"Travel makes you modest, You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world" _Gustav Falubert

Havelock Island, The Andaman Islands, India. Stunning Tropical beauty.

About 860 miles from Chennai on the Indian Mainland, the and neighboring Islands form an amazing arcipelago, Foreign visitors need a restricted area permit,  Many parts of the Archipelago are off limits to preserve their rare bio-diversity and protect the six indigenous tribes that still live there, some of whom are hostile to visitors. There are about 20 or more Islands you can visit however. and visit you should. 

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


I flew in from Chennai. 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.

 

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. 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 necessary.

 

emerald gecko, havelovck Island, india

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

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.dd

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.: cCoral reefs are a main attraction here, 89 per cent of India’s coral diversity found in this archipelago. Species you may encounter are, according to India andamans guids; Staghorn coral, sea fans and plate coral. Fish are in abundance, from bump head parrot fish, to fusiliers to lionfish, trigger fish and clown fish. There are four different types of turtles; green, Olive Ridley, leatherback and hawksbill.

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

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

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

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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.

Back on havelock I 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.

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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.d

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.

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

 

 

Climate


Tropical: A good time to travel between November to April. In summer it can be subjected to cyclones, so be awaer, hoewver hotel prices will be cheaper.

 

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 centers. 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

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


 

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.Two hours, flight its 680 miles-from mainland India.. 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. however thing change so maybe now there are more.


You can island hop easily,. Check harbour offices In Port Blair for and at the port on any of the Islands your staying on .

 

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 more 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) Some hotels dont have acohol lisences, some do.

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 restaurants on Havelock, the best thing you can do is try them yourself a food review is always subjective.

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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

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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 travellers ate at one evening. see below. If the huts are as good are the restaurant building it must be good.

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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

Luxury

There are many budget places to star on Havelock, However after the presidents visit, when I was there, they were granted permission to build high end accomodations, due to Wealthy Indians Holidaying there.

The first five star resort has just opened on lush Havelock Island, putting this archipelago of 572 islands firmly on the luxe traveller’s map. Taj Exotica has 72 luxury villas dotted between banana plantations and embraced by coconut groves, mango and jackfruit trees; a spa, a 50 metre infinity pool and three restaurants.

 

 

 

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

Before you leave, you will need to give in a copy of your permit, so go to the photocopiers in town first, or you will have to go back and get one done before you can board a ferry. I discovered that the hard way.

 

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 is next 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.f

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

 Coming soon:

Thailand: Krabi, Koh Lanta, Hua Hin, Chaing Mai, Pye. Ayutthaya, Bangkok

Myanmar: Mandalay, Bagan

Cambodia: Siem Reap, (Angkor Wat) Battambang. Kampot, Sihanoukville, Phnom Pen.

Vietnam: HO Chi Min City (Saigon) Na Trang.

Bulgaria: Sofia, PLovdiv, Varna, Sozopol, Chermomorets.

and more.

 

 

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