Swaraj Dweep, Andaman Islands: The Blonde-Sand Indian Isle to Unwind On

Swaraj Dweep, Andaman Islands: The Blonde-Sand Indian Isle to Unwind On

Far from the hustle and bustle of India’s crowded cities, Swaraj Dweep is blessed with blonde-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, barefoot accommodation and an exceptional street-food scene


Swaraj Dweep, Andaman Islands, India.

Why now?

With the monsoon season not arriving around here till June, the
new year is a great time to focus on 2023 goals undisturbed in
tranquil Swaraj Dweep (formerly Havelock Island). With India having
taken on the G20 presidency at the end of 2022, a special briefing
for delegates was held on the island in December to mark the
occasion. One of only a handful of Andaman Islands to be inhabited,
the destination is known for its warm hospitality and unspoilt
landscape: think dense forests, tropical rainforests and active
volcanoes that flank pristine blonde beaches stretching alongside
the azure-blue shore as far as the eye can see.

This is the kind of place that lends itself to unplugging from
the digital world and recalibrating to slow-paced island living.
Beachfront properties are prohibited and there is no nightlife to
speak of. Forget about trying to find a WiFi signal and instead
spend days flitting between palm-flanked coves. Radhanagar Beach
(also known as Number Seven Beach) is our favourite, thanks to a
cluster of nearby street-food stalls selling fresh fruits and
smoothies. Elephant Beach, meanwhile, with its vibrant corals and
colourful fish, is best suited to snorkellers – but it’s pretty
wonderful above the waterline, too. Arrive at sunrise to watch
elephants gleefully splashing in the shallows, and keep your eyes
peeled for Rajan, the eldest, who recently celebrated his 70th

Havecock Island, Coconut Tree

Don’t miss

Hike beneath the forest canopy to uncover hidden waterfalls
among centuries-old rubber trees, kapok trees (bonus points if you
spot a frog squeaking at its roots) and coconut palms. Hiking tours
can be arranged to include birdwatching and other wildlife spotting
with Wild Frontiers.

Where to stay?

Stay at The Barefoot, an eco-village tucked among the
trees near Radhanagar Beach. Rooms are built using regenerable
materials such as bamboo, wood and palm leaves, and you can choose
between a sea-facing or treetop abode. Alternatively, boutique
Jalakara Hotel makes for a stellar detox
destination, with bedrooms that are purposefully not digitally
equipped – making it all the easier to radically cut down your
screen time. An outdoor infinity pool is cocooned by sprawling
greenery, while a state-of-the-art spa offers bespoke
aromatherapy-based treatments – we’re still dreaming about our
Indian head massage.

Where to go for dinner?

Café Saltwater plates up grub that’s worth leaving the
beach for, with standouts including club sandwiches, seafood
platters and fish curries. There’s also a veggie menu, with dishes
created using fresh island produce.

Swaraj Dweep, Sunset

And for a drink…

Try the Venom Bar, which twinkles beneath lantern pendant lights
and has a bamboo-clad pergola. Nearby Full Moon Café, with its
stripped-back interiors and well-crafted cocktails, is also a good

Who to take with you?

Your history-obsessed friend. Until 2018, Swaraj Dweep was
called Havelock Island, after British general Sir Henry Havelock,
and was once used as a prison by the British for Indian freedom
fighters. Today, the Cellular Jail is a national monument. Visit
the cell blocks for a glimpse into the island’s past.

Essentials to pack

The promise of balmy temperatures means you’ll never have to (or
want to) change out of your swimsuit. This Hunza G square-neck crinkle-knit swimsuit makes
the perfect poolside partner.

How to get there

Swaraj Dweep is not the easiest island to get to. We suggest
taking a direct flight from London Heathrow to Delhi or Chennai
Airport, then hopping on a connecting flight to the capital of the
Andaman Islands, Port Blair. From there, it’s a 90-minute catamaran
ride to your destination’s white-powder shores.

This article was updated on 16 January 2023.

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