Before I begin the post, I want to apologize for my months – long gap in updating the curtain call. Our children’s nanny left mid December and it has taken me this long to get back on my feet.
Journey to the Bay of Bengal in Asia and explore the magical Andaman Islands – a wondrous realm of stunning marine and coral reefs, swimming elephants, pristine beaches and mysterious tribes who exist beyond the reach of time. Pass through shimmering gates of coral and discover volcanic gardens of an underwater paradise. Here lions, unicorns and butterflies masquerade as fish. Dugongs play in the sea-grasses of shallow reefs that fringe the outer islands and every dive trip brings the promise of exploration and new discoveries” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
I had read the above, in an article along with some stunning pictures years ago and have been smitten with the idea of visiting the Andaman. Named after a British general, Henry Havelock who served in India. Havelock is the largest island in the Ritchie’s Archipelago, a chain of islands that are a part of the Andaman and Nicobar , a union territory of India.
This summer we planned a trip there along with our kids. Lucky me, it was my second trip. A 3 hour ride on the government ferry from Port Blair, bought us to the island. Being one of the few places that are open to tourist in the Andaman there are quite a few hotels, restaurants and a small local population. Fishing, coconut cultivation, paddy farming and tourism being the islands main source of income. Due to its rich marine life, coral reefs and warm waters, it ‘s a well-known spot for scuba divers, Few good dive shops have established base here . Great spots to go snorkeling too. After my last trip , my Sun burnt back took months to heal but it was worth it. The coral alone was magnificent. I wished I was in an Hans Christian Anderson story where I could be transformed into a mermaid and remain in the waters of South Button island !
We opted to start the holiday by staying away from the tourist hub and stayed near Kalapathar beach. Perfect location, set between the paddy fields and forest filled with lovely tall old trees and birds. A 2 minute walk got us to the beach of soft white sands and turquoise blue waters. No other tourist, no network connectivity and the only vendor sells coconut water. Truly it is everything you image a tropical island to be. One dip into the gentle sea and you are hooked. Either you start planning your next trip there or spend the days figuring out how you can manage never to leave.
April, the sea is very calm but it’s quite hot during the day and afternoon naps were required. We spent a little bit of time in the various restaurants attached to dive shops, friendly people, got lots of tips on where and whom to go diving with. Arvind did his first dive and got the diving bug. Looking forward to our trip out there again next year for the scuba dive course with Andaman bubbles. Being an island, the locals use a lot of bamboo and indigenous building materials to construct their homes. Lucky most of the hotels and restaurants do the same, giving them an Eco friendly feel. I hope the local administration in charge of tourism in these islands, maintain a strict code that protects the environment.
We boarded the private ferry back to Port Blair, which took only an hour and a half, feeling a bit sad that our holiday on this precious pearl is over. My 4 year old daughter even volunteered to remain at the resort as the sweeper as she didn’t want to leave “annamon island” just yet. As I looked out of the boat and saw the golden waves reflecting the setting sun, a silent prayer of yearning I offered – ‘God please let this island with India’s best beaches remain a paradise forever ‘.