Planning a trip to the Lakshadweep islands takes time, effort and patience. Here’s how to plan your Lakshadweep trip, based on what we learned during ours.

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Some time ago, my wife and I decided we would plan a Lakshadweep trip for our anniversary, thinking that a week or so over the new year would be ideal. We soon found out that visiting Lakshadweep was not going to be as easy as we thought. There’s hardly any information available online, and whatever is there is quite confusing. So here’s some of the information we managed to gather while we planned our Lakshadweep holiday.

Before you get into the details, though, you should take a look at this quick video guide. It’ll give you an idea of what to expect, and help you figure out the details better. You can also download my Lakshadweep quick reference planner so you can have the basic details at your fingertips.

Also read: Our holiday in mysterious Lakshadweep

How to plan your Lakshadweep trip: About Lakshadweep

This group of tiny coral islands off the south-west coast of India is relatively unexplored, and offers breathtaking beaches, spectacular diving and a bit of interesting culture.

Most islands are very small. For example, the airport itself takes up almost half the entire island of Agatti.

When to plan a Lakshadweep trip

The best time to visit is between November and February, when the weather is nice and the water is calm. During other times of the year, the sea is a bit rough. And during the rains from May to September, the weather has been called ‘miserable’ by a friend who does marine biology research there.

Thinnakara at sunset - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
Sunset on Thinnakara

Permits for visitors

Tourism in Lakshadweep is tightly regulated, with Indian and international tourists both needing permits for each island they plan to visit. Itineraries need to be decided and paid for in advance, and everything is expensive (at least by Indian standards).

Islands you can visit

Only a certain number of islands in Lakshadweep are open to tourism. The more popular ones are Bangaram, Thinnakara, Kadmat, Kavaratti and Minicoy. When flying in, the usual schedule involves staying on an island for a night or two while you enjoy the beach, the reefs and the local culture—if any—and then moving on to the next island. Since traveling between islands usually involves a long boat ride, this is understandable. If you take a cruise package from Kochi, you will probably spend most nights on board your ship.

Map of Lakshadweep-en
Map of the Lakshadweep islands (courtesy Oona Raisanen via Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

 

Bangaram and Thinnakara

Bangaram island is the most popular island among international tourists (maybe because it is the only island that allows alcohol to be served – but that doesn’t mean it’s actually available). Because of this, it is also the most expensive. The only accommodation is cottages of different sizes, which have air coolers instead of air-conditioners (though they aren’t usually needed).

Nearby Thinnakara is a tiny, mostly-uninhabited island that offers complete privacy in its tents on the beach.

View from Bangaram cottage - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
Bangaram island has the most luxurious accommodation of all the islands, and the price reflects that
Hammock on Thinnakara island - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
Thinnakara’s accommodation is basic, but offers lots of privacy

Kadmat

Another popular island is Kadmat, popular for its quiet, pristine beaches and its once-beautiful corals. Unfortunately, the corals have been recently been affected by a rise in ocean temperatures, causing them to largely die out.

A beach side resort at Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep
The resort on Kadmat island (courtesy Manvendra Bhangui via Wikimedia Commons)

Kavaratti

Kavaratti is the capital island of Lakshadweep and is where you can see the most of the local culture. Unfortunately, unlike the islands mentioned previously, it is lies far to the south of Agatti and takes a while to get there. It’s also a popular stop for cruises, so it can get crowded during the day.

Kavaratti resort - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
The view from our room at the resort on Kavaratti

Minicoy

Minicoy is the southern-most island in Lakshadweep, and has more in common with the Maldives in terms of language and culture that with the rest of Lakshadweep. Sadly, visiting Minicoy is difficult because of the long sea journey involved, and tourists need to take one of the cruise packages from Kochi to visit Minicoy.

There are plans afoot to build an airport there, though. If that happens, visiting the island will be far easier that it is now.

Minicoy-(Anand.himani18-via-Wikimedia-Commons).jpg
Solar power station on a beach in Minicoy (courtesy Anand.himani18 via Wikimedia Commons)

Also read: 4 reasons why you should stay in Agonda on your next Goa trip

 

 

 

 

How to plan your Lakshadweep trip: Travelling to Lakshadweep

The information available on the web is sketchy, and the official Lakshadweep tourism website is not much better. This badly laid-out site will give you some idea of what to expect, though, and also contains a list of pre-planned tour packages. It also has a list of ‘authorized’ travel agents that might be able to help you book your trip. The one in Hyderabad never answered our emails, so I have no idea if the rest are any better.

Planning your itinerary

One can schedule one’s own itinerary with the tourism department (or maybe with one of the authorized agents). We used the tourism department’s official (!) booking email ID: laksports.reservation@gmail.com. The response levels are typical of a government-run department, and they don’t really volunteer any information unless pushed and prodded. It’s best if you try and figure out your own itinerary (keep reading for more on how to do this) and just send it to them to give you a cost estimate. Once you get a quotation from them, you will need to transfer the entire amount in advance before they send you your schedule confirmation and permits.

For tourists flying in, your plans will depend on whether you want to travel to islands north of Agatti, or to the south. There is no accommodation on Agatti itself, as far as we could figure out.

Agatti Runway - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
The runway on Agatti

Accommodation

Bangaram

Accommodation at Bangaram is limited to cottages that are priced at Rs. 15,000 per night. They are not air-conditioned, but have an air cooler or ‘desert’ cooler. The boat from Agatti takes 30 minutes and costs Rs. 4,000 per person for a two-way journey.

Bangaram island resort - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
The Bangaram Island resort in Lakshadweep is partly powered by solar-generated electricity

Thinnakara

Thinnakara offers tents on the beach, which are priced at Rs. 10,000 per night. The boat from Agatti takes around 45 minutes, and costs Rs. 5,000 per person for a two-way journey. Alternatively, if you’re already on Bangaram, it’ll cost Rs. 1,000 to Thinnakara and back.

Thinnakara - Lakshadweep
Accommodation on Thinnakara. The tents are under the thatched roofs.

Kadmat

Accommodation in Kadmat ranges from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 11,000. However, Kadmat is two-and-a-half hours by boat from Agatti, with boats running there and back only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. That means one needs to stay there a minimum of two nights (three if it’s over the weekend). The boat from Agatti costs Rs. 8,000 per person to get there and back.

We didn’t visit, so we don’t have photographs of what this one looks like, sadly.

Kavaratti

Getting to Kavaratti involves a two-and-a-half hour boat ride costing Rs. 8,000 per head to get there and back, again on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Accommodation is limited to air-conditioned ‘suite rooms’ priced at Rs. 9,000.

SPORTS resort, Kavaratti, Lakshadweep
This is the only picture we have of the resort on Kavaratti!

Travelling to and within Lakshadweep

If you plan on visiting Kavaratti or Kadmat, it might be a good idea to get it done during the first part of your holiday, since visiting any of the other islands will involve getting back to Agatti first.

There is only a single small Air India flight each day, from Kochi to Agatti, and seats begin filling up months in advance. Because we initially planned to travel over the new year—the busiest time of the year there—we couldn’t get tickets, despite trying in October. It might be a good idea to book your tickets a few months in advance before figuring out your detailed itinerary.

While planning your itinerary, keep in mind that there are no flights out of Lakshadweep on Sundays. Also remember that boats between Agatti (the airport island) and Kavaratti or Kadmat ply only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If one of these islands is the first or last one you plan to visit, plan to fly in or out on one of these days. Boats to Thinnakara and Bangaram ply every day, so you can include them any time. Lastly, keep island position and boat journey time in mind: Kadmat and Kavaratti are two-and-a-half hours away from Agatti in opposite directions, so travelling from Kadmat to Kavaratti or vice versa will take a minimum of five hours.

It’s a little complex to plan a Lakshadweep trip. But it’s worth it in the end!

Also read: Our incredible holiday in mysterious Lakshadweep

Bangaram to agatti ferry - How to plan your Lakshadweep trip
From Bangaram to Agatti – the best seats in the house!

Also read: How we lived the island life for a few days in the Andamans

 

 

 

 

Top tips on how to plan your Lakshadweep trip

  • Lakshadweep is expensive, and facilities are basic. If you’re looking for a budget holiday or luxurious accommodation, you might be disappointed.
  • Start planning at least three months in advance. It’ll take you time to figure out what you want to do, and the process of finalizing your schedule with the tourism department will be excruciatingly slow.
  • Try and book your airplane tickets before planning the other details of your trip. Once you finally get your schedule done and paid for, tickets may not be available any more, and the tourism booking office won’t warn you about this.
  • Don’t expect quick response times or insightful information from the booking office. It’s faster to send them a preferred schedule yourself, rather than asking them to suggest something.
  • All accommodation and travel in Lakshadweep is 10% more expensive in December. This can make costing confusing if your schedule overlaps with other months.
  • Cross-check the schedule and quotation you get from the booking office. Sometimes, they make mistakes with dates and pricing.
  • Make sure you get your entry permits before you travel. A couple we met there got stuck at the airport because their agent hadn’t sent them their permits.

Also read: Six amazing discoveries we made in the Seychelles

Quick reference table

Confused by all the details? Here’s a table with the main points. You can also download my Lakshadweep quick reference planner for later.

FeaturesAccommo-dationTravelLocation
Agatti• Airport island
• Hub for ferries and boats
• Bright blue water
None• Single daily flight from/to Kochi
• 1.5 hours travel time
• Rs. 6,000 per person, one way
Central
Bangaram• Best facilities
• Good beaches
• Only island where alcohol is permitted
• Tap water smells of sulphur
• Cruises don’t stop here
• Cottages
• Rs. 15,000 per night
• With air coolers
• Daily ferry from/to Agatti
– 30 mins travel time
– Rs. 4,000 per person, round trip
• Daily ferry to/from Thinnakara
– 15 mins travel time
– Rs. 1,000 per person, round trip
North of Agatti, near Thinnakara
Thinnakara• Basic facilities
• Beautiful beach
• Two small nearby islands reachable on foot
• Tap water smells of sulphur
• Cruises don’t stop here
• Tents
• Rs. 10,000 per night
• No A/C or air coolers
• Daily ferry from/to Agatti
– 45 mins travel time
– Rs. 5,000 per person, round trip
• Daily ferry to/from Bangaram
– 15 mins travel time
– Rs. 1,000 per person, round trip
North of Agatti, near Bangaram
Kadmat• Good facilities
• Good beaches
• Long travel time
• Major bleaching of coral reefs
• Rooms
• Rs. 5,000 to 11,000 per night
• Min. two nights (see ferry timings)
• Mostly with A/C
• Ferry from/to Agatti on Mon, Wed, Fri
• 2.5 hours travel time
• Rs. 8,000 per person, round trip
Far north of Agatti
Kavaratti• Good facilities
• Capital island
• Highest population density
• Great lighthouse view
• Long travel time
• Rooms
• Rs. 9,000 per night
• Min. two nights (see ferry timings)
• With A/C
• Ferry from Agatti/to on Mon, Wed, Fri
• 2.5 hours travel time
• Rs. 8,000 per person, round trip
Far south of Agatti
Minicoy• Good facilities
• Unique culture
• Only reachable by ship from Kochi
• Airport planned in future
• Rooms
• Rs. 7,000 to 9,000 per night
• With A/C
• By overnight ship from Kochi only
• Rs. 5,000 to 7,500 per person, round trip
Very far south of Agatti

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12 thoughts on “How to plan your Lakshadweep trip

    1. Hi! December is great, but it’s the peak season, so more expensive than otherwise. I suggest starting the planning and booking process soon, because there’s only one flight, and that gets sold out quickly.

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