What comes to your mind when you think of blue waters and white sands – Thailand, Maldives, Bahamas, Jamaica, Bora bora, Mauritius… The list is endless. But, then there is this beautiful, not so famous island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago off the east coast in the Bay of Bengal that is steadily gathering attention for its pristine white sand beaches. Yes, Havelock is a less crowded, pocket friendly destination that lies just a 2 hour flight away from the Indian mainland. So beautiful and bewitching is its beauty that we went there more than once simply to soak in the sun and feel the sand under the feet and the salt in the air.
Port Blair to Havelock
Havelock can be reached by the private or Government ferries that operate from Port Blair. Advance booking may be needed during peak seasons. We traveled by the private ferry Makruzz during both our visits here. It is a closed ferry and offers a comfortable cruise if the weather is perfect. The ride takes roughly about 90 minutes. If you have serious sea sickness, consult with a doctor to check if any medication can make it better. You will be greeted by the beautiful blue beaches right when the ferry docks – welcome to your island vacation!
Getting Around Within Havelock
Once you are in Havelock, it is always better to hire a two wheeler or a bike to get around. The island is really small so there is never too much distance that you have to travel. Normally, the shops who rent the bikes also keep stock of fuel – so each time we were about to run dry, we had to go back to them to get a refill because fuel is limited in supply on the island and depends on the cargo from Port Blair for its supplies. Do check the quality of the bikes – some sell good bikes at a higher rate and few other give you grumpy squeaking bikes at a lower rate. Our recommendation – pay the extra price and get the good ones.
Internet doesn’t work here, so say good bye to GPS and get back to the basics of finding your way around by interacting with the locals. The islanders are friendly and always willing to help and provide directions.
This reminds us of an interesting incident : We were 2 girls travelling around the island on a rented two wheeler when we slowed down to allow the crowd to pass in the only small market area the island has. That is when a certain islanders dog decided to hitch a ride with us and placed itself as the third person on the bike. We were under the impression the dog was trying to take a shortcut and cross the road through our bikes footrest. Instead it comfortably seated itself and looked at us willing to drive on. We must have looked like a pretty trio on an island vacation. It took a lot of coaxing to get the dog to get down and stop following our bike – it certainly was used to visiting the market on bikes – we hope he found his way back to his master!
All the beaches in Havelock are pleasant and has clean blue shallow waters. Radhanagar beach or Beach No 7, which was once rated as Asia’s top beaches is also here. Kalapathar and Elephant beaches are also near Havelock. We will be doing a detailed post about these beaches and activities to do soon.
Since you are somewhere on a little piece of land in the Bay of Bengal, the most easily available option for food naturally would be seafood. Treat yourself to all those wild caught shrimps, lobsters and all other sea food while you are here. We raided several shacks and tried everything while we could. Sun sets much earlier in Havelock – around 5:30 PM. The day ends here sooner and starts earlier. So plan your meals accordingly.
Where To Stay
We stayed at TSG Blue and Symphony Palm Resorts. The accommodations in Havelock are fairly expensive because the island is small and it can accommodate only as many resorts.
While Symphony Palms is more expensive than TSG blue, it certainly earns our recommendation for the location of the resort by the Vijayanagar beach, the quality of cottages and the proximity to everything else. We had bike rentals and shacks right next to this which made it easy for us to get around. Symphony Palms also has a roof top restro-bar that becomes live with music and lights in the evenings which adds to why you should probably stay here. We were smitten by the food here and totally loved everything we were served.
TSG Blue is cheaper than Symphony Palms but is away from everything else except Beach No 7. The Radhanagar beach is only a 5 minute walk away from here. The wooden cottages are clean and well maintained and spacious. The food here was also impressive.
Best time to visit
September – early March though watch out for the cyclones during Nov – Dec because Bay of Bengal gets plenty of them. Summer may get really hot and humid in the islands.
What to wear
Pack bright cool cottons and wear your flipflops. An umbrella may come handy for the rains but if you do not mind getting drenched, enjoy soaking yourself in the rains or the beaches.
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