The Andaman Islands is a small strip of heaven only a stone’s throw away from the Indian mainland. It is in the Bay of Bengal, surrounded by turquoise waters and mesmerizing vistas. The lush forests, white beaches, calm blue waters teeming with marine life and rich cultural heritage make the Andaman Islands an ideal place for a short getaway.
It is an archipelago of over 572 small and large islands. Only about 36 of them are accessible to tourists and travelers. Many tourists opt for island hopping and ferry rides to cover several islands in one day, but it is realistically impossible to cover such a vast cornucopia of experiences, activities, and sights in such a short period. Most tourists who wish to experience the true tastes of Andaman travel to Havelock and spend the day on the beaches, soaking up the sun and enjoying water sports on at least 5 of the spectacular beaches on this island.
Havelock Island is a haven for nature lovers, hikers, sunbathers, solace seekers and adventure addicts. Travelers between the ages of 7 and 77 can equally enjoy their day on Havelock with the myriads of experiences and activities that the local authorities and tourism companies offer. It is a melting pot of culture since people have been moving from the mainland to this historic island occasionally to settle in with the original occupants.
Guest post by Evans Walsh
What’s the best time to visit Andaman?
People travel to Havelock all through the year. Summer temperatures usually rise to 30 degrees centigrade, and the average winter temperature dips to about 23 degrees centigrade only. Havelock Island has wonderfully fresh and accommodating temperature conditions for tourists from all corners of the world at all times of the year.
During the monsoon season (the period between June and August), the sea can become unpredictable. The islands of the Andaman archipelago usually receive heavy rainfall. Although that is a devastating beauty and offers a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience, most people avoid traveling to the Andamans during this period since a lot of popular sights, water sports and adventure activities remain suspended till the weather conditions calm down.
The best time to visit Havelock is between October and May. Winter, spring, and summer are the most beautiful on this island. The clear skies and calm waters provide professional photographers with the perfect setting for numerous award-winning photos. The sunsets and sunrises during these times are the main crowd pullers. However, be ready for some fairly steep prices, since the demand for hotel rooms, luxury resort facilities, private sporting events, adventure sports and boat rides is quite high.
a Few facts about Havelock Island
Havelock is the most popular one-day destination among travelers to Andaman who want to wash off their tedium with a short burst of all-natural beauty. It is just 41 km from Port Blair, but centuries away from the humdrum of the busy town life Port Blair portrays. You can reach Havelock from Port Blair via a short and inexpensive ferry ride. However, if you are in a mood for something fancy, you can always opt for chartered helicopters and cruises.
It is one of the larger islands of the Andaman archipelago with an area of around 113 square kilometers. Its current population is only about 6500. It has six main villages that are quite dense and brimming with a mélange of different languages, cultures and heritages from all around the world. Most of the inhabitants can communicate in English and get around the island is quite easily.
Local buses ply between these villages to connect them to the jetties and the main tourist spots. You can also book shared jeeps that ply between Beach No. 1 and Beach No. 7 for getting around the island. Auto rickshaws and bicycles (on hire) can be used to experience a more rustic face of the island, too. Don’t forget to check with your Andaman tour package provider to see what type of transport they can offer.
One Day in Andaman Island Itinerary
Andaman is home to breathtaking tropical beaches and coral reefs, teeming with wildlife. However, one-day itineraries need to accommodate the best of the views, experiences, activities, and adventures in just one day. Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Andaman.
Take the first ferry to Havelock
Havelock is just a few miles away from Port Blair, but it holds the key to the natural treasure of expansive horizons, mesmerizing sunsets and a clear view of the marine life. Havelock is home to some of Asia’s most beautiful beaches. There are innumerable white sand beaches strewn across the island. If you are traveling with family, you may want to explore the more visited beaches with nearby restaurants, cafes, and food stalls. In case, you are looking for a romantic getaway; you can find lesser-known beaches hidden away from the plain view of the seasonal tourists only a couple of miles away.
Start your day by hopping on the first ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. Try to book your ride in advance. Busier tourist seasons make it harder for travelers to get a booking on the day of travel. If you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the morning on Beach No. 1. That is the main arrival port. The island has some uniquely splendid beaches. Each one demands special attention and a little bit of the traveler’s time. Once you reach Beach No 1, travel to the junction of Beach No. 3. The roads from this junction can take you to all the popular tourist spots, restaurants, dhabas, hotels, famous sights and less frequented beaches.
Experience Asia’s best beach and adventure at Radhanagar
Start with Beach No. 7 or the Radhanagar beach. In 2004, Time rated Radhanagar beach as the most beautiful beach in Asia. Unlike any other beach on the Indian mainland, this one is quite secluded. You can sunbathe on the pristine white sands, gaze into the horizon over the calm azure waters or explore the natural sights by taking a stroll across the beach. You can swim in the crystal-clear waters, and if you are particularly daring, you can swim out near the coral reefs to explore the riches of marine flora and fauna in all their natural glory.
For the real thrill-seekers, Radhanagar beach has options of scuba diving, sea walking, snorkeling, and fishing. You can ditch the tourist spots and activities for a more soulful walk through the elephant trail that might bring you face to face with the mighty gentle giants of the evergreen forests. After the hike and the adventure sports, you are bound to feel hungry. You can grab a quick bite or settle for a regal spread depending on the rest of the plans you have for the day.
Swim with the gentle beasts at the Elephant Beach
Next stop should be Elephant beach that is north to Radhanagar beach. It is quite popular due to the rich reserve of corals, occasional sightings of elephants and calm waters that are suitable for snorkeling. There are several tourist agencies and adventure sports clubs on Elephant beach that offer scuba diving, snorkeling, and sea walking facilities.
You can hike the Elephant trail that takes 30 minutes. Ever since the tsunami, the end of the trail leads to an unattractive swamp, but instead of turning around if you wade right through it, you will reach the main beach in another 100 meters. The beach is a hidden gem in the treasure trove of Havelock. During your hour on the beach, do not miss the glass bottom boat ride, especially if the waters are calm and crystal clear. The glass bottom boats are the best way to view the coral islands and their occupants under the shallow waters with your friends and family.
A different kind of Andaman at Neil’s Cove
Neil’s Cove is a breathtaking lagoon of emerald waters, sheltered sand, and quiet surroundings. This is a little further away from Radhanagar or Beach No. 7. You can walk the short distance between the two locations or take local transport. This is the perfect getaway for a romantic couple who might be seeking some seclusion and privacy away from the prying eyes of fellow tourists. However, be careful while stepping into the waters. It is home to some marine creatures including saltwater crocodiles that tend to roost in the waters rich in fish.
The isolated solace of Kalapathar beach
During the noon, you can take your transport or hail a bus to Kalapathar via Beach No. 3. To while away your lazy afternoon, travel to Kalapathar beach. This one is about 5 km away from Beach No. 5. You can walk down the scenic road after a scrumptious spread, or you can take your hired ride. It offers a cozy nook far away from the bustle of package tourists. Not many people go to this beautiful rocky, picturesque beach. It is a different kind of beauty with some natural rock formations, green groves on the beach and an expansive view of the horizon. It is a treat for professional photographers, painters and romantic couples vying for a quiet nook.
Beach No. 5’s exclusive beauty
Beach No 5, also know as the Vijay Nagar beach, is a more secluded beauty, guarded against the view of the tourists by a ring of palms. It brings the taste of true tropics to your vacation. There are several thatched resting areas, natural shades of palm groves and unique shallow waters that you can walk through. You can walk into the bay for miles since the low tide drains the water considerably, leaving only sea foam, bits of corals, a rainbow of snails and crabs visible for miles on end.
Less than 200 meters from Beach No. 5 are a few restaurants that serve up amazing food. For a more authentic tropical feel, try seafood cuisine, fusion cuisine or local cuisine at the thatched roof restaurant nearby. You can find south Indian delicacies like Dosa and Idli as well as handmade pasta and pizzas right next to this beach. It is quite a family-friendly place.
Where to stay in Andaman?
While most tourists choose hotels and resorts in Port Blair, Havelock provides a much richer, more luxurious and exclusive experience when it comes to beach-front properties and quieter stays.
Staying the night
Completing all activities by 5:30 pm and making it on time for the last ferry can be rather hectic. In fact, it does not make much sense to miss the sunset on Kalapathar or Beach No. 5 when you are traveling all the way from Port Blair to Havelock. Spending the day on Havelock Island is a completely different experience from spending the night. The nights are cooler, quieter and only interrupted by the singing cicadas and occasional nocturnal birds.
Falling asleep to the sound of the waves
Havelock Island has some beachfront resorts and hotels. Waking up to the roaring sound of the waves, sipping hot coffee on the balcony/porch as the rising sun finally awakes are experiences you cannot afford to miss. The Barefoot at Havelock finds exclusive mentions on several travel and tourism websites. It is a glorious beach-front property that offers Indic huts with thatched roofs and a true jungle feel. Along with the rustic touch, you will find high-speed Wi-Fi, a fully stocked bar, spa, game room and private parking.
Just like the Barefoot, which is only 2 minutes’ walk from the Radhanagar Beach, you can choose resorts and hotels on the Vijay Nagar beach that is closer to Beach No 1. The Silver Sand Beach Resort is bang on the white sands of Vijay Nagar beach next to Coral Reef Resort.
For a more budget stay, you can check out Blue Ocean Resort, Hotel Summit, and Havelock Nagri Resort. The last one is near the main Radhanagar Beach, while Hotel Summit is close to Beach No. 1, where you can have your coffee in the morning, take a refreshing shower and walk to the jetty for a ride back to Port Blair.
Extra tips for visiting the Andaman Islands
– Havelock Island is very popular among all kinds of travelers and tourists. For enjoying the best facilities, you should always book hotels and resorts at least two months in advance.
– Since the area is populated and the island is home to 6 villages, finding mosquitoes and sand flies is quite common. Always carry insect repellents, irrespective of what the hotels are ready to provide you.
– Do not wait until the last minute to book a ferry ride or helicopter ride from Port Blair to Havelock. The ferry rides are usually jam-packed, and you might need two-day booking. The luxury cruises and catamarans are usually less crowded since they are more expensive than the regular ferry rides. You have better chances of securing a spot on the morning cruise than on the morning ferry if you are booking at the last minute. There are quite a few websites that offer to book, but it is better to speak with your local travel agent to ensure correct timing and planning.
– No matter where you plan to travel from Port Blair, always carry your passport, visa permits, and special tourist permits.
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