Havelock is known as the party island in the Andaman’s. It has three places that serve alcohol, along with one other place that has a liquor license three days a week. And a liquor store that is open in infrequent and random hours, or at least seemingly. In other words, in normal circumstances Havelock would not actually be considered a party island. But perhaps it’s all relative, as Marieke and I decided we would start our trip in the Andamans on one of the quieter islands, Neil.
Now, if the party island has so few opportunities for nightlife, you must be wondering what Neil was like. Fair enough. Beer actually was almost easier to come by, as it didn’t seem any guesthouses had liquor licenses, but would happily drive somewhere to get said beer, then cool it down for you, and serve it to you within an hour and a half of ordering it. Which was still at least an hour sooner than food would arrive after ordering. That seemed to require a separate motorbike trip. By the end of our 4 days there, we had our meals planned out to a perfect schedule, but still managed to end up extremely hungry and frustrated after three hours of waiting for food, some of which it appeared to be merely heated up frozen momos (Nepalese dumplings). To really put it in perspective, one night we managed to play 30 games of Yahtzee before our food arrived. The interesting concept of public service on the island almost had us ready to leave after a day, but we got drawn in by the beauty and peace there.
It wasn’t all that easy to find a good spot to swim or snorkel, but we soon discovered the best place was only a five minute walk from our extremely basic (and cheap) beach hut, and at the busiest time of day was populated by fewer than ten people. The sunsets were also spectacular. We got a lot of reading done on Neil Island.
Unsurprisingly, my favourite way to spend the day was on a bicycle. The island was the perfect size to cover in a day if you really tried, or over two days at a much more relaxed pace. We explored empty beaches at each end, stopping in the village for the best mango juice I’ve ever had, and surprisingly, probably the best dosas I had in India. It took us a while to find him, but dosa man mixed up some fresh onions, garlic and tomato, threw in an egg, and it became a delicious dosa omelette of sorts, topped off with homemade coconut chutney of course. It was probably also one of our fastest meals, made in less than an hour for sure for the both of us.
By the end of our four days there, we were relaxed and ready to hit up the “crazy party scene” in Havelock for our last week in India. And do some diving of course.