If you get bored of one beach, hop to the next. And the next. Andamans’ Havelock Island offers a 7-beach-in-1 offer within 113 kms. Here’s why it’s time you gave Goa a break
"Four days in Havelock?" Travel agents are most likely to give you a bewildered look if you suggest your keenness for a long stay in Havelock. Typically, unless you’ve signed up for a diving course or are in the mood for an extended honeymoon, most packages to the island are just daylong affairs.
Elephant Beach is located on the road to Radhanagar Beach
Named after the British General Henry Havelock, this tiny island that covers 113 sq km, lies towards the northeast of Port Blair (capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands) in the Bay of Bengal. It can be reached via regular ferry services from the capital of the Union Territory. With its pristine beaches and azure blue waters, Havelock is emerging as a popular tourist destination and a break from the done-to-death beach locales in the mainland.
Live shells along the shoreline make for fascinating finds
One can cover the entire island (the accessible areas) through its one road that starts at the jetty and forks into two at Govind Nagar market — one leading to Radhanagar beach and the other to Kalapathar village.
Full Moon Café offers a great ambiance and yummy food after beach bumming. Pics/TRAVELWITHACOUPLE
There are seven beaches in Havelock, each represented by a number (Beach 1, 2, and so on) or the village name. The prominent ones are the Radhanagar (Beach 7), Elephant, and Kalapathar. Most resorts are along the road connect Havelock jetty and Kalapathar Beach. A typical tourist itinerary will touch these three. Elephant Beach is accessed by a boat from Havelock Jetty as there is no road to this beach.
Water, water everywhere
Like Goa, you can take off on a rented bike (easily available; fuel is cheaper too as this is a union territory) to beach-hop across the island. When you’ve had enough of daydreaming, reading and soaking in nature on a hammock, slip into the water for a great swim (Radhanagar is your best bet). The clear and shallow waters enable you to walk beyond the wave breaks, turn back, and watch the waves froth and hit the beach.
Float in the gentle swell of waves, while watching out for the occasional huge wave that breaks earlier and throws you off balance. Or swim along the waves, and for more thrill, parallel to the waves. It's safe. If you venture beyond a point, lifeguards will holler out.
If you prefer a bit more adventure, try diving in the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. Mornings are the best. However do bear this in mind that it is an expensive indulgence, if you’re on a budget. Most resorts have tie-ups with the key diving operators. Of the lot, Dive India is the most respected and offers long and short-term training courses as well.
If other watersports are what enthrall you, head to Elephant Beach. Take a boat from the main jetty at Havelock in the morning, reach the destination, wrap up all your activities, and return to your base by sundown.
Trek in a rainforest
If you crave for more thrills, take the less-trodden path — head out for a two-km trek through the lush rainforests to reach Elephant Beach. Somewhere on the road, from Govind Nagar to Radhanagar, a trekking trail starts and disappears into the forest. A bus stop (at a shed) is the landmark. Villagers from the area will gladly accompany you to double up as paid guides to explore this trail without fear of getting lost. If it is post-monsoon, be ready for ankle-deep slush. Venture only if you have a good pair of shoes. The mostly unmarked trail ends where the thick green foliage gives way to the sandy marshes dotted with stumps of dead trees. Soon, the blue waters of Elephant beach emerge in the horizon.
On your way to Kalapathar, after the last beach resort disappears from the rear-view mirror, the long road flanked by tall trees on one side and sea on the other offers a beautiful ride. Kalapathar is comparatively less crowded compared to Radhanagar. Ahead of the beach, the road climbs up and before long; paddy fields are all that meets the eye. The road takes you to Kalapathar village.
Try fresh seafood
If mornings and evenings are for beach hopping, afternoons and late evenings can be set aside for restaurant hopping. Though Radhanagar is the most beautiful beach, there are no good eateries and cafés in the vicinity. Apart from the restaurant at the popular Barefoot Resort, and a tiny vegetarian café near the beach, there are only shacks that serve typical desi khana that’s good enough to recover the energy post your swimming exploits in these clean waters. If you’re a foodie, the road from Havelock Jetty to Elephant Beach Eateries is dotted with options for tastes and budgets, and is perfect for a culinary detour while on the island.
Grab a table on the first floor of the buzzing Barefoot Bar and Brasserie near Havelock Jetty, and soak in a lovely view of the jetty.
(COOL TIP: In the late evenings, we suggest that instead of taking the rented bike, carry a torch and enjoy long walks before hitting one of the restaurants.)
Anju Coco restaurant (between Beaches 3 and 5) serves Indian and Chinese. It has a chilled out ambiance, and so is the food. With a neatly designed layout, it also offers floor-level seating.
The Full Moon Café (Beach 5), run by the couple Adil and Niamh, is in the Dive India resort premises. It’s a trippy space that draws tourists, and offers a great ambiance and yummy seafood, salads and juices. Plastic is banned here and they serve RO water in glass bottles. Adil, a Kolhapur boy, left his corporate job in Mumbai to start this café in 2006.
Once done with all your adventures on land and in water, it might be a good idea to slow down to spend time spotting and watching live seas shells. Spotting live shells are rare but beaches in Havelock are dotted with these fascinating organisms, found in myriad colours, sizes, and shapes crawling around its shores. They play dead the moment they sense movement. Wait patiently and they will start moving again. The high tide probably leaves them stranded on the beach. With its fair share of sun, sand and serene escapes, Havelock certainly deserves more than a stopover during your Andamans experience.
>> Carry enough cash as there is only one ATM on the island.
>> Public transport is sparse. Hire a bike or use auto rickshaws. Be sure to fix the fare before you start your day.
>> Ferries are available from Havelock to Neil Island. However, entry to Neil Island is allowed only if you have a return ticket from there. Stay options are available on Neil Island.
>> Havelock (and the whole of Andamans) is safe. It’s safe to move across the island without fear.
>> Permits are required for some places from Port Blair but not anywhere on Havelock.
From Mumbai 2,288 km
Overview: Spread across 113.9 sq km, Havelock is 39 kms northeast of Port Blair
Don’t miss: Rich coral formations at Elephant Beach. Radhanagar Beach has a gentle gradient of around 1:20 and continues out into the sea as a sandy bottom for over 100 m.
Stay: Symphony Palms Beach Resort
Log on to: wwwsinghotel.in/ Dolphin Resort (Government run)
Log on to: www.aniidco.and.nic.in/dolphin-resort.php Silver Sand Beach Resort
Log on to: www.barefoot-andaman.com/
Cool Tip: Request for sea-facing rooms wherever possible
By water: Havelock can be reached by a ferry service from Port Blair. Advance booking is needed. Resorts normally arrange it for you on request. Apart from the local government ferry, Makruzz, Coastal Cruise, and Green Ocean operate ferry services from Port Blair to Havelock. Each provider has one ferry each in the morning and evening. Tickets need to be booked in advance through a tour operator or the resort. The writers took Makruzz for their ferry rides from Port Blair to Havelock Island and back. It lasted 1.5 hours
Log on to: trip.experienceandamans.com/all-ferry.html# is a useful site to check ferry options
By air: The Civil Aviation Dept. of A&N Administration operates regular seaplane and helicopter services from Port Blair airport to Havelock.
>> Keep the beach clean
>> Don’t touch coral reefs during dives
>> Check safety precautions thoroughly during water sports
>> Book hotel in advance