Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lost In The Andamans: Havelock, Will (Sea) Walk (Ch 4/8)

Havelock, named after a British General, Sir Henry Havelock, is arguably the most famous of the Andaman islands, and escaped the 2004 earthquake and resulting tsunami. It has a population of around six thousand, mostly Bangladeshi settlers after the 1971 war.

To the north east of Port Blair, the island can be accessed by ferries that take anything between one and half to two hours. The government ferries are cheaper but slower; faster private operators also ply to Havelock.

However, we chose to take the helicopter, which can be quite an experience and is highly recommended for the gorgeous views it offers all through the fifteen min flight.

Gorgeous views of the islands on the heli ride to Havelock
Radhanagar on Havelock is beach paradise, a short drive from Havelock jetty or the heliport, and aptly considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It was named the “Best Beach in Asia” by Time magazine in 2004. White virgin sand, crystal clear waters and a flat seabed offers the best opportunities for taking a dip in the sea.  Walk along the beach a little to the left or the right for all the privacy you need with your lover!

Crystal clear water and ivory sands makes Radhanagar a swimmer's delight
Traveler Pro Tip: Like the signboards at the beaches will tell you, take away only your memories and belongings with you – leave everything else behind! Tourists are prohibited from taking corals and sea shells off the islands. Sagarika, the government emporium in Port Blair, has a good collection of all the mementos and curios you need at reasonable prices.

The fisk tikka at Anju Coco is to die for
Radhanagar beach has a few food and drink stalls, fairly clean toilet facilities and changing rooms, and a restaurant, but for foodies, I heavily recommend the Anju Coco, situated a few mins from the Havelock jetty. Everything is prepared strictly on order, so be patient! It’s well worth the wait!

Lush greenery borders the Radhanagar beach
Elephant beach, a twenty min boat ride from the jetty, offers excellent opportunities for water sports like scuba and sea walk. For starters, I heavily recommend the sea walk for everyone between ten to fifty years, unless you have serious heart or other ailments.

After a thirty kg helmet with an air intake pipe was placed on my shoulders, a diver gently nudged me off the ladder and escorted me to the sea bed – the air in the helmet keeping the water below my chin, even though it was unsealed around my neck! It took a few seconds for my ears to get adjusted to the pressure, but once I had regained my bearings, it was an amazing experience to be among the fishes. And if you are lucky, the diver will even hand you some fish feed to have them literally biting it off the palm of your hand! Ask for the experience to be photographed and videographed, because this is one place your selfie stick becomes pretty much unusable!

Elephant beach on Havelock is perfect for Sea Walking
Finding Nemo on Havelock
Elephant is connected to Radhanagar by a lovely trail through the woods, and if you like the outdoors and are staying on Havelock for a couple of days, you should definitely enjoy the forty five min trek!

Traveler Pro Tip: The ferries between the islands are few and far between, so plan your trip in advance, check the timings and be punctual! You do not want to get stuck on the island without a backup plan. 

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