Havelock Island: A place that locks hearts in Andamans

posted in: Andamans, Asia, Beaches, India | 79

My nostalgia over myΒ first dive at Havelock Island has been quite disturbing. It set off a craving – one that was inflicted upon me since my visit to Havelock Island in Andamans. Even after I returned from there, for weeks together I felt as if I were missing something. You get this same feeling when you pack in a frenzy or are overwhelmed. Except, in this case, I had lost something. I had left behind a piece of my heart in Havelock Island.

eHavelock Islands

An emerald paradise amidst clear blue waters, Havelock does this to everyone who visits it. It enraptures them and before they know it, steals a part of their heart. It keeps it locked within and that creates that “lost” feeling. The only cure is that you return back to it. How that happens – is best explained when I share the key things to do in Havelock. As you go through the travel guide to Havelock, you will know why you are in the danger of losing your own heart.;-)

Introduction to Havelock Island

The main entrance to Havelock Islands
The main entrance to Havelock Islands

Named after a British General Henry Havelock, these islands are one of the main ones belonging to the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The isle is known for its pristine beaches and mangrove forests. This is one of the populated regions of the Andamans archipelago and has been opened out to tourism, owing to its gorgeous waters. In fact, they say that the main reason for anyone to come to Andamans is Havelock Islands. Here are my reasons on why I agree with them. πŸ™‚

Digital-Free Havelock Island

The first thing that you lose when you step on Havelock Island is your phone signal. Airtel and BSNL worked the best here and while I did get some signals, I just chose to ignore it and leave my mobile away for the rest of the trip. The Internet is hard to come by and you have to just rely on communication in the old traditional way. πŸ™‚ This is half the reason why you end up enjoying Havelock’s simple atmosphere.

The roads of Havelock Islands
The roads of Havelock Island

It feels like a village set up, except that you still have ATMs, Cafes, and other amenities. The roads are practically empty. You will mostly see two-wheelers. Should you want a taxi, the only way to get one is to ask your hotel to arrange for one. Or as in our case, we set up pre-decided timings with the guy we met when we arrived in Havelock. It is this stress-free environment that gives you time to take in the clean air of the island and enjoy it better.

Beaches of Havelock Island

We hired a two-wheeler for the entire duration of our stay. And one of the main things we did on it – beach hopping!

Bikes for hire at Havelock Island
Bikes for hire at Havelock Island

Havelock beaches are mostly referred to by a number, rather than its name. Exploring these beaches made me realize that they were as beautiful as the ones I saw in Thailand. In fact, I felt some were better for they were still not crowded and had that virgin beauty associated with them. What made me even more proud was that they were right here, in my own backyard.

Floating on Vijaynagar beach, Havelock Island
Floating on Vijaynagar beach, Havelock Island

Each beach on Havelock had its specialty and I enjoyed them all.Β  Among the ones that I visited, here are the five that I loved the memories I created.

Vijaynagar Beach or Beach No.5

Vijaynagar Beach at Havelock Island
Vijaynagar Beach at Havelock Island

This was my favorite beach in Havelock Island. A vision of ice with placid blue or light green surface with a lone driftwood far into the sea, this place for me was a picture of paradise. I would not have believed that it was the sea if it weren’t for the gentle waves that lapped the shore. With resorts occupying the beach, this was almost like a private one where I spend the two mornings jogging along the shores. I only wish I could have stayed longer to get a go on that floating bed that lay on the waters.

Vijaynagar Beach on Havelock Island
Vijaynagar Beach on Havelock Island

Radhanagar Beach (Beach 7 on Havelock Island)

Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island

Declared by a leading journal as one of best beaches in Asia, the Radhanagar beach appealed to me as a fun beach, Kids running around, adults playfully splashing each other, some flying a kite and some just chilling. Lining the beach were Mangrove trees where I am sure, that at the right time, I would have found many birds. Among all the beaches of Havelock Islands, this one is the most developed in terms of beach shacks, changing rooms and a lifeguard patrol.

Fun for kids and adults at Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
Fun for kids and adults at Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island

Govindnagar Beach

Scuba Diving from Govindnagar Beach at Havelock Island
Scuba Diving from Govindnagar Beach at Havelock Island

The beach where my first scuba instructions happened will always be special. Govindnagar beach is the first beach that you see when you enter Havelock Island. It gets its name from the village there. This is the main hub of Havelock Island with most of the ATMs and key offices here. Coral laden in some bits and smooth on the others, this is where Ocean Tribe Dive School is located. I spend a lot of time here owing to my dives and ultimately fell in love with the deep waters where you could well see the colorful life beneath.

Kalapathar Beach

Kalapathar Beach at Havelock Island
Kalapathar Beach at Havelock Island

Black stone beach – the literal translation of Kalapathar Beach. One look at the beach will tell you how apt the name is. The contrast of black rocks, blue sea and brown sands is what I enjoyed the most. It is one of those shorelines that is perfect for you to perch and stare mindlessly at the waves.

Kalapathar Beach, Havelock Islands, Andamans
Kalapathar Beach, Havelock Islands, Andamans

Elephant Beach

The Elephant Beach on Havelock Island is one beach that was hit by the Tsunami. While the rest of the island was fairly secure, this beach got washed with the giant waves and today, you will see the evidence of its devastation with the broken pieces of driftwood that lie on the beach. To me, the beauty of the beach was exactly those pieces of wood that stood in the middle of nowhere like nature’s work of art. Apparently, these pieces are home to the Krait snakes and we were warned not to go too close to them.

Elephant Beach at Havelock Island
Elephant Beach at Havelock Island

The one thing I would have loved to do is trek my way to the beach along a green hill. They say it is quite a lovely trail. However, with the rains over the week, we were advised to abandon that thought and take the usual ferry from Govindnagar beach to here. There is no other way to reach the beach except for the trek or the boat.

Local culture of Havelock Island

The majority of the people who have settled here are Bengalis. However, over generations, their culture has changed and evolved into something unique of their own. Simple and cheerful people, the locals here are just amiable. The one quality that I admired in all of them was their honesty. Talking to them made me realize that the concept of locking rooms was a little alien for they say that even if we stole or did something, there was no escape other than this small island.

Pagoda Styled Temples on Havelock Island
Pagoda Styled Temples on Havelock Island

The general vibe on the island makes you feel a bit like the Goan countryside, minus the boisterous crowds. And if you look carefully, you will find some colorful nuances of their life. To cite one example, look out for these colorful wooden pagoda styled temples at resorts or restaurants. I chatted with the owners of the place to find out why they were kept the way they were. Interestingly, they said that there was no major religious significance.

Pagoda Styled temples that float from Myanmar to Havelock Island
Pagoda Styled temples that float from Myanmar to Havelock Island

These structures were a part of the Burmese traditions and were floated in Myanmar. Over time, they hit the shores of Havelock and most families just installed them as a part of their home decor. Some decorated them with lights while others used flowers. Now, they are a part of the Havelock culture πŸ˜‰

Myanmar temple at Wild Orchid Resort, Havelock Island
Myanmar temple at Wild Orchid Resort, Havelock Island

Water Sports on Havelock Island

Havelock Island in Andamans is a haven for water sports. You can indulge in the regular ones like water scooters, banana boat rides and water couches at the Elephant Beach. In addition, there is the glass boat ride who want do not want to go too deep to see the coral world. For the slightly more enthusiastic, snorkeling is a better option though for me this was extremely disappointing. You are not allowed to free snorkel here. Instead, you are put into a swimming ring and taken around with the snorkel mask. Takes away the joy of the whole activity.

Banana Boat Rides at Elephant Beach, Havelock Island
Banana Boat Rides at Elephant Beach, Havelock Island

The two activities that I highly recommend here are Scuba Diving and Sea Walking. Even if you don’t know swimming, both these are doable with dive schools and water sports specialists. For a first-timer, a discovery dive is highly recommended while for the experienced, you can go for your fun dives and night dives at some of the most amazing sites around the Island. The sea walking is great for those who are not comfortable with diving like older people or kids or even those who have a fear of water. This is a little limited in terms of where you can go and what you can see.

First View of the Corals during a scuba dive at Havelock
First View of the Corals during a scuba dive at Havelock

For me, my love for diving deepened here and if it were possible, I might have done my PADI certification here itself. No regrets now that I have done it at Netrani Island. I can always go to the more exotic dive sites at Havelock.

Food at Havelock Island

Anju Coco Restaurant, Havelock Island
Anju Coco Restaurant, Havelock Island

The Food and the pub scene at Havelock Island actually surprised me. The noons were lazy lunches like how you see in Goa while the nights were colorful and vibrant with music and lights around the shacks. The food scene included a menu catering to all palates with dishes from across the world. I loved the simple home-made food that I found in some of the smaller shacks while at the same time, enjoyed the taste of the amazing continental and Chinese dishes served at Anju Coco Restaurant. The after dive party that we had at “Something different” was another pleasant memory. On the whole, foodie or not, you will love the food scene at Havelock for its ambiance. And remember the way to a person’s heart, is through his stomach πŸ˜‰

There is plenty more that I can write on Havelock Islands. However, I think these reasons are good enough to tell you why you are in the danger of losing your heart when you visit Havelock Island. So, be warned and be prepared and remember to pin this warning up.

Havelock Island

 

Getting here

  • The only way to get to Havelock is by boat from Port Blair. Port Blair is the nearest and the only airport here.
  • There are limited ferries to Havelock and you need to book them as soon as they open out for bookings. Makruzz is a private carrier and can be booked online through here. For Government ferries to Havelock, you will need to reach Port Blair early and stand in a queue. I have shared details on all this including the Ferry prices in my guide to Andaman Islands. Please do read through the same to understand and book your fare.

Travel Tips

  • Remember there are no or very little mobile connectivity in Havelock. This might have an impact on your ATM transactions and booking processes.
  • It is best to carry cash for Havelock Island. There are ATMs for withdrawal but card transactions at hotels and resorts tend to get impacted owing to low data connectivity.
  • You can find a variety of stays at Havelock in a budget of your choice. However, please note that they are all limited in terms of numbers. Some of the stays are booked at least 2 – 3 months in advance. So, the earlier you book, the better it is.
  • Please note that owing to the low telephone and internet connectivity, your hotel bookings will most likely take time for confirmation. Even if you book through the universal online sites, please make a call to the respective hotels to reconfirm if they have got the vouchers and that your stay is confirmed.
  • Cabs are not available easily. When you reach the island, get out of the main gate of the ramp and you will see a lot of taxi drivers and hotel guys waiting to give you a ride. It is advisable that you take the number of that taxi driver who drops you so that you can use the hotel line to call him again if required.
  • The island is pretty safe to roam around and the people are quite friendly and helpful. However, be mindful that you will tend to be cut off if you venture out too far.
  • Carry a sunscreen and mosquito repellant with you.
  • Cotton beachwear is advised here. The water is irresistible and you cannot help but get in every time.

 

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79 Responses

  1. TravellingDany

    I would love to dive but my asthma won’t allow me to. So I get to read articles like this one, that make you want to go, and share them with my brother in law who is an expert diver. He still hasn’t been to Havelock Island, but when I told him about all the beautiful beaches that he can explore using a motorbike, and Vijaynagar beach, he said he’s added it to his bucket list!

    • Ami

      Thank you for the share. I hope all of you get to Havelock. There is so much more than Scuba that I am sure you can attempt.Cheers

  2. Danik

    Yes! yes! yes! Get me here now. I am in love looking at the beaches. Really need to learn to dive because it looks like an amazing experience to have whilst there.

  3. Meg Jerrard

    If definitely sounds like Havelock Island has a way of stealing ones heart! Good to know in advance that phone signal and internet is lacking – I would probably use this as an excuse to switch them off and completely disconnect. A far better way to be able to fully engage with the beaches, snorkelling and local culture that way anyway!

    • Ami

      The fact that you are digital free is the reason you enjoy this place. I hope you can visit this Meg. Cheers

  4. Ryan Biddulph

    Looks beyond stunning Ami but the digital free thing works for me, big-time. I love working online. But I love pulling back for extended periods too. Did so 2 years back over 6 weeks in a remote jungle, Costa Rica style. As gorgeous as these islands but not nearly as comfortable with lodging πŸ˜‰ Awesome post, awesome place.

    Ryan

    • Ami

      No option but to go digital free and frankly, that is the reason this place affects you so deeply. I hope you visit Ryan. It is so worth it.

  5. Jolina S. | Dipkiss Travels

    Those beaches are so awe-inspiring! Love that you enumerated each one. Banana boating at Elephant beach looks fun! You’re right — Havelock really does seem to lock in your heart πŸ™‚ These are really some useful tips. If I were to visit, I’d have to get used to disconnecting from the net but I’m sure the lack of signal will give travelers a good excuse to reflect.

    • Ami

      Disconnecting from the digital world is one reason why you will be charmed by this place. Rightly said, it allows you distraction free time to engage with those beaches. Hope you can plan a visit here. Cheers

  6. The Boutique Adventurer

    wow what a post! I feel like I have visited with all those stunning photos. Not sure how I would go being digital free but it would probably be for the best. thanks for such a complete guide

  7. Neha Kulshrestha

    Oh!! Reminded me of my honeymoon. We just loved every bit of it. No phone connection, early sunrise, roaming in 2 wheeler, first experience of snorkeling. Yes the place is so safe, we kept our stuff on Radhanagar beach and were enjoying the waters. Just magical place. Must visit for everyone

    • Ami

      I can understand that this must be now doubly special. πŸ™‚ It locked away two hearts. Thanks for stopping by Neha.

  8. asoulwindow

    Your Andaman blogs are a delight to read. I have shared your blogs with many of my friends who were looking for information on Andaman. I am sure Radhanagar beach deserves to be one of the best beaches of Asia. I agree with you; it is a blessing in disguise to have no network in a place as beautiful like this one. I will use the tips shared by you when I finally visit Andaman.

    • Ami

      Thank you Abhinav. I am glad that your friends too find these blogs on Andamans useful. I hope get to Andamans soon. It is so worth every minute.

  9. Lavanya

    The pics are so amazing, captured very well. It gives a feel of living with it. For me its been 5years, since i have visited here. Hoping to re-visit soon.

    • Ami

      I hope I can visit it again too…to find that lost piece of my heart. Thanks Lavanya for your lovely comment.

  10. Denny George

    The beaches look absolutely divine in your photographs. I’m planning a visit to the Andamans sometime this year. Your suggestions and recommendations will certainly come in handy.

  11. sreestours

    I have heard a lot about andamans and havelock island. But, after watching the beauty of havelock, Andamans is in top of my travel bucket list. Thanks Amy for sharing this details about Havelock island. I have to hear more about stay and guides you have used.

  12. Umang Trivedi

    I am sure you would never forget your first dive. And to have that memory linked to Andamans is indeed an awesome thing. I need to go to Andaman soon!

    • Ami

      Absolutely right. First dive and that too in Andamans. Unforgettable. I hope you get down to visiting it soon

  13. Alli Blair

    It’s never the worst thing when wifi is spotty when you travel! This was the case in New Zealand and we had a much better experience because of it, I think! Havelock looks like such an amazing adventure!

  14. Suruchi Mittal

    We will be going to Andamans this year and your post is going to be super helpful then. Havelock Island is so pretty. Every traveller is bound to leave his or her heart there.I like no signal thing; good time to detox yourself and spend time together

    • Ami

      Awesome….I hope you have a good trip there and remember, I still envy you for going there …I want to go again.

  15. Ramya Abhinand

    Beautiful images Ami. I have never been to Andaman, and it is in my list of must see places. Doubt I would do snorkling though. Just have this wierd fear abt it.

    • Ami

      Snorkeling is like swimming but easier. I would say give it a shot or else, go for the glass bottom boat. You have to see the world beneath.

  16. Sandy N Vyjay

    We have never been to the Andamans. So this post is definitely a sort of a primer for us. Havelock island and its beaches are indeed the stuff of dreams. The fact that there is no signal is another attraction for us. The absence of signal is indeed a blessing in disguise for people like us. The beaches look spectacular, but the most tranquil and appealing one looks to be the Vijaynagar Beach. The food scene too looks nice and definitely something to look forward to for our vegetarian palates.

    • Ami

      I am sure you guys will love it there. The beaches are just the best in India. Plan a trip soon. Cheers

  17. Rishabh & Nirali

    We’ve been planning to explore Andamans but have been put off due to some reason or the other. Hope we can make it this year. Your post will be quite helpful if we make it πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

    • Ami

      I hope this is the year for you for Andamans. I am sure it will be an awesome experience. Cheers

  18. Nathan

    This is so cool knowing how a tradition in one country can help influence and shape practices in another – especially how those Burmese structures ended up as part of Havelock decors. Amazing, isn’t it?

    • Ami

      I call it India’s secret πŸ™‚ It sure is a lovely place and I hope you visit it.

  19. Kavita Favelle

    Havelock Island looks such a fun and colourful place, not just for the diving but for culture, relaxing, friendly vibe. And those beaches are stunningly beautiful, the Vijaynagar Beach… wow!

  20. Everything_Candid

    A lovely read indeed. Whenever I read about Havelock, it gives serious itch to my feet. I so much want to be there and explore this place digitally free on a two-wheeler. Good to see so many Royal Enfields there. Great shot of Vijaynagar Beach. Probably Govindnagar would also be the place where I will get first Scuba Diving Instruction. Intriguing to know about floating Myanmar Temples. Thanks for this super helpful article.

    • Ami

      Thank you. I am sure you will have a blast riding in Havelock on those empty roads and stopping at those lovely beaches. Hope you visit soon.

  21. Sanketa

    Andaman are looking very very amazing and cool. And havelock islands are looking heavens. Amazing sea and place looking awesome.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  22. Priyanka Singh

    I have fond memories of my Andaman’s visit in 2014, still pending to jot those down. Agreeing with every word of yours, anyone can loose his/her heart to Havelock. I personally found Kala Pathar island more intriguing where we spent quality time with nature and with those little almost invisible baby crabs who were trying to hide in white sand.

    • Ami

      I loved the entire island and I know that you can well relate to that. Hope we can go again. I know I want to. Cheers Priyanka and thanks for stopping by with a lovely comment.

  23. Yogita

    Looks like you had a wonderful time in Havelock island. Loved your blog, its good to hear there is more to this island then just beach and ocean. The great food, culture and the ability to steal heart is a must visit, on list now πŸ™‚

    • Ami

      It is a lovely laid back and yet interesting island. Glad you added it to your list. Thanks for stopping by Yogita

  24. Marvi

    Havelock Island is beautiful! I can really see why you love it! I love the laidback vibe of the entire island and the fact that the internet signal is poor. Call me weird but I think a trip is better enjoyed without internet. The wooden pagoda temples are also so pretty! So interesting how they became a part of the Havelock culture!

    • Ami

      Thanks Marvi. I agree with you on the data signals and here no one has a choice. That to me is amazing.

  25. Dee

    Wow! Ive never heard of Havelock Island until now! What a great place to be! Looks like lots of things to do and that beautiful water is so inviting!
    On the list now!! ❀
    Dee

  26. Neha Verma

    I haven’t been to Andaman yet. But reading your experiences, I feel like I am already in love with the place. And have got to agree with you that the beaches of Havelock are as beautiful, some more beautiful than those of Thailand. However, they are underrated. But for now, let me be selfish and happy with this fact, since I intend to explore them in the near future, while they are still uncrowded.

    • Ami

      Absolutely right – they definitely give some of the Asian beaches a good run for their money. I hope you can visit sooner. Cheers Neha.

    • Ami

      If you want to unwind, this is indeed a great place. Hope you can plan a trip here.

  27. Adrenaline Romance

    Very nice beaches! And there’s scuba diving! How’s the scuba diving scenery and dive sites there? We would love to visit Havelock Island as a side trip. πŸ™‚

  28. Sahil

    Such an insightful article. Thanks for the information πŸ™‚

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