For our honeymoon, I had two options in mind. Lakshadweep and Havelock in Andaman & Nicobar islands. After the initial ‘research’, it was clear to me that Lakshadweep was too uncertain to be considered as a honeymoon destination and so, Havelock it was for us, with a little bit of Port-Blair thrown around! Our tickets were for the early morning Air India flight from Chennai so we reached the airport at night itself. I had made sure we book take the left-side seats so that we get the beautiful view of the islands scattered in the ocean. We were pleased to have a clear sky which gave us fantastic views from the window. It was wonderful to see big, small and *tiny* (of course comparatively) green islands, as if scattered randomly.
We had NO plans whatsoever so we took things slow but still, we were all up and ready to head out by 9.30 AM. We decided not to have our breakfast in the hotel. It turned out to be a bad decision, more on that later but first things first, we had to rent a scooter for the day. We asked about it to the reception and in no time, a scooter was there for us. Some very quick formalities later, which hardly took 5 mins, I had the key in my hands. This not being the ‘season’, the rent per day was Rs.400/-.
All set, we two starving souls headed out to hunt for food. I had heard and read a lot about the Light House restaurant so that was naturally the first place I wanted to head to. When you know(expect in this case) food is not far ,the hunger grows much stronger and it *is* true! I can vouch for that. But, all this changed when we went inside the restaurant and found it empty!! The staff confirmed my doubt, no food is available before 11 AM in Port-Blair. After getting the same reply from the next 3-4 restaurants, we decided to head to Carbyn’s Cove and try our luck there. So ladies and gentlemen, if you are going out early in the day, have your breakfast in your hotel or you will have to starve until it's 11 AM!
As we started for Carbyn’s Cove, we totally forgot about out hunger, the ride was so beautiful! The road to Carbyn’s snakes up and down small hills with the vast sea on the other side. At some curves it becomes scarily beautiful, specially when you are riding up-hill and then as you reach the top, you see no road in front of you, only the vast sea. That feeling (and the beauty) cannot be put in words. After a magical (yes, it was nothing less than magical) ride later, we finally reached Carbyn’s Cove. Had a sad and over-priced breakfast at the ‘The Waves’ restaurant which, if I am not wrong, is a government – maintained restaurant. The reason I said ‘sad’ was because, almost everything that seemed worth-ordering in the menu, was not available and so we had to make do with whatever was available.
About the place, I found it to be a decent place to sit back and relax. You can also go for water-scooter rides also, which was priced at Rs. 600/- for 2 rides per couple. Rs.300/- per person. It was very tempting but both of us were not confident enough at that point in time :p. After spending a wonderful couple of hours or so there, we started back. I forgot to mention that, the staff of the place from where we rented the scooter, gave us a map of the interesting places and their route which we might find useful. It was very helpful and helped us make a rough ‘plan’.
So, our next destination was the Wandoor beach which was some 20-22 kms from Port-Blair. We instantly decided to go there instead of other places of interest in the city just because of the ride involved. Needless to say, this ride was even better and more beautiful than the ride to Carbyn’s Cove. Beeeeautiful narrow winding roads, going up and down the small hills, we already had got more than we had even expected from Port-Blair, a capital. There are stretches which are tricky and one has to be very careful or you can land straight in the water but if you are alert while riding, its pure bliss.
Not many shops are there en-route so at-least carry some drinking water with you.
Once at the Wandoor beach, we sat there in front of the beautiful beach doing nothing, just soaking-in the beauty. Traces of the tsunami that happened almost a decade ago can still be seen there and yes, crocodiles are not very uncommon here so, stay away from the water in this beach. In case you try to play bold & think that you can fight – off the croc in case one gets hold of you and still want to take a swim in the water, the security present there will anyway not allow you to venture in the waters!
After some souvenir shopping, we took the same beautiful roads back to Port-Blair and headed straight to visit the cellular jail. The jail closes at 5.30 PM and the tickets for that are available there itself, we reached a bit late so we decided to take tickets for visiting the jail as well as the light & sound show together but came to know that was not possible. You get tickets for the light & sound show (the last show) only once the jail closes for visitors. The cellular jail is a must-visit for everybody whoever visits Port-Blair. There’s so much of history in there, seeing all that we have heard and read in our childhood in front of your eyes is a unique experience. The jail building as a monument too, is a must visit. The surrounding views from the building’s top are also fantastic.
By the time we were done with the light & sound show, which is sure to make you at-least a little emotional, it was already 8 PM. We were starving by then as we had skipped our lunch today. We had preferred to visit the Jogger’s Park for some plane/helicopter-spotting instead of having lunch :p . Even though I have not spoken much about this place but it too, is a must-visit; not for the park because of which it is called ‘jogger’s park’ but for the fantastic view it gives, of the airport where planes and helicopters are constantly come & go.
We finally called it a day after having a sumptuous dinner at the New Light House restaurant. We then left for Havelock and were excited about our first ship/boat/ferry (whatever you want to call it) ever!
Key takeaways about Port Blair:
- Web Check-in early so that you get the left-side seats. You get fantastic views of the islands as you land in Port-blair from the left side seats.
- Keep enough cash with you, most of the places either would not accept cards or the connection would be patchy.
- Don’t think too much about pre-arranging pick-up from the airport. Cabs & autos are easily available and no, they don’t fleece you like they do in our very own ‘cities’.
- If you plan to leave early from your hotel, have your break-fast (or at-least get it packed) before you leave, no restaurants serve food before 11 AM.
- Take a map of popular tourist attractions and explore the place on your own.
- Its a very safe place with nice & helpful place, so don’t worry much and enjoy your stay.
- And NO, Indians don’t need a VISA to visit Andamans
As we were already pretty hungry by the time we reached Havelock, we decided to quickly freshen-up and come out for our lunch. Within half an hour or so, hungry and tired, we reached Red Snapper, the in-house restaurant of our resort, The Wild Orchid. As it was already about 3.30-4 PM and I had a feeling that we might not get food at that time and sadly, that’s what actually happened. The manager informed us that the lunch time was over and the restaurant will re-open by 6 PM for dinner. However, he told us that there’s another good eatery next door. Yes!
In no time, we reached the Fat Martin’s Cafe he had suggested and it turned out to be a very nice place. We ordered a sea-food pizza which turned out to be one of the best pizzas I have had in a long time & a coffee for Ruchi.
We had registered with Andaman Bubbles for our scuba experience next morning and so, after we were done with our food, we walked inside their office. Both of us don’t know swimming so naturally, both of us were pretty much hesitant. We saw quite a few videos and photos of their dives, they explained about how there was nothing to worry if we follow the instructions well and stuff like that. Finally, after a much required confidence boosting session, we came out excited for the dive next morning. And yes, if you happen to visit the office of Andaman Bubbles and meet Rizwan, the owner, don’t confuse him with Raghu or Rajiv of MTV Roadies!! No he is not some twin brother either! Yes, he looks very similar to them. Too bad, I don’t have any photo of him!
After having wonderful food during the day, we came back to Fat Martin’s again for dinner and had yet another brilliant culinary treat.
And then, two non-swimmers went for Scuba!
We then had the day to ourselves and we decided to explore Havelock on two wheels. After a fantastic brunch again at Fat Martin’s cafe, we first headed to the famous Radhanagar beach, once declared the cleanest Asian beach! The ride from the resort to Radhanagar beach was as usual. green and brilliant! After about an hour of so of wonderful ride surrounded by greenery, we finally reached the gate of Radhanagar beach. After parking the vehicle at the gate, we decided to buy a hat for Ruchi as it was very bright and sunny. In the next shop, I ordered a fresh Pompfret fry and I tell you, it was the most tastiest fish fry I have ever had. I was so busy feasting on it, I actually forgot to take a photo of it. May be the next time.
After finishing my pomfret fry, we decided to take a stroll along the beach. It was wonderful and equally romantic. Beyond the watch-tower were many trails leading to the mangroves, if I am not wrong which we both wanted to explore but none of us were courageous enough to venture inside . So, finally we dropped the idea and moved ahead. After staying at this beautiful beach for quite a few hours, we finally headed back to our resort. On our way back, we again visited the beautiful Kalapathar beach and spent some quality time there.
Finally, after a wonderful day, we headed back to the resort and celebrated our fantastic trip at, don’t be surprised, Fat Matrin’s cafe, again! After a wonderful french breakfast at our resort, we headed to the jetty in the vehicle that was waiting for us. We reached Port-blair on time and took an auto straight to the airport. We thought that it would be a small airport with few passengers and we will have our lunch once we have checked-in. However when we reached the airport, it was the opposite of what we had been expecting! It was very crowded and we only got to reach the check-in counters after almost half an hour or so. We somehow got our chance to grab a quick lunch and the took-off on time. By night, after a long long journey, we were finally at our place in Bangalore!
This trip was originally published on Rajiv Verma's Travel & Lifestyle blog.