At 41 km, this tiny island provides all the beach fun and activities you can hope for. From Scuba diving, night kayaking, snorkelling, jet skiing, sun bathing, relaxing in the quietude of long stretches of isolated white sand beaches, marveling at the beautiful corals and shells at the beach, after you have admired them under water, trekking, sipping on coconut water , bar hopping, trying out different cuisines, wondering at fauna, which includes giant sized versions of many common plants, to hopping out of way of reckless drivers, and being chased away by pack of dogs, dodging crocodiles(if you don’t heed the warning signs), Havelock island is your one stop destination for all sea activities. In spite of being the most visited island in Andaman, it has those laid back vibes. Read on, to find out how you can visit Havelock island in an eco-friendly way on a restricted budget.
How to reach there?
You can book either a government ferry or a private ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. Private ferry can be booked online or seats can be arranged through an agent.
The cheapest option, however, are the government ferries which you need to book at the counter in Port Blair. The ferry schedules are released evry Monday and Thursday and tickets are sold out very quickly. To read more about it, read my post How to spend seven days in the Andaman Islands-Plan your own itinerary.
You can also book a ferry to and from Neil Island. Neil Island is only half an hour sea journey away. To read how to spend time in Neil, read my blog post on things to do in Neil Island on a day trip.
Where to stay?
The island is divided into areas as Havelock 1, Havelock 2 and so on, with the jetty, the point of embarkation and disembarkation, being Havelock 1. The Nemo beach, is next to the jetty. The market is a kilometer from the jetty.
Most resorts and hotels are situated from Havelock 3 to Havelock 5. The areas are also known by the six villages. A single road runs through the island. The Radhanagar beach is in Havelock 7.
I stayed at Havelock farm resort. I checked rating on booking.com but booked directly through the resort by calling them up. I visited with my mother and sister and they gave us an extra mattress for an added charge. We took a non air conditioned room for Rs. 3500, that included the extra matress and complimentary breakfast for 3 people. The resort owner runs a cafe, Kerala cafe, where we had almost all our meals. I liked that place because they have lots of menu options and the food tasted great.The prices listed on the website were higher. To read more on tips to book places to stay, read my blog here.
Bus fare: Buses leave for Kala Pathar Beach and Radhanagar beach every half hour from the jetty. You can flag down the bus anywhere on the road.
Rs 12/person for most places
Rs 25/person Radhanagar beach to jetty
Time: 6:00Am- 6:00 PM (Confirm with the bus conductor once, just to be sure)
The buses ply quite frequently between the jetty and Kala Pathar beach and jetty and Radhanagar beach. Some buses also ply between Kala Pathar beach and Radhanagar beach.
Chartered buses: I saw several other buses as well, but I believe they belonged to some tour companies or were booked for groups.
You can rent a scooter for around Rs 200 or a bicycle for Rs 100 for one day. The roads are quite narrow, and driving is very rash, so be careful. I saw a road, marked as cycling track from the market, but I am not sure if it was exclusively for cycles. I would certainly have gone cycling if we had even half a day more.
You always have the option of walking on your own two feet and it is obviously free. It is also good for the environment and gives you a nice workout. We walked to the Kala Patthar beach from our hotel. It was a pleasant 4.5 km walk, which also gave us ample opportunity to admire the surrounding nature. The buses ply on a more or less regular basis so you can always flag down one, if you are tired.
The auto charged us Rs.600 to take us to the Radhanagar beach, wait there and bring us back. They claimed that it was 15 km one way from our hotel but it was much lesser. We calculated that from the direction boards. The cab charges even more, maybe Rs 700 or Rs 800.
Places to visit
There is a tourist information center at the jetty that hands out free pamphlet that mentions places to visit, names of hotels and restaurants and companies that offer activities. The list is obviously not exhaustive but it gives you an idea.
Radhanagar Beach and Neil’s cove
Activities: Swimming, Sun bathing, gazing at the sunset
This stunning sun set beach is a must visit for everyone. This is the beach where you can swim. Life guides keep a constant eye on people inside the water. Orange coloured flags at two points, on either side of the life guard’s lookout mark the area for tourists.
The beach looks stunning at sunset. If you walk to the far end of the beach, you will come across many small white crabs as the scuttle in and out of their homes.
The local administration bodies have at least taken note of not allowing any construction in the vicinity of the beach. All street food vendors, stalls and small shops are located on the main road. As of now there is no resort overlooking the beach, unlike at the Laxmanpur beach at Neil Island. To read about the environmental damage visible at Laxmanpur beach, read my post, Laxmanpur beach-the dark side of tourism.
Neil’s cove: A trail through the grove of tall trees runs parallel to the beach. In all the islands in Andaman, I saw giant versions of regular shrubs that can be spotted elsewhere, but here the stems are woody and the leaves are huge. It is a pleasant walk and if you walk till the end, across the black rocks, you will arrive at a beautiful blue beach in the form of a perfect arch. This is the Neil’s cove.
Warning signs about possibility of crocodiles in the area are posted on the way. There is a restriction on going into water here. Plenty of colourful corals and shells can be found here. Marvel at them but don’t remove them as they belong there. It is apparently the dead white corals, made of calcium carbonate, that makes for the pristine white of these white sand beaches in the Andaman Islands.
Activities: Jungle trek(1.6 km), water activities like jet skiing, glass boat ride and snorkeling
You can reach there by sea or by road and trek. For some reason, you are recommended the ship for a 10 minute ride.
Only private ships ply between the jetty and the Elephanta beach, and they cost Rs. 950. I do not know if this is the price for one way or both ways, but in my opinion, it is preposterous in either case. Also, if you want to trek, the point of trek is harder to find from the beach. If you do not want to trek or the conditions are not suitable for trekking(read on to find out why), you will have to take the ship, if you want to visit this beach.
By road and trek
The trekking point is on the way to Radhanagar beach and is well marked. From here, a 1.6 km trek will take you to the beach. We went there in December and there had been no rains, so the trekking route was dry enough, however if you go there after rains, it can be quite marshy.
You need to make an entry in a register at the entrance. You have the option of taking a local guide for Rs. 500. If the weather is suitable, and you stick to the main path, you will reach the beach, however, if you go off the main mud track, you can get lost in the forest. It is for this reason, that they ask you to enter your name. You need to sign out on your way back. If you don’t, a local search team will go looking for you. We went without a guide, stuck to the main path, and reached alright. As other groups were also coming that way, we knew we were on the right path. If you are traveling off season, you might consider taking a local guide.
The trees are ginormous and I saw many lizards. I don’t know if there are snakes there as well, so be careful if you go after rains. The view is totally worth it though. Once you exit the forest, you will reach a marshland. It was dry when we were there, but it could be swampy after rain or maybe even during high tide. There were small streams with tadpoles and shell fishes in them. As we did not plan on doing any activities there, we returned immediately and realized that finding the exact point of starting the trek is more difficult from the beach.
Kala Pathar Beach
Activities: Sunrise, sub bathing, sea gazing
This is the sunrise beach. You can’t swim here as it is quite rocky.You need to reach here at 4:30 am to catch the sunrise. the auto driver will charge you at least Rs 400 for the same.We visited this beach in the afternoon. The walk to the beach was 4.5 km from our hotel and was pleasant and very scenic. On our way, we even got a glimpse of the beautiful Vijaynagar beach.
If your resort is along the beach, you can just go out and watch the sunset. Our hotel owner gave us the offer of going to the beach of the resort on the other side of the road. He said that they would allow us there. We decided to do the same, however there is a catch. A number of local dogs gang up and don’t really allow you to go anywhere. One calls the other and then another one turns up from nowhere, and so on and on and in no time you are surrounded by a pack. We decided to return to our hotel. Dogs in packs in mornings and evenings can be quite antagonistic and not all that cute and cuddly as they usually are during the day. They consider you a trespasser and therefore a threat. They make for good guard dogs for the property owners though.
A kilometre from the jetty, this beach is approved for Scuba diving. Activities: Scuba diving(trial dive and boat dive) and night kayaking
You could be offered scuba diving anywhere from Rs 1800 to Rs. 4500, for trial dive so bargain for best prices. Boat diving is likely to be more expensive. They will tell you that the more expensive one is better but it is not so, it’s just expensive. The clarity is best at sunrise so choose a time early in the morning. It can be a bit more expensive as compared to dives in the afternoon.
Trial dive/Shore dive
With this dive, you will be taken to a depth of 6 metres and this will cost you less.
You will go to a maximum depth of 12 metres, the pressure would be a bit more but you are more likely to see more sea life. This will be more expensive. If you go for more than one dive with the same company. they are likely to give you a discount.
The water was murky, possibly due to a storm in the ocean. I had done scuba diving in Feb 2016 in North Bay, and I saw a lot more corals and schools of fishes that I did not see this time even though I was told that scuba in Havelock is many times better than in North Bay.
Price: Rs. 3000-Rs. 3500/person
This was referred to us by our hotel owner and this was an amazing experience, maybe the best. You go into the backwaters in a kayak. There are two people in a kayak, I went with my sister. As long as you don’t move to much to the sides, you will be good.The full moon was approaching and the views were surreal. It was also a great workout. I highly recommend this. We were the only three people who had booked that night and my mother was very scared. There were two guides with us and it was a lot of fun. This was our first time kayaking and I think it was a good introductory lesson for beginners. I regret not taking my phone for pictures so take your camera along. The guide carries a water proof bag.