Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep: A tiny yet divine spot on earth.
by Wini Sudharman
Sunday, February 25, 2018
The trip to Minicoy was my first ever solo trip. Before I start writing about my experience, allow me to give you a gist of Minicoy Island.
Minicoy is a part of a cluster of ten islands called Lakshadweep Islands in India. It is one of the five islands of Lakshadweep which is open for visitors. Minicoy is a mere 4.8 square kilometer island which is divided into ten tiny villages where the locals speak Malayalam and Mahl.
How it all started:
My plan to visit Minicoy came to power when I made a friend while exploring Cochin, Kerala in June 2016. Since he was born and brought up in one of the islands of Lakshadweep called Kavaratti and has been to almost all of them, his stories easily convinced me to plan a trip. After learning about the islands, I found myself more keen towards Minicoy. The reason being, Lakshadweep’s islands are uniquely placed. Nine of them is on the northern side and only one lies far away and stands alone towards the southern side and that one is Minicoy.
But there was a catch. Minicoy is a restricted island and one can visit Minicoy only via the Lakshadweep Tourism Office which is managed by the Government of India. So, I visited their office in Willingdon Island, Cochin and enquired about the procedure. They offer different travel packages to suit different needs of visitors, out of which I chose the five-day package scheduled for the month of February 2017 which cost me Rs. 30,000.
This package included the cruise from Cochin to Minicoy island, the stay, and food which includes breakfast, lunch, evening snacks and dinner.
Finally, the day arrived. I boarded the ship named M.V. Lakshadweep from the Willingdon Island port in Cochin. From there on, it was an 18-hour journey towards Minicoy island. During that journey, all I did was spent some time with the other tourists, ate finger licking Kerala food, went up to the captain’s cabin and learnt some new things about sailing the ship and took in the beautiful sight of the sunrise and sunset from somewhere in the middle of the ocean.
Next day morning around 9 am, I saw a tiny piece of land far ahead of us. It was Minicoy! I stepped foot on the island and that instant, I knew this journey is going to be an epic one.
It took a 15-minute bus ride for us to reach our resort. Narrow cemented roads with coconut trees on the side, blue sky above and fresh breeze of air can sum up the ride. The resort was beautiful and equipped with everything one could ask for. Helipad, volleyball court, water sports, shacks, hammocks, cottages made of bamboo with an open top bathroom, it was all there!
The first thing I did was dump all the luggage in my cottage and step onto the beach. That barefoot walk on the beach was much needed. With sand on my feet and salt in my locks, I sat there wondering, how Minicoy welcomed me.
This lighthouse was built in 1885 during the British regime. It is 41.7 m in height and has a range of 40 nautical miles.
The moment we reached and saw the huge structure in front of us, trust me it did not look more than a century old at all! There it was, white, shiny and standing tall. The winding stairs that went all the way up, the door, the windows, the locks, it all looked as good as new. They were maintained well. They also displayed few lamps and machines that were used back in those days on the way up for visitors to see.
After climbing those 216 steps inside, we finally reach its peak. Without any exaggeration, the view literally had my eyes popping out and my jaws dropping. One can clearly scan the whole island from this point. The whole island is right in front of your eyes.
The nightlife in Minicoy is nothing but rejuvenating. With the secluded beaches, the sound of the waves, the rattling of the leaves and stars shining bright, it was nothing but soothing. I was in the hammock, star gazing when I find a very attractive looking crab near me. I stepped down to get a better look at it and I saw plenty of them around me. As I walked towards them, they went further away from me. At one point, it felt like they were clearing up the ramp for me to walk on.
One fine night, I was walking alone on the beach and I got to see a sight that I can never forget. Around ten to fifteen crabs preying on a two-foot-long fish. I decided to sit away from their radar and watch them eat, that’s when a giant hermit crab comes in and shoos all of them away. With all the other crabs gone, the hermit crab climbed on the fish and started relishing on it alone, like a king. Simply watching this was a delight!
This is a kind of a nightlife that every human being should experience at least once in his or her lifetime.
Into the water:
The best part about the beach at our resort was that you can walk for around a kilometer into the water with the water level around your chest. It is a lagoon and what are lagoons best known for?
Coral Reefs! Yes!
What better than diving to explore the coral reefs? So yes, the next part was scuba diving. Since this was my first time, I along with a bunch of other tourists were trained by professional divers who are certified PADI members at the resort before taking the plunge. When the time arrived, we took a boat towards the end of the lagoon where the water is around 30 meters deep. The beginners were only allowed to dive with an instructor along, so I had one with me. I got all geared up, I was excited and was open to a new experience.
The moment I dived in, within seconds, I knew I’d arrived in a different world. It was something that cannot be put into words. Inexplicable! The colors of the fishes, the patterns on the corals, the crystal clear water and the formations they made with the sunlight playing games of its own, it was all mind-blowing. After a while, I thought to myself, “What am I doing on the land? I should be here! Underwater!” It was such a life-changing experience.
If you want to know the list of what all I spotted, here it is. Believe it or not! Right from different types colorful of fishes to stingrays, turtles, octopus, and sharks, I saw it all!
There is a tiny island next to Minicoy, that we could see from our resort. According to the locals, around that inhabited island lies the best spot for snorkeling. Without thinking twice, we took a boat to the island and snorkeled our limits out for two consecutive evenings and still didn’t get enough. For those who are scared to dive, snorkeling is the only way you can get yourself close to the underwater world. You can stand with the water level around your chest and gaze at the colorful wonder just by looking down. This is a must on the ‘to-do’ list.
Apart from scuba diving and snorkeling, I also did kneeboarding, took a ride on the glass-bottomed boat, and went around the whole Minicoy island in a speedboat, where we spotted a shipwreck from around 1865.
Food in Minicoy:
The taste of the local food of Minicoy is very similar to South Indian food, besides it is less spicy and good for the tummy. We got the opportunity to dine with the locals one evening and the snacks they served were so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating.
Best way to spend your idle time in Minicoy:
The locals of Minicoy are all Muslims and hence, Fridays are considered holidays. So one fine Friday, we had nothing much to do and I, for a fact, cannot sit idle whatsoever. So, I grabbed hold of one cycle in the resort and took it for a spin around the island. This happened early morning around 7 am and the weather couldn’t get any more pleasant. Riding adjacent to the beach with my favorite music playing in my eyes, this morning was way better in a completely different sense.
The whole island is a display of something you would want to watch with awe. So wherever I took breaks from cycling, I had something new to discover, something new to look at. At one point I found an old wrecked house, at another, I found a massive layer of mangroves so green and a part of an untouched land which was completely covered by dead seashells.
So, the take away here is, no matter what I planned or did not plan, the place always delivered more than my expectations.