Havelock Island was originally inhabited by the Akar Bale sept of the Great Andamanese tribe. Evidence of this early inhabitation still exists around Elephant Beach: Kitchen Middens (piles of molluscs) survived intact near the creek behind the beach until the tsunami, and scattered remnants of the same can still be seen. The Akar Bale retreated from Ritchies Archipelago in the late 1800’s, after the advent of British occupation. Havelock itself was subsequently populated by the Indian Government, mostly through Bengali refugees after partition and again after Bangladesh’s war of independence. However, only 18% of Havelock’s landmass is occupied by settlements and Elephant Beach, the Lighthouse, the landhead near Aquarium and the areas around it remain uninhabited and are designated Reserve Forest.
Departing from Barefoot at Havelock off Beach No.7 and culminating at the jetty at Beach No.1, our excursion takes you through three different snorkeling sites, in an arc from the southwest tip of Havelock, to the Northwestern end of the Island.
The first stop is at Aquarium, on the southwestern end of Havelock. The gently sloping reef, easily predictable currents and resident fish life make this snorkeling experience like being in an aquarium. The fringing reef, home to the usual reef fish, moray eels, scorpionfish and nudibranchs, tapers gently to the sand where stingrays are sometimes spotted. This is a deep snorkeling site for the most part, and snorkeling commences from off the boat, so novices may give this a miss and proceed instead directly to Elephant, Beach, on the western coast of the island. Elephant Beach named so for the occasional sightings of Havelock's elephants taking a walk in the area, is a destination unto itself. Often regarded as a beginner's snorkeling site because of its easy beach access, the gently sloping sand and fringing reef off Elephant Beach actually have plenty to offer the discerning snorkeler, including rare macro treats like the occasional sea-horse and fringe-lip flathead.
The easy conditions make elephant beach a perfect site for macro photography. The stricken giant trees on the beach, victim to the effects of the tsunami, are a sight to behold. The next stop is at the Lighthouse, another boat approach, but with a tiny beach near at hand for the less aquatically oriented. Located at the northwestern tip of Havelock, this site is just off the little white lighthouse at the entrance of the channel that leads to Havelock’s jetty. The reef slopes gently from 1m down to the sand at 25m, with the better coral and fish life in the shallows, which makes the reef good for snorkeling. Peppered with the usual bannerfish, angelfish and schooling fusiliers, this site also has some interesting macro life. From Lighthouse to Havelock jetty is but a short hop and once at the jetty, a vehicle will be waiting to bring you back to the Resort.