When you line up to board the SS Kavaratti at Willingdon Island you will have a Titanic kind of moment; not the moment when the ship sinks but when the moment adventure begins – when anything is possible. The ship is immense, the excitement is palpable and there are dreams of dancing, romance and maybe a devilish Leonardo Di Caprio on the deck below you. Reality then, is a bit of a downer.
The government run multi-island cruise features monk-like cells, mess food straight from the barracks and travellers who are retired folks and government employees on LTA – 90% of whom have no interest in seeing colorful anemones. Or any marine life for that matter. As starts of journeys go, this is a particularly bad one. It’s only when you wake up the next morning and find yourself gently bobbing on a psychedelic blue sea that you forgive the noisy retiree’s their game of antakshari and remember why you came here in the first place.
Lakshadweep is not your average beach holiday. There are no cocktails at sundown and massages at dawn. There is only the water and what lies beneath. The busy beach at Kavaratti is a small one but it boasts of a world-class dive center. Of the many great dive sites here, the one you should refuse to leave without is the Wall of Wonder – an immense wall of soft corals abound with giant sea turtles that goes deep into a bottomless sea.
Your next stop Minicoy is almost incandescent in it’s beauty. Not far from Maldives, this island strip has a dreamlike quality with water that looks like it’s been poured from liquid diamonds. This is also the place that will make your dreams of shipwreck dives and lost treasure come true. But Kadmat is where your underwater adventures get an adrenalin boost. One of the few islands that allows foreigners, this is where the serious divers come all over the world for famous sites like Sting Ray City & Shark Alley. The rather dull sounding Marine Wealth Awareness Package (Rs 10,000) makes for the ultimate diving holiday. Of all the islands, the tourist lodge at Kadmat comes closest to an actual beach resort though you may continue to miss your Pina Colada.
As you leave the archipelago and head to the mainland, you realize that poor facilities and bad food don’t matter anymore. Your mind has been untethered from inconsequence and set afloat in the wonder and magic of the worlds below. You know you will board this noisy ship again, only this time you be far from the Titanic and closer to Finding Nemo.
- Do not opt for the 3-island cruise package that includes Kalpeni. The island has nothing to offer and will take an entire day of your holiday.
- Opt for packages that come with island stay if you want more dives and less people.
- Lakshadweep is a great holiday for kids – the lagoons are shallow and safe and snorkeling will keep them fully engaged.
- The three most important things to pack are sunscreen, sunscreen and yet more sunscreen.
Sharan spends her time writing and traveling, and when the stars align she gets paid to do both together. She has authored two Lonely Planet Guides and several features for Lonely Planet Magazine as well been a contributing writer on firstpost.com. She had just finished writing her first novel and blogs on www.antsinherpants.com.