Havelock Island is a tiny Indian island off the coast of Myanmar.
I’ve been there for the first time in 2013. I arrived there very tired, sad, feeling at the end of my life. I left the island fourteen days later, younger, happier, prettier, full of energies. Havelock is definitely my own paradise.
So I decided to ask my beautiful friend Shruti, who lived there for 8 years, to help me to share the best tips to enjoy fully the place.
Havelock, a paradise on earth
What’s special about Havelock? When I travel, I’m often disturbed by the “Disneyland effect”: many places in the World became kinds of leisure park for tourists – as Florence – there is nothing true, everything looks like a scene fifth in papier-mache and people seem to wear scene masks. This is probably the reason why I like so much India, the culture is so strong, the number of people is so large that tourists cannot be able to contaminate the atmosphere.
So yes, Havelock Island is a tropical paradise but is still an Indian island, hanging around with my scooter I enjoyed the sight of cultivated fields, children going to school, fishermen at work, elegant women bringing buffalo and goats to pasture, scenes of a normal, simple life.
If you are looking for clubbing and drunkenness, Havelock is not the place for you.
Shruti is the typical Indian contemporary woman: intelligent, strong and attractive as hell. Despite my fancy outfit, I still feel like a beggar in front of her stunning beauty. She now moved to the Netherlands, but she confesses me that the island is still in her heart. And in mine too.
Shruti visited Havelock in 2009 when she quit her job at a television channel in Mumbai, and she looking for a life out of the city.
I always wanted to live with nature, so I traveled around India for over 7 months and ended up towards the end of my journey at Havelock Island
Coming from the media she ended up working for a dive shop as an admin and ran a café all very new and exciting. Slowly she changed from the café to running a bar and managing resorts (an awesome one!).
Eight years living and working on this beautiful island has changed my perspective about how I look at life
This island has a lot to offer. You could just laze on the beach all day, go swimming, snorkeling and not to miss scuba diving.
Beach no 7 also known as – Radhanagar beach – is one of the best beaches I have seen so far when compared to the beaches in South East Asia. It’s a long stretch white sanded beach. The best part about this beach is you have the jungle in the background. You don’t see hotels or buildings. When you are out swimming when you look back all you see the lush evergreen forest. It’s something rare to find anywhere else. The sunset on this beach is spectacular and not to be missed. There is a great spot here for snorkeling just a few hundreds of meters off the coast. You can spot turtles, stingrays and many fish on the reef. I suggest carrying a frisbee it’s a great sport to play during sunset on the beach.
It’s one of the best in the world. The divers come here especially to dive in one of the best dives sites around the Ritchie’s Archipelago. Best diving shops are without doubt Dive India and Barefoot, best bats and very professional staff.
Photos by Gunnhild Soras
Photos by Gunnhild Soras
Another awesome activity is go kayaking with Tanaz Noble. She is a real pro, having traveled miles in the Andaman Sea, including solo night voyages on the open seas between islands (super brave girl). She knows perfectly the mangroves forest and she can teach you a lot about it.
There are many places to stay in Havelock, from basic huts to luxury hotels.
My bests are, for low budgets, Green Imperial, Sunrise and Orient Legend.
If you are spoiled and you need something more, I suggest Barefoot, they have lovely Duplex on the beach, I personally stayed there and I strongly recommend it.
But if you really need an over-romantic stay, the honeymoon suite, at Jalakara, where Shruti was general manager, is the right place for you.
Eat and chill
Full moon, as my friend Debora said, is the place to be: excellent food and very cozy decor, it has been founded by an Indo-British adorable couple Niamph and Adil. I like also the food at Fat Martin.
To fully enjoy the local atmosphere, you can eat something or just have a tchai around the fruit market. My super favorite is a little shop, just in front of the market, managed by Chotu, who prepares delicious chicken rolls. It looks like nothing, but I still dream about these rolls.
My God, now I just want to catch a flight a go there!
Shruti’s portrait on cover has been taken by Andrey Yu