Of the 36 inhabited islands in the Andaman and Nicobar group, Havelock Island is easily the coolest of them all! A large island just two hours (or 57 km) off Port Blair, an Andaman holiday is incomplete without a pit stop here!
Havelock Island is 57 km north-east of Port Blair (capital city of the Andamans) and there are plenty of options to get here. Three government ferries move between Port Blair’s Phoenix Bay Jetty and Havelock daily. But it is impossible to buy these tickets on the spot; you have to buy them two or three days in advance.
Private ferries cost more, but securing these tickets is easier and the boats are slightly faster. Still, in the peak season make sure to book your ride in advance. Bookings open months in advance and go2andaman can book them for you. If you are a foreigner, make sure you carry your Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to these booking counters.
Getting around Havelock is fairly simple. Roads are narrow and straight. It is almost impossible to get lost as everything is just by the roads and the locals are all very helpful.
Havelock’s beaches and villages are divided into numbers:
The easiest way to move around is by renting a scooter. You can hire them on a daily basis at approx. INR 400/day. If you rent for longer duration, ask for discounts. The fuel shop shuts by 5 pm, so refuel before you run out. Auto rickshaws are also available and they’ll cost you around INR 50-80 depending on where you have to go. You can even try to negotiate with an auto driver to take you to far-off Radhanagar for about INR 600. Local buses are also available for this, but the timings are highly unreliable. It is best to ask the locals about timings.
Havelock’s reputation wouldn’t be the same without its picture perfect beaches. The most famous of them all is Radhanagar Beach – an unforgettable curve of white sand, crystal waters and lush forests. Sunsets here are equally stunning.
Elephant beach is another breath-taking beach. While you won’t find any elephants here, it is a snorkelling hotspot. A number of water sports are also available here. You can trek to this beach via a short forest trail or hire a boat from the jetty to the beach.
Kalapathar beach, beyond beach #5 is a delight to watch the sunrise. While black rocks dotted along the beach look beautiful, it is not recommended for any water sport or activity.
Beach #3 (Govindnagar Beach) and beach #5 (Vijaynagar Beach) are also much loved, often because this long stretch is just off many resorts and restaurants.
Tourist infrastructure in Havelock is the best among all the islands (excluding port Blair) in Andaman. You can find beach resorts at budget rates or more luxurious cottages at a premium. Prices range from INR 500 a night to INR 25,000. These fares, however, vary in high and low seasons. In either case, discounts might be possible if you intend to stay longer, especially in small family-run resorts. In the peak season, prices can double and the best places still fill up fast. Booking ahead is therefore advised. Camping is not permitted on public land or beaches and, only a few places allow travelers to pitch a tent or hammock on their land (for a fee). However, it isn’t completely impossible.
Havelock provides several cuisine options among which you can choose. From Italian pizzas and pastas, to Thai curries, Nepali momos, delicious Indian cuisine and American pancakes – nothing is amiss. And lest we forget, the sea food options are plenty and everywhere! Grilled fish is a must have, especially at some local eateries in the market. For cheaper meals, some hotels will let you buy bread and toast it in their kitchens. You can even try simple vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis – cheap meals of plain rice, vegetables, lentil soup and meat at INR 150- INR 200 per plate.
So many different activities are possible on Havelock, suitable for all tastes. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular, thanks to the many dive shops based on the island. You can also go on a fun game fishing trip on a charter boat. These boats can also be chartered for a sunset cruise or candle light dinner. Kayaking through the mangrove forests is a much-loved activity, starting from the Jetty. Sea Link Adventures provide a sea-walk experience off Elephant Beach, which you can access by taking a glass bottom boat ride from the jetty. The alternate option is a short trek path that is loved by backpackers. Alternatively, you can engage in a bird watching tour, jungle treks or beach picnics.