Whether we got up from this side of the bed or that, we often look around for the spectacles that we’re wearing. Its funny.
3 hours North-East of Port Blair, by ferry, is the very island you’d like to get stranded at. Without phones and the internet, they aren”t even in the options here.
You get off the ferry at Beach #1 and enter nature’s lap – nicknamed Havelock Island by man. Its the biggest of 9 emerald islands that form Ritchie’s Archipelago.
The smaller ones around are good news for the reincarnates of Columbus. You can hop to any of those in boats and add to the number of 150 odd species unique to the islands. But not all are inhabited by humans.
Before you say Eureka and fantasize running on the Best Beach in Asia 04 Radhanagar Beach, aka Beach No. 7, get this: such pristine beaches are only about 5% of Havelock’s area. Keeping aside 3% for the 6,000 people there, the remaining is all dense canopy forests. Right, you won’t get to see the sun when under the trees.
You could rent a hut in the forest, or make a day-tour into it with a local doubling up as your trail guide. If he be a native tribe, you might discover a brand new trail too. Even if you are a wildlife researcher, you’ll find unseen flora and fauna, besides those that you’ll be able to name. Like anemones, elephants, spotted deer, herons, parrots, brahminy kites, hornbills, sea eagles, frogs and butterflies of all colours possible. Or feel truly natural at the perennial mountain spring near Barefoot Resort on Beach No 5.
Obviously the spring is not all the water you get. Come out on the beaches where you have corals, crabs, snails and sometimes an octopus or a squid. Don’t eat them, you’ll be competing with the big fish! And dont step on them, you’ll be competing with elephants.
Havelock makes up to you with its limited beach area by its unlimited aquatic life variety. You could take a Scuba Diving training at Barefoot Scuba which is highly rated across the world and then take the plunge. Your dive guide should be able to take you to some 20-odd dive sites.
Beach No. 7’s curve has the lovely Anemone Reef where you could spot stingrays and camouflaged ghost pipefish – a treat for photographers! At a deeper site, Jacob’s Table, a turtle might swim up to your nose and catch you gaping at the beauty of the hovering glass fish. Or if your guide is Godu, then you’ll hear the story of the Whitehouse Rock from the (sea) horse’s mouth. He’d discovered this 30m tall rock some years ago.
The layered-dive mental approach works well on the wreck of the Inket, a Japanese coal transport ship that sank about 50 years ago. At Johnny’s Gorge, you might spot dolphins. And if you are visiting in February, you could find turtles as huge as mini-trucks that come to lay eggs from far away. You’ll also find fusilier, surgeonfish and snapper. Butterfly fish, angelfish even bannerfish. A rare transparent shrimp, occasional leopard shark, or a white-tip reef shark.
If you’re the keep-it-simple types, you could go for speed-boat trails, dive safaris, kayaking or snorkeling. Snorkeling at Havelock is the most special in the world. Do it with the last surviving, 60-year-old swimmer elephant called Rajan and his mahout Nazroo. Within minutes, you’ll be silently friends with him and he will guide you through the swimming trail effortlessly. Though Rajan’s claims to fame are manier.
Between your adventures, a trip to the spa could prove rejuvenating. In fact, just a tea in your hammock or the terrace of your beach cottage will mark a fulfilling day’s end beautifully.
So, whichever side you got up from, if your bed was in a sea-facing duplex and if what you’re looking around for are water-goggles, its funnn!
With one new special friend who has a brilliant memory, it is infact fantastic!