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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
After browsing through our photos from our trip to the Andaman Islands, and comparing this area with other islands we’ve been to, we can honestly say this part of the world is definitely worth visiting. Nevertheless, this chain of islands is very diverse, and for this article we’ll stick to Havelock island – the place most tourists head to.
Coming from the Indian mainland, with quite often dirty & polluted beaches, street chaos and masses of people, this island was just what we needed: the complete opposite … imagine Bali back in the early 80s.
Tourist facilities (like accommodation and restaurants) are abundant, but everything still seems a bit behind. Simple bamboo huts arranged under swaying coconut trees is as good as it gets – and that’s pretty darn good anyway! Combine this with with white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise water and Havelock is what you’re paradise dream looks like. For us this dream became reality after a 4-hour boat ride from Port Blair.
We stayed in one of the beach accommodations. During the rainy season (which is of course when we decided to visit paradise), not all hotels are open, but during high season there are a lot to choose from – no need for pre-booking. Havelock is not overpopulated, the village is small with a big open air market, various food stores and some restaurants catering mainly for Indian tourists, though the steady stream of westerners is growing. Apart from the islands beautiful beaches, Havelocks inner part is jungle country with many rice paddies in between; the Andaman Islands are actually pretty self sufficient when it comes to rice. The pace of life is slow, the locals are friendly and still not too affected by tourism – thanks God for that!
There a couple of stunningly beautiful beaches on Havelock island. Most of them can be describes as tropical paradises beaches with the oceans being more of a natural swimming pool. But be aware: even though the water is calm most of the time, it can get pretty rough as well. Oh and one more thing: Havelock island is a pretty wild place and it’s possible to see many types of wild animals … including crocodiles – salt water crocodiles to be exact. Years ago an American tourist was taken by a salt croc. Don’t be put off by this incident though. We suggest to ask around the local community for recent incidents (a local ranger has also been taken in 2011), as not every single one is recorded – unless a westerner is involved of course. Also check the local media, since they’ll report if you shouldn’t enter the water due to crocodile activity.
One of these beaches is a stretch close to the jetty where all boats from Port Blair arrive, called Vijaynagar beach. Various guest-houses and hotels, tucked away in the coconut groves (some hotels are even 3 or 4 star hotels) can be found along the stretch of approximately 3 kilometres. Restaurants are mainly situated on the inland side of the beach road. An irregular public bus service plies the route along the coastal road up to some little villages in the island’s inner part. There are no bus stops – simply tell the driver where you want to get off. Or you can hire a tuk-tuk for further exploration of the island.
The second well-known beach on Havelock island is on the other side, called Radhanagar beach. You’ll find accommodation here as well, but this beach is mostly frequented by day-trippers. Occasionally hit by really big waves, you have to watch out even if lifeguards are on duty because currents can become quite strong. Still, the long stretch of white sand is very welcoming and you could spend an entire day walking along the shores. A frequent public bus is available from the main village (take-off at the only roundabout in town) to Radhanagar. Be aware though, we’ve never been on a trip with a crazier bus driver than this one – even the locals get scared when he drives! If you prefer to go by bicycle, just rent one in of the stores. Still, you better watch out if this bus crosses your way. We actually met someone who jumped into the bushes with his bike because the bus would have just run him over…
Elephant beach can be reached after a 40 minute-walk through the jungle. Walking always means that less people (lazy bums), which is an advantage because then you’ll have the place all to yourself. Bring food and drinks when doing this excursion, because there are no restaurants or street vendors around.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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