India is an immense country with 28 states characterized by cultural and linguistic diversity. While one can immerse themselves in the Golden Triangle circuit or explore the sacred cities of Varanasi and Haridwar, there is much more to discover. India's allure extends beyond its well-known attractions. Boasting a coastline spanning 4,671 miles and over a thousand islands, the country offers an exquisite blend of aquatic wonders and cultural gems. Here, we present an overview of the top 7 islands in India, each brimming with their unique allure and treasures.
Barren Island, Andaman
Barren Island, the only live volcano in India which erupted last in 2017, offers a unique adventure as stepping on its shores is forbidden. Instead, the excitement unfolds beneath the surface of the vibrant blue waters surrounding the uninhabited island. Scuba enthusiasts can explore an underwater wonderland filled with lava rock caverns, flourishing corals, and diverse marine creatures like dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, snakes, and reef fish. This island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago can be explored by joining a live-aboard ship or taking a boat from Swaraj Dweep or Port Blair.
Diu Island, Daman and Diu
Diu is situated on India's west coast and offers a tranquil alternative to Goa without the bustling crowds and vibrant nightlife. With its eleven miles of coastline, the island boasts sandy beaches and pristine waters. Jallandhar and Vanakbara beaches are perfect for sunbathing. At the same time, adventure enthusiasts can flock to Ghoghla and Nagoa for thrilling water sports such as parasailing, water skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and banana boat rides. Towards the eastern part of the island lies the town of Diu, named after the island itself, adorned with historic churches and forts dating back to the Portuguese era. The 16th-century Diu Fortress proudly overlooks the sea, showcasing remarkable architecture and historical significance.
Divar Island, Goa
A short ferry ride from mainland Goa, Divar Island, nestled on the Mandovi River, transports visitors to a bygone era. Its narrow streets are adorned with charming old Portuguese-style houses. The island's many rice fields offer an authentic glimpse into rural Goan life. Adding to its allure, Divar Island showcases 16th-century churches and temples, with the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Piety standing majestically atop a hill, providing breathtaking vistas of the Mandovi River. While a handful of modest eateries and a few homestays are available, this paradise remains a secluded haven, ensuring visitors' a peaceful and private experience.
Easily accessible via a short ferry ride from Payyanur in northern Kerala, Kavvayi is a serene haven. This cluster of small islets presents a pristine beach that overlooks the Arabian Sea, ideal for sunbathing and relaxation. To taste the island's rustic charm, visitors can embark on a boat trip along the peaceful backwaters on the opposite side of the beach, surrounded by palm trees. To immerse oneself in the local culture, attending temple festivals and witnessing theyyam, a traditional dance form, is a must. Nature enthusiasts will delight in the nearby Mangrove Trail of Malabar, offering kayaking, hiking, and bird-watching opportunities. For a rejuvenating experience, the Kavvayi Beach House provides guests with an authentic Kerala ambience, including Ayurvedic treatments, an ancient natural healing system practised in India for centuries.
Minicoy, one of the 36 islets comprising the Lakshadweep archipelago in the Laccadive Sea, is an ideal destination that combines tranquillity and adventure. Its crystal-clear waters teem with diverse marine life, unspoiled coral reefs, and intriguing shipwrecks, offering unparalleled opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling in the country. After immersing yourself in the underwater wonders, indulge in a thrilling sailboarding or kayaking expedition to explore the vast ocean. For those seeking an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the Arabian Sea, ascend the iconic white lighthouse constructed by the British in 1885.
Majuli is India's largest river island. Spanning 136 square miles, it faces ongoing challenges from floods and erosion. Despite these threats, it provides a tranquil escape for travellers seeking solace from urban life. The island embraces a rural lifestyle, with bamboo huts perched on stilts adding to its down-to-earth ambience. Majuli promotes responsible travel and offers sustainable experiences. Visitors can rent bicycles from Majuli Cycle Cafe and explore the island's picturesque paddy fields and villages. Guided tours led by locals provide deeper insights into the culture and heritage of Majuli. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy bird-watching at Vereki Beel and Chakoli Beel, home to diverse bird species. For an eco-friendly stay, La Maison de Ananda offers a sustainable retreat on the island.
Netrani Island, Karnataka
Netrani Island, located in the southern state of Karnataka, is a hidden gem cherished by scuba enthusiasts for its remarkable marine biodiversity. Yet, it remains largely undiscovered by most tourists. Beneath the surface of its azure waters, Netrani Island unveils a world of vibrant coral reefs and a diverse array of marine creatures. The underwater ecosystem dazzles with colours, from graceful sea urchins and sea cucumbers to majestic turtles and stingrays. While overnight stays on the island are impossible, arranging day trips from the nearby coastal pilgrimage town of Murudeshwar is convenient.
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