A comprehensive travel guide to Havelock Island

A comprehensive travel guide to Havelock Island

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.It has that laid-back vibe in spite of being the most visited island of the Andaman archipelago. This travel guide to Havelock island has all the tips on how to visit in an eco-friendly way on a restricted budget.

Radhanagar Beach: I know it looks crowded but it is still worth many visits
Radhanagar Beach: I know it looks crowded but it is still worth many visits

How to reach?

  1. Private ferries can be booked online or seats can be arranged through an agent.
  2. Government ferries are much cheaper, however, you need to book them at the counter in Port Blair. The schedule for government ferries is released every Monday and Thursday and tickets sell out 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 Neil Island from Havelock island. It 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.
A single road runs around the circumference of the island. Radhanagar beach is in Havelock 7.
Most resorts and hotels are situated from Havelock 3 to Havelock 5. 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 mattress and complimentary breakfast for 3 people. The resort owner runs a cafe, Kerala cafe, where we had almost all our meals. They have lot of menu options and the food tasted great.

Local transportation

Buses

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)
1. State run 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.

2. Chartered buses: I saw several other buses as well, but I believe they belonged to some tour companies or were booked for groups.

A woman bus conductor: It is heartening to see women in traditionally male dominated roles in the Andaman Islands.  I met an auto driver on my last visit and you can see many traffic policewomen in port Blair
A woman bus conductor: It is heartening to see women in traditionally male dominated roles in the Andaman Islands. I met an auto driver on my last visit and you can see many traffic policewomen in port Blair

Scooter/Bicycle

You can rent a scooter for around Rs 200 or a bicycle for Rs 100 for one day. The roads are narrow, and driving 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 couldn’t go cycling due to lack of time.

Walking

You always have the option of walking obviously free. It is good for the environment and a pleasant low-impact 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.

It's a scenic walk to Kala Pathar beach
It’s a scenic walk to Kala Pathar beach
And you will also get to see other beaches, like this beautiful isolated Vijaynagar beach
And you will also get to see other beaches, like this beautiful isolated Vijaynagar beach

Auto/cab

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

Activities: Swimming, Sun bathing, gazing at sunset
This stunning sun set beach is a must visit for everyone. You can also swim on this beach. Life guides keep a constant eye on people inside the water. Orange colored 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 they scuttle in and out of their homes.

Street food outside Radhanagar beach

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 Laxmanpur beach at Neil Island. To read about the environmental damage there, read my post things to do in Neil island on a day trip.

I would have clicked more and better pictures had I not been stunned by the beauty of this beach.
I would have clicked more and better pictures had I not been stunned by the beauty of this beach.

Neil’s cove

A trail through the grove of trees runs parallel to the beach. In all the islands in Andaman, I saw giant versions of regular shrubs that can be spotted elsewhere, with woody stems and huge leaves. Walk to the far end till you reach the black rocks, and then some more to 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. Marvel at the colorful corals and shells here and leave them here. 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.

View of the beach as seen from the grove of trees
View of the beach as seen from the grove of trees
The short trek to the Neil's cove, along Radhanagar beach
The short trek to the Neil’s cove, along Radhanagar beach
Grove of trees
Grove of trees
These rocks looks a lot like crocodiles themselves, must be easy for one to camouflage
These rocks looks a lot like crocodiles themselves, must be easy for one to camouflage
Neil's cove
Neil’s cove
Fossils, shells, corals etc., let them be where they belong
Fossils, shells, corals etc., let them be where they belong

Elephanta Beach

Activities: Jungle trek(1.6 km), water activities like jet skiing, glass boat ride and snorkeling

Elephanta beach
Elephanta beach

You can reach there by sea or by road and trek. For some reason, you are recommended the ship for a 10 minute ride.

By ship/boat

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.

The sign on the main road pointing towards the starting point of the trek
The sign on the main road pointing towards the starting point of the trek
The land under the feet was still soft in many places, you could tell how marshy it must get during the monsoons
The land under the feet was still soft in many places, you could tell how marshy it must get during the monsoons

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.

A thatched roof guest house on the way
A thatched roof guest house on the way

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.

An ant hill
An ant hill
The area covered in mangroves, the land can be soft in some places and finding way back to trail can at times be a little tricky
The area covered in mangroves, the land can be soft in some places and finding way back to trail can at times be a little tricky
The board at the end of the forest trail, where it opens upon the vista of a large mangrove area with blue sea peeking through
The board at the end of the forest trail, where it opens upon the vista of a large mangrove area with blue sea peeking through

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 watch the sunrise. the auto driver will charge you at least Rs 400 for the same.We visited this beach in the afternoon. A 4.5 km long scenic walk leads to this beach. You will hardly come across any vehicles but hop out of the way when you hear one approaching. We got a glimpse of the beautiful Vijaynagar beach on our way.

If your resort is along the beach, you can just go out and watch the sunrise. Our hotel owner gave us the offer of going to the beach of the resort on the other side of the road. A number of local dogs surrounded us and summoned their friends to join them forced us to turn back. 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.

Sea on rocks
Sea on rocks
Kalapathar beach
Kalapathar beach
Vijaynagar beach
Vijaynagar beach

Nemo beach

Activities: Scuba diving(trial dive and boat dive) and night kayaking

Trial dive/Shore dive

You could be offered trial scuba diving from anywhere between Rs 1800 and Rs. 4500, so bargain for best prices. With this dive, you will be taken to a depth of 6 metres. The clarity is best at sunrise so choose a time early in the morning. For this reason, morning dives are more expensive.

Boat dive

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.

Night kayaking:

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 in the backwaters in a kayak and row, it makes for a great workout. There were two guides with our group of three, a guide in one kayak, another one with my Mom and my sister and I shared a kayak. As long as you don’t move too much to the sides, you will be good. We went on a full moon night and the views were surreal. We saw bio luminescence in the waters every time it was disturbed by the oars.

This was our first time kayaking and I think it was a good introductory lesson for us beginners. I do not regret not taking my phone for pictures, however you can take your camera along as the guide carries a water proof bag.

Richa Jain

I am Richa, from India. Restless by nature, I am fascinated by everything unfamiliar. This is possibly the reason why traveling and reading has always been high on my wish list. I started this blog to document my travel stories and decided later to add book reviews as well. I also realized that planning for long travels, specially when it includes extensive documentation, can be quite daunting, so I decided to include my itineraries and some practical tips that would help in planning trips. Join me on my journeys. Traveling is not the most environment friendly hobby and yet it is essential for city dwellers to get in touch with nature. I have been looking at sustainable options in all areas of my life and can't wait to share them with all.

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