A first-timer’s guide to Lakshadweep navigating the islands of Agatti, Bangaram, Kavaratti, Minicoy, and Kadmat
Nestled in the heart of the Arabian Sea, the pristine archipelago of Lakshadweep is a haven for travelers seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In 1956, the archipelago was designated as a Union Territory, and in 1973, it was officially named Lakshadweep. Prior to this, it was recognized as the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands. The term “Lakshadweep” translates to “a hundred thousand islands,” although there are only 36 islands, comprising 12 atolls and three reefs, ad only 10 of these islands are inhabited.
How to Reach Lakshadweep?
Lakshadweep is accessible by both air and sea, with flights and ships departing from Kochi, Kerala. Air India offers flights to Lakshadweep six days a week. Upon reaching Agatti, which is the sole airstrip on the islands, you can further travel to Kavaratti and Kadmat by boat.
For those opting for a maritime journey, there are seven passenger ships available – MV Kavaratti, MV Minicoy, MV Amindivi, MV Corals, MV Lagoon, MV Lakshadweep Sea, and MV Arabian Sea. All these ships operate between Kochi and Lakshadweep. The travel time varies between 14 to 18 hours, contingent on the chosen destination.
The northern islands comprise of Agatti, Bangaram, Thinnakara, and Kalpati while the southern islands include Kavaratti, Minicoy, and Kalpeni. During your Lakshadweep journey to the northern islands, you have the option to stay in either Bangaram or Agatti, but not both simultaneously. However, you can explore both islands on day trips. It’s worth noting that accommodation and packages for Bangaram are generally more expensive as compared to Agatti.
To obtain your entry permit for Lakshadweep, begin by securing a clearance certificate, which is conveniently accessible online or can be obtained from your local police station. Alongside this certificate, submit your identification documents and three passport-size photographs. Once in possession of the clearance certificate, download the entry permit or acquire it from the Lakshadweep Administrative Office situated at Willingdon Island in Kochi, Kerala. Subsequently, present this permit to the station house officer upon arrival in Lakshadweep.
A Breakdown of the most popular places in Lakshadweep
Agatti (island’s only airstrip) serves as the entry point for most visitors to Lakshadweep. The island is a visual treat, with its white beaches, turquoise waters, shimmering lagoons and coral formations. Water enthusiasts can indulge in activities like snorkeling, diving, and swimmig. Agatti’s coral reefs are home to a myriad of marine life, making it a paradise for underwater exploration.
Things To See and Do
Stroll along the eastern beach to marvel at brilliant white coral in various shapes and sizes, surrounded by schools of colorful fish, live coral, sea anemones, starfish, and sea cucumbers in the shimmering waters. Immerse yourself in this underwater wonderland through snorkeling around the reefs or a glass-bottomed boat ride.
For a cultural and historical experience, explore the Golden Jubilee Museum, which houses a model of a traditional Minicoy sailboat and a collection of recovered jars and wooden chests from islands and shipwrecks. On the ground floor, discover two Buddha busts dating between the 9th and 12th centuries CE, offering insights into the island’s pre-Islamic past. Another tourist hotspot is the Mohiyudeen Mosque, the oldest on the island.
Stay and Eat
Agatti Island Beach Resort, situated along Market Road, stands as a scenic beach retreat with offerings of snorkeling and scuba diving, and close access to nearby islands. White Pearl Beach Hotel, found on Airport Road, enchants with mesmerizing sea views, exuding an international tourist destination ambiance, making it perfect for relaxation or aquatic adventures. Sea Shells Beach Resort, positioned at Agatti’s south side pier, provides rewarding vistas of the waters, creating an ideal setting to witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. There aren’t many upscale cafes or restaurants, and meals are typically enjoyed within the confines of the resort, often included in tour packages. The cuisine predominantly consists of South Indian dishes, featuring rice, sambar, a variety of vegetables, and a choice of fish or chicken.
Often referred to as the Jewel of Lakshadweep, Bangaram Island is a true tropical paradise. Accessible by a short boat ride from Agatti, Bangaram welcomes visitors with its pristine beaches and vibrant coral reefs. Covering 120 acres, Bangaram Island is devoid of permanent residents, welcoming only sporadic visitors from the nearby island of Agatti, home to the airport. Enclosed by a coral reef, the island features a shallow lagoon. Amidst the expansive coconut groves on Bangaram, there’s a diverse array of wildlife, including graceful fishers, porcupines, parrots, Puffer fishes, Hermit Crabs, and Seabirds. A short boat ride takes visitors to the pristine Bangaram Atoll shores from Agatti.
Things to See and Do
On the sandbars, observe crabs emerging from tiny pinholes or larger hideouts, with mounds of sand nearby. Striped, orange crabs stand tall, creating a unique spectacle. A stroll in the shallows during low tide offers a more textured experience of the lagoon. Divers and snorkelers can explore live coral, including branch coral adorned with fluorescent blue tips, patches of red-stained lumps, bread-like growths, brain coral, and table coral.
Stay and Eat
Bangaram Island Beach Resort offers a breathtaking panorama of sparkling coral reefs, turquoise lagoons, silvery beaches, and lush coconut palms. Nestled in the most serene spot on the island, the resort invites you to indulge in the beauty of pristine beaches and vibrant coral reefs. Explore the untouched beauty of Thinnakara and Parali islands on an exhilarating sailing adventure. Pump up the adrenaline with exciting water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, and banana boat rides. Dive into azure waters for a thrilling swim alongside turtles, and discover the wonders of underwater scuba diving with colorful coral reefs and exotic marine life. Enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner on the beach, creating an unforgettable evening. The resort, the only one in Lakshadweep with a bar, allows you to unwind with refreshing cocktails and a wide selection of beverages, providing the perfect setting to toast to an amazing holiday.
Kavaratti, the administrative capital of Lakshadweep, is not only known for its administrative significance but also for its rich cultural heritage. The island is home to numerous mosques, including the ornate Ujra Mosque with its intricate wood carvings and stunning architecture. While less frequented, Kavaratti Island is home to some of India’s most beautiful and unspoiled beaches. With vibrant blue waters, pristine white sand, and colorful coral reefs teeming with life, Kavaratti is increasingly resembling a paradise. From Agatti ships and cruise vessels are available to Kavaratti.
Things to See and Do
The clear turquoise waters of Kavaratti harbor some of the liveliest coral reefs. It’s a temptation that snorkelers and scuba divers will find impossible to resist in this stunning underwater world. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the world’s largest leisure-diving organization, offers various programs from beginners to advanced levels. Diving bookings should be made through the SPORTS office in Kochi. Also visit the museum-cum-aquarium, featuring diverse shell varieties, including cowries once used as currency across the Indian Ocean. Explore remarkable corals and a multitude of fish species.
Stay and Eat
Choose the Tourism Huts, which include meals. These huts feature five suites, ensuring a comfortable stay. Enjoy Malabar-style cuisine, with staple dishes such as tuna fish, chicken, and sweet potatoes.
Kadmat Island, known for its serenity and untouched beauty, is a tranquil retreat for those seeking solitude. With its untouched coral reefs and lush green landscapes, Kadmat is a haven for nature lovers. The island is less crowded compared to its counterparts, offering a peaceful escape from the tourist hustle. Kadmat Island is approximately 77 km away from the nearest airport, Agatti. Passengers are transported from Agatti to Kadmat Island by a fast boat and are returned to Agatti in time for their departure.
What To See and Do
Various water sports crafts, including kayaks, pedal boats, sailing yachts, skiing boats, and glass-bottomed boats, are available for rental. The island’s scuba diving center has become a popular attraction for water sports enthusiasts.
Stay and Eat
Kadmat is renowned for providing accommodations to visitors through aesthetically placed tourist huts nestled within coconut palm groves facing the lagoon. The Kadmat Beach Resort is an excellent choice for family stays, offering a natural lifestyle experience with ample privacy. Situated near Bangaram Island, the resort features 28 spacious rooms with enchanting views of serene beaches, ensuring a peaceful and pleasant holiday. For those who appreciate home-cooked meals, the Kadmat Beach Resort also delights guests with its delectable offerings.
The southernmost island of Lakshadweep, Minicoy, stands out for its distinctive Maldivian culture. The locals speak Mahl, write in Thana script for religious sonnets, and adopt a Maldivian style in their attire, resembling long toga-like capes. Minicoy, the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep Sea, boasts a stunning crescent shape and a magnificent lagoon with a secluded beach. The lake, surrounded by the sole cluster of mangroves in the Lakshadweep Islands, adds to the island’s charm. Minicoy Island is approximately 300 km away from the airport. However, we recommend opting for the water route, as numerous passenger ships connect Kochi to Minicoy.
Things to See and Do
From stunning coral reefs to picturesque lagoons, and from coconut groves to thoughtfully arranged beach huts, Minicoy has a wealth of offerings. Whether you’re into scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, water skiing, deep-sea fishing, sailing, glass-bottom boat rides, or fishing, this place has all your interests covered. A stroll through vibrant villages along the shore unveils charmingly painted houses. Near Aloodi village, a local-followed old sundial reflects a time roughly 45 minutes behind IST. The 1885-built lighthouse provides unparalleled views, and Minicoy’s pride, the Tuna Canning Factory, processes foot-long tuna, handling around 50,000kg from September to late May.
Stay and Eat
Situated at the southern end of the island near the lighthouse, The Minicoy Resort provides accommodation with meals included. The resort boasts 10 stand-alone cottages and 14 deluxe AC cottages, each featuring open-to-the-sky bathrooms with coral floors. Minicoy’s culinary delights include the traditional dish mus kavaab, a fish curry-kebab best enjoyed with rice or roti. The crispy octopus fry is a rare treat, and the signature fish pakodas, widely available in local shacks and restaurants, are a must-try. Explore other main course dishes like rayereha, a red tuna curry, and sannath, a white coconut-based tuna curry, served with rice and Malabar parotta. Conclude your meal with the customary dessert, Kadalakka, a sugar-coated sweet made from pulses and ground rice. Pure vegetarians can also savor delicious vegetarian South Indian dishes.
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