Havelock Island


Havelock Island (Hindi: हैवलॉक द्वीप, Malayalam: ഹെയ്വ്ലോക് ദ്വീപുകള്‍) is the most visited of the Andaman Islands. It's becoming popular for its beaches, laid back vibe and great scuba diving.

Understand

Walking on Beach #5

The Indian government has been advocating eco-friendly tourism development on Havelock for a while now, and while it's the most visited of the islands it sees only a fraction of the visitors that crowd other island destinations such as Thailand. The pace of life is slow, the locals are friendly and still not too affected by tourism, and the facilities are moderately basic for the most part. While many of the lodges have 'resort' in their names, none come even close, thankfully.

The beaches have been given a rather boring numbering system instead of names, although some names like Radhanagar are in popular use. The arrival port is at Beach #1, the junction at the center is Beach #3 (aka Govind Nagar), the junction near Dolphin Resort is Beach #5 (Vijay Nagar) and so on. Govind Nagar, the main "town", is small and has only a handful of shops and local dhabas. Most accommodation is grouped along the road from Beach #3 to Beach #5. From the 'junction' near Beach #3 a road veers off to Beach #7 (Radhanagar Beach), the most beautiful spot on the island.

Mid-January until mid-May sees the best weather, and often the best diving conditions. The days are mostly sunny at this time of year, and the sea sometimes flat enough to reflect the clouds. The monsoon usually hits around late May, lasting until the end of July, and is probably the worst time to visit the island strong winds, frequent rain and low visibility underwater. August thru November see some occasional showers and slightly rougher seas, but diving can still be great at this time of year. The weather often takes a turn for the worse for the month of December through early January.

Havelock island now has an ATM, and some of the hotels and resorts are able to perform card transactions. Nevertheless, it is best to make sure you take plenty of cash with you from Port Blair. Also, it is hard to buy some items in the market - differing factors of sun cream can be hard to find, as can mosquito repellent.

Get in

Lighthouse in Havelock


Ferries are the major way on or off the island. 2-3 arrive daily from Port Blair (2-4 hours) and one from Rangat, one of which comes via Neil Island. Schedules vary according to day and season, so enquiry locally, and see Andaman and Nicobar Islands about the differences between the ship types.

Government-operated ferries are best booked in advance, as seats often sell out. Rates are ₹.250 for Coach and ₹.350 for First Class. These ferries are air conditioned and can be booked in advance from the counter at the DSS in port Blair. A booking counter is also available in Havelock at the Jetty and operates from 9:15a.m to 12:15p.m. and 2:15a.m. to 4:15p.m. You will have to get there early and stand in line, but as soon as the counter opens it can become pretty hectic so be prepared.

In busy seasons, local ferries should be booked in advance. You can buy tickets yourself from the Port Blair ferry office on arrival, or resorts will often offer to pre-book your tickets for the journey there and back, which you can either picked up from a travel agency on Port Blair, or they will send someone to meet you prior to your ferry. This is a good idea particularly if you're trying to make it from your flight to your resort on the same day, as the schedules don't leave much room for error. If you don't have a return ticket, try and get your resort to book - or you will need to get the Havelock port early and elbow your way to the front of the queue as the locals do, and even then the ferry can still be fully booked with all of the resorts taking the tickets. On the return, the 4:30PM ferry gets booked up first, so it's often safer to get the 10AM if you need to be sure of making onward connections.

Alternately, there is also an air-conditioned catamaran ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. Tickets are 700, 800 or 1100 (which gets you a leather seat and your own TV). As the ferry is more expensive it is less likely to be full, and its schedule meets incoming flights. Tickets can be booked from a dedicated ticket booking window at Port Blair, thus avoiding the queue barging. On return you can book through your guesthouse (or wild orchid, emerald gecko & andaman bubbles) on Havelock. Some of the shops in the market also book the tickets on these cruises at same price so it should not be difficult to get them.

Flight times from Port Blair to mainland India sometimes are changed without warning - including being brought forward. So it's definitely worth calling the day before to confirm your onward flights. Also be prepared to stay couple of days more than planned in Havelock because the boats to Port Blair will be cancelled if the weather is bad.

The other option is to fly in. Pawan Hans (+91-3192-233601), which until 2011 operated sporadic helicopter flights to Havelock, now flies an amphibious 8-seater Cessna seaplane from Port Blair to Havelock and back every day except Sunday, covering the distance in about an hour. The standard price is a steep ₹4100 one-way, but discounts may be available.

Get around

Map of Havelock

Bicycles are available for ₹. 80 per day (Feb 2012).

See

The emerald seas, the tropical forests on one side of the road the coastline, and on other side the silken smooth silver sands and the sheer solitude make this beach a great place to relax.

Do

Dive in Havelock

Scuba diving

Scuba diving is probably the biggest activity on the island other than lying around and eating great seafood. Andaman Bubbles, Barefoot Scuba, Doongi Dives and Dive India are the top 4 SSI http://www.divessi.com/ PADI certified dive centers, provide good equipment and offer training up to instructor. They share pretty much all of the same discovered dive sites, and prices are more or less standardized at ₹.4500 for discover scuba dive for non-certified divers, with a 10% discount for your own equipment for fun dives for certified divers. You don’t need to be a swimmer to do the discover scuba diving. However, you should book your schedule with the dive center's well in advance as there are limited trips.

The diving possibilities around the Andamans are vast and it feels that what has been discovered is only the beginning... and even that is pretty great. Look for more sites to open up soon. As of now Havelock is the main center for diving in the island chain. Usual places for diving are Elephant beach and Lighthouse in Havelock. If you're an experienced diver, also enquire about dive expeditions, where they will take you out hunting for new and undiscovered sites. For certified divers, South Button is another great place to dive.

Earlier, diving was done in converted dungi fishing boats but Government has mandated compulsory use of speed boats now for safety of tourists.In the event of an accident, the nearest recompression chamber is at the naval base in Port Blair, so it's wise to keep your diving profiles on the conservative side.

A typical Andaman-style dive boat


Snorkeling

Snorkeling is also popular, with several options.

Trekking

If you've had enough of the beach, try a little hot and sweaty jungle trekking. If you're into confluence hunting, you can find 12°N 93°E just 800 meters away from the end of beach #5. Guides can be arranged through resorts. The Wild Orchid Resort and Emerald Gecko Resort also conduct Jungle treks and you can walk into the reception and check on their offers.

Fishing

A local trip on a speed boat with two local fishermen to the nearby mangroves (which is not that great if you've seen dense mangroves before) and then to deeper waters for fishing. The fishermen will prepare fishing lines for you and you can catch fishes. Duration: 3-4 hrs. Time: 3PM-7PM usually. Cost: ₹. 3500.

Buy

Govind Nagar has a few basic shops selling daily essentials plus a small pharmacy. If you pick up one of the ubiquitous Andaman & Nicobar T-shirts sold everywhere for ₹.50, take one with black printing, as white text bleeds off the first time you wash it.

Eat

Elephant Beach

Some food is grown on the island (like tasty bananas), but most vegetables and fruits are imported. The best thing to eat is the locally caught fresh seafood.

Budget

Splurge

Drink

Sleep

An elephant near Beach #7

The majority of accommodation on offer are cheap palm-thatched beach huts. High season is from mid October to March, although these dates vary depending on demand. Most of the budget and mid range places double their prices in this time.

Budget

The recent boom in tourism means that there is not always enough accommodation to meet demand the majority of the pla

ces between Beaches #3 and #5 have huts for around ₹ 200/night, so it makes sense to start at one end and work your way down looking for an available hut. In busier times you may end up pitching a tent if you have one, or sleeping in a hammock for a night or two until something frees up.

Mid-range

Sunset at Radhanagar Beach

Splurge

Autorickshaw

Stay safe

One of the two rickety buses on the island

Mosquitoes are a nuisance, particularly at dusk and after rain, and the Andaman Islands are malarial. Use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves and long trousers in the evening, and sleep under a mosquito net.

Sandflies make a great problem while sunbathing. Occasionally they are in a larger number, so longer shirts and trousers will be recommended.

Wild dogs can be a problem, especially along the beach at night people are regularly bitten. You'd be well-advised to carry a stick to scare them off... or a handful of stones. Local authorities confirmed that they are helpless with this problem of stray dogs that live in forest but close enough to beaches visited by tourists.

If you plan to be out until sunset or beyond it's a good idea to carry a flashlight (torch). It can get pretty dark, especially if there's no moon out, and the beaches are often backed by dense forest.

Beware of currents at Radhanagar Beach during monsoon (June - Sept). There have been two recorded accidents as people have been caught out by powerful waves during the monsoon months. Supposedly the authorities have taken action to employ trained lifeguards and put up watchtowers.

Beware of jagged edges of Bleached Coral at Beaches #2, #3 and #5 as the shallow beachfront waters on the northern coast of Havelock (the backpacker strip) is covered with this.

Beware of Saltwater Crocodiles from the Sanctuary on neighboring islands. A woman was killed in May 2010 while snorkeling.

Beware, Travellers, beware! There are lot of travel agents/touts present to scam the innocent travellers. They appear very honest and will try to scam people out of money so beware.

Connect

Mail

There is a small post office next to the port at Beach #1.

Phones

Landlines are scarce, and with the exception of a couple of the nicer accommodation options, most places don't have a phone.

Internet

The island's interior

Internet access on Havelock is extremely slow and unreliable, and also expensive. you can get satellite internet on some of the dive resorts, but at ₹300 an hour it's extremely expensive

Outside Symphony Inn there is a cyber cafe, charges are ₹ 2 Per minute the connection is a dial up connection with 45 kbps.

Go next

Boats near the jetty at Beach #1

Escaping the island is hard to do, since tickets are only available at the Jetty, at the *   Government ticket booth. . Expect long queues and limited opening times (9-12AM, 2-4PM). Book your ticket at least two days before but keep in mind that only half the available seats are sold in advance. If you are unlucky, try to show up very early the same day as your departure and hope for the best. Before to queue, head up to the window and ask for the ticket form. Fill it while queuing and when it's your turn, tender it to the officer. Prepare a copy of your Andaman stay permit, your passport if needed and the exact fare. After getting your ticket, check the reported details accurately to avoid later complications.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, November 16, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.