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 two ATMs; SBI and Axis bank. 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.
How To Go?
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 “Chair” class and 350-390 for “Seat” Class. These ferries are AC and can be booked in advance from the counter at the DSS in port Blair. Booking Counter at also available in Havelock at the Jetty and these open at 9:15 to 12:15 and 14:15 to 16:15. You will have to get there early and stand in the queue but as soon as the counter opens the pushing and shoving starts so be prepared to be tough. Usually the ticket opens 4 days in advance. Online booking for government ferry is allowed by some private agencies. They book the ferry in advance with some extra charges for the service.
In busy seasons, local ferries can get booked up. 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 pick 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 10AM if you need to be sure of making onward connections.
Alternately, there is also an air-conditioned catamaran ferry from Port Blair to Havelock. Tickets are 975 onwards (which gets you a leather seat and your own tv). 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.
3 Cruises are currently operating in Andaman Islands, connecting Port Blair, Havelock and Neil Island. These cruises adds more comfort to your journey and takes 120 minutes to reach Havelock Island and 90 Minutes to reach Neil Island. Makruzz, Coastal Cruise and Express Bhagya are the cruises that operates in this region. All ferry timings, costs and online bookings can be done at. Ferry booking had been a major issue, which has now been addressed through such sites. Note that the cruises may not operate during May, June, July and August. Government ferry is operational all through out the year.
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), which until 2011 operated sporadic helicopter flights to Havelock, now flies an amphibious 8-seater Cessna seaplane from Port Blair to Havelock and back every day except Sunday, covering the distance in about an hour. The standard price is a steep 4100 rupees one-way, but discounts may be available. 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 at.
- 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 (10-10:30AM) arrives. The cost of a ticket from Beach #1 to Radhanagar is around Rs 6, 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. From kalapathar to Radhanagar beach the fare is Rs.10/-
- Auto-rickshaws are also available. Expect to pay more than on other Indian Places (even Port Blair). Fares are more or less standardized: from Beach #5 resorts to the market costs Rs.50 (2016), to the ATM it’s Rs. 60 (2016), from Beach #1 (the port) to Beach #5 Rs 100 (2016), and a return trip from the market to Radhanagar Beach (with waiting time) is Rs. 300. During daytime 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 center of ‘town’ (Beach #3), or inquire at your guesthouse. As of 2013, geared motorcycles are available for Rs 500/day and gearless scooters (Honda Activa etc.) for Rs 400/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 Rs. 100 per liter, and can go up to Rs. 120 per liter at some shops. Bicycles are available for Rs. 100 per day (Feb 2012). Currently(Feb 2015), some local businesses offer 2 wheeler rental online at both Havelock and Port Blair. They bring the vehicle right at your hotel and pick it up from there. Andaman trip planner is one good resource for your Andaman Island travel.
- 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 Rs 1,800 for sightseeing and hotel drop and pick up. 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.
Places To Visit
- Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7) is the most beautiful on the island and was 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. In 2017 the condition of the beach is very bad, the slope stability is increases and thus huge waves are coming. 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. Upto 5:30 pm coast guard allows to swim. 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. There are a few food shacks where the road hits the beach, all of which rent snorkels and fins. Also if you walk all the way on the right side of the beach, there is a lagoon also called Blue Lagoon. Very crowded and devastated beach. The other way to reach would be to take your bike all the way in the forest pass Barefoot and walk a little. As soon as you cross the big rocks, the lagoon is there.
- Elephant Beach is further north from Radhanagar and is popular with Indian tourists. The shoreline here was largely swept away by the 2004 tsunami and the beach is a fraction of what it used to be; however, the coral here is probably the best on the island, making this an excellent spot for snorkeling. It’s reachable on foot from Beach #7 or by fishing boat from the east side of the island; many resorts arrange snorkeling and diving trips here. A path to the beach starts from the road to Radhanagar — look for a dip in the road on a curve where there will usually be a few motorbikes parked. Several paths head off from this point, ask around for the correct one. If you choose to trek alone through the forest then stick to broad path since there are forks along the way. The walk is about 30 minutes at an easy pace with dry weather. Since the tsunami, the path ends in an expanse of un-inviting looking swampy water. Rather than attempting to go around, wade straight through it — the beach is only 100 meters straight ahead, the water is rarely above knee-height and the ground is solid. As you enter the swamp, you would see a small red board ahead, to your left; bear towards it. Wear sandals when crossing to avoid sharp shells. Note: During high tide, water may be a foot deeper in last 20 feet or so. While snorkeling, keep an eye out for the glass-bottom boats. If trek and get to the beach and are tired to trek back an option would be to take a boat ride from there to Jetty , normally they charge Rs 100 per person, only challenge is finding someone who is willing to take you and then take an Auto ride for Rs 100 again to the point where the vehicle is parked. Beach is mostly crowded in the morning till lunch, after which all tourists start to take the returning boat. This would be a ideal time for those who would like some privacy. Of course you should have come by Trek to enjoy the afternoons. Remember to pack food and water, there is very limited option like Tender Coconut and Bhel Puri.
- Kalapathar Beach. The Kalapathar beach is situated on one corner of Havelock Island.You have to travel along the Road From Beach no#3 and Beach no#5 The beach gets its name from the surrounding village called Kalapathar Village and the black rocks (Kalapathar Rocks) that adorn the coastline here. The emerald seas, the tropical forests on one side of the road(Kalapathar Rocks) the coastline,and on other side the silken smooth silver sands and the sheer solitude make this beach a great place to relax.
Things To Do
- Sea Walk
- Sea link adventures – Phoenix Bay, Port Blair
- Experience Andamans – Dairy Farm, Port Blair
- Scuba diving
- Andaman Dive Club one of the oldest dive club in Havelock near the jetty.
- Andaman Bubbles Dive Centre , Wild Orchid Resort, Beach
- Barefoot Scuba, Cafe Del Mar, Beach.
- DIVE India , Island Vinnie’s Tropical Beach Cabanas Resort, Beach.
- Doongi Dives , A young but steadily growing dive school located on Beach #5 within Mundjoh Ocean Resort
- Elephant Beach (6-25m)
- The Wall (10-55m)
- Minerva Ledge (10-18m)
- Aquarium (12-15m)
- Pilot Reef (6-18m)
- Dixon’s Pinnacle (18-40m)
- Jackson’s Bar (20-35m)
- Johnny’s Gorge (25-30m)
- Barefoot Eco Tours
- Wild Orchid Resort
- Emerald Gecko Resort
- Game Fishing
- Dhabas near the junction at Beach #3 serve 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.
There is a very good dhaba named ‘Welcome Restaurant’ serving decent veg and non veg dishes at very reasonable rates at the Govind Nagar intersection. It is patronized by mostly foreigners. It serves good continental dishes and lovely pancakes. The place is very clean and prepares everything fresh, hence it may take time to deliver your order.
- Geetha Restraunt near to market at Beach #3 serve Grilled fish,Prawns … Grilled Fish starts from Rs 150 to Rs 350 ( Jan 2012) 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, 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. Buffets for Rs 350 per head.
- B3, Barefoot Bar and Brasserie, Village #1 / Jetty. The high level restaurant is managed by an Indian / Austrian couple. The head chief in the kitchen is a Swiss cook. Lunch and dinner-menus contain pizza, fresh home made pasta (!), Indian dishes with tandoori oven as well as different fusion dishes, e.g. the excellent ‘Pork spiessli’ starter: skewed savoury pork. 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. Rs 600-700 per person.
- 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 know 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 Rs 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 – dinner will probably run more around Rs 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 Sand, Radhanagar Beach (Beach #7). An Italian restaurant, where the old Mahua restaurant (now shifted inside Barefoot Resort) used to be, offering good breakfast options, and pastas & pizzas for lunch and dinner, it is run by a native Russian lady along with her Bengali husband. It’s located on the Radhanagar beach and managed by the Indian Government Tourism Board. The pizzas are a must-try if you go here. Do plan for a leisurely meal as all items on the menu are made from scratch on order. Rs 300-400 per person.
- Beer is not available at most of the resorts due to new rule by Supreme Court / Govt of India banning sale of alcohol on highways all over India (the road in Havelock is a “deemed highway”). Most resorts lost their selling permits. Wild Orchid,Symphony Palms offers various brand of beers like Kingfisher ,Foster etc at the cheapest price (not verified after imposition of the new rule)
- Alcohol all types of alcohol is available at the bar in the The Wild Orchid Resort and other bars (not verified after imposition of the new rule). Local resorts claim that there is one resort / bar near the Radhanagar beach which still carries the permit.
- 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 majority of accommodation on offer are cheap palm-thatched beach huts. High season is from mid October to April, although these dates vary depending on demand. Most of the budget and mid range places double their prices in this time.
During April 2019, absolutely no accommodation was found for less than 400 rs./night (and this was a booking for 15 nights). The average range was found to be between 750 rs. and 1500 rs.
- Tented Accommodation
(Subject to weather conditions) Domes/Swiss A/C Tents Non A/C Tents Rs.2500/- Rs.1500/- Rs.1000/- 282411, 282235
Reservation : Online Booking for Megapode Resort & Megapode Camping Resorts are available for tourists. Visit www.aniidco.nic.in
The recent 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 Rs 200/night (anticipate 700/night. 2019 update), 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.
- Pristine Beach Resort closed and moved to North Andaman.
- Green Imperial resort ,Beach #5. Caters to budget travellers. It has Eco huts costing Rs.700 and Cottages from 1500. The restaurant is famous for its cheap and tasty food.
- Cafe del Mar, Beach #3. Perennially popular melting pot. Has a range of options from tents and/or basic A-frame huts with sheets for doors (the cheapest option on the island) to deluxe sea-facing huts. Rs 200 to Rs 2000.
- Orient Legend Resort, Beach #5. Another popular cheapie with huts starting from Rs 150 and a basic restaurant. Has hammocks if everything else is full, Rs 50.
- Sunrise Beach Resort, Beach #5. Similar to Orient.
- Island Camping, operated by the Andaman Tourist Office, offers pre-setup tents on Beach #7 where the road meets the beach. Tents range from Rs 150-500. The more expensive ones come with private bath and toilet, though no hot water is available. Bookings must be made in advance at the Tourism Office in Port Blair, though this can be done by telephone.
- El Dorado, Beach #3. Quite new, huts with communal showers and toilets Rs 200. Huts with en suite toilet and shower Rs 500. Due to the place being quite new most huts are reasonably clean and well maintained. Reasonable restaurant, serves beer.
- Gold India, Beach #3. Another newish resort. Huts with en suite toilet and shower Rs 500. Average restaurant, serves alcohol.
- Andaman Bubbles, Beach #5. A new resort with well constructed huts with en suite, tiled bathrooms. Rs 500-1250 (low – high season). Restaurant is shared with the next door Emerald Gecko, which serves the best food on beaches 3 & 5.
- Crystal Sands, (Beach #5), ☎ 09474204586. Set in a quiet coconut grove at the far end of the beach, a new resort with well built budget huts all with en suite toilet and bathrooms
- Eco Villa Palm Beach Resort one of the oldest and closest to the beach. having own portal for online booking www.havelock.co.in, Rs.2000 to 6000. having 12 Villas facing to the sea, and some of them are just 2 mtrs away from sea.(top choice of Lonely Planet)Tele: +91-3192-282-282.
- Emerald Gecko, at 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 Rs 900, bamboo bungalows Rs 1500, bamboo lodges Rs 2000.
- Island Vinnie’s Tropical Beach Cabanas and Dive Centre, Beach #3, is also home of DIVEIndia. Accommodation has been redone for the 2009 season and the restaurant is now under the management of the hugely popular Full Moon restaurant. Be aware that during high season the dive center can be quickly full, so make your reservation 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 Rs 2000, cheaper than you’ll get elsewhere. There’s a restaurant on site, and pre-booking in Port Blair is advised. Rs 2000-4000.
- Sea Shell resort has 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 good and the bar better that most on the island. Singles Rs 5,000, doubles Rs 6,000, 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 Rs 2000 Non AC, AC @ Rs 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 Rs. 1600 and Non AC Rs. 1100, they can give you discount if contacted directly.
- Blue Island Beach Resort Blue island is located privately at Beach number 5 at Havelock Island. The beach is suitable for swimming and doesn’t have many rocks as in beach number 3 and 4. Blue Island has a restaurant named Lobster Cave which is popular as well. This property gets sold out quickly so it is recommended to book in advance.
- Silver Sand, ☎ 03192-244914, . Accommodation 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. rates start at Rs 6,500-10,000.
- Symphony Palms Beach Resort, Govind Nagar Beach, ☎ 03192-244914,. One of the biggest resort 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. The tariff for season ranges from Rs 3000-5000.
- Wild Orchid Resort, . Offers 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. Rs 3000-4000 high season, Rs 1500-2000 low season.
- Barefoot Resort, tel. +91-3192-236008, . This eco-friendly resort is in seclusion at the far end of Beach #7 (Radhanagar Beach), perhaps the one of the beautiful location on the Island. It offers spacious detached accommodation in independent fan-cooled and duplex fan-cooled Nicobari Cottages and Air-conditioned Andaman Villas. Doubles vary from Rs 5300-15000 or more depending on type and season. It offers the islands only genuine Italian cuisine in its speciality restaurant by the beach “Mahua” (including a decent espresso) and also has great thalis and other authentic Indian fare on offer in its main restaurant.The location can be big drawback since there are no sea facing cottages that the resort offers. The resort offers only 18 cottages catering to mid range customers.
- Munjoh Ocean Resort, tel. +91-3192-282000. Air 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 Rs 6000-13000.
- Jalakara, Shyam Nagar Village, . The first boutique hotel in the Andamans with seven rooms and suites set in a tropical garden with long views across the rainforest. Launched in March 2016, the property offers international standard design and comfort, mixed with personal service and gourmet cuisine (prepared by Michelin trained chef Sai Sabnis). Facilities include a 16m ozone infinity pool, in-house spa, games lawn, yoga deck and many common spaces. Rooms rates vary from 12,500 to Rs 45,000 per night depending on type and time of year.
Mosquitoes are a nuisance, particularly at dusk and after rain, and the Andaman Islands are malarial. Use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeves and long trousers in the evening, and sleep under a mosquito net.
Sandflies make a great problem while sunbathing. Occasionally they are in a larger number, so longer shirts and trousers will be recommended.
Wild dogs can be a problem, especially along the beach at night – people are regularly bitten. You’d be well-advised to carry a stick to scare them off… or a handful of stones. Local authorities confirmed that they are helpless with this problem of stray dogs that live in forest but close enough to beaches visited by tourists.
If you plan to be out until sunset or beyond it’s a good idea to carry a flashlight (torch). It can get pretty 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 neighboring islands. A woman was killed in May 2010 while snorkeling.