Ever since provisions around permit for the Andamans eased in 2018, the travel scene in the island has been in full swing. Veer Savarkar International airport in Port Blair connects Andaman archipelago to all major cities of India. The airport is roughly at a distance of 5 kilometres from the city centre. Far from the mainland yet closer to the capital city, Havelock Island lies roughly 70 kilometres from Port Blair. Although one might discover a different side of Havelock Island in almost every season, to experience Havelock Island at its best, most travellers flock to the island from October to April.
Owing to its geographical position, Havelock Island remains a detached island, meaning that there are no roads that connect it to other islands, making sea route the only viable mode of transport. The sea voyage to the island takes less than 2 hours. As of 2019, SeaPlane does not operate on the island and travellers have the option to choose between government/private ferries. Island transfers are different from land transfers. Rule number one has to be, always book your tickets beforehand to avoid any last-minute shenanigans.
The lifeline of Andaman Islands, Government Ferry is the most pocket-friendly, and the easiest available means how to reach Havelock Island. The trip takes nearly 2.5 hours and works around a fixed schedule. The ferries depart at ?6 A.M (2.5-hour voyage), 11 A.M (4-hour journey via Neil Island) and 2 P.M (2.5-hour voyage). All ferries leave from the Phoenix Bay Jetty in Port Blair, a small, bustling wharf with shallow waters. While availing government ferries, remember to book the tickets as early as possible. The tickets usually sell-out pretty fast as it is commonly used by locals for their inter-island transport and is therefore subject to availability. Once you have boarded the ferry, take a walk outside your cabin and savour the crisp blow of air and cerulean waters around you.
Another way to go about the journey from Port Blair to Havelock Island is via private ferries. Ideal for travellers, these ferries offer luxury travel at a standard price and assures a comfortable experience. A tad expensive than the government-operated ferries, cruises travel faster and take relatively less time. The most reliable operators for cruise boats are Makruzz and Green Ocean and deliver a premium in-cabin experience. While Makruzz takes 90 minutes to reach Havelock Island, Green Ocean takes 120 minutes to make the journey. They run on time, are tidy, well organized, and have staff on board to assist you in case of emergency. The availability depends upon the season you're visiting in, i.e. low in peak seasons and high availability during the off-season. Either you can book tickets via the ground offices of the respective operators, or online through their portal. We would still recommend booking well in advance to ensure a hassle-free experience.
Helicopters are undeniably an extravagant, yet another means to travel from the capital city to Havelock island. Initially commenced by Jal Hans, the first flight of the 10-seater helicopter was from Port Blair to Havelock. The panoramic aerial view of the islands is enthralling, and the journey in itself is exhilarating. The services though open for both tourists and Islanders, are quite hard to avail. Owing to the set priority list, tourists often find themselves at the bottom of the waiting list.
There are certain things to keep in mind -
1. Avoid travelling in turbulent weather. Due to bad weather conditions, ferry often gets cancelled by the authorities.
2. Remember to carry valid ID proof. While checking-into the ferry, an ID card is a must.
3. Ferry timings often change owing to the weather, so it is advisable to keep an eye on the chart.
4. Book well in advance. Availability is dynamic, and tickets often sell out.
Getting around on an island is different from traversing a city. The local transport in Havelock Island is relatively simple and easy to use. The villages have their own beaches, those beaches have numbers assigned to their names, and the roads are set straight without any traffic. There is hardly any scope to lose your directions, but when it does happen, locals are happy to help.
Taxis - Tourists can rent taxis from Havelock jetty for interisland travel. These tend to work best for travellers who travel in a schedule and are up for saving time more than money. However, be wary of the drivers that are bound to overcharge you, where you might have to bargain your way out. If you book a package for Andaman excursion, taxis will be taken care of along with the rest of the transport.
Bike rentals - Renting a bike on an island and riding into the sunset is what travel goals exude. An easy and cost-effective local means of transport in Havelock Island is by renting a motorcycle, scooter or a bicycle. Travellers usually hire them on an everyday basis for a minimal amount and set off to explore the island on their own. Monsoon seasons are risky, and we would not recommend renting a bike then, as the roads become slippery, which can prove dangerous.
Auto rickshaws - Tuk-tuks or auto rickshaws are probably India's favourite mode of local transport. They are cost-effective and readily available. You can hail them during the day on one of the main roads or at the marketplace. A short trip might cost you around INR 50 to 200, and a long ride, say Radhanagar Beach might cost you around INR 700 to 1000. The prices are standardized, though that does not stop travellers from bargaining.
Public Transport - Backpackers or budget travellers can also opt for shared jeeps and government buses to commute within the island.
Walking, however, remains one of the most common means of transport. It is the best way to explore a destination, and there is no denying that. If your energy and time permits you, we suggest you tie your shoelaces and go for a long walk to the beach.