| || |
* Symphony Palms Beach Resort has their own restaurant which has very good vegetarian food. Boufets for Rs 350 per head.
* Symphony Palms Beach Resort has their own restaurant which has very good vegetarian food. Boufets for Rs 350 per head.
| || |
Revision as of 03:22, 6 December 2011
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.
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.
Boats near the jetty at Beach #1
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 "Chair" class and 350 for "Seat" Class. These ferries are AC and can be booked in advance from the counter at the DSS in port Blair. Booking Counter at also available in Havelock at the Jetty and these open at 9:15 to 12:15 and 14:15 to 16:15. You will have to get there early and stand in the queue but as soon as the counter opens the pushing and shoving starts so be prepared to be tough.
In busy seasons, local ferries can get booked up. 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 pick 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 1000 (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 rupees one-way, but discounts may be available.
One of the two rickety buses on the island
- Walking is the most common form of transport.
- Local buses and shared jeeps ply the 2 main roads between the port (on Beach #1), Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7), and Beach #5 where the bulk of the accommodation is located. There is a local bus for Radhanagar waiting at beach #1 at around the time the ferry (10-10:30AM) arrives. The cost of a ticket from Beach #1 to Radhanagar is around Rs 6, shared jeeps a little more. Try to get off the ferry quickly and walk out of the parking area (where all the taxis and autorickshaws are parked) to catch the bus, although foreigners tend to have to stay back a bit to complete their permit formalities. The journey from Beach #1 to Radhanagar is around 30-45 minutes.
- Auto-rickshaws are also available. Fares are more or less standardized: from Beach #5 resorts to the market costs Rs.20, from Beach #1 (the port) to Beach #5 Rs 50, and a return trip from the market to Radhanagar Beach (with waiting time) is Rs. 300. You can usually flag them down on one of the main roads, or at the market.
- Bicycles, scooters and motorcycles are available for hire near the center of 'town' (Beach #3), or inquire at your guesthouse. A Bajaj scooter will run around Rs 200/day. Geared motorcycles are available for Rs 200/day and gearless scooters (Honda Activa etc.) for Rs 250. If you intend to hire for more than one day, then bargaining can bring down the price further. Petrol is available at some of the shops in the market or look out for boards that say "Petrol Pump". It's available for approximately Rs. 55 per liter.
Bicycles are available for Rs. 50 per day (November 2010).
- Private taxi operators A/c and non-a/c taxis are available for hire through your resort or travel agent. However these are pricey and non-reliable. A/c taxis charge around Rs 1,500 for a full day (eight hours) but the eight hours exists in theory. They will drop you off at your destination and disappear. For the return trip, you either have to pre-fix a pick-up time with them or give them a call on their cell phones. You may be better off hiring a scooter or motorcycle for the day.
Radhanagar Beach in the late afternoon
Sunset at Radhanagar Beach
Radhanagar Beach at sunset
- Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7) is the most beautiful on the island and was rated as the best in Asia by Time in 2004. Gorgeous, silky white sand backed by a forest that provides welcome shade looks out over turquoise water, some stretches with a sandy bottom good for swimming and some with excellent coral reefs that are great for snorkeling – a great combination indeed. Sunsets here are often spectacular and it's a popular time to be at the beach, but be careful not to miss the last trucks back if you're not staying here. A man with an elephant walks through the forest occasionally, offering rides for a fee. Buses run throughout the day until sunset, as do auto-rickshaws and shared 4 wheel-drive trucks. There are a few food shacks where the road hits the beach, all of which rent snorkels and fins.
An elephant near Beach #7
- Elephant Beach is further north from Radhanagar and is popular with Indian tourists. The shoreline here was largely swept away by the 2004 tsunami and the beach is a fraction of what it used to be; however, the coral here is probably the best on the island, making this an excellent spot for snorkeling. It's reachable on foot from Beach #7 or by fishing boat from the east side of the island; many resorts arrange snorkeling and diving trips here. A path to the beach starts from the road to Radhanagar — look for a dip in the road on a curve where there will usually be a few motorbikes parked. Several paths head off from this point, ask around for the correct one. If you choose to trek alone through the forest then stick to broad path since there are forks along the way. The walk is about 30 minutes at an easy pace with dry weather. Since the tsunami, the path ends in an expanse of un-inviting looking swampy water. Rather than attempting to go around, wade straight through it — the beach is only 100 meters straight ahead, the water is rarely above knee-height and the ground is solid. As you enter the swamp, you would see a small red board ahead, to your left; bear towards it. Wear sandals when crossing to avoid sharp shells. Note: During high tide, water may be a foot deeper in last 20 feet or so. While snorkeling, keep an eye out for the glass-bottom boats. If trek and get to the beach and are tired to trek back an option would be to take a boat ride from there to Jetty , normally they charge Rs 100 per person, only challenge is finding someone who is willing to take you and then take an Auto ride for Rs 100 again to the point where the vehicle is parked.
A typical Andaman-style dive boat
Scuba diving is probably the biggest activity on the island other than lying around and eating great seafood. Andaman Bubbles, Barefoot Scuba and Dive India are the top 3 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 Rs.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.
- Andaman Bubbles Dive Centre , Wild Orchid Resort, Beach #5. phone="94760 53273"
- Barefoot Scuba , Cafe Del Mar, Beach #3.
- DIVE India , Island Vinnie's Tropical Beach Cabanas Resort, Beach #3.
Snorkeling is also popular, with several options.
- Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7) has a couple of food shacks at the end of the road that rent out fins and masks for Rs 50/each. There are great reefs for snorkeling in both directions from the end of the road.
- Elephant Beach also has some good snorkeling sites.
- Both of the dive shops can also take along snorkelers to some of the off-shore sites.
- Local fishermen offer day trips and half day trips to different locations. South Button Island is particularly good as the reef is shallow, colorful and beautiful. It makes sense to get a group of 5-10 people together to share the cost of the boat.
- Near Havelock Jetty, opposite reservation counter there is a small lane which goes along side the beach. Keep going on that road and you‘ll reach some boats parked at the shore. They can take you for snorkeling at Lighthouse and Elephant Beach. Corals out there are worth watching. They charge 2000/- for a couple for Speed boat transfer + Snorkel.
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, or call Sanjit Dhali at tel. +91-94-74278303, +91-99-33234884; he's a local autorickshaw driver who knows the jungle trails like the back of his hand. The Wild Orchid Resort and Emerald Gecko Resort also conduct Jungle treks and you can walk into the reception and check on their offers.
- Barefoot Eco Tours, operating from the Barefoot Brasserie at the jetty and at Barefoot at Havelock Resort can arrange interesting treks both on Havelock and at other islands (e.g. Long Island) and even conduct overnight camping and trips including treking, kayaking and snorkeling.
- Wild Orchid Resort, on beach #5 organise trekking, fishing trips and snorkeling.
- Emerald Gecko Resort, on beach #5 organise trekking, fishing trips and snorkeling.
Mangrove Safari and 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 fiehrmen will prepare fishing lines for you and you can catch fishes. Duration: 3-4 hrs. Time: 3PM-7PM usually. Cost: Rs. 3500.
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 Rs.50, take one with black printing, as white text bleeds off the first time you wash it.
There is a recently opened Axis Bank ATM near the Market place.
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.
- Dhabas near the junction at Beach #3 serve seafood and basic local Indian food, and are the cheapest way to eat on the island. There are also snack stands near here selling samosas, sweets and the like. More dhabas can be found near Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7), serving fresh sea food at reasonable prices; you may have to wait up to an hour for the food out here.
- Catch of the Day is for sale near the port on Beach #1 in the afternoons, and you can have your guesthouse cook it up for a fee.
- Pristine Beach Resort, Orient Legend Resort and the others in the same vein all have restaurants serving the catch of the day, local Indian food and some traveler's favorites like french fries and chow mein.
- Symphony Palms Beach Resort has their own restaurant which has very good vegetarian food. Boufets for Rs 350 per head.
Upper Meduim class - Actual Value for money.========
- Crossbill resorts*****: This is an awesome place. Very neat and well maintained.
Very good ambience and the whole resort is filled with lovely coconut woods. Very good place to relax.
Also the owner Sheela is a very friendly lady and would help all the ways possible. Food is okay.
But the rooms are luxurious for just Rs 2500/- (A/C).
Not crazily expensive like the other resorts and also very neat and well maintained.
Perfect for the Upper Meduim class - Actual Value for money.
- B3, Barefoot Bar and Brasserie, Village #1 / Jetty. The high level restaurant is managed by an Indian / Austrian couple. The head chief in the kitchen is a Swiss cook. Lunch and dinner-menus contain pizza, fresh home made pasta (!), Indian dishes with tandoory oven as well as different fusion dishes, e.g. the excellent 'Pork spiessli' starter: skewed savoury pork. The restaurant is situated on the first floor and all tables offer a spectacular overview over the busy goings at the port and main road. Rs 600-700 per person.
- Venom(Bar) and Charcoal(Restaurant).html at Symphony Palms beach no 3(B3) is one of the best restaurants in the islands offering delicious food in the best price .The price of the food is in mid range segment .The restaurant is know for the best sea food and its good services.
- Red Snapper at the Wild Orchid Resort is the one of the better and most expensive restaurants on the island, serving freshly caught and well-prepared seafood and a selection of Indian and continental dishes. It's best to go from the specials board or ask your waiter for his recommendation. Lunch or dinner will run about Rs 300-600 per person.
- Emerald Gecko is run by the same couple who run the Wild Orchid. The food is similarly tasty, the menu is much, much smaller, and it's a bit cheaper – dinner will probably run more around Rs 200.
- Clown Fish Cafe is also a restaurant in Wild Orchid. it is located at the Andaman Bubbles Dive Center. and has a variety of snacks and milk shakes.
- White Sand, Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7). An Italian restaurant, where the old Mahua restaurant (now shifted inside Barefoot Resort) used to be, offering good breakfast options, and pastas & pizzas for lunch and dinner, it is run by a native Russian lady along with her Bengali husband. It's located on the Radhanagar beach and managed by the Indian Government Tourism Board. The pizzas are a must-try if you go here. Do plan for a leisurely meal as all items on the menu are made from scratch on order. Rs 300-400 per person.
- Beer is available at most of the resorts and at the "English Beer & Wine Shop" near the port (it's open to all, not just Brits.). Wild Orchid, B3, Symphony Palms offers various brand of beers like Kingfisher ,Foster etc at the cheapest price
- Alchohol all types of alchohol is available at the bar in the The Wild Orchid Resort.
- Fresh coconuts are available around the island - after you drink the juice they'll be happy to whack it open so you can eat the flesh too.
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.
The recent boom in tourism means that there is not always enough accommodation to meet demand — the majority of the places between Beaches #3 and #5 have huts for around Rs 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.
- Pristine Beach Resort is one of the more popular. The restaurant serves good food at a glacial speed, but sadly they've lost their beer license . Sea facing Huts and stilted cottages ranging Rs 200-1500.
- Cafe del Mar, Beach #3. Perennially popular melting pot. Has a range of options from tents and/or basic A-frame huts with sheets for doors (the cheapest option on the island) to deluxe sea-facing huts. Rs 200 to Rs 2000.
- Orient Legend Resort, Beach #5. Another popular cheapie with huts starting from Rs 150 and a basic restaurant. Has hammocks if everything else is full, Rs 50.
- Sunrise Beach Resort, Beach #5. Similar to Orient.
- Island Camping, operated by the Andaman Tourist Office, offers pre-setup tents on Beach #7 where the road meets the beach. Tents range from Rs 150-500. The more expensive ones come with private bath and toilet, though no hot water is available. Bookings must be made in advance at the Tourism Office in Port Blair, though this can be done by telephone.
- El Dorado, Beach #3. Quite new, huts with communal showers and toilets Rs 200. Huts with en suite toilet and shower Rs 500. Due to the place being quite new most huts are reasonably clean and well maintained. Reasonable restaurant, serves beer.
- Gold India, Beach #3. Another new-ish resort. Huts with en suite toilet and shower Rs 500. Average restaurant, serves alcohol.
- Andaman Bubbles, Beach #5. A new resort with well constructed huts with en suite, tiled bathrooms. Rs 500-1250 (low - high season). Restaurant is shared with the next door Emerald Gecko, which serves the best food on beaches 3 & 5.
- Emerald Gecko, at the end of Beach #5, . Quieter than some of the others and a little more expensive with slightly nicer huts. Also very popular, and has a great restaurant and friendly owner who can also arrange fishing trips. Huts Rs 500, bamboo bungalows Rs 1500, bamboo lodges Rs 2000.
- Island Vinnie's Tropical Beach Cabanas and Dive Centre, Beach #3,  is also home of DIVEIndia. Accommodation has been redone for the 2009 season and the restaurant is now under the management of the hugely popular Full Moon restaurant.
- Dolphin Beach Resort is a government run resort. It's sterile, ugly, and popular with Indian families. On the plus side if you can't live without a/c, then you can find it here in large huts for around Rs 1000, cheaper than you'll get elsewhere. There's a restaurant on site, and pre-booking in Port Blair is advised. Rs 500-2000.
- Sea Shell resort  has good wooden cottages with a/c, and TV, should you need to watch the cricket. The setting is great beneath the palm trees (beware falling coconuts). The restaurant is OK and the bar better that most on the island. Singles Rs 2,500, doubles Rs 3,000, incl breakfast.
- Symphony Inn, at the middle of Beach #5. Has a good beach spot, rooms are nice and are kept clean and tidy, there are some shops right outside the resort that offer Ayurvedic massage, Internet, General Store. Nice bamboo bungalows Rs 2000 Non AC, AC @ Rs 4000, incl breakfast. If you are staying more night you can bargain and get some discount. On the downside there are no phones in the rooms so if you need any thing you will have to go to the reception personally if you don't find any one of the helper there.
- V-Knot Residency, at Govind Nagar is a newly constructed RCC Hotel with well furnished and clean rooms AC Rs. 1600 and Non AC Rs. 1000, they can give you discount if contacted directly.
- Silver Sand, ☎ 03192-244914, . Accommodation ranges from large rooms with en suite, TV and a/c, to whole two story cottages suitable for families. Rooms are clean, in good condition, and decorated in king style. rates start at Rs 6,500-10,000.
- Symphony Palms Beach Resort, ☎ 03192-244914, . One of the biggest resort in the entire havelock island offering 70 Scottish cottages. The resort has its own private beach, sumptuous interiors, and superb modern facilities. The Resort also has a full range of audiovisual equipment and trained staff. The tariff for season ranges from 200-300.
- Wild Orchid Resort, . Offers reasonable accommodation in the mid range (real beds, nice bathrooms, some with a/c), with a semi-private path through the jungle to a nice spot on #5 beach, with wooden sun-beds for hire. The rooms are however increasingly looking worn down and there are other newer options available in the immediate vicinity. Also has a very good restaurant, the Red Snapper. Occasionally organize low-key evening beach parties/gatherings, with music and food. Rs 3000-4000 high season, Rs 1500-2000 low season.
- Barefoot Resort, tel. +91-3192-236008, . This eco-friendly resort is in seclusion at the far end of Beach #7 (Radhanagar Beach), perhaps the one of the beautiful location on the Island. It offers spacious detached accommodation in independent fan-cooled and duplex fan-cooled Nicobari Cottages and Airconditioned Andaman Villas. Doubles vary from Rs 5300-15000 or more depending on type and season. It offers the islands only genuine Italian cuisine in its speciality restaurant by the beach "Mahua" (including a decent espresso) and also has great thalis and other authentic Indian fare on offer in its main restaurant.The location can be bigdraw back since there are no sea facing cottages that the resort offers. The resort offers only 18 cottages catering to mid range customers.
- Munjoh Ocean Resort, tel. +91-3192-282000 . Air conditioned, luxurious villas, suites & cottages surrounded by coconut & betel nut trees; the Munjoh Ocean Resort on Beach#5 is the only property on Havelock with a little rivulet cutting across its property onwards to the ocean. Quaint, indulgent accommodation & decent service with a restaurant & a bar; doubles tariffs vary from Rs 6000-13000.
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. Occassionaly they are in a larger number,
so longer shirts and troussers will be reccommended.
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.
There is a small post office next to the port at Beach #1.
Landlines are scarce, and with the exception of a couple of the nicer accommodation options, most places don't have a phone.
- PCO/ISD's (phone booths) are located on Beach #5, near the junction at Beach #3 and near the port at Beach #1. Service outages are common.
- Mobile phones can be used in many parts of island. Service is provided by BSNL  and Airtel . Although the Airtel service disappears if you move far from the jetty.
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 rupees an hour it's extremely expensive
- Wild Orchid Resort has a a satellite broadband internet cafe. though the speeds are not lighting fast, it is definitely better than dialup.
- Pristine Beach Resort has a couple of computers which every once in a while are connected to the internet via a near-dead dial-up connection.
- Anu's Internet Cafe has two computers set up in a shop just off the main road near Dolphin Resort in village no.3. It is not fast but still usable.
- Island Vinnie's can burn photos onto CDs or DVDs for a fee, and claim to have non broad-band internet access.
Outside Symphony Inn there is a cyber cafe, charges are Rs 2 Per minute the connection is a dial up connection with 45 kbps.
- Wandoor-(tel-03192-244914) Sea Princess beach resort located on hill top has 33 sea facing rooms.It is just 30 min drive from Portblair airport . Some say it is the best place to stay after havelock
- Neil Island – a smaller and quieter island, with only 2 accommodation options. Some say it's best to stop here before Havelock.
|This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!