Life is busy and I am lazy. Today I hail back to writing again after 2 months and a day. Why is it so difficult to continue and be consistent on what you love. I utterly feel guilty and happy today, the former feeling is because I did not write for 2 months at a stretch and the latter is because I started again today. I may not have readers, but honestly, I am doing this for myself, why I know not, however, I like to keep it enigmatic.
This is my last write up on Andamans, the most memorable and beauty-centric trip of my life. To recapitulate, we visited Havelock Island and the adorable beaches it owns. Today I am going to write about water sports activities, scuba diving, snorkelling and much more.
How to reach: A 15 mins boat ride from Havelock Island Jetty.
For me, this beach was nothing more than an adventure. This beach is ideal for snorkeling as it has a rich coral reef formation and beautiful marine life. Other than that you just cannot afford to miss the Banana Boat Ride and Jet Ski Ride. Let me explain each of the above in a bit of a detail.
Elephant Beach, Havelock Island
Snorkelling: It is one of the best ways to explore underwater life without swimming too deep in the sea. You don’t have to wear a swimsuit, it just requires a diving mask which consists of a tube-shaped funnel called snorkel, i.e. why the name. There’s an instructor who guides you throughout. You must do this, especially the chickens who are too scared to scuba dive.. And yes, I did this too, like I said earlier, I wish my eyes could click. I could not believe the beauty inside as if I was already not mesmerised with the surroundings on land. Not bragging I feel time whisks underwater, ideally snorkelling is conducted for 15 mins, but I just felt like 15 seconds inside the water. My eyes were wide open inside, I swear I did not blink and nor will you..
Banana Boat Ride: Needless to explain we all have an idea about this one, especially the water people. It is a banana shaped huge boat filled with air and can accommodate up to 5 people seated one after the another facing each other’s back.
The boat is tied to a Jet Ski, which is ridden by an insane fellow. Furthermore, my family is as crazy as I am, so we decided to just get on this, one after the another we sat wearing life jackets holding the small handle in front of us. And then, the insane fellow whose Jet Ski was tied to our banana boat rode us almost towards the middle of the sea, it was indeed thrilling, and then like I mentioned about the “insane fellow” he suddenly started wildly jerking his Jet Ski in a zig-zag motion and repeat, which in turn shook our boat as well, our cheering converted to “yelling”, and he did it again and again and again until we were thrown into the sea. All the laughter, yelling, and excitement vanished.
Banana Boat Ride
It was a 5 second of mute underwater until we lifted back up thanks to the life-saving jackets. I opened my eyes, coughed, saw my parents, my sister and we all burst out laughing like crazy. We mounted the boat and were again thrown ruthlessly into the water, and well this procedure was repeated over 8 times in a row. Euphoric, funny, crazy, adventurous are the words which can describe this ride!
Caution: This ride is only for the ones who like to get thrown in any position without any warning into the sea. So shove that attitude into the sea folks.
Jet Ski Ride: This was however not as enthralling as the previous one, but just do it. If you have great imagination skills like me then you can probably feel like some kickass detective or a spy who is escaping the mafias after killing few or more of them. Feel cool, feel awesome, feel heroic, feel adventurous, feel anything you want, no one charges you for that! Honestly, I felt SALTY and you know why.
This was all about Elephant beach, go there, do what I did, rather do more than I did, enjoy and never come back!
Despite from enjoying the sea, the island, our ultimate purpose to visit such places is to Scuba Dive! It is by default a compulsory activity one must do without fail no matter what. Do not be a chicken I repeat do not be a chicken. Gather up all the guts you have, wear that smart scuba dive swimsuit, fill and sign that form (which lists the do’s and don’ts) and get in that beautiful sea awaiting with a broad smile and open arms. And to the non-swimmers, you’re lucky as scuba diving does not require you to swim! (I hope I’ve succeeded in lifting up that anxious spirit).
Yup, that’s me all scared and pumped up for Scuba Dive!
Although there are various diving sites in Andamans but we chose Chidiya Tapu Fish point for our first ever diving experience by Infinity Scuba whose instructors embedded a significant amount of patience to deal with me. You must have read “chicken” used by me previously, well to be genuine I was one of them! I am not water phobic, but honestly going deep inside the water accelerated my heart beat to some levels.
Descending slowly and wished never to ascend!
Infinity Scuba Andamans is owned by Commander Baath (what a watery name :-D) of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. An ex-naval diver and commander in the Indian Navy. So we dived in the sea with Infinity Scuba instructors.
They were very instructive and patient. My instructor instructed me with the following diver’s communications:
Do not panic
Breathe from the mouth, as nose, is covered with the diving mask
Thumbs up mean “I want to go up, save me, I cannot do it, do hell with the beauty, I want to live”
Thumbs down mean “Oh yes, please descend, I came this far not to chicken out and see others having fun, I am here to explore and find a Nemo”
With thumb and forefinger make a circle, extending three remaining fingers means “Are you okay?”
Level your hands and shake them means ” I think I am going to stay up till this level, It is okay if I don’t find a Nemo, I’ll just stay here so that my friends don’t make fun of me, anyway they can’t really see me”
So, the instructor took me 12m deep, but it took me a huge amount of courage to descend. He even told me “Imagine you’re Katrina Kaif (Actress from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Bollywood flick) and just surrender”. I eased out eventually and what I saw, felt, heard, experienced is beyond my level of my imagination. All you hear is your breath, all you see is magnificent beauty, coral reefs, an amazing collection of fishes from wrasses, jacks, parrot fish, clown fish, angel fish and huge schools of fish etc. And how you feel is, well experience it to believe it.
They were sweet enough to certify me as an underwater explorer. And following is what I received as a token of my sovereignty..
Scuba diving is generally termed as an adventure sport, I however disagree, according to me, it is the most peaceful, serene, calm, engrossing, addictive and meditative sport I’ve ever come across.
Caution: Recommended to everyone, do it and DO NOT BE CAUTIOUS. Just LET IT GO!
After-effects of Scuba Diving: A blank, numb, carefree, error free, silent, peaceful, dazed, frozen and a fantastic state! Basically, you feel multidimensional. Carrying this state with ourselves we planned to visit Neil Island a small tiny island located in the south of Andamans, which is only 21 km from Havelock.
But, before you bid a final goodbye to Havelock, please do not forget to visit Barefoot Bar and Brasserie and commonly known as B3 cafe. It is located right opposite to the Havelock Jetty. It serves best pizzas and pasta in Havelock. The menu caters to mainly continental dishes and most are cooked to more than perfection.
It is a tiny yet beautiful island located 21 km from Havelock. With unexplored coral reefs, brilliant bio-diversity, white sandy beaches and tropical forest and vegetation so it is known as ‘vegetable bowl’ of the Andamans.
A very interesting fact about this island is that the settlers have named the beaches after mythical characters of the epic Ramayana (Bharatpur, Laxmanpur, Sitapur, Ramnagar etc.) It stretches to maximum 5 km in length and one can wander this entire island in just 2 hours walking.
After the mindblowing experience, we finally returned to Port Blair and back to our regular lives. But, how do I put it, I could feel metamorphosis in me, me who came 10 days back to Port Blair and the new me who huddled heaps of beautiful memories and headed back? I came as a tourist and returned as a traveler.
I’m not contesting on traveling every month or spend all you’ve got or just keep wandering or write travel quotes or get a travel inspired tattoo (which I’m going to get :-D). All I want to put across is experience when and how you can, maybe twice a year or just once a year, visit a place not just to click pictures or become a social butterfly, but to live in it, experience in it, explore it, know the history of it, so that you can talk about it, cherish it and rejuvenate from it.
Like I mentioned earlier the journey has just begun, so stay tuned.
This post was originally published on 'wandervoyaging'.