Best Islands to visit in Kerala - Karnataka – Tamil Nadu

The States of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu are located along the southern coast of India. All of these states are known for their abundant natural beauty and charm. One of the main attractions of the states is the beautiful islands located within their boundaries. These islands offer a unique mix of calmness and adventure, providing tourists with a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and experience the life-altering beauty of nature.

These islands cater to a diverse range of preferences. For some, it’s an escape to find the serenity and peace they long for, while others seek quality time with loved ones or the thrill of water sports. Whatever your reason may be, these islands have something special to offer for every traveler.

If you are looking to visit the best islands in South India, read on.

The best islands to visit in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu

1. Netrani Island, Karnataka


Netrani Island, also popularly known as Pigeon Island, is situated off the coast of the town Murudeshwar in Karnataka. It is located around 19 kilometers from the town of Murudeshwar and 10 kilometers from the coastal town of Bhatkal. To reach Netrani Island, one has to take a boat from Murudeshwar. The journey by boat takes around 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the weather conditions. It’s important to note that boat rides to Netrani Island are usually organized by local tour operators. It’s advisable to check with them for availability, schedules, and safety measures before planning your trip.

Netrani is an uninhibited island known for its diverse marine life and water sports activities. Depending on the season, there’s also a chance to spot whale sharks around Netrani Island. These gentle giants are the world’s largest fish and a sight to behold. Many tourists enjoy boating and kayaking around Netrani Island. The abundant marine biodiversity of the island also attracts scuba divers from all over the world, providing them the unique opportunity to witness some of the most amazing fishes up close.

Netrani Island also holds spiritual significance as a place believed to have been visited by Lord Rama along with Lord Hanuman. It is believed that they sought refuge on this island during Rama’s quest to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. During their stay, Lord Rama is said to have created a freshwater spring with a single arrow shot into the ground, which still flows today.

2. Munroe Island, Kerala

Mundrothuruthu Island, popularly known as Munroe Island, is situated at the meeting point of Ashudi Lake and the Kallada River within Kollam district, located in the southern part of Kerala. The island owes its name, Monroe Island, to Resident Colonel John Munroe, a significant figure in the history of this region. Munroe is a cluster of eight small islands known for their natural beauty, serene backwaters, and cultural significance. To reach Munroe Island, the most economical mode is by train. The island’s railway station is called Munroturuttu railway station and is accessible within a 30-minute train ride from Kollam railway station.

When visiting Munroe Island, there are several attractions and activities that tourists can explore. Canal cruises are a must-try activity when visiting Munroe Island. These leisurely boat rides offer a unique perspective of the island’s picturesque landscape. Several canal cruises on Munroe Island go the extra mile to enhance the experience for visitors. They frequently offer amenities like meals and snacks, ensuring guests can enjoy their voyage with added comfort. Furthermore, a local boatman who also serves as a guide is provided to explain the history of the region to the tourists.

Another popular place to explore while visiting the Munroe Island is The Munroe Museum Bungalow. It is a historical site located on Munroe Island that serves as a reminder to the colonial heritage of the region. The bungalow, constructed during the British colonial era, holds architectural significance and offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of that period.

If you are a beach person, do visit the Kollam beach here which is open daily to visitors from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. This beach is also known as Mahatma Gandhi Beach and was named so to pay homage to the iconic freedom fighter.

3. Pamban Island, Tamil Nadu

Pamban Island, also popularly known as Rameshwaram Island is located in the Gulf of Mannar, separating the Palk Strait from the Gulf of Mannar. There are many ways to reach Pamban Island. Rameswaram has its own railway station, Rameswaram Railway Station, which is well-connected to major cities in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India. From the railway station, you can hire a taxi or take local transportation to reach various parts of Pamban Island. Pamban Island is also connected to the mainland via the Pamban Bridge. You can drive or take a bus to reach Rameswaram from nearby cities like Madurai or Chennai. There are also regular bus services to Rameswaram from various cities in Tamil Nadu.

Pamban Island holds profound spiritual significance in Hindu mythology and culture. It is believed to be the place where Lord Rama built a bridge of floating stones, famously known as the “Rama Setu,” to reach Sri Lanka and rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. The island also has the famous Ramanathaswamy Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples in India, making it a significant pilgrimage site for devotees.

While visiting the Pamban Island, you must also visit the Pamban Bridge. The Pamban Bridge is an engineering marvel which connects the town of Rameswaram on Pamban Island to the mainland at Mandapam. Spreading over a length of around 2.3 kilometers, it is also the second longest sea bridge in India. The ghost town of Dhanushkodi is located at the southeastern tip of Pamban Island and is a popular tourist destination. In 1964, Dhanushkodi was destroyed by a powerful cyclone that led to the town’s abandonment. Today, it stands as a ghost town, with the remnants of its buildings and railway tracks serving as a stark reminder of the destructive force of nature.

4. St. Mary's Island, Karnataka

St. Mary’s Island, also known as Coconut Island, is situated off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka. St. Mary’s Island can only be reached via ferry services from Malpe harbor which are available daily from 9 a.m to 5 p.m and the journey takes about 15-20 minutes. There are several easy ways to reach Malpe. The nearest railway station is Udupi Railway Station, and from the railway station, you can hire a taxi or take a local bus to reach Malpe. Malpe is also well-connected by road. You can drive or take a bus from nearby cities like Mangalore or Udupi. There are also regular bus services to Malpe from various cities in Karnataka.

St. Mary’s Island is mainly known for its unique geological formations, especially the hexagonal basaltic rocks, which are believed to be around 88 million years old. These distinctive rock formations make St. Mary’s Island a popular destination for tourists, geologists, and nature enthusiasts. The only other places where one can find these Hexagonal Basaltic rocks are the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and various sites in Iceland.

The island contains two beaches and both of them are popular tourist spots. While one beach here is a beautiful sandy beach with clear waters, the other beach on St. Mary’s Island is popular for being covered in an abundance of sea shells. There are so many sea shells that the sand on the beach is hardly visible. This distinctive feature renders it a truly exceptional beach, making it a must-visit for those seeking a one-of-a-kind natural experien

5. Hare Island, Tamil Nadu


Hare Island is situated adjacent to the V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. To reach Hare island, you first have to reach Thoothukudi. You can do so by traveling via train, air, or road. The nearest airport is Tuticorin Airport, also known as Thoothukudi Airport (TCR), which is approximately 17 kilometers away from Thoothukudi. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or use local transportation to reach the bus station. The nearest railway station is Thoothukudi Railway Station which is located about 3 to 4 kilometers away from the bus station from where you can easily get a bus or taxi for theIt island.

Hare island is a part of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. Covering an area of 1.29 square kilometers, it has become a preferred spot for picnickers, attracting both locals and tourists alike. This island features not one, but two lighthouses, and its shores are filled with an abundance of seashells. Hare Island is most popular amongst visitors during holidays, especially during the Pongal festival as it is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the nearby cities

6. Kurusadai Island, Tamil Nadu

Kurusadai Island is situated in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, off the coast of Tamil Nadu. It is an uninhibited island that is located at a distance of 20 km from Rameshwaram. To reach Kurusadai Island from Rameshwaram, you need to take a boat ride from Kunthakal Beach. Special permission from the Director of Fisheries is required to visit this island which can cost you around Rs. 400.

The Kurusadai Island is home to over 500 species of fish, 110 species of coral, and 10 species of mangroves. The vibrant coral reefs encircling Kurusadai Island present a fascinating underwater world. You can also take guided tours to discover mangrove forests, and birdwatchers can enjoy the beautiful migratory and exotic birds residing here. The island is also known for being a nesting site for sea turtles. Depending on the time of your visit , you may be fortunate enough to witness this wonderful natural phenomenon.

7. Pullivasal Island, Tamil Nadu

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Pullivasal Island is located within the Gulf of Mannar and is positioned south of Pamban Island. It constitutes a part of Mannar Marine National Park. To reach Pullivasal Island, one needs to first go to Pamban island. This can be done by road as Rameswaram is connected to the mainland by the Pamban Bridge. Once you reach Pamban, you need to take a boat or ferry to reach Pullivasal Island. The journey will take around 30-35 minutes.

Pullivasal Island is an uninhibited island known for its diverse marine life. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities here, offering a chance to see colorful fish and corals. The island is also home to extensive sea grass beds, providing essential habitats for marine creatures. Birdwatchers might also spot several migratory birds on the island depending on the season. In Pullivasal, when conditions permit, engaging in reef exploration offers an interesting opportunity to understand the fascinating world of coral formations. It’s essential to however approach this activity with utmost care and responsibility, as it ensures the preservation of the delicate marine environment surrounding the island.

8. Basavaraja Durga Island, Karnataka

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Basavaraja Durga Island is situated near the coast of Honnavar Taluk in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It lies in the Arabian Sea and is famous for its coral reefs and marine life, making it a popular destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. Basavaraja Durga Island is accessible through boat and small ferry services originating from three primary points: Honnavar town, Pavinakurva village, and Tari Bagilu beach village. To reach Honnavar, the nearest major airport would be Hubli Airport. It’s located approximately 160 kilometers away from Honnavar. From Hubli Airport, you can arrange for a taxi or use other transportation options like trains or buses to reach Honnavar. The town is also easily accessible by road. You can either drive to Honnavar or opt for bus services. There are regular bus services from neighboring cities and towns.

Basavaraja Durga Island derives its name from the illustrious Basavaraja Durga Fort, a beautiful monument that perfectly reflects this island’s rich historical legacy. Constructed during the reign of the Vijayanagar Empire in the year 1690, the fort was established as a strategic outpost in the Arabian Sea, serving as a bulwark against maritime threats. The Basavaraja Durga fort is the main tourist attraction on the island. The fort’s design is an architectural wonder that combines function with beauty seamlessly.

Another popular tourist spot on the Basavaraja Durga Island is the Basavaraja temple. The temple is believed to have been constructed during the Vijayanagar Empire, which spanned from the 14th to the 17th century. Every year fishermen visit this temple on Makarsakranti to pray to nagadevata (God of the snakes). The architectural beauty of the temple is a perfect example of traditional South Indian temple design. For many devotees, visiting the Basavaraja Temple is part of a pilgrimage, and it holds a special place in their religious practices.

9. Kurumgad Island, Karnataka

Link – Cintacor Island Resort

Kurumgad Island is a tortoise-shaped island situated off the coast of Karwar in Karnataka. According to local legends, it is believed that in a surge of divine fury, Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, crossed the Arabian Sea, his formidable claws carving a path through obstacles. This immense power nearly sundered the island, but he ultimately chose it as his dwelling. Some believe that the island’s fissures are the very marks of the god’s divine touch, serving as a tangible reminder of this extraordinary event.

To reach Kurumgad Island, you have to first reach the coastal town of Karwar. From Karwar, you’ll need to arrange for a boat ride to Kurumgad Island. There are local boat operators and tour agencies in Karwar that offer transportation services to the island. The boat ride to Kurumgad Island takes approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on weather conditions.

The Narasimha Temple on Kurumgad Island is the most popular tourist destination here. It is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It features traditional South Indian temple architecture with intricate carvings and sculptures. Devotees visit the temple to offer prayers and seek blessings for protection and spiritual well-being. The temple also hosts various religious festivals and celebrations.

Kurumgad Island is also popular for snorkeling, diving, and other water sports activities. You can also enjoy boat rides around the island which offers beautiful views of the coastline and the Arabian Sea.

10. Poovar Island, Kerala

Poovar Island is situated at the southern tip of Trivandrum, near the Neyyar River estuary, where it meets the Arabian Sea. It’s located around 30 kilometers from Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. The nearest major railway station is Trivandrum Central Railway Station which is connected to various cities across India. Once you reach the station, you can take a cab or bus to reach Poovar Island.

On Poovar Island, tourists can explore a variety of attractions, both natural and cultural. Poovar is known for its backwaters, which provide an opportunity to enjoy leisurely boat rides amidst lush greenery and abundant birdlife. Located very close to Poovar is Vizhinjam, a popular natural seaport. It is known for its bustling fishing harbor, which is one of the busiest in the region. The harbor is a vital hub for the local fishing industry. The Vizhinjam cave temple which dates back to the 8th century is a popular attraction here. The temple is carved from rock and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region.

If you are a fan of beaches, do visit the Kovalam beach. The beach is further divided into three crescent-shaped beaches: Lighthouse Beach, Hawah Beach, and Samudra Beach. The beachfront area is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, providing opportunities to savor local delicacies and shop for souvenirs. Additionally, Kovalam is also popular for its Ayurvedic wellness centers, where traditional Kerala massages and treatments are provided by skilled masseuse which can help you in relaxing and rejuvenating.

11. Vypin Island, Kerala

Covering an area of over 20 km, Vypin Island is located near the city of Ernakulam in Kerala. Vypin Island is part of the group of islands that form the Kochi urban agglomeration. The island lies to the northwest of the main city of Kochi. Vypin Island is connected to the mainland by a series of bridges and a ferry service. The Vypin-Ernakulam ferry is a popular means of transportation to reach the island. It offers a scenic ride across the backwaters and is a convenient way to reach the island. Also, there are regular boat services that connect Vypin Island to Fort Kochi and other parts of Kochi. These boats operate on specific routes and schedules.

The Vypin Lighthouse on the island is a popular landmark and a tourist attraction. The lighthouse is characterized by its tall structure and distinctive red and white stripes. It is situated on the northwestern tip of Vypin Island and offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea and the surrounding coastline. Vypin’s western coast has some of the longest beaches in the Kochi area, including the popular Cherai Beach, Kuzhuppilly Beach, and Puthuvype Beach. Cherai is the most popular out of the three and is unique in that it is bordered by both the Arabian Sea and the serene backwaters of Kerala. The area around Cherai Beach is known for occasional dolphin sightings. There are boat operators who offer trips for dolphin watching.

12. Pathrimanal Island, Kerala


Pathiramanal Island is a small island situated in the Vembanad Lake, which is the longest lake in India and one of the largest in the state of Kerala. It is nestled between Alappuzha and Kumarakom. The primary mode of reaching Pathiramanal Island is by boat. Boats and ferries operate from various points around Vembanad Lake, including Alappuzha and Kumarakom. The name of the island comes from the Malayalam word “Pathiramanal” which translates to “Sands of Midnight” in English. This name is reflective of the island’s natural beauty and its serene ambiance, especially during the evening hours when the sands and waters create a tranquil and captivating atmosphere.

Pathrimanal island is a popular destination amongst bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. The island is home to over 100 species of birds, out of which 50 are migratory birds. You can enjoy a peaceful boat ride around the island to appreciate the scenic surroundings and witness the diverse birdlife. Other popular things to do here are fishing, taking leisurely walks along the nature trails, and having a tranquil picnic amidst the serene ambiance. The island’s lush vegetation, including mangroves, also provides a unique opportunity for nature enthusiasts to observe a variety of plant species.

Final Words

The above islands of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu hold a special place in South India’s natural beauty. They each have their own mix of beautiful scenery, diverse wildlife, and rich culture. Whether it’s Kerala’s calm backwaters, Karnataka’s rugged shores, or Tamil Nadu’s historic sites, these islands provide the best opportunity for tourists to connect with nature and explore its untouched beauty.

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