Last updated on September 25th, 2017 at 05:55 pm
Andaman and Nicobar (especially Havelock island) had been on our radar for long. In one of the Spicejet sale, we saw that the Chennai- Port Blair return was costing ~Rs.11500 for all of us (2 adults and 1 child). We grabbed the opportunity and tickets were booked for Sep 2015.
Planning for it started almost 6 months before the actual travel. We read reviews on Tripadvisor, followed many travel blogs to settle upon the hotels and activities we wanted to do. We also got some quotations for Andaman tour packages, to see what they cover and how much they charge. Since the time we have started travelling with our son, we do most of our bookings in advance to avoid any inconvenience. We wanted to make sure this was a memorable holiday.
Day 1: Chennai to Port Blair by flight
Day 2, 3 and 4: Havelock Island
Day 5, 6: Port Blair, Ross Island
Day 7: Port Blair – Chennai- Hyd
We choose to travel in the off-season since the rates are low and the crowd is less. Andaman tourism picks up in Oct and Sep was the perfect time to travel. We decided the hotels based on the activities we wanted to do and convenience from kiddo’s point of view. 6 days was less for a place like Andaman, but we didn’t want to plan very hectic.
Day 1, Port Blair: Hotel Sentinel. We chose this based on the hotel reviews on Tripadvisor. Our criteria was to be close to the Phoenix Bay Jetty (where Havelock ferries start), close to the Cellular Jail (since that was the first place we wanted to visit) and kiddo-friendly (pool and garden area).
Day 2, 3, 4 in Havelock island: Dolphin Resort. This booking was a tricky one. No. 1 on TripAdvisor was Barefoot and some friends gave a great review about it too. But it was too costly. We didn’t want to spend so much on hotels. We were oscillating between Silver Sand Resort and Dolphin (which is promoted by Andaman tourism). Dolphin is a Govt property so we assumed service would be non-existent. Reviews said the view was fantastic but the beach in front was rocky. The rooms in Silver Sand that face the Vijay Nagar beach were too expensive and the rest of the rooms were on the other side of the road, so we finally settled for Dolphin Resort. Glad we booked Dolphin resort finally.
Day 5, 6 in Port Blair: The only resort that had beach access in Port Blair was Peerless Sarovar Portico. It was little far from the attractions, but beach access was our criterion for choosing it.
We booked Sentinel and Sarovar Portico online through yatra.com. We got good deals during holiday sales. Do check out online deals before booking the hotels. Also, if you have time in hand, wait for festivals. MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Cleartrip, Travelguru etc have deals during festivals. Don’t be too greedy, though. If you wait too long and a better deal, you may not get any deal. 50% off, Rs.1500 off per night etc are good deals to grab.
Tip 1: Flat Rs.1500 off etc are on the total booking amount. So book the hotels for individual nights in different names (could be your name on 1st and 3rd night and your spouse’s on the 2nd). This would ensure you get the max benefit. Mail the hotel later to tell them they are all your bookings and you want to continue in the same room for all nights.
Tip 2: When doing online bookings, ALWAYS mail the hotel to make sure your bookings are confirmed. Send the hotel voucher(s) in the mail. If they don’t reply, call them. With these huge discount deals online, there is a small chance hotel may not honour them. Also, carry a print out of the booking vouchers.
Tip 3: If you have any loyalty cards like JP Miles Card etc., carry them. I did not carry my JP Miles card since we were not travelling by Jet Airways but Sarovar Portico had a 10% discount for Jet customers. They finally gave me the discount with only the number, but many might not.
Dolphin Resort: Booking this property requires patience. Their official website is http://aniidco.and.nic.in/dolphin-resort.php. You need to call up the Andaman Tourist Info Center at Port Blair on 03192- 232694/ 03192-231664/ 03192- 232380 and/or mail them at [email protected] or [email protected]. We did both, though no one replied to our mail. After few followups on phone, they sent us a mail that said they have blocked the room for us. We needed to send them a DD (yes, a DD 🙂 for half the amount to confirm booking. We booked a super deluxe room, which is the highest category room at Rs.4000 per night (taxes [email protected] 14%). Bookings at Dolphin does not include any complimentary breakfast or bed tea etc. Check their website for latest room rates.
Hyd – Chennai: By Train. The available flight was at 5:45 am, and we didn’t want to take a flight that early. Decided to visit relatives in Chennai and then proceed to Port Blair.
Chennai – Port Blair: Spicejet flight at 11:45m. Reached Port Blair at around 1:45 pm.
Port Blair – Havelock island: The only way to go to Havelock is by ferry.
Coastal cruise: Private operator. They do not sail in the off-season , though. We went in September end and they were not sailing.
Makruzz: Private operator. We took this for our Port Blair – Havelock leg. They have 3 categories -. We took the Deluxe Class which had upper deck seating and complimentary breakfast. The Deluxe class has only the side view from glass windows. Captain’s cabin is on the upper deck so front view is completely blocked. The Royal class is on the upper deck towards the back and has a huge glass window at the back. The lower deck has a better view because of the side windows as well as front window. It’s more crowded though.
MV green ocean: It’s also a private operator. We didn’t take it since the timings were not comfortable for us.
Govt ferry: Unless you have no other option, don’t opt for this. You may get lucky with the seats, but if you are stuck in a cabin where AC is not working, your day is ruined. We took the govt. ferry for our Havelock- Port Blair travel and got a seat in the lower deck where AC was not working. The cabin was stuffy with insufficient number of fans positioned badly. Ticket is priced at Rs.400 per person and the booking starts 4 days in advance. Booking for 27th for eg. will open on 23rd. And you have to stand in queue to get it. Its much better to get this done through an agent or your hotel. Most of the hotels get it done for their guests. Hotel Sentinel charged us Rs.100 extra per seat and got it done.They got it sent to Silver Sands Resort in Havelock and we collected it when we were in Havelock.
Ferry schedules are as follows (as on Sep 2015):
(Thursday: 02.00 pm, 10.45 am Makruzz do not sail)
|PORT BLAIR – NEIL||07:30||09:00|
|NEIL -PORT BLAIR||16:15||17:45|
|NEIL – HAVELOCK||14:00||15:30|
Govt Ferry: Check with your hotel or travel agent to book tickets. Some online travel agents like https://trip.experienceandamans.com/ferry/government-ferry.html seem to sell tickets too. No personal experience with them, though.
Port Blair: Autos are available in plenty in Port Blair. We spoke to the auto guy who dropped us from Cellular Jail to Sentinel on the first day and took his number so he could be with us through our Port Blair stay. His name is Partho and his number is +91 9474243638/ 9679532110. Very friendly guy from Kolkata and charged us very nominal too. Cellular Jail to Sentinel was Rs.30, Sentinel to Phoenix Jetty was Rs.50. When we returned from Havelock, we called Partho again at Phoenix Jetty. We stayed at Peerless Sarovar Portico which was quite far (by Port Blair standards) from the jetty. He dropped us there and went back. Again came back in the afternoon and took us to the Water park side and dropped us back around dinner. For this, he charged us Rs.500, which was very fair. Last day also we called him in the morning at checkout and he stayed with us until 2pm, even took care of our luggage when we were site-seeing or dining; and charged us Rs.850.
Havelock Island: Autos are available in Havelock. There are buses too from jetty to Radhanagar beach. If you are planning to stay in Havelock for more than a day and can drive, hiring a two-wheeler is the best option. Scooty and bikes are available at Rs.300/ 24hrs and petrol is Rs.70/litre (Update May 2017: I am told the tariff has now increased to Rs.400 – Rs.500). We hired a scooty from the shop outside Dophin resort. It was called Bappa Travels and their number is +91-9474222180/ 9679532542. There are small shops where petrol is available. Even the supermarket stocks it. Auto charged Rs.100 to the Dolphin resort. Most of the resorts are in the same stretch and auto fares are similar; except for Barefoot which is towards the Radhanagar beach. Our auto driver’s name was Bidhan and his number is +91-9476004046. His rates are same during off-season and season. Charges Rs.500 from resort to Radhanagar beach and back. He charges Rs.400 from resort to Kala Pathar beach and back. The rates almost double for foreigners.
We reached Port Blair at 2 pm. Port Blair airport is very small and becomes very chaotic if more than 2 flights land around the same time. They have only 2 conveyor belts for checked-in baggage and everyone crowded around them. Same with the restrooms. Its super crowded. There is a small tourist help centre in front of the conveyor belts where you can book prepaid taxi and get some basic info. Prepaid to Sentinel was Rs.120 and we booked it.
Hotel Sentinel is located quite centrally and is a well-maintained place. We were very hungry and to our relief, lunch was available even at 3 pm. Veg Meal for 2 (1 curry, 1 dal, 1 rice, few rotis) at Sentinel costs close to Rs.600.
We had heard and read stories about the role of Andaman in India’s freedom struggle and it was only fitting to start the travel by visiting Cellular Jail.
Cellular Jail is open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m except on Mondays. The ticket is Rs.30 per person and is available until 4.15 p.m. We went on the World Tourism Day and entry to the jail and museum was free.
Hindi light and sound show is at 6.15 p.m and English at 7.15 p.m. Ticket for the light and sound show are available from 5.15 pm for Hindi show and 6.15 pm for English show. The duration is 55 mins and seats are first come first so be sure to get in the queue early.
The show could have been better, given the subject.
Sun sets by 5.15 p.m and it usually gets dark in Port Blair by 6 p.m. The water sports centre is close by and the Children’s park there is open until 7 pm. They have a traffic park, slides, swings etc. Good time pass for kids. Water sports, however, closes by 5 pm. We visited the park again after our return from Havelock.
Travel to Havelock by MV Makruzz was quite pleasant.
Havelock is rightly called the Pearl of Andamans. The moment you step into Havelock, you can see the crystal blue sea, white sands and friendly people. We had booking at Dolphin Resort which is a govt. owned property.
Dolphin Resort is best located to see the beautiful sunrise at Havelock. Its heaven if you are a morning person. We booked a super-deluxe room. There are 8 super deluxe rooms, all of which have the sea view. However, 4 of them are reserved for VIPs. Some of the deluxe rooms also have sea view, but one can never be sure which room would be booked for you. Some deluxe rooms are also reserved and do not get booked for tourists.
It is best if you can book a super deluxe room. It has a kettle, fridge and intercom. And an LCD TV (yes, other rooms have CRT TV it seems). Though there is a kettle, there are no tea bags, sugar etc. We had read in one of the TripAdvisor reviews that they charge Rs.50 for that so we carried our own. These things are easily available in the shop outside Dolphin.
The restaurant at Dolphin is under renovation and the make shift one is a small one right next to the reception. They serve buffets for all 3 meals. Breakfast is Rs.75, lunch Rs.150 and dinner Rs.150. They didn’t charge anything for our 4yr old kiddo, but otherwise the charges are same for kids. All meals are very home-like. Breakfast usually has poori bhajia, toast and 1 more dish (upma/ idly etc). Lunch and Dinner are 2 veg curries, 1 dal, 1 sweet, papad, rice and chapatis. There are some ala-carte dishes available (veg and non-veg), but you need to tell them in advance if you need them. We read in reviews that you need to tell in advance if you want to have buffet too. However, we never saw anyone being denied meals because they didn’t tell in advance. We ourselves had 2 breakfast and 2 lunches without informing them earlier. The only room service available is Bed Tea (chargeable).
One cannot swim in front of the beach in front of the resort. It is not all rocky, though. The portion in front of the super deluxe rooms is rather pleasant to walk in low tide. It has live corals and you can see sea cucumbers and some small fishes too if you walk patiently and quietly! The beach in front of the deluxe rooms is rocky.
Sunrise happens at around 4:30 am in Andamans. Its worth waking up though 🙂
The green sphere like thing is a Swiss Dome at Radhanagar Beach. 2 of them are let out to tourists by the Andaman Govt (booking process is same as Dolphin resort). However, the place is secluded and there is nothing to do after dark. There are no restaurants closeby. If you fancy staying with the sound of the crashing waves, this might be a good accommodation for you!
Kiddo had more fun with his beach toys since the waves were big and lot of foliage was coming with the waves.
The beach is around 12kms from Dolphin Resort. The roads in Havelock are very narrow and it takes around 30mins to reach the beach. Sun sets at around 5 pm, so we started at 3 pm so we could spend some time playing on the beach too.
There are many restaurants in Havelock and almost all are priced at-par. Veg Meal for 2 (1 curry, 1 dal, few rotis/ rice) would cost around Rs.600. A non-veg meal would close to Rs.1000.
There were some today’s special items too.
Most of the resorts in Havelock have a restaurant too.
Most of the resorts in Havelock have a beach access; the key is to have sea view. All resorts on the east side of the island, have direct access to beach. Some part of Govind Nagar beach is rocky. Vijay Nagar beach is very good, with turquoise water and less wind. Silver Sands Resort is located very strategically with private access to Vijay Nagar Beach, but none of their rooms have sea view. Even the best rooms they have face each other instead of facing of beach. Most of their rooms are on the other side of the road and don’t have direct beach access.
Munjoh Ocean resort, Emerald Gecko and Wild Orchid are also on Vijay Nagar beach.
Day 5, 6: We returned back to Port Blair on the Government Ferry. The journey was as uncomfortable as it can get. ACs not working, fans positioned wrong. It was very stuffy inside and many passengers spent their time on the deck.
After we reached Phoenix Jetty, Port Blair, Partho picked us up and dropped us at Peerless Sarovar Portico. It has direct access to Corbyn’s Cove beach.
Rooms are comfortable with all amenities, and our room had the sea view. The beach in front of Sarovar Portico is on the east and sunrise happens around 4:45 am.
We had our lunch at Corbyn’s Delight, the in-house restaurant at the hotel. The food was good, though expensive. Veg Meal for 2 is close to Rs.1000. Room service is available too. There is a KTDC restaurant “The Waves” at the beach itself. It was reasonably priced, though we did not get a chance to try it (Meal for 2 would have costed close to Rs.400).
There is a small shop on the inland which sells chips, cold drinks etc.The place is full of ruins, which look amazing. It takes an hour and a half to walk. Elderly might find it difficult to visit some places which need a climb. There is a small children’s park, which is not much to talk about. Our 4yr old kiddo’s got little bored, for him only attraction were the animals. There are rabbits and squirrels and deer in plenty,who are not scared of visitors.
There are other attractions like Chidiya Tapu, Wandoor Beach, Marine Museum etc; but we wanted a relaxed holiday so skipped them. Scuba Diving and Sea Walking happen at Port Blair also.
The ones we dined at-
|Expenditure Item||Total Amount (in INR)|
|Tickets – Hyd to Chennai (2AC train for 2 adults, 1 child)||3036|
|Tickets – Chennai to Port Blair Return (Spicejet flight – economy -2+1)||11600|
|Tickets – Port Blair to Havelock Return (MV Makruzz and Govt Ferry)||3450|
|Tickets – Chennai to Hyd (flight – economy : 2 + 1)||3330|
|Hotel Sentinel @PB on Day 1||2617|
|Hotel Dolphin Resort @Havelock Day 2-4||13008|
|Hotel Sarovar Portico @PB Day 5-6||7524|
|Food bill for 7 days||8000|
|Scooter Rental at Havelock (including petrol)||850|
|SCUBA Diving (2 adults)||7000|
|Attraction tickets (Science Center, Cellular Jail – Light & Sound show tickets)||135|
|Rides @ Andaman Sports Complex||1100|
|Ross Island Ferry Tickets + Entry tickets||290|
|Taxi and Auto fares in Port Blair and Andaman||1780|
|Airport taxi at Hyderabad||900|
|Taxi in Chennai||400|
|Tips at various hotels etc||400|
Our trip overall was good and relaxing. However, if we had more number of days, we would have planned to visit Neil island, Wandoor Beach, Bartang Island, Chidiya Tapu too. There is an active volcano at Barren Island too, but it takes a night journey by ship to reach there and tourists are not allowed on the island. The ship takes a few rounds and returns.
A second visit to Andaman is not ruled out 🙂
If you have been to Andaman and feel I have missed out on something, please leave a comment and I will add them with due credit 🙂
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