Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
The Andaman and Nicobar islands were nothing short of spectacular. I had never heard of these 300 islands in the Bay of Bengal before visiting India, but I’m sure glad I took the chance to check them out. I still couldn’t believe they were actually apart of India. The islands were impeccably clean compared to the mainland and there were many days where we had a white sand beach to ourselves on Havelock. Cheap flights offered via Spice Jet from India.
To get to Havelock island you can take the government ferry for only 550 rupees ($8.25) but you have to go the morning before you want to go in order to reserve tickets. If you can’t be bothered you can take Makruzz or Green Ocean lines for 1171 rupees ($18). NO FERRIES LEAVE PORT BLAIR AFTER 2pm, plan accordingly!
We took the Green Ocean Cruise over to Havelock a day after arriving in Port Blair. The ride was quite amusing given it turned into a full blown dance party. I get so much joy out of watching older Indian men dance. We took a tuk tuk for 200 rupees ($2.50) to Coconut Grove Resort. It was a perfect accommodation located on beach #5. It was a perfect place to watch the sunrise. One morning I woke up at 5am, went out on the beach and the whole sky was pink. The reflection of the beautiful clouds were in the puddles left behind by the sea and the changing of tides. You could walk out and check out all the tide pools and wildlife. Every time I took a photo a black bird would fly in the frame. I think it was Jesse messing with me.
If you want to get around the island easily rent a scooter for 350 rupiah per day ($6). This will give you easy access to all the beaches and the freedom to do what you please, plus it will be much cheaper than tuk tuks and take less time than the local buses around the island.
Holi occurred while we were visiting Havelock. I had very low expectations for Holi because many people say that you must be in Rajasthan or parts of Northern India to get the full experience, but to my surprise Holi was absolute madness! We hopped on our motorbikes to grab breakfast at the local joint near the main fruit market where we were first greeted by a cute older women who gave us some red tika. This was just the beginning, I walked into the market to buy some bananas and walked out completely covered in red and white paint. Everyone was screaming happy Holi coming to grab your face with their hands covered in all different colors of paint.
We decided to explore the island that day and about every 100 meters there would be a group of people stopping us in the street, throwing, rubbing and dowsing us in paint. Kids would stand on the side of the road shooting you with huge squirt guns, there were buckets of colored water thrown over your head and then paint powder immediately following to make sure it stuck. By the time we reached the beach we were unrecognizable with every square inch of us covered in paint. It was a hilarious and beautiful experience.
Elephant Beach is a must when you visit Havelock. It starts with a two kilometer trek through the jungle. It’s an easy walk through the palm tree farms and rainforest canopies. Once the trees start to become more sparse it opens up into a swamp type thing with crabs everywhere. You walk through the swamp until you reach the beautiful crystal clear water.
Elephant beach gets its name because of the iconic massive tree trunks that lay every hundred meters along the beautiful white sand beach. I recommend walking all the way to the left or right to avoid the crowds of Indian tourists. They all seem to clump together and the jet skis and boats take away from the beauty of this beach. If you walk to either side you’ll have an entire beach to yourself for miles. We washed all of our Holi color off in the sea only to get Recovered in paint later on in the day. I recommend bringing snacks and water with you because there is no where to purchase water or food down by the beach once it becomes low tide!
Without a doubt the most beautiful beach I’ve ever visited in my 27 years of living is Radhanagar Beach #7. The white sand was a perfect contrast to the crystal clear water and the backdrop is a thick rainforest with trees standing over 100 meters tall. We walked through this jungle everyday in awe of the earths ability to create such incredible landscapes. If you have your own scooter turn left at the Taj Palace sign and it will dump you at the left end of the beach where no one else is. This beach stretches for a few kilometers and the Indian tourists take up about 100 meters right in the center. I never could quite understand their logic for all clumping together, but I had a beach all to myself so I wasn’t complaining.
I made a point to run along this beach a few times and if you go all the way to the right you’ll end up in a beautiful lagoon. We would come to this beach almost every night to watch the sunset. The first night when we got in the water I began to weep. I’ve never cried because of a sunset before but the reflection of the colorful sky against the crystal clear water was one of the most immaculate things I’ve ever seen. I wanted Jesse to be there so bad to see it with me. It made me sad to think we’ll never have a simple moment like this together again.
Every night there’s a different party happening on Havelock. From open mic night to fire shows to techno dance parties, there’s something for everyone on the island. For a more upper class party hit up Cicada which has a party three times a week. It’s a beautiful venue but does cost 1000 rupees entry. It gives you back 800 rupees in drink and food tickets. The parties at Mungil and Emerald Gecko are also very fun with different DJ’s playing tunes on the beach. Fat Martin’s pulls in a large crowd with their live music and open mic nights.
One night while at Fat Martin’s two lovely people sat next to me at open mic night. We got to talking and they ended up being trainers for Aguahara, a form of water massage in the sea.
They invited me to come volunteer for a couple sessions. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was one of the most pleasant things I’ve ever done. The drag and dance you through the water while stretching you. It was comforting, relaxing and somewhat of an outer body experience. I felt like I was reborn after my first session and went back for a second the next day. I swear Jesse is guiding people into my life that he knows will have a positive impact on me. I needed those sessions and the fact that they were in the sea made me feel so much closer to him.
What to do on Havelock:
- Rent a motorbike and drive all around the island. The roads offer some spectacular views of the surrounding rainforests and it’s cool to drive through the villages. 350 rupees ($6) a day from S. Saha Travels.
- Radhanagar Beach #7- Snorkel to the left and check out the lagoon to the right. You have to go for sunset! It’s absolutely magical!
- Elephant Beach- 2km walk through the jungle to get there! Climb on, through and around all the rad tree trunks on the beach
- Scuba Diving- Andaman Bubbles- Dive at Dixon’s or Johnny’s for the best dives
- Take a walk through the forest at Beach 7... there are a ton of trails and spectacular resorts to check out
- Beach #5- Great place for sunrise! Sunset is also cool if you want to explore all the tide pools when the low tide occurs.
Where to stay:
- Coconut Grove Resort: 1500 rupees ($22.50) for a bungalow on the beach
- J.K. Resort - 1000 rupees ($15) for bungalow
- Emerald Gecko Resort- 1800 rupees ($25) per night breakfast included
- Coconut Reef Resort- 11000 rupees ($169) per night
- Mungil Resort- 15000 rupees ($230) per night
- Taj Resort- Incredible accommodation on Beach 7. If you have the cash honestly stay here! It’s no doubt the best property on the island!
Where to eat:
- Fat Martin’s- 100 rupee ($1.50) menu is ideal! Shakshuka and the rolls are delicious!
- Rony Restaurant
- Local joints for cheap breakfast
- Salt and Pepper- local spot near massage places
- Shivaay Restaurant- across from Squid- good fish fry
- Golden Spoon
- Welcome Restaurant
Port Blair -
A tuk tuk from the airport to the ferry should be no more than 150 rupees ($2.30).
We stayed at Raja Monsoon Hotel for 1000 rupiah for three people. It was a nice accommodation with a perfect area for yoga up on the roof in a decent central location, close to main center of town and the ferry dock. Eat at Milan Hotel for cheap and delicious local grub. We tried just about every fish dish they had and were amazed at how tasty they were!
Be sure to visit Corbin’s Bay and the cellular jail when visiting Port Blair. If you have a few days to spare, take the local bus 8 hours up to Diglipur, in North Andaman. There are beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear water, loads of turtles, beautiful rainforests and you might even be able to spot some aboriginal tribes along the way.
***Visit Little Andaman if you’re keen for surfing and seeing the original Aboriginal Andaman tribes.