Havelock Island is the most visited of the Andaman Islands. It’s becoming popular for its pristine beaches, coral reefs and great scuba diving. The pace of life is slow and relaxed, the locals are friendly and still not too affected by tourism, and the facilities are moderately basic for the most part.
Havelock Island is a small Island and most of the population are Bengali settlers. The distance between Port Blair and Havelock Island is 30 kilometers.
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 always booked in advance its highly unlikely that you will get seats in these for the same day or the next day so plan your travel accordingly, rates are 250 for “Chair” class and 350 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.
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.
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. There are a few food shacks where the road hits the beach, all of which rent snorkels and fins.
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.
Scuba diving is probably the biggest activity on the island other than lying around and eating great seafood. Both operators on Havelock, Barefoot Scuba and Dive India are 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 Rs.4000 for discover fun dive for non-certified divers, with a 10-15% discount for your own equipment.
Snorkeling is also popular, with several options at various beaches.
If you’ve had enough of the beach, try a little hot and sweaty jungle trekking. If you’re into confluence hunting, you can find it just 800 meters away from the end of beach #5.
The majority of accommodation on offer are cheap palm-thatched beach huts. High season is from mid October to March, although these dates vary depending on demand. Most of the budget and mid range places double their prices in this time.