Are you planning for a short offbeat weekend trip far away from the crowd, noise, and pollution?
Henry Island near Bakkhali can be one such destination on a cheap budget. The scenic island located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal is named after a British explorer who discovered it in the nineteenth century. It is located in the district of South 24 Parganas, almost 140 km away from the hustle-bustle city Kolkata.
Lately, the West Bengal Government has taken some initiatives to make it a popular weekend destination near Kolkata. Henry’s Island is gaining popularity day by day and has become an excellent alternative to Bakkhali lately. Being a remote location, there are few resorts available to book and stay. So you better plan early.
What to expect in Henry Island?
Henry’s Island is an extension of Sundarban, and where tourists can experience the beautiful Mangrove forest. The trail from the dropping point that leads to the beach is fantastic. Surrounded by the greenery, a small wooden bridge follows a path of interlocking concrete paver blocks for leading you to the pristine beach. The unexploited coastline, calm nature, and fresh air will surely mesmerize anyone.
You will be lucky to see some of the mangrove trees of Sundarban like Sundari (Heritiera Littoralis), Garan (Ceriops Tagal), Gewa (Excoecaria Agallocha), Gol Pata (Nypa Fruiticans), Keora (Sonneratia Apetala) surrounding the sea beach.
Henry Island sea beach is the home for millions of red crabs and mudskippers. Once you reach there, you are likely to notice them roaming around the water and sand. The white sand of the beach makes the color of the crabs more prominent and beautiful.
You may walk across the beach and can play hide and seek with the crabs. Or just sit down on the sand under the clear blue sky. With a touch of small waves on your feet, you can get a mind-blowing experience. However, do not expect gigantic waves there. Instead, you will get a calm beach to enjoy nature to the fullest.
If you take a walk to the left side of the coast, after 10-15 minutes, you can witness a beautiful estuary. At the time of sunrise and sunset, the beach looks more beautiful. Beware of quicksand and never go for bathing there.
With dense forest, the island is the perfect place for birdwatching with necessary gears, including a binocular. Kingfisher, black-rumped flame back, rusty-rumped warbler, plover, egret, red knot, woodpecker, bee eater and many other migratory birds are seen on Henry island. Also, there are some fishery projects on Henry Island that you can watch closely. It is a fantastic place for photography with your camera.
How to Reach Henry’s Island near Bakkhali?
There are two ways you can reach Henry island-
- Reach Bakkhali from Esplanade by bus. From there, rent a toto and reach Henry’s Island.
- Reach Namkhana station if you are traveling by train, and then hire a toto that will cost you ₹300-400 to Henry Island.
It will be best if you reach the Jelighat stop (4 Km away Bakkhali), then take a separate ride to the left unless you have your car or hire one directly to Henry’s Island. From the Jelighat stop, Henry island is just 1.5 Km away.
Ideal time to visit Henry Island
You can visit Henry Island throughout the year. But the winter season, i.e., November to February, is the best time to visit there. The weather becomes delightful which is the perfect condition to explore the beach. You may see some migratory birds at this time.
During monsoon, the adventure seekers can also come here to witness the enchanting form of the sea. And this time, the greenery all around surely attracts anyone.
Best places to visit near Henry’s Island
There are many exciting places to see near Henry Island. Bakkhali, Fraserganj, Jambudwip are all beautiful places situated very near to Henry’s Island. Let’s check them in detail-
1. Bakkhali Sea Beach
The beautiful sandy beach is trendy among tourists. The sea, with its enchanting waves, cool breeze, attracts everyone. Though Henry island is suitable for not bathing, one can take a bath in the sea of Bakkhali sea beach. The long coastline of the Bay of Bengal is perfect for strolling. After sunset, you can spend quality time on the beach enjoying the susurration of the waves. It is the closest sea beach near Kolkata for friends and couples.
2. Jambu dwip
You can come to see the emerald sea beach from Frasergang within an hour by motorized boats. It is a virgin sea beach with red crabs all around. The island is important for its geographical position. Being situated in the Bay of Bengal, it safeguards the coastline of Sundarbans from cyclones. Earlier, tourists were allowed to get off the coast. From 2008, the island became inaccessible as per the government order. As per locals, Mangrove plantation has been done and wildlife like deer were released on the island. You are not allowed to get off there, and you can see the beach from very close. The entire boat journey is impressive, and the overall experience will surely be memorable.
Fraserganj is famous for being a fishing harbor and wind park. The windmills constructed here make the place surreal. From Fraserganj ferry ghat, you can take the boat ride to visit Jambudwip.
4. Bakkhali Crocodile Park
The crocodile breeding center in Bakkhali is must visit a place for tourists. It is the only crocodile reservation park with a massive collection of variant crocodiles in West Bengal. You will also see deers are roaming here. Please do not disturb these wild animals or try to feed.
If you have more time, you can also visit Gangasagar or Mousuni island where you can camp in a tent by the sea beach. You can also visit the local market for fresh fish.
Henry Island resorts and hotels
As it is an offbeat location and the government’s project, there are no private hotels. Only two Resorts are available for online booking from the website (wbsfdcltd.com) of The State Fisheries Development Corporation Ltd, West Bengal-
- Mangrove Guest House is known chiefly for its dormitory facility, starting from Rs 450 per bed (Price may vary with time). You can book any of the AC and Non-AC rooms as per your requirement. Before coming here, book your room as per your need.
- On the other hand, Sundari Guest House has mostly double-bedded rooms with prices starting from Rs 1000 per room, non-air-conditioned rooms. The air-conditioned rooms are available at different prices, i.e., Rs 1300, Rs 1500, and Rs 1600 (excluding GST). Please note that the prices are subjected to vary over time as per the Fishery Department.
There is a large water body in front of a few houses where fishes like Tilapia, Prawn and Bhetki are cultivated. You can often see fishermen catching them. The food served here is delicious. The cool breeze, peaceful ambiance will make your stay very enjoyable. Here you will notice a watchtower, from where you can view beautiful greenery around and a panoramic view of the coastal area.
The whole Resort Complex provides 24×7 security, restaurant, room service, a park for kids, and a car parking facility. The hotel authority may also provide a local sightseeing facility. Compared to the Mangrove complex, the Sundari complex is situated closer to the beach.
You can also stay at Bakkhali that is only around 6 km away from Henry Island. From luxury to budget-friendly, there are many types of hotels. Balutot Tourism Property is the best hotel to stay here, which WBTDCL manages. The hotel’s location, quality of the food served here, room service, everything is commendable. The other popular hotels are Hotel Amaravati, Balaka lodge, Hotel Deepak, etc.