Beautiful blue of the waters, picturesque beaches, lush flora and eye catching coral reefs, make Andaman a perfect choice for a laid back vacation.
A place laden with activities ranging from beach strolling,trekking to deep sea diving, Andaman is a place apt for a couple on a honeymoon and a group of friends seeking adventure sports. We left to Andaman on valentines week, where the honeymoon crowd set foot in the island. We were surrounded by newlyweds- brides wearing a handful of bangles.
We flew from Bangalore to Port blair by air. Tickets if booked soon can be purchased at a cheap rate. The two and half hour flight got us to the island.There is no direct flight to Havelock and you have to take a ferry from Port blair. The ferry takes anywhere between 1.5 hours to 3 hours.
Good to know facts!
What to pack
- Flip-flops- Do no take shoes lest you get sand inside every part of your shoe and dampen it with sea water. You will be getting on and off the boat, into the sea so better to carry a pair of flip flops.
- Torch light
- Light clothing- Sultry climate makes it hard to wear thick clothes.
- Mosquito coil or All-out or Odomos
- Drivers license and documents
- Cash- There is an atm at Havelock which usually has big queues so better to carry cash with you. Restaurants here mostly deal with cash.
- Camera/DSLR with a water proof bag
- Print out of your tickets and bookings.
- BSNL Sim card
Phone signal and internet
Beware: there is no phone signal for any network other than BSNL in Havelock. Make sure to take a sim card or come near the jetty to make a call. Be prepared to be without internet for a few days.
You can rent scooters at 500 rs a day and go around the island. There are only two roads in the island – one towards kalapathar beach, one towards radhanagar beach. We stayed right next to kalapathar beach , at the flying elephant resort.
Food is a bit on the expensive side. You will find a gravy for 350 rs. Milk isnt easily found around. Sea food contrary to what we think isnt the specialty there. Restaurants use fresh water fishes (the sea fishes are all coral reef ones which are pretty and unfortunately cannot be consumed). So seafood is a bit expensive as well. That said there a many restaurants near the jetty and on road towards the kalapathar beach. You will find South indian/ bengali/north indian cuisine and a bit of continental.
There are just two petrol bunks on the island. One towards radhanagar beach and one on the bifurcation. Make sure you load the bike so you dont end up fuel-less on the roads after its dark.
Beaches in Havelock
Make sure you are here for the sunset. You can witness the most beautiful one you have seen so far. The sun sets pretty early here since island is closer to thailand. The roads back get pretty dark after 5PM. We had some innovative layered chole bature from the street shops there.
We lived close to this beach so we made frequent visits. It has black rocks, thus giving its name. You can find broken branches which add to the charm of this place. The waters are a mix of azure and teal colours.
You can trek to this beach for about an hour or you can take a boat to this beach. We took the boat package which costed 950 rs (This included complimentary snorkeling). The boat takes about 20 mins to reach. The beach is beautiful with fallen trees adding to its splendor.
You will find activities like banana boat ride and Jet skiing here. The complimentary snorkeling only includes wading through the sea bed until the point where you find colorful fishes. You need to pay a premium to see the yellow fishes past that point. You will find fruit salads and chaat sold here at the beach. Make sure you plan for this ahead as the last boats leave at 3PM and the beach closes at 4PM
A word of warning- the beaches here close at 5 PM and the life guards will make sure everyone is out right after sunset.
Flying elephant resort
We stayed at the Flying elephant resort for three days. The resort was located deep inside the island far away from the ferry port.A lonely road by the sea got us here. You can feel the moist tropical climate get to your senses. The air was awash with the smell of the sea. You feel one with the nature with flies in air and ants climbing over you. Surrounded by dense flora this place is a place far away from the hustle and bustle of the city We were greeted by Cats, dogs, ducks and hens.The room was a bamboo Hut on stilts. The bed contraption looked elegant with a white veil over it and night lamps flanking the sides Combined with wooden walls it set the perfect atmosphere to relax
They have a really good cafe to chill where you can de stress ,read a book and a really cute dog to play with.
Dinner at Full moon cafe
Dinner was at Full moon cafe (closer to kalapathar beach). It has a good decor with candle lights and a feel of a brown bar. It has a variety of dishes ranging from Arabian, continental and Indian.
Scuba diving was on my list for long and I finally got a chance to do it with the help of Andaman bubble. They took us to a changing spot where we were given scuba suits. Make sure you sign up for the deep sea diving. We initially paid 3500 for the 6 m deep diving and then changed it to 12 m deep diving which costed 5000.
We were given some training at the shallow waters. Some dead weights were strapped to our waist and then the life jacket and the oxygen cylinder. We had to keep the pipe in our mouth and breath underwater.
First rule being to not stop breathing under water.
The scariest part was the training. It can feel odd to not breathe through your nose and breathe dry air through your mouth for an extended time. We were given an eye mask/goggles which covered the eye and the nose. I did not think it would be this hard to just breath underwater trusting a cylinder behind your back. I decided to quit but told the trainer I would do shallow waters first. We were made to float without life jackets inflated and fins fitted to our legs.
When we were about 3 meters deep we were turned around. I could see the insides of the sea- the fishes swimming peacefully and i focused on it. He lowered me inside the waters.
The second rule in scuba is to equalise underwater.
This is by holding your nose and blowing to your ears get adjusted. This is because the pressure inside water is much higher than on the surface.
I witnessed the breathtaking view of sealife underwater, the corals and colourful fishes. I swam with the fishes- it felt like being inside an aquarium. He lowered me even more down and then I saw a statue deep down in the sea bed . It was 12m deep and I had made it. It was time to go to the surface and be human again. He took us up and there I felt relieved to breath with my nose again and stunned I could stay underwater and breathe with my mouth for about half an hour.
It is best to carry your own snorkeling kit. The ones for rent are 200 per hour. Snorkelling session costs about 500 to 1000. It is relatively easy if you have done scuba before. Otherwise it can take a bit of practice to breath underwater through the pipe with your mouth. You can also try out the seabed walking if interested.
We stayed at a homestay in port blair and explored the city for the rest of the evening. We went around the Gandhi statue, meat market, street shops and ate at Anapoorna hotel.
We explored the cellular jail (entry 30 rs) on a sunny day. It takes about an hour to look around and read the history gallery of the place. Honorary memorial to pay homage to freedom fighters who struggled here behind the bars and underwent torture.
Samudrika marine museum
Sea corals and marine life fossils are on display. You can spend a nice 1 hours here looking through the fossils.
Places you could visit in and around port Blair are the saw mill, Ross island, mini zoo, chidiya tapu for sunset. We skipped chidiya tapu as it was far down south and we couldn’t make it in time for the sunset.
Corbyns cove beach
We finally ended up at the beach to finish our trip. A calm beach away from the city where you have some games like balloon shooting and catapult to play and jet skiies. We chilled at the beach and shopped some souvenirs.
Andaman waters are crystal clear with the blue mesmerizing your eyes.
So with that our dose of vitamin sea for months came to an end.
With salty hair, sandy toes and beach stained clothes we made our way back to bangalore!