The island of Lakshadweep comprises of a string of 36 palm covered, white-sand-skirted coral islands, 300 km off the coast of Kerala. Lakshadweep is as stunning as it is isolated; only 10 of these islands are inhabited, mostly by Sunni Muslim fishermen. With fishing and coir production as the main sources of income, the local life on the islands largely remains simple and traditional, and a caste system divides the islanders between Koya (land owners), Malmi (sailors) and Melachery (farmers).
It’s not your regular, hi-end travel destination. Here electricity is supplied by generator and foreigners are only allowed to stay on a few of the islands. What has put Lakshadweep on the map though is the attraction that lies under the water: the 4200 sq km of pristine archipelago lagoons, unspoilt coral reefs and warm waters is paradise re-incarnate for scuba divers and snorkellers.
Lakshadweep can only be visited on a pre-arranged package trip. Most of the trips are boat-based packages that include a cruise from Kochi, island visits, diving, water sports and nights spent on board the boat. You could also fly to Agatti airport and then take a boat ride from there to wherever you’re staying on the island.
Lakshadweep is not your average beach holiday because there are no cocktails at sundown and massages at dawn. Basically, it lacks the luxury that constitute a modern, good life. There is only the water and what lies beneath. The busy beach at Kavaratti is a small one but it boasts of a world-class dive center. Of the many great dive sites here, the one you must not miss is the Wall of Wonder – an immense wall of soft corals marked with giant sea turtles that runs deep into a bottomless sea.
Lakshadweep is a scuba diver’s dream; with water so clear you can view the diverse marine life living undisturbed on coral reefs. The best time to dive is between November and mid-May when the sea is calm and the visibility is 20m to 40m. There are dive centres on Bangaram, Kadmat, Kavaratti, Minicoy and Agatti islands (mostly closed to foreigners). Travel agencies in Kochi can organise customised dive packages or courses according to your liking.
The best stay options on the island are these: Modern cottages in Minicoy Island Resort on Minicoy – the second-largest island that’s closest to Maldives; modern, beach-facing Kadmat Beach Resort cottages on Kadmat Island that can be reached by boat from Kochi or boat transfer from Agatti airport; and on the newly-opened upmarket Bangaram Island Resort on the rather secluded Bangaram Island.