Saturday, March 28, 2015

Radhanagar beach in Havelock

2 January 2015

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The last place of our visit was also the most famous beach in Andaman Islands. It was awarded in 2004 as the best beach in Asia. A great achievement considering many high quality beaches Asia has.

Considering its popularity it is natural to expect large crowds in the beach. The beach is about 12 km from Havelock Jetty. While buses are available from Jetty to Havelock, there are innumerable numbers of private taxis ready to transport people.  

The beach definitely looks spectacular. The blue waters, white sand and dense forest background make this beach beautiful. Local authority has provided enough facilities like sitting areas, changing rooms, toilet and bathrooms. Life guards are also on duty which is a rarity in India.

Even during New Years Eve, the beach was not crowded. There were people but not the kind of crowds we see in places like Goa. Chaya decided to rest on the beach and Tanu got herself busy in building sand castles, I went for a walk along the beach. The stony area marks end of the beach. On the other side was a small, beautiful and secluded beach!!

The small beach
Radhanagar is also a place where I saw many foreign tourists. They seemed to like this beach.

It is Tanu lifting time here. It was time to say Good bye to Andaman after 10 eventful days though we still had to get back to Port Blair before boarding our flight!!  

Finally, Radhanagar beach is also good for sunset!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Elephant beach in Havelock

2nd January 2015

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The easiest way to see clear water in Havelock Island is by visiting Elephant beach. There are two ways to approach the beach. One way is to take a speed boat from Havelock Jetty. The second option is to walk for about 2km from a place near Radhanagar beach.

We decided to take the boat route. After registering at the counter, we went to “Dakshin” hotel for breakfast. By the time we arrived back at the counter, the place was filled with people and boats were ready to leave. We got an exclusive boat for ourselves. 20 minutes of uneventful journey brought us to the Elephant beach. The scary waves of Ross & Smith were not seen in Havelock!!

We had few things to do in Havelock. I and Chaya went for Snorkeling while Tanu decided to play in water. Later Tanu took courage to use tube and go further into the sea. The water was clear and waves were gentle.

Most tourists concentrate at one point in the beach. I walked little away from the crowded area and it was absolute isolation!! The effect of Tsumani was again visible on this beach in the form of fallen trees.

Here is an uprooted tree.

When I come back, Tanu is still enjoying in water. Not ready to leave the beach!!

Elephant beach is not the one to be missed if you are in Havelock. It is a great place to Snorkel. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scuba diving experience in Havelock

1 January 2015

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One of the best ways to explore coral life is by scuba diving. It requires more effort compared to snorkeling or sea walk but it gives real feel of the underwater. Swimming is not essential for scuba diving but swimming does give more confidence in waters.

When I arrived at Scuba diving center, a team had already gone for diving. The waiting time was utilized to sign some papers which basically absolve them from all responsibilities in case of mishap. That is the way it works in India and I signed it. While waiting, I also had the opportunity to watch a small drama that was unfolding.

Shore where we are trained before diving

A group of three people had signed up for scuba diving and paid a total of 9K. They were expecting something like sea walk but on seeing scuba diving equipment their courage diminished and they decided to quit. The organizer was not ready to return money as the customer had already signed a paper which states there is no refund if money on any circumstances!! It is hard for anyone to digest that they lost 9K without effort!! As settlement, organizer agreed to pay 500 each but other party was not convinced. I was called for diving and hence could not find out how the argument ended!!

Ready for dive!!
The important point is to breathe from mouth and not from nose. The nose is blocked and the person has to be breathing from mouth using mouthpiece attached to compressed gas cylinder. We were trained for some time near the shore before they took us to deeper waters. Once inside water, the only way to communicate with the guide is by hand signals. The hand signals are used to indicate to either go up, go down, everything is fine or something is not right. Techniques are taught when water enters into nose or when pressure builds on ears (which happen as we go down).

My experience underwater was simply great. Breathing though mouth became natural as minutes passed inside water. After gaining confidence I started signaling guide to take me down as much as possible. But he seemed to be hesitant after a certain depth. Later he told that for beginners they would not take the risk of getting into deep waters. I would have gone down by 10 meters he told. Quite ok I must say.

One sore point was the water was not as clear as in Elephant beach and Jolly Buoy (In both places where scuba diving is not allowed). I feel that there are better places slightly further from Havelock which offers clearer water. One can do some research before going out.

Anyway, do not miss scuba diving if you are in Andaman Islands. But it is not suited for those who suffer from Asthma, wheezing and any other breathing/heart problem. It costs between 3K-3.5K person session of Scuba diving. Organizers provide all necessary equipment needed.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ross & Smith island – The most beautiful place in Andaman

31 December 2014

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We had to return back to Rangat that day but not before visiting the most beautiful place in Andaman, the Ross & Smith Island. Little did we know that it would be an amazing experience.

Travel to Ross & Smith Island starts from Aerial Bay which is about 8 km from Diglipur. The Islands are in control of Forest Department requiring tourists to get a permit. The process is bit elaborate but due to less number of tourists it does not get complicated.

We were given a speed boat; the journey would take about 20-30 minutes. It turned out to be the most scary boat trip in my life. Within minutes of leaving Aerial Bay we encountered huge waves. The boat jumped on each wave knocking us out of our seats. I grabbed by daughter to ensure that she is not thrown out by turbulence. We had seen such scenes in TV but now we were experiencing it. We were completely drenched within seconds as waters splashed across us. I asked the boatman whether this was common. He replied that it was not so in normal days. The waves seemed to quite rough that day. Not an answer I wanted to hear. It was nothing short of roller coaster ride. We were wearing life jackets but I doubted whether we can survive those waves in the case of boat collapse.

Any pain has to end at some point of time. As we neared the Island the waves softened a bit. We were now able to look at the beauty of the surroundings.

Ross is a small Island which is connected to the relatively big Smith Island by a narrow strip of sand bridge. That makes the Island unique and beautiful. If not disturbed by waves I could have taken amazing photos the two Islands connected together.

We had about 2-2.5 hours in the Island. The Island has changing rooms, toilet and resting places.  Life guards are on duty. Coconuts are taken freshly from trees and sold!!

You can see the most bizarre board here. The permit letter from Forest department allows tourists to only Smith Island. All facilities are in Smith Island. A separate permit is needed for Ross Island. At the middle of the sand strip is the board on entry permit. A guy was posted to ensure that the rules were followed. But he could not stand the heat for a long time and people roamed freely between islands.

Chaya and Tanu relaxing on a swing!! The place is so serene and beautiful.

A good place demands a family photograph.

In our Andaman trip, it was Ross & Smith Island that was most beautiful. While I rate Jolly Buoy as the best place for Snorkeling, Ross & Smith Island stands on the top for its beauty. The strip makes it unique.