not to stray too far from where your staying. This place is so so relaxing. and of course invigorating if your doing waters ports each day.

Well after a day out using up energy, what else can you do

 

 

Climate


Tropical: A good time to travel between November to April.

 

Swimming

Obvious. Just discover beaches as you walk, jog, amble, run, meander, cycle or scoot around the Island, they won't be crowded.

Snorkeling

The same as I say on the Neil Island page: If you can swim you can Snorkel, finding the right places for the coral is the quest. If your on your own or just the two of you, its safer to go where there are others of course. Don't go too far out, currents can be deceptive.

 

Scuba Diving

More so here than Neil Island many visitors were here for either snorkel ling or scuba diving and there are well renowned scuba centres. Taking a Padi course is less expensive here too and internationally recognized. you can take a course in several dive centres on the Island for instance ..Diveindia and india scubaexplorers.

 

Getting there, eating out,activities.

Click on pics for larger image

I couldn't resist taking this on beach No:5

 

Firstly you need to get to Port Blair, the capital Island of the Andamans. There are two ways of doing this.

 

By Air

You can only get to the Andamans from India. Flights from Chennai, (and I think Calcutta and New Delhi) for about 50 quid upwards to Port Blair.. (main Andaman Island) book singles in case you miss your return flight due to bad weather and ferry changes ( it happens out there)

By Ship

There are passenger ship services to Port Blair from Mainland India, Chennai, Kolkata and back. There are three to four sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. its a three day Journey on average apparently.

 

map andamans

Andamans image by experienceandamans.com, click on image for larger pop up iwndow

 

 

You will also need a restricted area permit, (which I applied for in advance, and still had to queue for one on arrival at port Blair) It lasts one month and lists the Islands you are allowed to visit. as many are off limits to tourists.

 

Take some cash, when I was there 3 years ago there were only two ATM's on Havelock Island, and don't expect small cafes in town to take cards. Though resort restaurants probably will.


You can island hop. I took ferries from Port Blair to Havelock Island Check harbour offices In Port Blair for ferries from each island routes and timetables. Your hotel in Port Blair may be able to help too. I Used the Govt ferry on My journey from Havelock to Neil. I recommend it as an enjoyable and very cheap trip. Not so comfy as the private ones obviously, but I think you should try one, particularly if your on a budget.

Click for Govt Ferries

If the Official ferry is good enough for a hundred or so Indians, its good enough for me.!! I took private ferries when I missed the other boat, which was motre comfortable and quicker. I enjoyed both.

 

Emergencies: Your hotel will know what services to contact. There is also a list of numbers here:

Public Services.

 

Alcohol

If you want to buy beer, wine or spirits, there is a shop on the road from the Jetty, near the ATM's of which there are only two (or there were when I was there) As most resorts or hotels don't have Licenses, buy some yourself or if your far away ask a tuk tuk driver to get some for you. Your Hotel etc will probably put your drinks in a fridge for you.

Places to stay or eat..

As I only stayed at one place whilst on the Island I cannot comment on the quality of others. Here is a list of some other places to stay, or eat. There are good restuarnants on Havelock, the best thing you can do is try them yoursleelf.as a food review is always subjective.

 

 

Restaurant/ the Emnerald Gecko. Take your own beer and stuff they don't have a license

 

Emerald Gecko – This is the place where I stayed and I absolutely loved it. It’s an under the trees property with several types of bamboo huts. at about £16 for hut for two thats a great price. Larger ones are more of course.

Emerald Gecko website

Sitting in the Gecko bar looking through the palms to the sea... ahhh

 

Symphony Palms Beach Resort

this is on beach number 3 and is one of the more affordable.

 

Mid Range:

Wild Orchid – Good quality wooden cabins and a nice good restaurant, which myself and a group of fellow stravellers ate at one evening. see below. If the huts are as good are the restaurant building it must be good.

Wild Orchid for dinner, a brief walk from the Emerald Gecko

 

 

 

Silver Sand Beach Resort – It is more up market on Beach 5.

 

Barefoot considerably more up-market.on beach 7 far end of the beach

 

Seashell Havelock – very nice apparantly beach number 3

 

Just check online and you'll find loads of hotels at various prices. I'd generally use booking.com or sometimes Agoda.com ( after comparing prices) and get a place for 2 nights to be sure of somewhere, and find toher paces next day if necessary. Or just run up and ask at the jetty area where the vans and tuk tuks belonging to hotels awaits new arrivals.

 

Booking.com

 

 

 

Leaving Havelock Island

The government ferry for Port Blair leaves daily There are also two ferries a day connecting to Neil Island. Three times a week there is a ferry to Long Island and Rangat up north. All government boatschedules and Fares can be checked here: http://www.andaman.gov.in

The ticket office isnext to the jetty. The ticket office opens at early morning and tickets are only sold for the same day.

 

While your waiting, buy some freshly made Samosas from the Street food stall near the jetty. i found them absolutely delicious!!

 

Also, the two private boat companies Makruzz and Ocean Green have ticket booths I beleive, though i didn't see them.

We tried to cut a coconut like the locals do, it took 15 hits!!! they do it in three. 

 


 

Silver Haired Traveller
Norwich Norfolk United Kingdon

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