An island paradise

An island paradise

You need to remember to pack a lot of things for a happy vacation. But a prayer on your lips doesn’t usually feature on a typical list. Praying for blue skies and bright sun, we headed to Havelock in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You see, Havelock is so tiny (roughly 8 km by 12 km) that a couple of square miles of loaded grey clouds can drench it along with our spirits.

Arriving at Havelock, one is struck by its simplicity and quaintness. An island of 7,000 people, the landscape is littered with fishing shacks, stray government buildings, shops and resorts. The friendliness and trusting nature of the locals makes the experience homely and pleasurable.

Havelock is blessed with soft, white, sandy beaches all around; many of them so desolate that you could practically call them private. Radhanagar, voted one of the Asia’s most beautiful beaches, is one such beach. The placid aquamarine sea, gentle waves hemmed in by endless shimmering white sands, swaying palms, and a nearly endless stretch of sand was awe-inspiring in its tranquility. As one who has visited beaches around the world, it was with relief that I noted the absence of shacks, hawkers and pesky water sports.

Food in Havelock is far from esoteric. Barring the fancy resorts that serve Mediterranean, continental, Thai and Chinese cuisine, the food is mainly Indian. Eating out can be a riot, ranging from pan Indian to Bengali — you can tuck in to your heart’s content without hurting your wallet.

There is no fun in visiting an exotic island without dwelling out into the world beneath the ocean. Diving was on the cards. Our friendly trainer took us through the drill and we were good to go. For amateurs, a half hour dive up to 8 m, setting you back by Rs 3,500, will grant you a lifetime of memories. Once you are deep, the undersea world unfolds with breathtaking beauty. Amazing, colourful and often weird fishes dart around the intricate coral formations. If you are lucky, you could chance upon an octopus or a baby hammerhead.

To most of us, for whom a trip to the Bahamas is a dream vacation, Havelock is a must-visit. It’s India after all, and nearly around the corner. If you want to shake off your metro hangover, dip into Havelock. You will emerge renewed.

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