India's only coral island chain made up of 36 islands and dotted off the coast of Kerala (the southern state of India), Lakshadweep (Laccadives) islands is as spectacular as it is tricky to get to. Of the 36 islands, only 10 of them are inhabited and only two of them - Bangaram and Kadmat islands - are open for tourists. Merely nothing but coconut is cultivated here and the islanders chiefly survive on fishing and the thriving coir industry.
The island offers a variety in its cuisine. While non-vegetarians can simply lose themselves in the delicious seafood and Halal meat, the vegetarians can be promised with a generally spicy food, rich in coconut flavor. Alert! You cannot consume alcohol, as it is prohibited on all islands except Bangaram, where most tourists usually stay put. Cottages on the beach, a multi-cuisine restaurant with a bar, a library, scuba diving gear on hire, and tons of ambience - what more can one think of for an adventurous getaway? Well, catamarans, kayaks, and sailboats are available for free!
If you want to get a real taste of the culture, visit the island just in time for the festivals when you can witness the best of tribal music and dances. Opana, Parichakali, Lava and Kolkali dances are amongst the most famous ones. One can never miss the famous neighborhood handicraft items made of shells, coir and oysters. You can experience a cool and dry tropical weather between December and May, with temperatures hardly ever rising beyond 35°C, when tourists are often advised to visit.
What with its breathtaking tourist-friendly beaches, the richness of the island is found much below the land. With an incredible underwater environment, it is probably one of the best places to unwind and relax, especially if you are game for some sea adventure! Bangaram is the best spot for scuba diving and snorkelling and is often compared to the Great Barrier reef. You can also indulge in some deep sea fishing, parasailing, kayaking, wind surfing and water skiing.
It's best to travel by air. The Kochi International Airport in Kerala links the islands to the mainland. While Agatti is the only airport in Lakshadweep, one can get helicopter transfers to Bangaram or Kavaratti islands. The flight from Kochi takes about one and a half hours and operates six days a week. One can preferably get around locally on foot or hire a bicycle. Boats/ferries and helicopter services are available for inter-island transfers.