Havelock Island or Swaraj Dweep, with its stunning white beaches and sparkling teal waters is one of the most visited islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Located about 39 km north east of Port Blair, Havelock Island has the well-earned reputation of being a travellers’ paradise. Havelock Island is a dream destination for all – be a luxury traveller or a budget backpacker like us. The island has some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia, some of the best diving spots of South Asia and lush green tropical forests. Do you need any other persuasion to take a visit to the beautiful Havelock Island? So here is a comprehensive Havelock Island Travel Guide that will give you an idea about the place, how to reach, where to stay and things to do in Havelock Island. This is your complete guide to Havelock Island tourism.
Where is Havelock Island located?
Havelock Island, recently named as Swaraj Dweep is a part of Ritchie’s Archipelago, a group of 17 islands on the east of Great Andaman. Out of the 572 islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, only a handful is inhabited. Located about 39 km from Port Blair, the capital city, Havelock Island can be easily reached by taking a cruise. Both private and government cruise services are available. Havelock with its picturesque beaches, rich coral reefs, mangrove forests and eclectic diving spots remain one of the most popular tourist destinations in India.
How to reach Havelock Island?
- To reach Havelock, the first thing you have to do is to get into Port Blair. You can reach Port Blair either through the air or by ship. Considering the time it takes, flights are the best option to get into Port Blair.
- From Port Blair, you have to take a ferry to reach Havelock Island. Private ferries are usually cleaner and faster than the government ones. You can get your ferry tickets from the Phoenix Bay Jetty. Private ferries are operated by Makruzz, Green Ocean and a few others. Makruzz is the reputed one. You can book tickets for the Makruzz online.
- There are government-run ferries also. For the government ferries, you have to visit the Jetty 3 hours before to book tickets. We had opted for a government ferry while going to the island and taken a Makruzz cruise for the return. What we liked about the government ferry is that we could come and stand on the deck and enjoy the sea view. Also, the Captain of our ferry turned out quite friendly and chatted with us for a long time sharing his stories on sea and other.
- You can also visit Havelock Island from Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep). Ferries are available between Neil and Havelock Islands as well.
How many days are needed for a Havelock Island Trip?
Ideally, you can cover Havelock Island (Swaraj Dweep) in 3 days and 2 nights. But we would recommend you to stay for at least 4 days to soak in the vibes of the island. We stayed at Havelock for 2 nights and desperately wished that we had another night to spend there.
The ferries from Port Blair or Neil Island usually take about half a day to reach Havelock Island. So anything lesser that 2 nights is not at all recommended.
How to move around in Havelock Island?
Just like most of the other tourist destinations of Andaman, you will get four-wheelers, autos and tuk-tuks available for hire just outside the jetty and other locations throughout Havelock. You can also take a two-wheeler on rent for exploring Havelock Island.
We had rented a scooter for 2 days of exploring Havelock Island. There are a few petrol pumps available in the island, so getting petrol is not a big issue. Renting a scooty will usually charge Rs700 per day.
How many beaches does Havelock Island have?
Havelock is known for its pristine beaches and beautiful beaches, rich coral reefs and the calm seas. There are 7 beaches identified in Havelock Island, the most popular being the Radhanagar Beach. Here the beaches are given a number.
- Beach No. 1 is the beach where you will arrive. It is adjacent to the jetty and so crowded. It is from here where you will get ferries for Neil Island, Port Blair and Rangat. There is a market adjacent to the beach. In front of the market, there is a counter for the ferry to trip to Elephant Island. There are also a couple of ATMs and restaurants near the market area.
- Beach No 2 is in a secluded place. It is mainly used for the diving schools to conduct their diving courses and is used as diving sites for the resorts and the diving schools. It is on the opposite side of the Helipad road and a narrow path surrounded by coconut trees leads to the beach.
- Beach No 3 (Govindnagar Beach), 4 & 5 (Vijaynagar beach) are known as the backpacker’s strip of the island. These beaches have shallow water and bleached coral.
- The most famous beach of Havelock is Beach No. 7 or the Radhanagar Beach.
- And then there is the Elephant beach that you have reach by taking a boat ride from the Jetty at Beach No. 1.
The beaches in Neil Island were named after the characters of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Here in Havelock, the beaches and villages are named after characters of the other epic Mahabharata – Radhanagar, Shyamnagar, Krishnanagar, Govindanagar.
Best Beaches of Havelock Island/ Places to visit : Havelock Island Travel Guide
Radhanagar Beach and Elephanta Beach is on the western side of the island while the Kalapathar Beach is on the southeastern side. Undoubtedly Radhanagar Beach is the star attraction of Havelock Island.
Adjectives fall less to describe the beauty of Radhanagar Beach. With the waves falling on stretches of white sand, the place is simply breathtaking. It is a 2-kilometre long crescent-shaped beach having soft silvery sand. It had been voted as the best beach in Asia by the “Times Magazine” in 2004.
Having travelled across various beaches in India, Radhanagar Beach is a complete surprise. There is not a speck of dirt on the beach. Only clear blue waters along the white sands and the green trees adjacent to the beach, time will just pass by watching the waves. And the view of the sunset from the beach is one of the most gorgeous. Don’t believe my words; see the pictures!
There is a public bus from the Main Jetty to reach Radhanagar Beach. Or else, you can also hire an auto-rickshaw.
Water sports are not allowed at Radhanagar Beach.
The sunset from Radhanagar beach is spectacular. You must not miss it. But you will have a lot of company during the sunset. The beach remains crowded with tourists during the afternoon and evening time.
A tip: If you have time, visit Radhanagar Beach also in the morning. At that time the beach is comparatively less crowded. We had visited Radhanagar Beach in the morning and found us to be the only souls there. It was indeed a wonderful feeling then.
Vijaynagar Beach is another beautiful beach near the Vijayanagar village on the east coast of the island and is lined by Mahua and coconut trees. You can take long walks along the beach. A number of mid-range to luxury resorts are found along with this place. The Dolphin Resort is just in front of Vijaynagar Beach.
If Radhanagar Beach is for the sunset, then Kalapathar Beach is definitely for the sunrise. It is 3 km from Vijaynagar Beach and is on the extreme end of Havelock Island. The beach owes its name to the stretches of black rock along the beach. The beach is secluded and you will find fewer people visiting the beach. If you are not a morning person who loves to watch sunrises, then you can skip visiting this beach.
The ride to Kalapathar beach is a lovely one through the Kalapathar village having paddy fields and small huts.
Elephant Beach is another beautiful and popular beach of Havelock Island and can be reached by cruising through the azure blue seas. Speedboats are available near from Jetty near Beach No. 1 for Elephant Island. The Elephant Beach is quite beautiful with the trees at the backdrop. There are some large broken branches from uprooted trees that make the beach a perfect place for taking some lovely photographs.
Elephant Beach is the next popular beach after Radhanagar Beach and so expect to find a lot of tourists there. It is also a famous spot for water activities. It has very beautiful coral reefs and snorkelling, scuba diving and sea walking are done here.
The beach is so named because earlier an elephant used to swim in the waters along with his mahout and entertain the tourists. Thankfully, it has stopped now. So do not expect to see any elephants on the beach. The beach has locker facilities and changing rooms too.
How to reach Elephant Beach?
As mentioned earlier, speed boats ply from the Havelock Island Jetty to the Elephant Beach. They usually offer a package that includes to and fro motorboat ride to Elephant beach and a 10-minute complimentary snorkelling session. The package costs Rs950, but it can change with the season. The boats take 20 minutes to reach Elephant Beach from Havelock Jetty. They give you around 2 – 2.5 hours to roam around the island and you have to return by the same boat. There are 2 time-slots for the boat to Elephant Island – 8 AM to 11 AM and 11 AM to 2 PM. The last boat leaves from Elephant Island at about 2-2.30PM. If you are staying back at the beach after that, then you have to trek back.
Yes, there is a trekking route to Elephant Island as well. There is a 2 km well-marked trek route from Radhanagar village through the jungles to the Elephant Beach. If you wish to trek to the Elephant Beach, then we would advise you to start at around noon. Stay at the beach in the afternoon, enjoy the water sports or simply laze around the pristine beach. Make sure to start your trek back before 4:30 PM.
Elephant Beach is quite touristy and more people mean less cleanliness and lesser visibility of marine life. Infact, mindless commercialization of the Elephant Beach has already destroyed the coral reefs. Didn’t we mention about the elephant used to entertain the tourists? The complimentary snorkelling will take you only a few metres from the beach. If you want to get further inside the sea, then you have to pay extra. The snorkelling person and the boatmen will try to convince you to go deeper into the see. They will show you videos of corals and marine life on their mobile phones. But believe me, if you really want to see good marine life, do not opt for the underwater activity at Elephant Beach. It is better to do them at the diving centres near Beach No.2.
Places to stay in Havelock Island
Havelock Island has accommodation options suiting to different budgets. From luxury resorts to budget stays for backpackers, you will find all here.
The best places to stay for families, honeymoon couples are along the Radhanagar Beach and Vijaynagar Beach. Backpackers will find budget stays near beach No. 3 & 4. You will get rooms at Rs800 to Rs1500 here. Some budget stays are also available near Beach No.1.
If you are going for a package trip, do ask your travel agent about your staying option. A bad hotel can ruin your experience.
What to do in Havelock Island
Scuba Diving at Havelock Island
Scuba diving is one of the most popular activities in Havelock Island. The island provides diverse diving site options. The ideal season for diving is between December to May. Some of the best diving sites in Havelock Island are Seduction Point, Mac point, Minerva Ledge, Turtle bay, Pilot Reef etc. There are a few popular dive shops like Barefoot Scuba, Andaman Dive Club and a few more. We were quite happy with the diving experience of Barefoot Scuba.
Apart from scuba diving, you can also enjoy snorkelling, sea walking and a few other water activities. Havelock is known for its beautiful coral reefs and you can see them along with the wonderful marine life by indulging in a snorkelling experience.
Is permit required for visiting Havelock Island?
No permits are required for visiting Havelock Island. In fact, foreign tourists also no longer require the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) for visiting Havelock Island. This is one of the 30 islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands that no longer require RAP for foreign tourists. Although, foreign tourists arriving at Port Blair will have to show their passport at Immigration counters at Airport and Seaport for veriﬁcation.
Some tips for a great and safe Havelock Trip
- It is better to hire a bike or Scooty for your stay in Andaman. You can roam about at your will and explore Havelock.
- Definitely, try Scuba Diving at Havelock. It has one of the best coral reefs. During your Andaman tour, your hotel or agent may suggest you go for scuba diving at North Bay Island. But believe me, it is much better here.
- You can also go fishing. There is an organization that offers all kinds of fishing boats and equipment.
- Avoid diving or swimming amongst a school of fish. This may attract predatory fishes such as sharks. If you have an open wound, please avoid swimming. Much predatory fish are attracted to blood odour.
Hope this article will help you to plan your trip to Havelock Island. It is absolutely a paradise for beach lovers. We both usually keep visiting the mountains and that can be seen from our blog posts. But Havelock Island, infact entire Andaman had stolen our heart. If you have any questions regarding this place, feel free to comment below or send us a mail. If you like the post, please let us know by commenting below and share it to all those who want to plan a trip to Andaman.