Why go to the Lakshadweep islands?

#1 Feb 19th, 2017, 19:45
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As someone who has been lucky enough to visit the Lakshadweep islands on many occasions including yhis year I thought it might be useful to put down my thoughts about the current situation for visitors.
Agatti
As you my know Agatti is no longer a destination for tourists However it is the island that you land on, if flying to Lakshadweep before taking a transfer boat to the islands that you can stay on.

Kadmat.
This long (11km) but narrow (in some places only 200metres wide) has a resort at the South end of the island. It has a beautiful lagoon and the reef is a 10 minute boat ride if scuba diving. Over the past few years a new beach has formed on the west side.
There are different levels of accommodation and the cost includes all meals. There are many water sports including scuba diving, snorkelling, canoeing, jet skis ad paragliding. As a PADI centre it is possible to learn and take your open water scuba diving exam. As a remote island all safety measures are of the highest standard.
You can also do a short course in the lagoon to get the experience of scuba diving.
There are many dive sites to explore next to the reef. The number and variety of marine life does vary due to currents, tides and this year El Nino and sadly the live coral has been hit by theeffects of El Nino and temperature changes.
The food is O.K. (much better than it used to be ) although it is not very spicy so as to cater for Westerners palate. Quite often the evening meal will be served on the beach.There is a small shop in the resort selling snacks, chocolate and soft drinks but if you wish you can hire a bicycle or take an auto to the north end of the island where there are many shops.
To get to Kadmat you can take a ferry. The length of the journey dependsonthe route as it will call in to other islands. Alternatively you can fly from Cochin to Agatti (1hour 20 minute flight) and then transfer by boat to Kadmat (about 4 hour journey).
I have been to Kadmat about seven times and love the island but I feel the diving is not as exciting as it used to be.

Bangaram
Up until six years ago the resort was leased to CGH Earth company. When the lease ended there was a dispute over who was to run the resort and as a result the island was closed Now the Lakshadweep government with SPORTS have re-opened the resort which is now known as Casino Resort. I went to Bangaram this year and discovered that it had not changed since I last went there seven years ago. All the rooms and facilities were exactly the same as when CGH Earth ran the resort. What was even more surprising was that many of the original staff that I knew have returned as they loved this island so much.
There is no indigenous population and no shops. The rooms do not have television and you do feel that you are on a very remote island.
The food is excellent and we dined on the beach every night. One thing to bear in mind is that you will pay for all your bottled water as there is no potable source of water on the island. Water for washing comes from a deep well that smells of sulphur so a good idea is to fill a bucket of water and leave it to stand. The smell of sulphur will disappear and can be used to rinse yourself after a shower.
There are many water sports including scuba diving. Mohammed manages the dive centre and he knows the reef like the back of his hand. The dive sites are excellent with a multitude of various marine life. The lagoon is great for snorkelling and very safe for swimmers as the water is usually flat calm.
To get to Bangaram you need to go to Agatti and then transfer by boat (about 1 hour)
I love this island for its beauty, peacefulness and diving.
Of course it is not a cheap place to visit but well worth every rupee.

Tinnakara
Until recently this was an uninhabited island inside the Bangaram lagoon. Whenthe dispute over Bangaram appeared to be never ending the Lakshadweep government via SPORTS opened up Tinnakara for visitors. Getting there is by the same way as Bangaram. Wile staying on Bangaram I took a short boat ride to Tinnakara to see what it had to offer. The accommodation consists of large tents which for a large part of the day are in direct sunlight. I also noticed that there was little if no shade on the beach. Which could prove difficult for people who are sensitive to sunlight.
Electricity is supplied by a generator that runs 24/7 and is only about 39 metres from the accommodation. The noise from the generator is loud and would put me off from staying there. Although I have no personal experience of the food provided several accounts lead me to believe it is quite basic .
Water sports are available but not scuba diving.
From what I have seen I would think it is much cheaper than Kadmat and Bangaram but I personally would not stay there.

Minicoy
This is the furthest island from the mainland and takes at least 24 hours by ferry to get there. I have no personal knowledge of the island although I have been told the diving is good.

Take not that alcohol is not allowed on any of the Lakshadweep islands.
These are magical islands where you can find peace and solitude in fact you could spend a day and not see anyone except at meal times if you wish. Bangaram is my favourite island especially for the diving but Kadmat comes a close second.
Of course visiting such remote islands does not come cheap partly because of the transport costs. However I have stayed on Kadmat for Rs3000 per day which includes all meals which is not that expensive compared to many Indian hotels and resorts.
Planning a visit can be a lenghy process. If you are a diver there are several companies that will arrange everything (except flights) or contact SPORTS which is a Lakshadweep organisation that will arrange everything including the necessary permit yo visit the islands. In my experience and others who have contacted SPORTS they can be slow in responding to requests but persevere as the trip will be worth any hassle you encounter.

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