Havelock Island, Andaman Islands: India's Most Beautiful Secret
Havelock Island offers one of Asia’s best beaches, famous for its swimming elephants and unbeatable reef. Picture the white sandy beaches of Ko Pha Ngan before backpackers, full moon parties and internet cafés, and you have Havelock Island. For those searching for a peaceful escape, cut off from mobile phones, internet and commercial beach attractions, Havelock Island is certainly the next place to tick off your list. Note that there is no nightlife on the island.
How to get there
Daily flights to Port Blair (the capital and main Andaman Island) depart from Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. Round-trip fairs can be as cheap as £80.00 if booked in advance. With no international flights into Port Blair, visitors should take this opportunity to spend some time in India on either side of your trip to the Andaman Islands. Once you are in Port Blair, it is only possible to travel to Havelock Island by boat. You can take the government ferry service, which runs a couple of times a day and takes 2.5 hours. If you prefer the quicker and more luxurious option, the Catamaran Ferry takes just 90 minutes from Port Blair. Be sure to book these online before you go, as it can be a hassle trying to organize this once you get to Port Blair and giving yourself enough time to make the next available boat.
When to go
Despite having their rainy season from May to September, the Andaman Islands experience mild winters and hot summers, making it an almost year-round destination to visit. From October to February, you can enjoy temperatures from 30-35 degree Celsius, the ideal months to enjoy the idyllic beaches and water sports.
Where to stay
Sunrise Beach Resort
Tariff: Rs. 500-Rs. 3500
Phone: +91 94 7420 6183, +91 96 7954 4554
Basic bamboo huts with a fan and mosquito net; double bed and communal bathroom are as cheap as 500 rupees and situated just 20 meters from the beautiful ocean. Different types of accommodation are also on offer for those who prefer AC and a private bathroom. Sunrise beach Resort is located on the most picturesque strip of Beach 5.
The Wild Orchid
Tariff: Rs. 4000-Rs. 8000
Phone: +91 31 9228 2472/214430
Andamanese-style cottages all set in a tropical garden a stone’s throw from the beach.
Tariff: Rs. 7500-Rs. 14999
Phone: +91 99 3208 9996/31 9224 4914
Cut out in a coconut jungle on a private beach is enough to want to stay here. Beautiful cottages with ocean and jungle views are available. The resort can organize your day trips, moped hire and boat tickets. An outdoor restaurant is also situated in the serene and peaceful resort, which is perfect for honeymooners.
Barefoot at Havelock
Tariff: Rs. 7500-Rs. 25000
Phone: +91 44 4231 6378
If you are willing to spend a little more, this eco-village is the only hotel on Beach No. 7 ‘the best beach in Asia’ according to TIME magazine. It’s also home to Rajan, Barefoot’s 66-year-old retired Asian elephant, the last of the famous ocean-swimming elephants of the Andaman Islands.
What to do
For beach lovers, Havelock Island is paradise with over seven idyllic tropical beaches, beach bums can spend a week visiting a new one every day. The most you will see of a building are the bamboo cottages hidden behind the sweeping coconut palms.
Undoubtedly, Havelock’s most popular beach is the Radhanagar Beach (Beach No.7). Once rated as Asia’s fourth best beach by TIME magazine, the Andaman Islands are worth a visit just to see it. A stroll to the beach through a dense forest leads you through to the sight of white sand and crystal clear blue water. There is a treehouse restaurant serving light meals and cold drinks behind the beach, as well as a few market stalls set back from the beach selling fresh drinking coconuts. The sunset on Radhanagar Beach is also not to be missed.
Nearby, the Elephant Beach is the perfect place for snorkeling and water sports. The most badly hit beach on Havelock Island by the 2004 Tsunami offers an alternative landscape while still a paradise of white sand and the island’s best coral. For water sports and snorkeling, this is the best spot on the Andaman Islands. Activities offered include an underwater sea walk, scuba diving, Jet Skiing, glass-bottom boats and banana rides. It is most easily accessed by a 20-minute high-speed boat from the east of the island, a boat ride that offers stunning views of the island. Refreshments such as coconut water and fruits are available, but if you are planning on staying here all day, bring some food.
Underwater and corals
The turquoise crystal waters are perfect for a peek into the underwater world. Visit a PADI diving school to organize a scuba diving trip to see the Andaman’s rare marine life and enchanting coral reef. Even if you are not a guest at Barefoot, contact the hotel to arrange a visit to see Rajan the Asian Elephant. Snorkeling amongst fish and swimming elephants is an experience you will never forget.
Trekking through the Andaman jungle is a must-do while visiting.
If trekking isn’t your thing, be sure to hire a moped for Rs 200 a day to explore hidden waterfalls and towering palm trees, home to exotic birds and beautiful wildlife. Due to strict government restrictions, Havelock Island is one of the only islands that tourists are permitted to drive and hire mopeds. Tribal communities are protected from tourism on the islands that have resident indigenous tribes.
By Sophie Izzet