||Luxury Yacht –
The Lakshadweep Islands
It’s difficult to find
areas not overly developed for tourists these days. As soon as one is discovered,
the world finds out about it and before long, it has lost its charm.
Fortunately, there are
still a few places that are untouched by mass tourism, where you have a
chance to experience local life to the fullest. The Lakshadweep islands,
off the Malabar Coast in Kerala, India, is one of those places. The local
government has made it their mission to keep it that way too, by promoting
tourism only on islands that can sustain it, and keeping it all as eco-conscious
as possible: high-rise buildings are banned, only bio toilets are allowed,
rain water is collected to conserve fresh water, electricity is supplied
by solar power, and they even go so far as to encourage tourists (and locals)
to burn coconut husks instead of using pesticides to fight off mosquitoes
and other pests (Bravo! I say. If only governments everywhere could follow
The islands, atolls and
reefs of Lakshadweep are actually the mountaintops of a submarine volcanic
range, the Chagos-Laccadive Plateau (which also includes the Maldives and
Chagos). The name suggests that there are many islands in the group (the
Malayalam word Lakshadweep translates to “a hundred thousand islands”)
but in reality, there are only 36. Ten are inhabited, but, in keeping with
the effort to limit tourism, foreign visitors are only allowed on 3 of
those: Bangaram, Agatti and Kadmat, and you will need a permit from the
Indian Government to be able to visit.
There are a couple of
yacht charter companies on the mainland, and you have the option of flying
over to Agatti Island (a 1.5 hour flight) from Cochin and meeting up with
your boat and crew there, or starting out from Cochin and sailing across,
which takes around 3 days. Bareboat charters are hard to find here, but
skippered and crewed are readily available.
Lakshadweep has a monsoon
tropical climate, and the best (driest) time to visit is December to March.
The air temperature remains in the 80s and 90s, and the water in the upper
70s to low 80s year round. All the other ingredients that make up a paradise
getaway are here too – white sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms, aquamarine
lagoons, sparkling coral reefs and an abundance of colorful marine life.
Food and drink, however, is not a major reason to visit – the islands are
not exactly known for their cuisine, and being 95% Muslim, alcohol is not
permitted (except for on Bangaram, and the Bangaram Island Resort consequently
boasts a well stocked bar). The main reason people come to visit is the
ocean and all activities related thereto: scuba diving (the islands are
recognized as one of the best diving spots in the world), snorkeling, kayaking,
canoeing, swimming and sunbathing.
The westernmost island
in the group, Agatti, is home to the only airport and one of the two resorts
(Agatti Island Beach Resort) in Lakshadweep. It has one of the most beautiful
lagoons in the area, a museum of Lakshadweep’s history, and a mosque built
in the 16th century.