The Lakshadweep archipelago is like a rare necklace of jewels.
It’s India’s special union territory, protected for only the best occasions and people.
The government treats the lands and waters here with a preciousness seen nowhere else.
Out of the 36 islands, three are open to the foreign tourist, and ten are open to the Indian mainlanders. It retains the sense of an untouched paradise with a well-regulated process of tourism. It’s like you’re in a land of medieval beauty with modern amenities.
While these administrative measures may seem prohibitive to an outsider’s eye, it’s actually a good thing.
Lakshadweep: the Cleanest Territory in the Indian Subcontinent
In the name of tourism, humans will invade any given area on the planet.
And, in doing so, they not only pollute said area with noise, refuse, sewage, and vehicular exhaust, but they also force more resource requirements onto their hosts. This isn’t necessarily a knock on every tourist. This is just a matter of logistics. More tourists require more resources, which concomitantly puts a greater carbon-negative load on the local environment.
By minimizing the number of tourists coming into Lakshadweep, the government ensures its emerald lagoons, crystal-clear waters, and white beaches keep a purity few island destinations have.
So, whenever you’re snorkeling in the Laccadives Sea, remember that the clean, high-definition views underwater are a welcome result of a strict government!
The scarcity of people also lends to quiet surroundings, which is ideal for the lucky few who are on the archipelago’s tourist roster. If you’re the introverted type, this is an ideal experience. Sling yourself into a hammock, open a book, and bask in the sounds of the wind rippling the seawaters and the birds chirping in the breeze. Should you want to wet your feet, you have to walk no more than 5 minutes, and you’ll be at the water’s edge, given that most of the islands are narrow.
The waters around Lakshadweep are home to more than 800 species of fish, more than 50 species of crustaceans, green and hawksbill turtles, corals, and gastropods. More than a hundred species of birds are found on land, including the black-headed bunting and the Indian pond heron.
Getting into the Lakshadweep Sanctum
Kochi is the gateway to this archipelago.
Wherever you are in India, buy connected-flight tickets to Kochi preferably through Air India, which is the only airline that services the Kochi-Agatti route—this makes canceled flights easier to rectify.
If you prefer the water route, you can also book one of the many merchant vessels at Kochi, which would take 14-18 hours to reach the islands. More information on this will be provided below, in the section about tour packages. You can also check for accommodation on websites like Feriadoss (FAM).
To understand Lakshadweep at ground level, though, you will first need to know and understand the ten islands open to the public:
All of these islands are part of atolls. Atolls are ring-shaped landforms, whose outer parts break the surface of the ocean to form islands. Their inner parts are submerged slightly below the water, becoming a shallow lagoon. Iridescent coral reefs usually border the edge of these atolls.
Out of these islands, most tour packages won’t include Amini, Andrott, and Kilthan. This is because they are relatively underdeveloped for tourism, and tourists would not find interesting activities to fill their time with. To make your selection easier, we have shortlisted the seven other islands and highlighted their unique offerings.
Agatti: The Airport Island
Agatti is the only island with an airport, which means it is always the place of arrival and departure for air travellers.
Before your plane lands, take a moment to look outside the window.
The sliver of airstrip looks beautifully perilous against the emerald sea around it.
So, even though you know your flight is in safe hands, a mild, hair-raising feeling of danger persists. It feels like your plane could careen into the sea as the wheels touch the tarmac. At the same time, the sight is picturesque beyond compare! If you get a good angle from a passenger window seat, make sure to take pictures!
Agatti is more than just a transit hub, though. Once you enter the island, you will find that it is one of few islands with a strong local life. Being the fifth largest island, it is well-populated, with a wider range of amenities and recreational infrastructure: water sports piers, beaches, a desalination plant, an electricity plant, local restaurants, private guesthouses, and private resorts. A leisure and accommodation partner like FAM can help you here.
Even though it owns most of the accommodation on the archipelago, the administrative wing for tourism, Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism & Sports (SPORTS), does not own any accommodation on Agatti. This means tourists rely on the locals and other private entities for accommodation over here. From Agatti, you find inter-island speedboats and carriers to the other islands.
Kadmat: Quiet Under Roof, Near Reef
Coming in at 3.5 sq. km., Kadmat is the fourth largest island in the Lakshadweep archipelago.
It is known for its tranquil.
Tourists who come here often wax eloquent about its sequestered roofed huts and beach umbrella spots.
The island is narrow, which means it is always close to the waters. You can enjoy diving, kayaking, snorkelling, and even the passing dolphin.
There is a wide lagoon on the west side of this island, bordered by a dynamic coral reef.
The island’s local community is deeply involved in fisheries, so, if you’re lucky, you might get an impromptu demonstration of how they fish in the lagoon. There is only one resort on the island, which can accommodate upto 50 guests, containing 36 sea-facing A/C rooms and a few basic non-A/C rooms.
Kalpeni: An Industrious and Imperious World
Kalpeni is one of the more dramatic islands to look at.
It has a dense growth of coconut trees in the middle of the island. Towering over this thicket of fronds is a 121-feet lighthouse. Visitors cannot climb up, however. But they can go to the nearby Tip Beach, with its upturned coral reef boulder formations. In 1847, a massive storm threw up debris from the coral reef, which can be seen on the island’s northern shore.
In its interior, the island is an industrious hub, with factories for T-shirts and coconut products, lending the locals a livelihood. The Sait Moinuddin mosque is another intricate landmark that’s worth visiting. Kalpeni also has large water sports facilities, which make it a prime hub for young blood.
Accommodation can be found at the Koomel Beach Resort. The nearby waters are populated with generous shoals of spotted ornamental fish, along with sea cucumbers and other echinoderms.
Kavaratti: Charming in Capitals
Lakshadweep’s third largest island is its capital and most developed region.
Whilst most of the Lakshadweep region lacks an internet connection, Kavaratti is the place where tourists get respectable reception on the Airtel and BSNL networks. There are vehicles for hire, too, though, you will not necessarily need the rickshaws and bikes to make your way around.
Reaching Kavaratti requires a two-and-a-half-hour boat journey from Agatti—wealthier tourists could even opt for a helicopter ride. There is a PADI-certified dive centre, which allows tourists to train and scuba dive at an affordable price. Extra dives cost ₹4,500.
The capital is home to the Ujjra mosque, which is a symbol of the island’s strong Islamic traditions. Like Kalpeni, Kavaratti also owns a lighthouse. Other landmarks are worth checking out, including a museum with a sperm whale’s skeleton.
- Shark Pool
- Cargo Shipwreck
- Kavaratti Museum
- Chicken Neck point
- Kavaratti Island Marine Aquarium
SPORTS sells air-conditioned double rooms at their Paradise Island Hut Resort for within ₹12,000 per night.
Minicoy: The Matriarch’s Might
Travel to Minicoy to get a taste of unique matriarchal social mores.
The ten village communities here will give you a clearer idea of how islands deviate from the mainland.
Women are awarded dowries here! Divorces (talaq) are also fairly common, should there be any dissatisfaction from the woman in the household. Further, the eldest female member of a family approaches the bride or groom’s home for marriage proposals.
Minicoy is the second largest and southernmost island in Lakshadweep. It has more cultural and linguistic commonalities with the Maldives—the same Dhivehi language and staunch Islamic beliefs.
It is also home to the highest lighthouse in the Lakshadweep archipelago, which can be climbed by tourists to get panoramic views of the island and lagoon. It is 150 feet high with a spiral staircase of 80 steps, and was established in 1885. Younger tourists can find adventure sports and water activities like kayaking, canoeing, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
There are several resorts on the island, with Minicoy Island Resort being the chief example: with three cottages and a tourist home with 20 beds on the southern side of the island.
Bangaram: A Foreigners’ Paradise
Bangaram is often called the most popular island in the Lakshadweep.
It is a tourist-only island, which means it’s designed solely for fun, food, and games! It’s one of the three islands that allow bikiniwear!
The location is only a 45-minute speedboat journey away from Agatti. It has one resort, with 60 air-conditioned cottages and the only multi-cuisine restaurant.
Due to its bigger menu, alcohol permits, and tourist-only status, Bangaram packages are steeper than the rest of the Lakshadweep, with double-bed rooms stays coming close to ₹20,000 a night. But the experience is worth your wallet: games rooms, coral gardens, a shipwreck, scuba diving, lagoon-walking, and a well-stocked bar!
Thinnakara: A Backpacker’s Bliss
One of the smaller islands around, Thinnakara is from the Bangaram atoll, and is a short boatride away from the Bangaram island.
The only type of accommodation on the island is tents, which are owned and rented out by SPORTS. This offers a wilder, closer-to-nature experience, an offering to backpackers and their kin. Interested parties can enjoy nights and bonfires on the beach. There is only one central hut-shop on the Thinnakara, which sells toddy, coconut water, and coconut jaggery in the day hours.
Like Bangaram, bikinis are allowed on this site!
The Typical Experiences of Lakshadweep
Chirrupy to Quiet
As you walk from the cottage to the shallows, there is a subtle transition from bustle and birdsong—to deafening silence in the midst of the water. You can lose yourself in the iridescent colours of the fish and lagoon bottoms. You can meld into nature!
Freshly Caught Fish, Cooked
Given that the locals’ main occupation is fishing, you can often get a demonstration or even a boat ride to the area of fishing. Once caught, these locals might show off with an on-the-spot cooking session!
Easy Sunsets, Eveningtime Cheer
No matter where you are, you only have to look west to spy the sunset. The lack of tall buildings and the narrow landmasses allow for unhindered views. Evening time is often the best time to hang out, with gentle lights, low bustle, buzzing off-duty locals, and ice candy carts.
The languages and dialects spoken here are Malayalam, Dhivehi (Mahl), and Jeseri. There are fewer than a lakh of locals in the entire archipelago, and more than 90% of them are Muslims. Be sure to
The Savvy Traveller’s List of Must-Haves:
- Bottled water
- Sunscreen SPF 50
- Mosquito repellent
- Waterproof phone pouches
- Shower gels, shampoo, and personal care toiletries
- Smartphone photographers might need a portable charger to keep their battery up.
- Foreign nationals chould carry a universal travel adapter for Indian C, D, and M pin types.
- A DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera, and a GoPro with a hand grip for underwater photography.
And remember that most of the establishments close by 8:00 PM on the islands!
Life is slower here!
Winter: the Best Time to Visit Lakshadweep
The islands have a typical South Indian climate, which is hot and humid, rarely going below 30°C.
This is why summer can be untenable for tourists.
Monsoons, on the other hand, are rough, with the seas getting dangerously choppy, and the wind wreaking havoc on all the temporary building structures in the vicinity. Authorities often advise most tourists to stay indoors in these months, and certain modes of transport are banned or restricted.
That’s why the best time to visit is during the winter i.e. from September to February.
How to Plan a Trip to Lakshadweep
How to Choose Your Package for the Lakshadweep:
Most travel agents will be well-versed with the nuances of a Lakshadweep trip.
Given the Lakshadweep has ten islands open to Indian tourists, you will have to choose between these types of packages:
- One-island stay
- Multi-island stay
- One-island cruise
- Multi-island cruise
- Water activities stay
If you are taking the brave option of a multi-island trip—which is complicated by inter-island transport, food, and outdoor activities—the Samudram Package is best served for your purposes. If you prefer a chilled-out speed to your holidays, a one-island staycation works best. You can always inquire at websites like Feriadoss (FAM), if they have villas and other locations on the island.
Here’s a better understanding of your options:
Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Minicoy
Weekend (1 day)
Kavaratti or Kalpeni or Kadmat or Minicoy
One-island stay, Water activities
Kavaratti or Kadmat or Bangaram or Thinnakara
Marine Health Awareness
The prices of these packages range from ₹30,000 to ₹1,00,000. As a consequence of socioeconomics, Bangaram’s food and accommodation costs are higher due to alcohol permits, multi-cuisine restaurants, and it being open to foreigners.
As mentioned before, if you or your travel agent arranges your trip through the Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports (SPORTS), they will organize pickup transport, stay, and island transfer, for within ₹60,000 to ₹80,000, and they will do it faster than outside orgnanizations.
How to get Tourist Permits for Lakshadweep:
Nowadays, you can make an online application for permits at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will have to send them certain documents and details, as summarized below:
- Biodata: Name, age, gender, nationality
- ID requirements: Aadhaar card, PAN card, three passport size photos.
- Detailed Itinerary: Each traveller will need to provide data on their trip i.e. package name, transport modes, a break-down of time spent, accommodation, travel dates, etc.
- Police Clearance Certificate (PCC): Visit your local police station and state that let them know that you require a PCC for Lakshadweep entry. The processing could take 10-20 days.
- Passport and Indian visa for Foreigners: Any non-Indian tourist will have to upload soft copies of their passport and Indian visa, as well as bring them on their person.
At that does it for our travel guide on the Lakshadweep!
We hope you got what you came for!