Palm-fringed beaches, salty breezes and sublime ocean views that seem to stretch into infinity – there is something about a laid-back island holiday that keeps capturing the imagination of travellers across the world.
In India, the first names which come to mind when one starts dreaming of an island getaway are Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands. While these famously beautiful archipelagos inhabit prominent spots on the Indian traveller’s bucket list, there are other picture-perfect islands in India that have managed to stay under the radar.
Here’s a list of little-known islands in India that are perfect for a dreamy island getaway minus the crowds. With spectacular scenery, quaint houses and a relative lack of selfie-snappers, they are sure to leave you enchanted!
1. Divar Island, Goa
Breathtaking views, Portuguese-era mansions, pretty beaches and sleepy little roads winding their way across the island are just some of the reasons why you’ll love the riverine island of Divar. Just a ferry ride away from Old Goa and Ribandar, this serene island is home to two ancient temples and a pretty white church perched on a hill top.
2. St. Mary’s Island, Karnataka
Also known as Coconut Island or Thonsepar, St Mary’s Island lies off the coast of Malpe in Karnataka. Renown for its unique hexagonal columns of basaltic lava, this pristine little island is believed to have been a halt for Vasco Da Gama during his journey to Kerala. Watching a surreal sunset at St Mary’s Island, sitting on a rock with your feet dipped in the warm waters, is an experience not to be missed.
3. Munroe Island, Kerala
A constellation of eight tiny isles in the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River, Munroe Island is one of Kerala’s hidden gems. The picturesque island lies carpeted in verdant coconut plantations interspersed with fish farms and narrow creeks bursting with hyacinth blossoms.
4. Umananda Island, Assam
The smallest inhabited river island in the world, Umananda Island stands proudly in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra. It is also known as the Peacock Island, a name given to it by a poetic British Officer who felt that the island’s lush green foliage was reminiscent of a peacock in full plumage. A pathway winds its way through the thickly forested island to a Shiva temple that is an important pilgrimage centre for devout locals.
5. Ilha Grande, Goa
One of Goa’s largest islands, Ilha Grande offers you the chance to lounge on sun-warmed rocks, spot a few frolicking dolphins and snorkel in the cerulean blue waters of the Arabian Sea. Located near the city of Vasco, this pretty island also has some great scuba diving sites (including Suzy’s Wreck, Bounty Bay and Shelter Cove).
6. Netrani Island, Karnataka
Just off the coast of Murudeshwar (a temple town in coastal Karnataka), this little island is paradise for those who like exploring the underwater world and the treasures it holds. The crystal clear water here lets you enjoy a stunning visual of the island’s rich marine life that includes stately turtles, spiky sea urchins, curious schools of colourful fish and the occasional wary shark.
7. Valiyaparamba Island, Kerala
Located in the Kasaragod district of Kerala, Valiyaparamba Island lies nestled in the palm-fringed Kavvayi backwaters. Fed by four rivers, this biodiversity hotspot is perhaps the prettiest backwater stretch in the state. This isn’t your typical island getaway, but a trip to Valiyaparamba island is one you’ll never forget.