Positioned 400 km west of the coast of Kerala in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep, literally means one lakh islands, is the smallest union territory of India. It is a uni-district Union Territory that comprises 36 main islands, 12 atolls, three reefs, five submerged banks, and ten inhabited islands. Out of the 36 Lakshadweep islands, 10 are inhabited and only 5 islands are accessible to tourists. Known for its crystal clear waters, and golden sandy beaches, Lakshadweep is one of the most secluded beach destinations in India and also one of the must include places in Honeymoon Tour Packages. Kavaratti, the administrative headquarters, is the most developed island and also the tourist hub of Lakshadweep Tours. If you are planning to visit this piece of paradise then go through our blog to find out all the necessary information about Lakshadweep.
How to Reach
There are two ways of reaching Lakshadweep. You can either fly in or take a cruise. Among the top places to visit in India, Lakshadweep has only one airport which is on Agatti Island. There is only one AIR INDIA flight from Cochin to Agatti that operates six days a week, Monday to Saturday and so seats begin filling up months in advance. So if you are coming from other parts of India, you will have to fly into Kochi first. Flights to Agatti are usually between 11 AM – 12 noon every day. From Agatti, one can take speedboats to reach the island of your choice.
There are also cruise ships going to Lakshadweep Islands from Kerala, and now from Mumbai as well. Seven government ships are plying to the islands – MV Kavaratti, MV Arabian Sea, MV Lakshadweep Sea, MV Lagoon, MV Corals, MV Amindivi and MV Minicoy operate between Cochin and Lakshadweep islands. Recently, Cordelia Cruise Liner started luxury cruise trips to Lakshadweep from Mumbai.
Tourism in Lakshadweep is tightly regulated, so you will need a permit from Kochi, regardless of whether you’re an Indian or a foreigner. It is convenient to do it through one of the authorized agents by SPORTS from Kochi, which is their society to promote tourism. There are no private bookings, it is mandatory to book through these guys. You will get a list of the authorized agents on the SPORTS website (https://www.lakshadweeptourism.com). Your itinerary needs to be decided and paid for in advance. The tourism department issues the permits once you’ve paid. Before this, visitors need to have a Police Verification Certificate to get the Lakshadweep permit processed. Approach the nearby local police station in your city, and tell them you need a PCC for traveling to Lakshadweep, among the must-include places in India tour packages. The process might take 10-20 days, so apply at least a month before your travel dates.
You cannot alter the itinerary once you are there even if you want to stay on an island longer. Also, remember not all islands might be operational at the time of you planning your visit. Your agency can help you figure out better. You can book your flights only after your agents confirm your hotel reservations and permits.
Things to Do
Lakshadweep Tourism is primarily centered on water sports. Some of the activities you can indulge in are scuba diving, snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, sailing, glass bottom boat ride tours, fishing, water-skiing, and deep-sea fishing. Bangaram Island is the main hub for watersports.
Lakshadweep is the only place in India where you can find a coral reef formation. The water is so clear that you can see through it to where the vibrant reefs are. The rich marine life and the fantastic coral reef formations only add to the mystique of the islands. Do remember that picking up corals is a crime punishable by law, so fight the temptation.
The next best thing to do in Lakshadweep is to enjoy the beach in every way. Build castles with the creamy sand or simply soak up the sun and work on getting that perfect tan. You can also set out on excursion tours to nearby islands like Bangaram, Thinnakara, Parali, and Kalpitty. Kadmat has a full-fledged dive school and if you are keen on doing the PADI dive course, this island would be a good option.
Kavaratti is the capital of Lakshadweep and looks like a small coastal town similar to mainland India. It is about 2.5 hours from Agatti and one needs to take a vessel to reach there. Alternatively, one could take a chopper from Agatti, which takes only 15 minutes. Ujra Mosque, Lighthouse, and Broken Ship Point are the main attractions here. You can rent a bike and explore the island on your own.
If your reason for going to Lakshadweep is to party, then you will be disappointed. There is not much of a party scene on the islands and alcohol consumption is prohibited except in Bangaram.
Accommodation in Lakshadweep is generally available in the form of eco-friendly cottages. Resorts and homestays are common on the islands of Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kadmat, and Bangaram. Government lodges are also available at very reasonable rates. Almost all accommodation facilities in Lakshadweep are located close to the sea or one of the numerous lagoons providing an excellent view from the window of your hotel.
Agatti is an inhabited island and does have staying options for tourists. Just across from each other, the uninhabited islands of Bangaram and Thinnakara are about 45 minutes from Agatti and can be easily reached by speedboat. Bangaram is the fanciest and also the most expensive island in Lakshadweep in terms of the accommodation and facilities available. The beach cottages are all air-conditioned and have hot water. The buffet is served for all meals on all the islands, and there is no a-la-carte option or room service. Important point to note – this is the only island where alcohol is available, but a bit expensive.
Thinnakara only has tent-styled accommodation. There is no air conditioning in the rooms, but you will get coolers. No hot water in the bathrooms either. However, because of the limited tents and facilities, this is the most pristine of all the islands. The islands Parali 1 and Parali 2 are walking distance from Thinnakara during low tide, and it is an experience not to be missed.
The SPORTS resort offers accommodation facilities on Kadmat Island. It’s important to note that Kadmat is two-and-a-half hours by boat from Agatti, with boats running there and back only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Because of this, you need to stay there for a minimum of two nights.
Kavaratti Island lies far to the south of Agatti, and the only accommodation is air-conditioned suites with all meals included. The boat ride from Agatti to Kavaratti is 2.5 hours and the boat runs only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so you need to stay there a minimum of two nights.
The Lakshadweep tour costs around Rs. 30000 – 40,000 per Person for 5 days which includes permits, accommodation, boat transfer, and flights as well. Flight rates are fixed and they don’t vary from Kochi to Agatti which is around Rs. 5000 per Person oneway. The stay costs around Rs. 10000 – 15000 per night on Bangaram Island, Rs. 10, 000 on Thinnakara, Rs. 5000 – 10000 on Kadmat, Rs. 9000 on Kavaratti, Rs. 2000 – 3000 on Kalpeni, and Rs. 7000 – 9000 on Minicoy. The boat transfer costs Rs. 4000 per person for a round trip from Agatti to Bangaram, Rs. 1000 per person for a round trip from Bangaram to Thinnakara, Rs. 8000 per person for a round trip from Agatti to Kadmat(only on Mon, Wed, Fri), Rs. 8000 per person for a round trip from Agatti to Kavaratti(only on Mon, Wed, Fri), Rs. 8000 per person for round trip from Kochi or Calicut to Kalpeni, Rs. 7500 per Person for a round trip from Kochi or Mangalore to Minicoy. One needs to pay extra for watersports.
If you are looking to book an affordable package to Lakshadweep, I’d suggest you go for a cruise package. It will cost you around Rs. 25000 – 30000 per Person for 5 D/ 4N. This will include the cost of your permit, NOC, and boat transfers from Agatti Island to Kavaratti, Kavaratti to Bangaram, and Bangaram to Agatti again.
Things to Remember
1. A permit is required to visit Lakshadweep islands. This is arranged by the SPORTS officials along with your booking.
2. Alcohol is prohibited on all the islands of Lakshadweep.
3. Carry enough cash if you wish to indulge in water activities as the ATM facility is not readily available. Even, the payment at the resorts is also by cash.
4. Dress modestly on the inhabited islands respecting the local culture.
5. Do not pick up corals as souvenirs as it is a punishable offense.
6. Internet connectivity is poor so making online payments is practically not possible.
7. Only BSNL and Airtel network work on the islands.
8. Book your flights only after your package has been booked.
9. There is only one AIR INDIA flight from Cochin to Agatti that operates six days a week, Monday to Saturday.
10. Package tours are the only possible way to reach these islands so always book through the government SPORTS site or government-approved agents.