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“Virgin Beach, Excellent Diving”

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Island Vinnies Tropical Beach Cabana
Ranked #8 of 12 Hotels in Havelock Island
India
Level Contributor
15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Virgin Beach, Excellent Diving”
Reviewed May 3, 2009

The journey to Havelock Island was quite cumbersome - we took an early morning 2-hour flight from Mumbai to Chennai, then a couple of hours later another 2-hour flight to Port Blair. Then, there's a 15 minute drive to the jetty where we waited for the Government ferry for another hour. The ferry takes 3 hours to reach Havelock and there the hotel staff picked us up in a jeep. From the time the boat docks, it took us half an hour to get to this eco tent property...

The sun sets pretty early here compared to Mumbai since they follow the Indian Std Time, so when we reach around 4.30 pm, its already evening and the sun sets at 6 pm.

There's not much to see or do at Port Blair and hence we decided to spend a week at Havelock Island and a couple of days on our return at Port Blair. You have to take a minimum 1 night halt at Port Blair on the return as the ferry from Havelock reaches after all flights have left...

About Vinnie - its a neat, clean place with warm & friendly staff. The scuba diving center is excellent and they have good equipment. The instructors are cooperative and took utmost care of us. the dive boats here are not like the ones you get in developed dive destinations like Thailand or Indoneasia. They are wooden boats (see anchored in pic) and one can get sea sick while going to divesites that are distant. We took our open water certification here with 7 dives - while all divesites here are better than ones I've seen at Thailand, the best dives we did were at South Button island.

We stayed in the deluxe swiss tent which meant we had the privilege of an attached bath. The acco was basic with minimal facilities and they had a restaurant that served basic food.

This is a great Basic-Basic place offering great dives and excellent value for money. I would strngly recommend this place if you are interested in diving or are looking for a place to just laze around on a virgin beach where you may be the only person...

  • Liked — tranquil virgin beachfront
  • Disliked — food and facilities were basic
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank nemo78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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209 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (54)
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English first
Little Red Dot Com
Level Contributor
14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed April 22, 2009

I'm not going to mince my words -- we booked on basis of TA's recommendations and the website, and we were initially totally shocked on arrival. The "plush" tented cabanas are falling apart, with most surfaces encrusted in mold, armies of ants, assorted bugs and one large frog in the rusty bathroom, holes in the mosquito nets, etc etc. "Service" was nonexistent, since with Vinnie and his wife absent only one of the staff spoke more than survival-level English -- we had to collar one of the divemasters to explain even the basics. The "garden" consists of dirt paths that turn to mud when it rains. The food at the restaurant is expensive and mediocre, with half the menu "not available" on any given day. Even the beach looked terrible at low tide, all jagged rocks poking out, and there were legions of mosquitoes at dusk. And all this for about 4x what a decent clean A/C room would cost you anywhere else in India.

But we were staying for four nights and every day our opinion got a little better. Sure, the tents looked tatty, but they were swept clean daily, the mosquito net+repellent combo worked, and there was 24h power and hot water, plus the promised personal hammock (although the ones near the beach are better!). Sure, the restaurant's food was less than exciting, but the fresh fish was OK, we never got sick and there was unlimited potable water. And that powdery white sand beach looked far, far more inviting at high tide under the tropical sun. Add in immediate access to the fairly good dive shop, a snorkeling tour to some amazing coral, the discovery of much better places to eat nearby and a few trips to Radhanagar Beach of "best in Asia" fame and eventually we had to conclude that the resort does supply all the basics you need to be comfortable -- the experience is just much closer to "camping" than it is to the promised "full service resort".

Would I go to the Andamans again? Definitely. Would I dive with Dive India at Island Vinnie's? Sure. But would I stay with Vinnie's again? I doubt it -- for about the same price, you can now stay at any of a number of newer, better resorts.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank jpatokal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
islandvinnie, owner at Island Vinnies Tropical Beach Cabana, responded to this review, August 15, 2009
First off, I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback.

Regarding this particular post: Yes, I'm sad to say the person who has made this posting is right. Unfortunately some of our tents have suffered damage and the bathrooms in particular have started to fall apart. The material, as it turned out was not as strong as we were led to believe at the time of purchase.

But there is good news!! As of September 2009, all of the old tents are coming down and will be replaced with brand new, durable, completely mould-proof tents. I will post photographs of the new tents on this site as well as our resort website as soon as they are installed (we are waiting for the crazy monsoon to abate)

Another piece of great news: Most visitors to Havelock must have eaten at the island's most famous restaurant - "the full moon cafe" run by Adil and his lovely Irish girlfriend Niamh. I'm happy to inform everyone that from September 2009, "The Full Moon Cafe" is changing it's address and will be located by the beach at Island Vinnie's Resort. New menu, new prices and new atmosphere.

We're all very excited about these changes to our rooms and restaurant and hope to share them with everyone coming to Havelock!!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
27 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2009

If you're looking for a social place to stay then this is definitely it. For a lazy itinerary of 2 dives a day and the a lot of hammock time this was perfect. The pink cabanas have seen better days now and were maybe a little pricey for India, compared to the beach huts available but they are spacious, clean and you do get hot water.
The beaches on Havelock are of the pristine, pure white sand variety. And while beach 7 on the other side of the island is designated the best, the one right out the front of Vinnie's was pretty darn good.
All of the crowd from the dive shop and fellow divers were very sociable. They indulge in beach BBQs, drinking, chill music & movie watching.
The diving is good, with a variety of dive sites to keep you entertained, the only downside is that a lot of the sites don't finish in the shallows, which limits the dive time, though there were a couple of sites we got 70+mins. With 4 boats going out each day they try to accommodate your choice of sites and manage to mainly keep the novices & experienced divers separate.
The dive operation is very professional, with good gear for hire, though not for the pampered (you have to carry your own kit to & from the boat and wash it). Normally one guide to 3 or 4 people. Local style fishing boats for getting to the dive sites, which aren't the fastest but it affords the opportunity for chilled out boat trips where you can sunbathe or read depending what you want. Surface break snacks included biscuits, awesome samosas and chai.
I stayed all inclusive diving, accommodation & food which wasn't necessary but since I was diving, you have to be on the boats by 7.30am and you come back around 2pm so that's 2 meals I was definitely having there and then for dinner, as a solo traveler, I couldn't be bothered to go else where on the island by myself but there are plenty of options.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Charlie L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm Sweden
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed February 25, 2009

Two dives a day on some of the best dive sites on the planet, three excellent meals a day, transfers (including being met at the airport, and then transported by taxi and ferry to and from the resort), and more than adequate accommodation on one of the most beautiful and unspoilt island archipelagos in the world, all for a daily price that is considerably less than what they usually charge for a meal for two at my local curry house.

I've just got back from Island Vinnies and, in addition to delivering the best value I've ever experienced in just about any business category, I had an absolutely fantastic time. Warm, friendly staff managing the resort (some members of the lower ranks are a bit vacant - like the poor chap helping out at breakfast who couldn't understand why he couldn't get a tan on the toast until we pointed out that he had the toaster set on defrost - but the excellent manager, Sameer, soon manages to prod them in to action long enough to make sure you get what you want), a very good, and safe dive operation (they may seem a little over-conservative to the more experienced diver, but the island is a long way from a chamber so their safety consciousness is well warranted), and fellow guests that can't help but mirror the friendliness of the staff, which makes for a wonderfully sociable stay where every day is filled with amazing experiences; whether it's swimming with sharks and manta rays, or being circled by huge schools of barracuda after being closely inspected by a giant Potato Cod; whether it's being surrounded by a dazzling array of butterflies and exotic birds in the pristine rainforests before stumbling across a line of elephants being taken on a walk between the trees; or just sitting down and sharing a beer with fellow travellers while being surrounded by the most breathtaking natural beauty.

One thing which I do think is worth understanding before considering a trip to Island Vinnie's (or anywhere in the Andamans) is this. While their remote located means that they might not have everything you may be able to get at home, for example, sometimes they might not have the tonic for your gin and tonic, or butter for your toast; they most definitely have have an awful lot more that you (or at least I) don't.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank IanScott
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangalore
Level Contributor
60 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed November 9, 2008

It's always difficult for budget travelers to pay extra (even a little bit) for rooms because we always tell ourselves that we'll spend most of the day outside anyway. But with Island Vinnie's be warned that you'll eventually end up spending most of your day at the resort for 3 reasons --- the warmth of the staff, the mad humour of the divers and the pristine beach!!!!

Having said that, choosing your acco is important. The tented cabanas are great if you want something different, but the the standard huts are great value for money since the toilets (attached or common) are very well maintained and spotlessly clean.

And if you stay here MAKE SURE you dive! The instructors and patient, very experienced and quite funny. The dive sites, or course are the best in India!

  • Liked — Spotlessly clean toilets
  • Disliked — some of the huts dont have views of the beach
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sunawala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed September 23, 2008

Stay at this property was worth every penny. (The cost has gone up since I stayed but I guess we got a steal). The hostess Pritha who owns the place along with her husband Vinnie (didn't get to meet him there) was very hospitable and amiable.

What can I say about this place.. it was serene, clean, green experience with a lot of blue around. Fantastic food at the beach, great accommodation in deluxe tents/ cabana.. and to top it all the "Dive Center" run by "DIVEIndia" on the property enhances the experience multifold if you are interested in scuba diving (can't imagine anybody not interested). There were many other places/resorts in the same line along the beach but I think I am in love with this place.So that's it folks.. rest is for you to discover on your own and don't blame me if you don't feel like coming back.

  • Liked — Deluxe Tents so close to beach with so much greenery and one dinner on the beach
  • Disliked — No room service but one doesn't need it there...
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Deep C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sawai Madhopur, India
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed July 3, 2008

What a fantastic place. I loved the tents, the food, the service and the beach. They also run a very professional Diving company called Dive India. Good place, Great company and Excellent Diving - wht more can you ask for.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ranthambhore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Island Vinnies Tropical Beach Cabana

Property: Island Vinnies Tropical Beach Cabana
Address: Havelock No 3, Havelock Island 744211, India
Location: India > Andaman and Nicobar Islands > Havelock Island
Amenities:
Beach Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Havelock Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Island Vinnies Tropical Beach Cabana 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Also Known As:
Island Vinnie`s Tropical Beach Cabana Hotel Havelock Island

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