Gypsy Diaries #2: Of Beaches, Sands and Corals - The Unforgettable Andaman!

Reconnecting with old friends is always a happy experience, doing that on an island that seems to be lost in time is priceless. An island I never wanted to come back from, an island I'll always want to go back to. 

Havelock is part of the Great Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal and is a Union Territory of India. To reach here you need to first get to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman Islands. Port Blair is a typical navy port with view of great big warrior ships in the background. You can travel from mainland India by air or water to reach Port Blair. 

Image Credit: Sonali Kapoor

Port Blair was a two day stay for me and the biggest part of the itinerary here was covering the biggest colonial prison of yesteryears, the Cellular Jail or Kaala Paani (Black Waters). Surprisingly, it is called the Black Waters not because the water around is black in any form but because an imprisonment here meant that only death could take you away from this island. As Indians we have read about this place in our school books and every book written on Indian Independence struggle. But walking around was a numbing experience as the horrors of the past stood staring at us. Freedom is a concept we owe to our ancestors universally, I believe! 

Image Credit: Sonali Kapoor

There are a lot of smaller islands around Port Blair you can access by taking daytime boat rides. But we decided to stick around in Port Blair and explore the local sunset points of Corbyn's cove and Chidiya tapu (Bird's Island). Sunset at Chidiya Tapu is breathtakingly beautiful when you see the sun hide behind hills and the birds chirping away. 

After two days, we set off for Havelock Islands. Thankfully we pre-booked the jetty rides through our hotel. The early morning long lines at the port are best avoided. The first thing that hits you once you set foot on Havelock is the laid back style of this sleepy town. With a handful of local population and mostly tourists from Europe this gorgeous island still remains off most tourist maps (thankfully!).

The islands are still untouched from any urbanization and all you see is miles and miles of crystal blue water and white sand beaches. I could keep walking forever on those coasts looking at vast spaces of beautiful water. There is something so therapeutic about the sound of the waves! 

Image Credit: Sonali Kapoor

This island is famous for diving and is supposed to have the one of the most stunning coral lines in the world. A lot of people come here to learn scuba diving and get certification. Add to that absolutely inexpensive stay places for INR 100/- per night and you won’t need another reason to head down here! The nights are as relaxed as the day and the food at almost all the places we ate was amazingly good! Great food, blue water, sea breeze, I thought there wasn’t anything more I wanted until I did my first scuba diving!

The diving instructors were absolutely amazing and even though I am claustrophobic I managed to stay in the water for good 25-30 minutes! The under-water experience is something one should not miss in one’s lifetime and Havelock reefs and marine life are absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately, due to global warming and rising temperature of the sea water, some of the reefs have bleached but still there are a lot of beautiful reefs in this area.

We spent our days walking through the length of this island from one beach to another soaking the sun. Sunsets are always my favorite and Havelock doesn't leave you disappointed. Only some beaches are accessible on these islands and a lot of them shut around 5.30/6 PM as the sun sets. Travelling around is easy with abundant places to rent cycles/bikes or hire cabs to the place you plan to stay, or just walk the way we did! 

Nights were spent well on the beach gazing the countless stars and sound of waves. Faint voices of distant fishing boats add to the charm of the whole atmosphere. I didn't realize when it was time to pack bags and head back home. I guess a part of me is still at the beach, gazing at stars. 

Article By: Devika Nair


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