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Thursday, 19 April 2012

28. HAVELOCK ISLAND (ANDAMAN & NICOBAR), INDIA - TRAVELOGUE


Havelock Island
Havelock Island, no doubt, is Andaman & Nicobar Islands’ most sought-after destination. This is an island with the best beaches in Asia, the only island where foreign tourists are allowed to stay overnight and a place which must not be missed at any cost. We purposely planned our visit to this island to the last day so that we could end our trip to this beautiful part of our country with the best memories still lingering in our minds.


Crystal clear water, white beach.
And yes, it did happen like that! This turned out to be a fantastic visit not only in terms of the travel to the island and in enjoying its beauty but also in terms of getting a strong tan and sun-burns despite profuse use of sun-blockers. Yes, the memories lasted quite long with skin still peeling off. Well….well…well! That was only in lighter vein. The fact is that this was actually a fabulous visit.  


Cool feel of waves

While planning for the visit to this island, we were told that the tickets for the cruise have to be booked in advance. So we went to the office of “Makruzz”, a company which runs a stylish catamaran to ferry passengers to this island. This is supposed to be the best and the fastest vessel in the island which starts daily from the Phoenix Bay Jetty in the morning.


There were three types of return tariffs for the cruise, Royal (Rs. 2200 pax), Deluxe ( Rs. 1600 pax) and Premium (Rs. 1400 pax). The lower cabin was supposed to be having “No View” of the sea,   second one was on the upper deck with a view and yet another one, the best in the cruise with great view etc.  Thinking that we are going to the best place during our visit, to the best beach and by the best vessel, we decided to pamper ourselves and booked the top of the line class only to realise later that we would have been equally well off in the Deluxe Class too. Anyway, no regrets!!!




We board the bus for the jetty
For the cruise, we were required to report at a particular point from where a bus would take us to the Phoenix Bay Jetty. We reached there at 8am sharp, to be taken to the jetty office by bus which was barely five minutes’ walk. Then there was a proper check-in process, almost like a visa and passport kind of thing. A systematic queue thereafter and we were ushered in and taken to our exclusive Royal Class.



Makruzz Vessel
For the first time in the islands we experienced a vessel which was of almost international standards. The vessel was 37m long and had good interiors unlike what we had been experiencing so far in the boats and indigenous vessels. It was air-conditioned and had a public announcement system, a utility shop and food and beverages on board. The display of safety equipment available in the vessel was quite comforting for non-swimmers like us.

Once seated comfortably, the concierge came to check about our beverages and snacks. Only then did we realise that they give only pre-mixed extra sweet tea/coffee. Both of us being off sugar just cannot relish the taste of sweet tea anymore. So we enjoyed the potato chips and a hot samosa. We had an exclusive cabin for four and since no-one was foolish enough to part with extra money as we did, we were the only two passengers in the cabin. But even privacy was at stake what with other passengers barging in frequently to have a look at it or to take photos from there, only to be pushed out by the security chaps time and again creating avoidable bad blood.


At Vijay Nagar Beach
After about an hour, vessel Makruzz reached Havelock Island. That it is beautiful, there is no doubt about it. We just loafed around the place to get a hang of it and enjoying  tender coconut water. By the time we decided to proceed further, all the cabs had disappeared. Most people had perhaps already booked one in advance. And when we started looking around, only three-wheelers were available, an option which I turned down forcefully. 



The beautiful tall trees adorn the sea-side.
We realised that in the limited time available to us, we had to visit Hathi Tapoo (Elephant Beach), Vijay Nagar Beach and Radha Nagar beach, one of the 7 best beaches of Asia. With great difficulty, we managed to find out a cab which agreed to take us to Radha Nagar beach via Vijay Nagar Beach at exorbitant rates. There was not enough time to go to Hathi Tapoo which is known for scuba diving and snorkelling. So in our wisdom that we are any way not going in for snorkelling and scuba diving, we decided to give it a go by and opted for Vijay Nagar beach which turned out to be a disappointment. There was only one family and the beach was dirty to say the least.


Are we in India or in Bahamas?
This disappointment with Vijay Nagar beach was more than made up as we reached Radha Nagar Beach navigating app. 10 kms of narrow road meandering through thick green forests enveloping both sides. Wow! What a place! Unusually tall lush green trees, pristine white beach, azure blue sky, turquoise water changing to emerald green in the distance, the experience was a real treat to our eyes. It left us absolutely awestruck. Are we in India or in Bahamas?



It all feels like a dream now....
The firang bikini babes trying to get a tan as quickly as possible on one side and hordes of Indians diving away in deep blue waters unmindful of the tanning effect on the other side, it was a study in contrast, the only common bond being that each one was happy doing what s/he was doing. So we also decided to do what we could do best and took a lot of photographs of the beach and the sea waves.



Helping Kingfisher to come out of red..:-)
Soon it was time to leave and have our lunch somewhere before we board the catamaran at 3pm. We chose to go to “Sea Shell” and had a delicious lunch preceded by fish tikka and beer. Sitting under the canopy made of bamboo and palm leaves with warm sea breeze touching us softly, we did not want the lunch to end. But as is the wont, all good things have to come to an end and we had no choice but to get up.



sHe sEllS sEa shEllS oN tHe SeA sHoRe :-)
Before leaving Sea-Shell, we decided to take a stroll around the hotel and were once again enamoured by the beauty, the peace, the tranquillity of the place. Sitting by the beach after a sumptuous lunch and experiencing the sound of waves and cool sea breeze was an unprecedented feeling. How we wished that we had planned to stay at least over-night in this place. But as it was getting late for our return journey, we had no option but to leave the place with the resolve to return here with a few days’ stay factored in our visit. Any takers to accompany us? 


Bye bye SeaShell...we'll come again.


For more TRAVELOGUES, please visit my dedicated blog on travels http://globalhindustani.blogspot.in
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