Andaman & Nicobar: The Unexpected India

Closing my eyes and thinking of India a few months ago, before actually landing here, I would always see temples, turbans, cows, forts and deserts. Never, even with the use of my wildest imagination, I would have fabricated an India of white beaches, palm trees, and crystal clear waters.
But, when I finally landed at Beach 7, also called Radhangar, on Havelock, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, I willingly had to change my mind.

This paradisiac archipelago in the Bengali gulf is composed of more than 500 small, medium, bigger islands, in fact closer to Myanmar than continental India, they offer an excellent alternative to much more expensive Maldives or to the up-coming Sri Lanka. The majority of the islands are not accessible to foreign tourists, but Havelock, the most developed from a tourism point of view, offers any kind of water sport or activity you might be looking for as well as some trekking, rafting and much more.

On Havelock, you should visit and possibly stay on beach number 7, considered by the Times, the best Asian beach: a 2 km stretch of white, soft sand surrounded by a thick tropical jungle.

 

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Another advantage of this heaven, it’s the total isolation from the rest of the world. Throughout the island there is no to minimal signal and wi-fi is only available at one cafe in the whole island. Resist the temptation and just unplug your self for a week or two. I did, and it felt SO good. So, whether you are looking for a place where your boss or colleagues can’t reach you at all, or whether you are feeling the social media pressure to be always connected, or you are looking for a place to escape with your lover, Havelock could be your next perfect destination.

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Whatever the reason, make sure to sign up for at least one dive or snorkeling session to the nearby little islands. The day-trips organized by Barefoot Scuba, on Beach 3 are worth the money and extremely well-organised. The coral is almost completely dead due to the raising water temperature, but despite this you can still some of the most amazing spices of fish, including barracuda, hammerheads, sharks, giant lobsters, huge crabs and loads of clownfish (yeah, like those in the Nemo cartoon!!)

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During your stay, make sure to rent a scooter as well. At the convenient price of RS400 (ca £4) you will put wings to your feet to explore each and every corner of this island. Note: In comparison to mainland India, the Andaman’s streets are extremely safe. You will have to insist to have a helmet as normally bikes only come with one. There is only one road that connects the two coasts therefore is impossible to get lost, but to be on the safe side, download the map on your phone or get one from your resort. The surrounding of rice pads and lush green jungle will make you stop every two minutes for a picture or two.
Beach number 1, 3 and 5 are all on the east side of the island, the part that is more crowded and dedicated to backpackers and low-budget travellers. On beach number 7, also known as Radhangar instead, there are only a couple of luxury resorts and with no doubts, it’s the best beach of the entire island.

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Dream

Barefoot at Havelock 

This is the place you need to stay if you chose Havelock for your modern Robinson Crusoe’s adventures. Despite the luxury resort set just a few metres from the shore, when you will be on the beach you will feel like the only one there and with your eyes wide open you can create and invent stories of pirates and escapes just looking around or even adventuring yourself in the jungle (watch out for crocodiles!!)

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The restaurant is first class and the service is top-notch. They also offer fresh fish grilled or tandoori. We wanted to try the promising pizza, but in a week spent there it was never available. That was probably a bit disappointing.

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With its 25 elegantly designed thatch tents, cottages and villas, you have plenty of choice to pick the best accommodation for you and your budget.
Constructed using environmentally sensitive indigenous materials, this is the first and only ecologically friendly resort in the Andaman Islands.

The only downside I could find is that despite the name, you cannot really walk barefoot throughout the property as I dreamt of. You will need your flip-flops to  avoid hurting your feet on sharp stones and rocks. But you can walk barefoot indoors.

Overall, it’s a gorgeous property, right on the best Asian beach. Would I go back?
NOW!

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Other Details & Useful Information

  • Internal Flights: From Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi to Port Blair. From here with an hour and half ferry to Havelock.
    A special permit is released to foreign tourists at the airports, you are required to keep in your passport during your entire stay.
    (Port Blair doesn’t deserve a mention itself, but it’s a mandatory stop before reaching Havelock. If you have half a day to spare there before or after your transfer, the Cellular Jail National Memorial is probably the only think that’s worth a visit. Here, , the dissidents where imprisoned during the British Empire)
  • Best period to visit: End of October to May
  • Activities: scuba e snorkling, trekking nella giungla e bird watching
  • Other notes: On mainland India or Port Blair, get a couple of repellent tubes. Like in every tropical climate, the jungle is the perfect environment for mosquitos and sandflies especially. Protect your arms and legs from sunset to sunrise and you should be fine. If you get bitten put some antihistaminic.

If you wish to see more beautiful photo from my fantastic week, check my Flickr album here

Have you been to the Andamans? What did you think?
Let me know your thoughts below!

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