My wife was on a break between jobs and somehow we were sold on the Andamans. There wasn't much time for planning and booking tickets. So it had to be in India and our agent took care of everything.
There are downs. Getting there can be painful, unless you happen to stay in Chennai or Kolkata. Overnight stays at any domestic airport isn't easy. Especially not for families with kids.
The place however compensates for everything. When you see it from the sky, it reminds you of all the pretty wallpapers and screensavers you have seen of Bali or Seychelles or the like, but possibly more beautiful. Why? Because you are just about to land there!
As an Indian, visiting Port Blair is a must. Its a part of our history and we'd be fools to pretend Kala Paani never existed.
Havelock Island, save that for later. Its like Goa, only the beaches are cleaner, the sand is actually white, nobody seems to be pushing drugs, and the locals don't speak konkani, surprisingly they speak Bengali!
Earth was made by God, so I believe, and He took special care with Havelock, that I also believe. But this isn't a place where He paid a lot of attention to detail. This isn't about German precision. Its softer, warmer, and its Indian.
The place has a wide choice of hotels and eating places, to suit all budgets. Some of the more expensive hotels, also have their semi-private beaches. There's a range of cuisine to choose from and clearly sea-food is the thing to try. However we are die-hard vegetarians. Though our options were limited, we didn't have to starve. Stay off the south Indian stuff. It's not the Mumbaiyya south Indian, its definitely not the Delhi South Indian and its certainly not "southern south Indian". But be adventurous, try the local stuff. As in Goa there are plenty of beach shacks serving local stuff, which is actually Bengali cuisine. And city dwellers need not turn up their noses. Some of these places are cleaner than our five stars.
In this context, Wild Orchid deserves a special mention. Great ambience, awesome food, (probably) fantastic sea food. Its got a well stocked bar as well.
The thing to do in Havelock is to learn, scuba diving. Various schools offer 3-day courses. So don't just lay on the beach, wet your toes and envy the foreigners with their flippers and oxygen tanks. Go ahead and dive. Poor advice from our local agent resulted in our not getting to learn, but we will, next time and there will be a next time.
The slightly less adventurous can start off with snorkelling and all of Andamans is a fabulous place to go snorkelling around.
Getting around is easy. Taxis are aplenty. Even better if you know how to ride. You an hire bycycles or scooters and experience freedom from scheduling.
However this is India and getting there and getting out of there is a pain. There's just one boat run by the government, which ferries passengers between Havelock and Port Blair and its a messy affair. Long queues, unaccounted for delays are just some of the things.
A lot of tourists, especially Indians, get to Havelock morning trip from Port Blair and get back on the afternoon trip. What a waste. Havelock isn't a place for doing something, its a place where you just be. Thats what we did. Lay on the hammock, took long bike rides, swam in the ocean and of course snorkelled. We left wishing we'd spent more time in Havelock than Port Blair, promising ourselves and Havelock we will be back.