I started searching for information on internet but was disappointed by the lack of it. Very few personal blogs and moreover the booking process also was not mentioned properly anywhere even on the SPORTS website http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/
Started calling up the SPORTS office in Kochi but was not at all given correct information. Finally I decided to go via agent route. The agent also booked us 2 night stay at Kochi as he suggested us to keep buffer in case the ship arrival is delayed. There was various packages to opt for visiting Lakshadweep. I opted for Swaying Palms package that provides exclusive visit to Minicoy Island. The package included Kochi - Minicoy island - Kochi ship travel and 4 night stay at the Minicoy Island resort.
So on Friday 29th Nov, we departed from Pune by car as our friend was kind enough to drop us at Panvel Railway station. At 6 PM, we boarded the train from Panvel to Kochi. As the luck would have it, the train got delayed and we reached Kochi on 30th Nov at 7 PM. We were supposed to pick up the ship tickets and some complementary goodies (T shirts, caps and maps, etc) from SPORTS office at Willingdon Island, Kochi a day before departure. But as the train was late, the agent did that for us. We stayed at Hotel Greenland Residency near Ernakulam South station.
Day 1 (1st Dec ) :
The hotel was good but food was not. So next day, asked our cab driver to take us to a good place for lunch before heading to Willingdon Island to catch our ship. He took us to restaurant named Arya Bhavan near Ernakulam South station. We loved it, especially the sambar.. We were asked to report Willingdon island office at 1PM by our agent. First a quick visit to SPORTS office and collected the tickets and complementary goodies, then headed to the check in point. The ship mostly carries locals on the island and very few tourists. After luggage scan and all, a bus took us to the actual boarding point and that's where we saw our ship M.V. Lakshadweep. I had opted for Diamond class accommodation on the ship (costed a whopping 4500 per head) that provides double occupancy cabin along with complementary dinner and breakfast on board). The cabin was worth the money spent and a SPORTS representative was there all the time in case any help was required.
Day2 (2nd Dec) :
Woke up at 7 AM and saw through the cabin window that it was raining. My heart skipped the beat. I travelled half the way across India to witness spot clean sunny beaches that Lakshadweep was famous for. As it was rainy and windy, the ship halted long way before shore line and a small boat arrived us to take to the island. Another SPORTS person named Sidhek came along with us to drop us till the resort. We were the only tourists that were gonna stay in the resort. It was good as we had the beach all for ourselves. After arriving at beach, we were given customary coconut water. Immediately after freshening up, we headed to beach and did some Kayaking. The same guy Sidhek, helped us learn Kayaking and then took us for snorkelling as well. Snorkelling was one wonderful experience as we got to see many colourful corals. The lunch provided was good one with 2 veg and 2 non veg dishes (fish and chicken), roti, rice, dal, curd and fruits as dessert. The same menu was there for next 4 days with alterating veg dish and chicken dish. Although all of the dishes had the typical Kerala (coconut) tinge. Rest of the day was spent just lazing around the beach and resort.
Day3 (3rd Dec):
Again in the morning after some kayaking, we went for snorkelling in some deep water to view different types of corals. After playing in water for a long time, again after lunch for the rest of the day we just lazed around on the beach. In the evening, the resort had arranged for a trip to show around the island. First on the list was the famous Minicoy Lighthouse. Entire island can be viewed from top. Also the west side of island is visible (the non lagoon side). It does not have beach, mostly rocks along the coast and the sea gets deeper almost immediately. After that we went to the jetty wherein the big ships halt when whether is friendly. Then we were showcased the village system. There are 10 villages on island with each one having a village-head. We also visited a local house. On island, the culture is completely different. After marriage, the groom goes to the house of bride... forever. :)
Day4 (4th Dec):
On this day, the tourists from Samudram package arrived on Minicoy island. Samudram package consists of visit to any 3 islands in Lakshadweep where in you spend nights on ship and during day time you spend time on the islands. Almost 130 tourists had arrived that day, so the look on the beach was completely different. Kids played along and there was hustle and bustle as compared to other days when only both of us were on the beach :) . Yes, we were the only tourists in the resort that were staying overnight although this was peak season. (Lak. is highly under-rated). Personally I wanted this to be a more lazy trip and hence did not opt for Samudram package. That day again some kayaking and lazing around the beach (my favourite part of the trip).
Day5 (5th Dec):
This was the penultimate day of our stay and so we decided to do Scuba diving finally. The cost was 1500/- per head for some 20-25 mins underwater wherein all the gear was provided by the resort. They even took our photographs and videos underwater. In the evening, as it was our last night stay, the resort has arranged for candle light dinner on the beach side. As there was no one else on the beach, it became and exclusive dinner for us and that was one of the best experience we had in the trip.
Day6 (6th Dec):
This was the final day of the trip. We were supposed to leave the resort at 2:30 PM in order to board the small boat that was gonna take us to our main ship MV Minicoy. The whole day we just took photographs of whatever we thought we hadn't captured till that time.. At 4:15 PM, we were aboard MV Minicoy that had started its journey towards Kochi. Now this was a pretty small ship having capacity of 150 passengers. No option for bunks/beds, only push back chairs. As this ship was much smaller, it was swaying much more than MV Lakshadweep that caused my wife to have motion sickness. So we spent our entire evening on a bench on the deck feeling the open sea-wind. If you are prone to motion-sickness, then avoid travelling on this ship. Also the temperature in AC hall was close to freezing point. We somehow managed to pass the night is a single shawl we had thankfully carried with us.
Day7 (7th Dec):
We reached Kochi at 11 AM. Reached hotel and as we had nothing else to do, decided to visit Lulu Mall.
The next day boarded train from Kochi to Panvel and then came back to Pune by car.
1. Booking has to be done via agent to avoid hassles. The SPORTS department in Kochi is very non-cooperative if we try to contact them directly.
2. Food is good but with a tinge of coconut in everything, so if planning to stay for more than 2 days, the food might get monotonous and its a good idea to carry some of your favourite snacks with you, especiallyif you are having kids with you.
3. Try to book the ships having sleeping facility. If possible by MV Lakshadweep and MV Kavaratti -these two are big ships and 2/4 bedded cabins are good.
4. Even in December the temperature was about 25 Degrees, so no need to stuff your luggage with winter wears.
5. You will get severe sun-tan, so do carry your sunscreens with max. SPF.
6. There is only BSNL network present, so do get your roaming activated before moving out of mainland.
7. In Minicoy island, there are SBI and Syndicate bank ATMs in case of emergencies. But I would suggest you carry your own cash along with surplus.
8. The resort is good and the housekeeping, other staff are extremely courteous and we never felt out of place.
The trip was indeed one of the best I have ever done and no other beach in India showcased such a beauty. I would say this is a must go trip in one's lifetime.