A Haven called Havelock
This one easily is one of my top dream destinations. It is what dreams are made of. Pristine beaches, soft white sands, clear blue sky, inviting turquoise sea and lush green rain forests. Unhurried time spent with family, exploring new terrains at our own pace, one of the best adventure experiences of my life (scuba diving ticked off my list) – Havelock has something for everyone , no matter who you are.
Havelock Island is the largest island in the Ritchie’s archipelago of Andaman Islands. We arrived on this island from Port Blair in style (Thanks Makruzz !). The entire trip takes 1.5 hours and the journey was very comfortable. Here’s my take on places to visit, stay and activities to do while in Havelock.
1) Radhanagar Beach
This beach was rated as “Asia’s best beach” and “7th best beach in the world” by TIME Magazine. One look at the beach and you will know why. Snow white sand between a serene turquoise ocean and green forest canopy. The pristine beach is 2 kilometers long and provides ample opportunity for that romantic walk by the sea. It has clear sandy bottom 100 m into the sea, making it very safe for adults / kids to wade in and play.
We couldn’t stay back for the sunset, but it is said that the sunset in this beautiful beach is nothing less. Well, there should be something for the next time !
2) Elephant beach
We spent half a day on this beach. From Havelock dock, the ride to this beach is about 20 minutes. You see the Havelock Island Lighthouse on the way. Close to the Elephant beach is the place for sea walk. We decided to let this go as my husband had already decided to go scuba diving (and I was contemplating, ahem!)
The first thought that crosses the mind when you touch the shores is “postcard perfect”. Pure white sand, an uprooted tree (makes for a great photo op) and the backdrop of the turquoise waters.
My daughter insisted it was a huge swimming pool and I kinda agree. The sea starts at a depth of less than a meter and stays really shallow for about 15 feet. To add to its charm you can play with school of fishes in the clear water. They dart in and out around your feet and I had a really great time playing in this pool with my children, while we took turns snorkeling. The amazing coral reef starts from close to the shore and one get a great glimpse of the thriving ecosystem of these coral reefs. The reefs here are considered one of the best. You can enjoy other water sports like jet ski, banana rides, glass bottom boat rides etc
3) Seashell Havelock
We were put up in the Andaman Chalet and was one of the most amazing stays we had. The location of this hotel was part of the allure. Right at the beach with mangroves makes for a real pretty picture. From clean rooms, great food, a nice bar Fluidz to their in-house scuba diving center (www.scubalov.in), the amenities in the hotel was all that we needed.
4) Scuba diving (highly recommended)
Scuba diving was a real convenience for us, thanks to their in-house scuba diving center, Scuba Lov. We took turns exploring the depths of the sea while the kids enjoyed TV in the comforts of the room. A real advantage of scuba diving in Andaman was that you could walk into the ocean from the beach and be in the midst of a thriving coral ecosystem (no need to ride a boat and dive into the ocean to see the corals).
DIVEIndia was another popular place for scuba diving, quite close to the Seashell Havelock. A quick visit and we realized that the place was very popular with serious divers. There were deep discussions on the plans and notes being exchanged on the sitings of their nth dive. Privy to all this while enjoying the amazing food they served at their restaurant.
This was an impromptu fun activity on a free day. Bikes comes pretty inexpensive (Rs 500-700 for a day). We hopped on one and had a whale of a time. Imagine exploring stretches of greenery with no other vehicle in sight, stopping by to choose and pick ripe mangoes fallen from a road side tree (hey, there was no one around to ask for permission !), exploring beaches and stopping by to spend time on the most amazing stretches, visiting the local fruit market and buying some local fruits and yes, more mangoes !
6) Kalapathar Beach
We were directed towards this one by the locals. It is close to a village called Kala Pathar, hence the name. There are quite a few dead corals on the beach, so its not ideal for frolicking in the waters, though the waves are quite small here. Recommended, if you are looking for a beach that you could have to yourself, literally. Spend time with your loved ones, read your favourite book or watch the sunrise / sunset and listen to the sound of the waves. You may want to carry a hammock or some sitting gear.
7) Barefoot at Havelock (http://www.barefoot-andaman.com/)
Last but definitely not the least. This was on my to visit place. Its located very close to Radhanagar beach and we decided to go here for lunch, now that we had the rented bike. The staff was very friendly and I still remember the taste of the sumptuous meal we had there. Remember the mangoes we picked on the way. Made for a great after meal dessert ;). This is also a great place to stay but be prepared for bugs given the dense vegetation around this resort.
The magic this island weaves will stay with you for a very long time (I even suspect – for ever). Don’t believe me ? Try it for yourself – it’s a dare !