Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Playing with the waves at Radhanagar

The five and a half day holiday to Andaman was full of fun and great nature interactions.The sea was everywhere as were the forests .The coasts devastated by Tsunami were a reminder of nature's untamed force.The USP of the Andaman visit is not the forest,not the sea ,not the pristine beaches,it is the coral reefs one can see either  snorkeling or in a glass bottom boat . The North bay island was our first stop to this end and the boatmen  who took us there very strongly sold us the idea of doing some underwater viewing of the wonderful animals. A twenty minute boat ride  took us to the island .On the boat itself the crew asked us to pay up 500 Rs per person for those who would do snorkeling .The North bay island appears to be the property of Andaman Forest department and the Vanilla,betel nut are and mango ginger are sold there. It was a small but busy beach with small shops for tea,biscuits coconut,Cold drinks. A little to the side was a ramshackle changing room  with cloth curtains merrily flying in the breeze . Enterprising people had opened a rent- a- dress  stall for those of us who had come unprepared for the trip. The sea was calm and the guide gave us gear to wear ,teaching us the basics of snorkeling. Not knowing swimming,I felt a bit apprehensive but all of us had to hold hands ,and form a chain with the guide leading the last of us .Clutching his hand I went with the others to discover the visions of the sea. One could see Brownish colored Coral reefs near the shore but as we moved deeper we could spot coloured ones in many different shapes and sizes ,There some lovely fish too , but we came back after 5 minutes or so ,not going too far or too deep.Apparently in 500 Rs we had seen 7 reefs ! The disappointment was that we couldn't take our cameras with us to take some photographs. After much frolicking near the sea shore we changed and there was a bucket of fresh water 10 Rs apiece to wash off the saltiness of the sea . We ventured in to the private property behind the beach and bought some vanilla sticks too.
 But everyone says North Bay was just a trailer to more visual treats that Andaman seas have for us. The best of the best was the visit to Havelock,Jolly buoy Island and the sentimental visit to the Cellular jail.. We had tried to get a stay arranged at Havelock and see its famed beaches but we were a little late and we did not get an overnight accommodation there. Though its a 2 hour one way boat ride to the island we decided we'd go there even if was just a touch and come back. This time we had to be at the Phoenix bay jetty ,just behind our circuit house. There are private cruise vessels and a government one too. We got the tickets for the MV Markruz ,an AC luxury vessel . We got the tickets for the upper deck and trooped up to find it carpeted and a lovely view from the windows. They played a documentary by the Tourism division and I had a good mind to buy it from Port Blair but forgot about it when we were back. The trip landed us at Havelock at around 11 am .Since we had to be back the same day and the last vessel would leave at 4 ,on which our tickets were already booked we had no time to saunter around. We were immediately taken to Elephant beach by a boat powered by a motor.It was really great to sit and watch the boat streaking its way across the waters, sometimes spraying a jet on us. The ride was worth the dilemma in our minds of whether it had been the right decision to go to Havelock for just  3 or 4 hrs.
Once on Elephant beach we were taken snorkelling by the guide.Again there was a small shanty in the name of changing rooms . As with all islands the sea beach is a strip and the forests start a few metres from it. We had already seen the corals at North Bay earlier and had been told that it was just a glimpse of what we would see in Havelock and later at Jolly buoy. The experience was definitely far better and by the time we had visited Jolly buoy we were wiser .We would advice people to miss North bay and go straight to Jolly buoy .But more on that later . The snorkeling gear seems unhygienic with the breathing apparatus used by one tourist being merely rinsed in sea water and given to the next.Good thing would be to carry one's own or buy it at Port Blair.
Played around in the sea ,which was a frequent time pass , had coconut water and then waited for our boat to take us back to Havelock and then on to Radhanagar. In about 30 mins we reached Radhanagar ,through villages,resorts ,forests. There was more civilisation here and we could see paddy fields, flower beds . Our vehicle  literally danced around the trees in a path made so as not to have to cut any trees . There is the government Dolphin resort ,but we went on to have lunch at Barefoot resort. A simple veg\non veg thali sufficed for we were keen to spend more time on the beach . For a change and pleasantly so, there were proper changing rooms and washrooms here .They charged us some 10 rs each but it was a relief not to have the sand in your feet while changing and not to worry about someone barging in !
As we ran down to the beach ,it was a beautiful sight that was in front of us. A lovely blue-sea,clear water, no crowd at all, a couple here and there at a distance. It was maddeningly joyful and the swimmers jumped in to the sea for a swim,while I stayed near the shore.But I could wade in to quite some distance with the bed still under my feet . very bravely I went ahead till the water was just near me neck. As one wave came crashing down on us ,it was fun to wait for it and then duck our heads to let it overwhelm us ! Bliss to play with the waves. A small one would have us shout in disappointment and a huge was met by gleeful yells !
The beach deserves all the places it has on Asia's best list. It was quiet, save for the sea ,treas nearby, a lovely sun..... a perfect setting . There is nothing more to be added to this trip to Havelock except we would have given every single rupee for a place to stay back for a whole day . Maybe just a Havelock holiday .
We came out reluctantly to catch the ferry back as our tickets were for the last one going back to Port Blair.That too was a lovely sight,the sea at night ,the waters now a deep menacing blue , the stars visible in the sky above . 
And then onward to Jolly buoy ,another day  !

1 comment:

Hey traveller,why not put your signature on the visitor's book.