Havelock Island, or Swaraj Island, lies northeast of the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is a constituent of the Ritchie’s Archipelago, which is the main group of islands among the islands in the Bay of Bengal. Sandy beaches lined with coconut and palm trees, adventurous sports like snorkeling and scuba diving, jungle trekking, extravagant seafood, and spotting rare birds like the white-headed mynas are among the many highlights of this island. The island is among the most visited compared to the other islands of Andaman.
About the Island:-
The name of the island was derived from the British General, Sir Henry Havelock, who served in the Andaman during the colonial era. In 2018, the Indian Government renamed this island Swaraj Island. This was because Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had hoisted the Indian tricolor in Port Blair in 1943 and declared India to be a liberated nation.
A part of the Port Blair taluk, Swaraj Island is placed strategically between Peel Island and Neel Island.
How to Reach:-
You have to take a flight to Port Blair first and then proceed towards Swaraj Island. Vishakhapatnam, Chennai, and Kolkata have direct flights to Port Blair. Other cities like Delhi, and Mumbai have connecting flights.
Upon reaching Port Blair, there are options for ferry services that will drop you at Swaraj Island. The government has instituted ferry services, that take around 2.5 hours to reach. There is a provision for the air-conditioned catamaran ferry. This takes around ninety minutes.
Top Places to Visit in Swaraj Island:-
- Elephant Beach: Regarded as the hub for water sports, Elephant Beach is the most popular and visited beach on Swaraj Islands. Elephant beach is situated at a remote corner of the island. Hence, you have to either trek through a forest or take a ferry to reach this island. The depth of the sea at Elephant Beach is low and one can see the coral reefs from a distance. This is one of the cleanest beaches in Andaman, untouched by human pollution. There are several water sports that you can take part in. Sea Walking is among the more popular sea sports as it allows you to discover the bottom of the sea. The other activities are fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming.
- The Mangrove Forests: Havelock Island is home to mangrove trees, tidal creek, swamps, and migrating birds. You will always find this place inhabited by migrating birds due to the opulence of mangrove trees. The mangrove forests are a paradise for photographers and bird enthusiasts. Several rare and colorful species of birds are spotted eating fish from the water, diving into the brackish water, and sitting on the topmost branch of the mangrove trees. Kayaking in the swamp waters among the marvelous mangrove trees is an experience you cannot miss. You can also accompany the locals when they go fishing in the waters.
- Kalapathar Beach: Situated on one corner of Swaraj Island, Kalapathar Beach is a stretch of a long carpet of white sand under the blue sky. Standing true to its name, black rocks and boulders line the beach. The water near the beach is not deep and remains unaffected by high tidal waves. Located near the Kalapathar village, innumerable trees line the beach. Compared to other beaches, Kalapathar beach is relatively less inhabited and you can find yourself at peace here.
- Banana Boat Rides: If you are up for something exciting and fun, then you will love the banana boat rides that Swaraj Island offers! The boats are shaped like a banana. These boats are tied to a speed boat, which gives them speed. Even if you do not know about swimming, you need not worry. You are given a life jacket and an expert accompanies you as well. A maximum of six people can board the boat at a time.
- Scuba Diving: The scuba diving experience in Swaraj Islands while at zero gravity, can account for one of the most thrilling and rejuvenating experiences of your life. The beaches are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, proper trainers, and merchandise. Most Havelock Island beach resorts provide information about the several water sports that you can avail yourself of. You get the opportunity to swim along with jellyfish, corals, sea turtles, and several kinds of aquatic plants. Nemo beach provides one of the best snorkeling and scuba diving experiences that you would want.
- Radhanagar Beach: This is undoubtedly the most popular beach in Swaraj Islands. In 2020, Radhanagar Beach was ranked 7th among the best beaches in Asia. Authentic and local food is available in the several huts that line the shore. The beach has a watchtower, from where you can witness spectacular sunsets. The waves are quite bumpy here, hence you should go into the waters either with a trainer or some protective measures.
Havelock or Swaraj Islands has everything that you need to make your trip memorable. So book your tickets without any further ado!