The best kept secret of the Indian Ocean, greatly off the Kerala Coast
Don't tell too many of your friends about the Lakshadweep Islands...
The Lakshadweep Islands, part of India and formerly known as the Laccadives, is a small cluster of islands spread across the Indian Ocean west of mainland India and a north of the Maldives. The remote island group is one of the least developed and visited places in the Indian Ocean.
It was on a trip to the Maldives, when reading about Indian Ocean history and studying maps, that we initially became aware of these remote islands: Seemingly more difficult to reach, less developed, much less visited, and supposedly what the Maldives used to be when “discovered” by traveling hippies in the 1970ies.
Two years later after visiting the Maldives, we paid the islands a visit and were not disappointed. These underexplored and un-crowded islands are a hidden gem, an absolute heaven for beach and nature enthusiasts, and the diving parallels that of the Maldives.
Location: The Laccadive islands, an Indian territory, during 10 days
One has to carefully look at a map, and even at a map of India, to locate these charming islands off the coast ot Kerala. It is a bunch of coral islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean with light blue lagoons full of turtles, palm fringed beaches and small fishermen hamlets.
The Lakshadweep Islands are secluded and totally drained for charter tourists and even backpackers. The charm is definitely their remoteness, their completely untouched beauty and their lack of tourism. Very few islands, such as the Agatti Atoll where we stayed, can be visited by non-Indians, and only a single simple resort is present on each of these islands. There are no large beach resort developments, no overbuild places, no roads and no cars, no souvenir shops, no hassles, but only a few villages with thatch houses, friendly not-so-conservative locals, and long pristine beaches with white sand and gin-clear water. The Lakshadweep Islands may very well be one of the best-kept travel secrets in the Indian Ocean.
Like islands off the Indian mainland? Check our other island hopping adventures close to India, incl. the Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. For adventures on the Indian mainland incl. beautiful Kerala check our Hippy Trail trip.
Selected pics from this island encunter:
Lakshadweep comes from "Lakshadweepa", which means "one hundred thousand islands" in Sanskrit
Lakshadweep is an archipelago of twelve atolls. This beach was our home for a week on Agatti Island in the Agatti Atoll. Agatti is about 500 km off mainland India
In the Agatti Island airport... We booked the flight from Cochi to Agatti one month before arriving. There's very few flights and it's small 12-18 seat propellor flights. A booking agency is needed to arrange a tourist visitor permit. Agatti has the only airport in the archipelago.
... on the inbound flight to Agatti Island
Local girls during a festival in Agatti village. In general the local people were very open, quite different from Maldivians
There are very few places to stay in the Lakshadweep islands. Here's the beach in front of the only place for foreigners to stay on Agatti Island, Agatti Island Beach Resort
There are thousands of turtles in the big lagoon sorrounding Agatti Island
Sea, sand, palm trees, and nothing else... Life on an atoll
To harvest the coconut water and the white coconut meat called copra
... when there's few refrigerators. The food on Lakshadweep is distinct and good. Obviously a lot from the sea
The island is about 6 km long, and maybe 500m wide, but a some places only 30m wide allowing one to see the turquoise lagoons on both sides of the sand road. There's only a handful of cars. Transport is mainly with biycycle.
There's about 5000 people living on Agatti Island, all in the North of the island in what seems to be a big palm grove
The Lakshadweep islanders are Muslims and women often wear headscarfs. A clear white scarf by this girl but in many cases they are very colorful, as clothes usually are in India
We were lucky to take part in a local festival on Agatti island, held partly on the beach. These young men were all finely dressed to catch a girl's eye.
This guy was posted on several palm trees
Rie enjoying the beach life on an atoll. It's simple living: Sleep, eat, swim, walk along the beach, read books, interact with locals, fish, snorkel and SCUBA dive
Which was full of turtles
Agatti Island Beach Resort had a small dive shop and a single dive instructor. The diving was great. We've had better dives in the Maldives but Agatti Atoll was fine: Loads of corals and many reef fishes, different reef sharks and rays, and a few pelagics. And many many turtles
No building above the tree line, and a typical flat coral island