I woke up to the announcement over the intercom saying, “ladies and gentlemen we will be landing shortly…” I sat up groggily rubbing my eyes. “…please make sure your seats backs and tray tables are in upright position…” I straightened up and followed the pilot’s instructions. I checked time in my wristwatch and yawned lazily only to get glared by my co-passenger. To avert the scowl and to hide my embarrassment I looked out of the window. But I almost jumped and shouted excitedly in my seat – outside the little window, I could see a blue paradise! Below the fluffy clouds, in the middle of an emerald and turquoise sea was the little paradise land of the Andaman isles. I didn’t look at my co-passenger’s face again, but I am sure I know what he must be thinking.
The aircraft landed at the Veer Savarkar International airport, named after a major independence activist who served a sentence in the infamous Cellular jail. I was directly heading to the Havelock Island. The ferry departed at 2PM from the Phoenix bay jetty, arriving at Havelock by 4.30ish. Only a few of the Andaman isles can be visited by the travelers, Havelock is the largest and most popular one of them. Famous for its pristine beaches, white sand, emerald waters, beautiful coral reefs, excellent diving schools and best dive-sites, Havelock is a popular destination amongst the backpackers.
The beaches here are numbered; the popular beaches still go by their names though. Beach no.1 is the arrival port and all the arriving/departing ferries for Port blair, Neil island and Rangat island can be seen here. Speed boats for day tours/half day tours/private tours to Elephant beach commence from here. Beach no. 2 is where the scuba diving courses, confined water dives, etc., are conducted by the diving schools. Beach numbers 3 and 5 or Govindnagar and Vijaynagar are more like private beaches to the many resorts spread across on this stretch of the island. Further up, there’s a Kalapathar beach, another serene place to be. The Kalapathar village and local farms are located a little further ahead to it. Beach no.7 or more popularly known as Radhanagar beach, lives to its fame of the “Asia’s best beach” rated by Time magazine and is a perfect place to be at as the sun takes a dip into the sea. Last but not the least, a picturesque beach with fallen trees and the best coral – Elephant beach, is a best spot to enjoy snorkeling and other water sports. Boating in glass bottom boats is a popular tourist activity.
Where to stay
A majority of accommodation is found between the beach no.3 and 5 stretch. Tented (domed) accommodation is also available at the Radhanagar beach. Hire a bike (if you travel light or are backpacker) from the market as soon you get to the island and go see the resorts to get a best deal.
There are some great places to eat; my personal favourite was Fat Martin cafe. Go, explore the kitchens, eat a meal in a new place, try the local cuisine, it is fun.
What to do
Scuba diving: Get the adrenaline pumping! There are some cool dive shops on the island. Some great dive sites are waiting to amaze and thrill you with its rich marine life and stunning coral reefs. Dive and discover the mysterious world.
Snorkeling: If you do not want to dive deep, or wear the scuba gear, you can still explore the breathtakingly beautiful underwater realm by snorkeling at Havelock.
Swimming: Surrounded by boundless emerald and turquoise shade, swimming in the crystal clear water is something you would cherish for days. Swim with Rajan – the last of the ocean swimming elephant at beach no.7 – the experience will stay with you forever.
Hunt for treasures: Walk along the long lonely shores on the golden-white sand, accompanied by the lapping waves. Treasure chests are emptied and deposited by the waters. Shells, conches, corals (dead, of course) and many stunningly beautiful objects can be found. Look out, there could be pearl too.
Do nothing: Literally! Spread a mat or stretch out on the sand and do nothing. Read a book or enjoy the melodious music composed by the water and air.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
~She leaves a tiny part of her heart everywhere she travels and memories from the place fill up the void in her heart and soul.~