Havelock Island and Beach #7
Havelock Island Travel Blog› entry 11 of 14 › view all entries
We spent 5 days total in the Andaman Islands, 3 days on Havelock island. One of the beaches on Havelock was named the Best Beach in Asia a few years ago (pre-tsunami). I'd heard that the tsunami hadn't affected Havelock very much and the diving was excellent, so wanted to go check things out.
January 5, 2007
Ferry: Port Blair to Havelock
Hotel: Barefoot at Havelock
An early start this morning to catch the ferry. The hotel charged us 100Rs for the very short ride down the hill (a tuk-tuk should have been 15-20Rs if that but there weren't any around). We got our ferry tickets to Havelock Island, which said Dr. & Mrs. Rajiv and boarded the Jolly Buoy Ferry. The full ferry held maybe 60 seated people, with only 5-6 foreigners onboard. The boat was a roach motel, with bugs crawling all over the floor, walls, etc. Most people went upstairs after the boat left the port. The ferry ride itself was very smooth and lasted about 2 hrs, arriving into Havelock island just after 8 AM. After shaking out our bags throuroughly, we disembarked to the jetty where the police were checking foreigner permits. We caught a tuk-tuk (150Rs) for the 12km ride to the Barefoot resort. Havelock island was very rural, only a few small towns and hotels, the rest is farmland or jungle. The road was paved all the way but very narrow, little more than a single lane. We saw more tourists going about on motorbikes. There was a campground located back in the trees as we approached the resort. Apparently camping had been allowed on the beach until recently but it had affected turtle nesting and was now no longer allowed. We arrived at the resort by 8:45 and were shown down to the brick path to our Nicobar style hut, which was hidden in the trees. The hut had two single beds with mosquito nets, electricity and hot water and was made from local materials, palm frond walls, thatched roof, teak floors. They were still serving breakfast at the restaurant (we never ate our packed breakfast). The restaurant at Barefoot is open air, they have either traditional tables, or low-tables with pillow seats. They also have a trading library and several games available on a bookshelf. The food was very good, and they had a wide range of options, fresh fruit, pancakes, french toast, idly, etc. We headed down to the beach after breakfast. The sand was amazingly soft and white, the water a stunning blue and bathtub temperature. Ghost crabs ran along the sand everywhere. We spent awhile wandering down the beach, which was pretty much deserted down at this end. It's desolate but not really secluded, local fishermen walk up and down the beach, and stray dogs run about everywhere. We came back to the hut for a nap before a late lunch and heading out to the beach again. We hoped to catch the sunset, which occurs about 5PM here; the Andamans are on the same time zone as the rest of India despite being nearly 1500mi east of Mumbai. Unfortunately the horizon was cloudy and we left disappointed. It was soon pitch dark, the resort does not have lights along the trails and we needed to get a flashlight from reception! We spent awhile sitting in the restaurant area playing Scrabble before dinner started at 7:30. Several other hotel guests (mainly British or German) were also there reading or chatting. Dinner was a delicious fish curry. There wasn't much else to do at the resort after dark (no TV or internet), so we headed back to our hut. My wife got quite a surprise when she went into the bathroom; we were not alone! There was a huge 18-inch lizard sitting in the shower. I'm used to small pink geckoes in our hotel room but I'd never seen anything so big! The lizard crawled up into the ceiling as we approached, hoping he was eating all the mosquitoes. We crawled into bed underneath the mosquito net and crashed.
January 6, 2007
Hotel: Barefoot at Havelock
We spent most of the day out on the beach. After a yummy breakfast of fresh fruit, American pancakes and tea we grabbed some masks, fins and snorkel from the front desk and headed down to the beach. It was hard to believe this was high season, there were only people maybe every 100 yards along down the beach. We found a secluded spot under a tree and pitched our towels. We spent a few hours snorkeling right off the beach, there was quite a diversity of fish and bright blue clams and we didn't want to get out of the water. We ended up getting quite sunburned on the backs of our legs even with lotion! We walked down to the end of the beach where it gradually ended in a pile of rocks and driftwood. There was a trail through the forest right behind the beach, we decided to walk back to the hotel along the trail. The jungle had huge trees with rocketship roots, quite unique with the beach and blue water just alongside. After lunch and a nap we went back to the beach for more snorkeling. Ah the life! I am an Advanced Open water diver and I'd heard good things about scuba diving in the Andamans. I'm not the type to go somewhere just for the diving, but I'll go if I have the chance. I'd asked about diving trips at the front desk, but their phone wasn't working. That evening we took the car into town to check out the dive shops. There are three on the island, but the first two were full already for the next week! A group of marine biologists have been in the Andamans researching the effects of the tsunami, and they have been using all the diving shops here. Finally third time was a charm and Andaman Dive Club had availability for the next day, $60 or $80 for a two-tank dive leaving at 7:30 AM. Their BC vest was a little tight but it would do. My wife is certified diver as well but had a bad experience her first trip and now usually preferrs just to snorkel. They offered to take her along snorkeling while we dove. Since we were in town we wanted to check out one of the few restaurants, the book had recommended Wild Orchid. Our driver dropped us off there and we told him to come back in 90 minutes (ordering dinner always take a long time in India). To our dismay we found out the restaurant was closed and our driver had already left!! We started walking back down the road when our driver came by, whew! He took us to the Silversand Resort restaurant, where we were almost the only ones eating. The food there was Ok enough.. but where were all the people? This was high season and the place was empty except for one other couple. Good timing though, we finished eating just as our driver returned.
January 7, 2007
Hotel: Barefoot at Havelock
An early start for me this morning as I was going on my dive trip. There was also Finnish couple going along today, they had done several dives already that week. The plan today was to go to South Button. My wife had decided to go on the snorkeling trip organized by Barefoot resort, they were also going to South Button, but in a much nicer boat! Our dive boat was a dunghi, an open air longboat with a lawnmower motor attached to a propeller.. certainly not for the timid! The trip out to South Button was supposed to take two hours; after 15 minutes I wasn't sure I'd survive the trip without my teeth being shaken out of my head! I laid down on the floorboards in the middle of the boat which wasn't moving as much. The sky was overcast and the wind was blowing steadily as we started heading out into open water. The waves came splashing in over the side and the boat really started rocking! The going was pretty rough and finally we decided to try for another spot that was smoother. Another hour and a half later (3 hrs in the boat!) we arrived at Japanese reef where we started suiting up. It had been over a year since my last dive, and I can never remember which side the O-ring goes on, but luckily the boat driver set up all the kit! It was an awkward launch off the side of the boat, but once in the water things were much better. We spent about 50 minutes total on our first dive, which had an amazing array of fish and hard coral in some of the best shape I'd ever seen. The water clarity wasn't that great though as it was just past the full moon (plankton is at its worst). A quick lunch of sticky rice and a nap before we left for our next dive site, which was much clearer. The sun also came out which really brought out the colors of the fish. I had brought my underwater housing to India, hoping to get some good underwater shots in the Andamans, but unfortunately my digital camera had stopped working a few days before! We headed back to Havelock island, luckily the boat ride this time was only an hour and we arrived just after 4PM. After sitting around and chatting awhile, I caught a tuk-tuk back to the resort and it was almost dark. My wife had just arrived back from her snorkeling trip, they had made it all the way to South Button and she said the fish/coral variety was awesome there as well.