Comprising a string of 36 palm-covered, white sand-skirted coral islands 300km off the coast of Kerala, Lakshadweep is as stunning as it is isolated. Only 10 of these islands are inhabited, mostly with Sunni Muslim fishermen, and foreigners are only allowed to stay on a few of these. With fishing and coir production the main sources of income, local life on the islands remains highly traditional, and a caste system divides the islanders between Koya (land owners), Malmi (sailors) and Melachery (farmers).
Kadmat island resort
Coral reef in Lakshadweep
The real attraction of the islands lies under the water: the 4200 sq km of pristine archipelago lagoons, unspoiled coral reefs and warm waters are a magnet for flipper-toting travellers and divers alike, Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boat trips, sailing and jaunts to nearby islands can be arranged by most resorts.
Lakshadweep can only be visited on a prearranged package trip
Lakshadweep people-Traditonal dance
Lakshadweep people-Traditional dance
SPORTS (Society for the Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports, IG Rd, Willingdon Island, Kochi, Tel: 0484 2668387; l0am-5pm Mon-Sat) is the main organisation for tourist information.
Foreigners are limited to staying in the resorts, none of which are budget places: a special permit (one month's notice) is required and organised by tour operators, hotels or SPORTS in Kochi. Most of the islands have only recently been opened up to foreigners, who are now allowed to stay on Bangaram, Agatti, Kadmat, Minicoy and Kavaratti Islands.
Getting There and Away
There are regular fligts between Kochi and Agatti Island. Boat transport between Agatti and Kadmat is included in the package tours available, and the same goes for transport from Kochi to Kadmat and the Minicoy Islands.
Girl playing in a Lakshadweep beach
A beach resort in Lakshadweep
The village located on this 2.7 sq km island has several mosques, which you can visit if dressed modestly. There is no alcohol on the island.
Agatti Island Beach Resort (Tel: 0484 2362232) sits on two beaches at the southern tip of the island and offers a range of packages. The resort has simple, low-rise beach cottages, designed to be comfortably cool without AC and a restaurant for 20 people.
Kadmat Beach Resort (Te: 0484 4011134) has 28 modern cottages, administered by Mint Valley and can be reached by overnight boat from Kochi.
You can stay on the remote island of Minicoy, the second largest island and the closest to the Maldives in modern cottages or a 20- room guesthouse at Minicoy Island Resort (Tel: 0484 2668387) via SPORTS Swaying Palms and Coral Reef Packages.
Lakshadweep is a diver's dream, with excellent visibility and an embarrassment of marine life living on undisturbed coral reefs. The best time to dive is between mid-October and mid-May when the seas are calm and visibility is 20m to 40m.
Night view of a Lakshadweep beach
Water sports in a Lakshadweep beach
Lacadives runs dive centres on Bangaram and Kadmat Islands. Costs can vary. Information is available through the hotels.
To contact directly:
Opposite Elco Market
Off Hill Rd
Tel: 022 66627381
From Kadmat lsland, dives range from 9m to 40m in depth. Some of the better sites include North Cave, the wall, Jack Point, Shark Alley, the Potato Patch, Cross Currents and Sting Pay City. Around Bangaram good spots include the 32m-deep wreck of the Princess Royale, Manta Point, Life, Grand Canyon and the impressive sunken reef at Perumal Par.