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Away from the hustle and bustle of India’s crowded cities, Havelock Island lures travellers to the Andaman Islands with its blonde beaches dotted with elephants and a desert-island feel.
Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India.
Beyond the hustle and bustle of India’s crowded cities, Havelock Island provides a tranquil haven of peace and quiet. Despite being one of the few Andaman and Nicobar Islands that are populated, only 80 per cent of the island is inhabited. Sat in the Bay of Bengal, its dense forests, verdant rainforest and active volcanoes line empty, blonde beaches stretching for miles, luring travellers from the mainland. Those willing to make the long trip are rewarded with a desert-island feel; beachfront properties are prohibited and there is no nightlife on the island.
Spend days hopping between beaches – there are seven tropical beaches, each individually numbered. Radhanagar Beach (also known as Number Seven) is the most popular, frequently voted one of Asia’s best beaches. Laze on golden sand and paddle in crystal waters before heading back beyond the treeline to explore the few market stalls selling refreshing coconut drinks and nibbles.
Elephant Beach is perfect for snorkelling – the shore is dotted with vibrant coral and teeming with colourful fish – but is most famous for its namesake. Come early in the morning to watch elephants gleefully splashing in the shallows, and keep an eye out for Rajan, the eldest swimming elephant at almost 70 years old.
Trekking through the jungle. Hidden waterfalls cascade amid palm and coconut trees, and hiking tours can be curated to include birdwatching and other wildlife spotting.
Who to take with you
Someone interested in Indian history. Named after British general Sir Henry Havelock, the island was once used as a prison by the British for Indian freedom fighters. Today the Cellular Jail serves as a national monument; visit the cell blocks to get a glimpse into the island’s brutal history.
When to go
The island’s rainy season is during the summer months, so go in December for some winter sun and temperatures in the mid-20s.
Where to stay
Stay at Barefoot resort, an eco-village perched 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 room facing out to the ocean or one with views over the lively treetops. Alternatively, opt for Jalakara Hotel for a digital detox (there is no WiFi) and soaking up sunsets from a glittering infinity pool.
Most likely to bump into…
Rajan heading out for a dip.
Essentials to bring with you
Near-deserted beaches mean you’ll never have to change out of your swimsuit. This cut-out halterneck swimsuit, aptly named On The Island by Marios Schwab, is the perfect choice.
How to get there
Havelock Island is notoriously difficult to get to, so start with a flight into Delhi or Chennai airports, where there are daily flights into the capital of the Andaman Islands, Port Blair. From there, catch a ferry or a catamaran to reach Havelock Island in an hour and a half.
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