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 atmoshere 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.
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 Coach and ₹350 for First Class. These ferries are air conditioned and can be booked in advance from the counter at the DSS in port Blair. A booking counter is also available in Havelock at the Jetty and operates from 09:15 to 12:15 and 02:15 to 16/15. You will have to get there early and stand in line, but as soon as the counter opens it can become pretty hectic so be prepared.
In busy seasons, local ferries should be booked in advance. 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 picked 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 10:00 if you need to be sure of making onward connections.
Alternately, there are many an air-conditioned catamaran ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. Tickets prices starts from Rs.1000 to Rs.3000. 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) helicopters do operate from Port Blair but since it has limited seats it is always advisable to confirm the availability well in advance. The sea plane operations have been suspended since 2016.
- 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 (10-10:30) arrives. The cost of a ticket from Beach #1 to Radhanagar is around ₹ 50, 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 ₹.100, from Beach #1 (the port) to Beach #5 ₹ 200, and a return trip from the market to Radhanagar Beach (with waiting time) is ₹. 400. 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 centre of 'town' (Beach #3), or inquire at your guesthouse. A Honda activa will run around ₹ 500/day. Geared motorcycles are available for ₹ 500/day and gearless scooters (Honda Activa etc.) for ₹ 500/day. 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 ₹. 80 per liter(Apr 2019), and can go up to ₹. 120 per liter at some shops.
Bicycles are available for ₹. 80 per day (Apr 2019).
- 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 ₹ 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 BeachOne of the most beautiful beaches on the island and 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. If you are fit, you can bicycle from Govind Nagar but the journey is quite bumpy and steep. There are a few food shacks where the road hits the beach, all of which rent snorkels and fins.
Kalapathar BeachLocated on one corner of Havelock, this beach gets its name from the surrounding village Kalapathar and the black rocks (Kalapathar Rocks) that adorn the coastline here. The emerald seas, the tropical forests on one side of the road the coastline, and on other side the silken smooth silver sands and the sheer solitude make this beach a great place to relax.
Pool Table at Pearl Beach ResortPool Table is available at Havelock island at Pearl Beach Resort..Rent is ₹ 400 per Hour ..
Scuba divingScuba diving is probably the biggest activity on the island other than lying around and eating great seafood. Andaman Bubbles, Barefoot Scuba, Doongi Dives and Dive India are the top 4 SSI http://www.divessi.com/ 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 ₹.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. 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.
phone: +91 3192 282140, +91 95318 92216address: near Wild Orchid ResortA well run dive shop with confident dive masters, Bubbles provides extensive dive courses and a few selected fun dive spots. It is limited in the dive sites offered which also means contending with diving crowds, and a lack of exploration. The equipment may not be the most recent, but this is one of the cheapest options on the Island. An on-site café (Fat Martin) offers early breakfasts and late lunches before and after the dive trips. The equipment centre is a 5-minute jeep-ride further south. You may have to carry your equipment to the boat, 100 metres across the beach.
address: Cafe Del Mar, Beach #3
phone: +91 94742 96200
Havelock Diversphone: +91 7063955900
Nemo Diversphone: +91 9434264321
SnorkelingSnorkeling 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 ₹ 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.
TrekkingIf 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 metres away from the end of beach #5. Guides can be arranged through resorts. 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.
FishingA 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 fishermen will prepare fishing lines for you and you can catch fishes. Duration: 3-4 hr. Time: 15:00-19:00 usually. Cost: ₹. 3500.
phone: +91-98402380421-day or 2-day fishing trips on the reefs around the Island, departing from Port Blair or Havelock.
phone: +91-8001165888They offer Sports fishing and Island hopping in three different boats as per budget.
AXIS & SBI ATMsThere is a 24/7 Axis Bank ATM near the Market place. The SBI ATM is not open all the time though.
Golden SpoonThe wooden benches and low-celiing shack may seem humble, but the seafood is exceptional. Home-made masalas dress the most delectable prawns, crabs, or freshly-fished snappers at low prices. Cheapest lobster on the Island. Provides take-away service so you can enjoy your meal on the beach. Considering it is a small kitchen, and all the food is prepared fresh - expect to wait for your order but it is worth it.
Dhabasserve 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.
Geetha RestaurantGrilled fish, prawns are served. Price varies with size
- 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 (Now moved to Diglipur), 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 ₹ 350 per head.
Big Bite Restaurantphone: +91 9434 298228address: Havelock JettyBreakfast, lunch and dinner.
B3, Barefoot Bar and Brasserieaddress: Village #1 / JettyThe high level restaurant is managed by an Indian / Austrian couple. The head chief in the kitchen is a Swiss cook. Serves pizza, fresh home made pasta, Indian dishes from a tandoori oven, and fusion dishes. 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.
- Venom(Bar) and Charcoal(Restaurant) 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 known 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 ₹ 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. Evening meals cost around ₹ 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 Sandaddress: Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7)An Italian restaurant, where the old Mahua restaurant (now moved inside Barefoot Resort) used to be, offering good breakfast options, and pastas & pizzas for lunch and dinner, it is run by a Russian lady with her Bengali husband. Located on the Radhanagar beach and managed by the Indian Government Tourism Board. Plan for a leisurely meal as everything is made fresh once you've ordered.
address: Beach #5Sited off the main road at the end of a lit path through the fores. Offered tasty tapas, barbecued fish and a fatmosphere. Animations, games or movies every night. Homemade cocktails and imported wines for a fair price.
- Beer is available at most of the resorts and at the "English Beer & Wine Shop" near the port. Wild Orchid, B3, Symphony Palms offers various brand of beers
- Alcohol all types of alcohol are available at the bar in 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 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 ₹ 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.
Emerald GeckoA resort with well constructed huts with en suite, tiled bathrooms. ₹ 500-1250 (low - high season). Restaurant is shared with the next door Emerald Gecko.
Cafe del Mar
El Doradoaddress: Beach #3Huts with communal showers and toilets ₹ 200. Huts with en suite toilet and shower ₹ 500. Due to the place being quite new most huts are reasonably clean and well maintained. Reasonable restaurant, serves beer.
Gold Indiaaddress: Beach #3Huts with en suite toilet and shower ₹ 500. Average restaurant, serves alcohol.
Island CampingOperated by the Andaman Tourist Office, offers set-up tents on Beach #7 where the road meets the beach. Tents range from ₹ 150-500. The more expensive ones come with private bath and toilet, but has no hot water. Bookings must be made in advance at the Tourism Office in Port Blair, though this can be done by telephone.
Orient Legend ResortBeach #5. Another popular cheapie with huts starting from ₹ 150 and a basic restaurant. Has hammocks if everything else is full, ₹ 50.
Pristine Beach ResortOne of the more popular. The restaurant serves good food but at a glacial speed. Sea facing Huts and stilted cottages ranging ₹ 200-1500.
Sunrise Beach Resortaddress: Beach nº 5This laid-back arrangement of shacks with a pristine but sometimes rocky beach is just metres away. An attached kitchen serves cheap and tasty breakfasts (₹300 for two) directly on the beach.
Emerald GeckoAt 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 ₹ 500, bamboo bungalows ₹ 1500, bamboo lodges ₹ 2000.
Island Vinnie's Tropical Beach Cabanas and Dive CentreBeach #3, is also home of DIVEIndia. During the high season the dive centre can fill quickly book in advance.
- Dolphin Beach Resort is a government run resort. It's popular with Indian families, their VIP suites offering excellent value. On the plus side if you can't live without a/c, then you can find it here in large huts for around ₹ 1000, cheaper than you'll get elsewhere. There's a restaurant on site, and pre-booking in Port Blair is advised. ₹ 500-2000.
Sea Shell resortHas 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 ₹ 2,500, doubles ₹ 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 ₹ 2000 Non AC, AC @ ₹ 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 ₹1600 and Non AC ₹1100, they can give you discount if contacted directly.
Silver SandAccommodation 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.
address: Govind Nagar BeachOne of the biggest resorts 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.
Wild Orchid ResortOffers 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. ₹ 3000-4000 high season, ₹ 1500-2000 low season.
phone: +91 3192-236008An eco-friendly resort at the secluded end of Beach #7 (Radhanagar Beach). Detached accommodation in cottages and villas. Doubles vary from ₹ 5300-15000, or more, depending on type and season. Italian cuisine in its restaurant by the beach "Mahua", and also has great thalis and other authentic Indian fare on offer in its main restaurant. The resort offers only 18 cottages
phone: +91 3192-282000Air 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 ₹ 6000-13000.
Sandflies can be a problem while sunbathing. Occasionally they are in a larger number,
so longer shirts and trousers are recommended.
Wild dogs can be a problem, especially along the beach at night – people are sometimes bitten. Carry a stick or a handful of stones to scare them off.
If you plan to be out until sunset or beyond it's a good idea to carry a torch. It can get 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 neighbouring islands. A woman was killed in May 2010 while snorkeling.
Beware, there some travel agents and touts who appear honest but try to scam people.
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. Vodafone and Idea Cellular also provide the service throughout the Island which is more reliable and stable.
- Wild Orchid Resort has 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 ₹ 2 per minute the connection is a dial up connection with 45 kbps.
Barefoot Scuba Internet CaféAn Internet café serving gelato and espresso.
Government ticket booth. Expect long queues and limited opening times (09:00-12:00, 14:00-16:00). Book your ticket at least two days before. Only half the available seats are sold in advance. If you are unlucky, try to show up very early the same day as your departure and hope for the best. Before to queue, head up to the window and ask for the ticket form. Fill it while queuing and when it's your turn, tender it to the officer. Prepare a copy of your Andaman stay permit, your passport if needed and the exact fare. After getting your ticket, check the reported details accurately to avoid later complications.
- Neil Island ; a smaller and quieter island, with only 2 accommodation options. Some say it's best to stop here before Havelock.
- Diglipur ; the far north of the island chain, and the jumping off point for Smith and Ross Islands.
- Long Island (Andamans) ; a small and still untouched island a 2-hour boat-ride north of Havelock.