Havelock Island with an area of 113.93 km2, is the largest of the islands that comprise Ritchie’s Archipelago, a chain of islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands. Known as a tropical island paradise in the cluster of the Andaman Islands, Havelock is popular for its striking white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and excellent corals. The island boasts of enormous forest covers; best explored on foot and a huge variety of flora and fauna. Various white sandy beaches permits travelers to go beach-hopping and find their place in the sun.
It is one of the few places that the administration of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory of India has permitted and encouraged development of tourism, with a focus on promoting eco-tourism.
During the early years of the British colonization of India, in the 18th century, a marine surveyor named John Ritchie was commissioned to travel the seas off the eastern coast of India and charter the routes to any islands he may find. In honour of John Ritchie, a group of islands to the eastern side of the main island of this archipelago, was named Ritchie’s Archipelago. Havelock Island is the largest in this group of islands and is the most frequently visited island among the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Havelock Island derived its name from a British General Henry Havelock who was based in India when Britishers colonized Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Once home to the aboriginal tribes who spoke Aka-Bale language and who are extinct now, Havelock, today is inhabited mostly Bengali and Myanmar immigrants.
Things To Do
Havelock Island offers an array of things to do. Snorkelling, scuba diving, trekking, sailing, parasailing, are some of the activities that you can enjoy here. Take a trip to Radhanagar or Elephant Beach for some adventurous sports or just to relax and sunbathe. You can also take a trip in glass-bottomed boat and see some marine action. Shop for local island crafts or savour some delicious seafood. Revel in the festivities of the festival celebrated here and let Havelock Island with its pristine beaches and clean fresh air, rejuvenates your senses.
Interestingly the villages at the Havelock Islands don’t have names and are recognised by their numbers.
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. Radhanagar Beach is also known as beach number 7.
Kalapathar beach is an amazing picnic spot to visit either alone or with friends. Cook your own food, and enjoy your afternoon with drinks and music. As the beach’s name suggests, black colored rocks line the coastline here, there’s a forest on one side of the road, and once you cross it, you reach the heavenly and silvery beach where you might get engulfed by the sheer solitude of the calm and relaxing environment. A brilliant place to sit by and start writing some great travel stories.
Radhanagar Beach is considered to be the striking beach on the island and has been rated as the best beach in Asia. Alluring, silky white sand which is backed by dense forest offering welcome shade overlooking turquoise waters, Radhanagar Beach is an ideal place for aqua sports enthusiasts as it offers excellent opportunities for snorkelling and its waters boasts of some superb coral reefs. Admire the spectacular sunset here or indulge in an elephant ride through the forest for a nominal fee.
Elephant Beach, which is further north from Radhanagar, is a popular beach with Indian tourists. The coral is the best here and hence it is a great site for snorkeling. You can also catch some live marine action in a glass bottomed boat that sails through the crystal waters. In case you are lucky you can even spot few dolphins. One can reach Elephant beach by small cruise boat from Havelock Jetty in about 40 minutes. Private ferry operators organize tours to Elephant beach from Havelock.
Vijaynagar Beach, Havelock, is a long stretch of sand on the east coast of the Island, punctuated occasionally by rock section. Most of the beach is lined by mahua trees, whose trunks grow along the ground for many feet before they begin to climb vertically. These trees have lent a distinct character to the sea front and provide shade, close to the water. Vijaynagar Beach is perfect for long walks along the sea. Dolphin Resort run by the Tourism Department and many other hotels are also located on this beach.
Havelock Island has diving sites that are suitable for both first time and experienced divers in addition to the fact the water temperature at approximately 28 degree C is conducive for diving. The underwater visibility is up to 40 metres and you can spot variety of fishes like Manta Rays, Banner Fish, Angelfish, Snappers, Stingrays, Cuttlefish and many more along with lots of beautiful coral. You don’t have to know swimming to discover scuba diving.
Snorkeling is a adventurous fun activity, where one can take a plunge into the shallow reef areas and enjoy the amazing under-water corals structures and vivid marine life including a variety of reef fishes, turtles, sharks and rays. Many visitors are bewildered by the sheer numbers of the fish in the vast shoals that populate the reefs. The famous beaches which are excellent locations for snorkeling are Radhanagar and Elephant Beaches.
Going for the underwater Sea Walk at the Elephant beach is like going for an underwater tour inside the reef, walking between corals, seeing variety of fish, and discovering the rich sea life underwater in the crystal clear blue water of the lagoon. A helmet with a transparent visor is placed on your head. A special apparatus allows normal breathing under the water. Life Guards assist in taking you underwater and accompany you throughout the walk.
Since the scenic beauty of this island is best explored on foot hence trekking is another activity you can enjoy here. 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.
Port Blair is just 54kms from Havelock Island and is considered the hub for reaching Havelock Islands. Visit to the Cellular Jail is a must here. The Cellular jail, a National Memorial, stood as a mute witness to the most brutal and barbaric atrocities meted out to national freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail. Port Blair is also an Island town offering water based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-cruises, and glimpses of the history and culture of the region. The Aberdeen Bazaar forms the centre of the town. Most of the restaurants and hotels are around this area. The main bus station is just west of the bazaar and the Airport 4 Kms. to the south west.
Neil is a tiny but beautiful island located 37 Kms. to the south of the Andaman Islands. With unexplored coral reefs, brilliant bio-diversity, white sandy beaches and tropical forest and vegetation, it is one of the hot tourist spots in the Andamans.
Neil Island is known as the ‘vegetable bowl’ of the Andamans. The settlers named the beaches after mythical characters of the epic Ramayana (Bharatpur, Laxmanpur, Sitapur, Ramnagar etc.) The island, with its very relaxed vibes and long, deserted beaches is a place to chill out after the “bustle” of Havelock. The widest part of the island is about 5 km in length. You can walk the whole island in about two hours.
Situated in North Andaman Island, Diglipur provides a rare experience for eco-friendly tourists. It is famous for its oranges, rice and marine life. The main attractions lie not in the town itself, but this is where buses arrive and depart from. Tourist accommodation is located in the nearby village of Kalipur. Saddle Peak, the highest point in the islands is nearby. Climb to Saddle Peak and marvel at the scenery. The climb itself is great too – the path follows the beach and then cuts through different types of jungle and forest up to the top. Kalpong, the only river of Andaman flows here. The only Hydro-electric project of the islands is on this river. One can feel the innocent beauty of village life everywhere in Diglipur.
How to get there by Ferry
Ferries are the best way to reach this island and you can take ferries from Port Blair and Rangat. The schedules and timings of these may vary according to the season hence it is advisable to enquire locally about ferries. Government-operated ferries are best booked in advance, as seats often sell out. These ferries are AC and can be booked in advance from the counter at the DSS in port Blair. Alternately, there is also an air-conditioned catamaran ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. 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.
How to get there by Air
The nearest airport is in Port Blair. From there you can fly in an amphibious 8-seater Cessna seaplane to Havelock and back every day except for Sunday. The sailing of these flights depends on weather conditions. Sea Planes does not operate during off season as well. Sea Plane booking enquiry can be done at Andaman tourism website. 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.
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Summers in Havelock – March-May
Summers in Havelock are quite hot and exhausting. The temperature varies from 24 degree Celsius to 32 degree Celsius. Therefore, tourists should avoid travelling to Havelock in summers.
Monsoon in Havelock -May-August
During monsoon Havelock receives heavy rainfall. It is a good time to enjoy the scenic beauty of the beaches and dense forests.
Winters in Havelock – December-February
Winters in Havelock are cool and enjoyable. One can relish the picturesque surrounding and indulge in various water sports. The temperature during winter months ranges from 20 degree Celsius to 28 degree Celsius.