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Kochi Backwaters: Kayal Island Retreat

Updated: Jun 22, 2018

Far, far from the madding crowd, the desire to live on a secluded island comes true.

Backwater boat ride in Kakathuruthu

Kayal in Malayalam means backwater. And, that’s what is on offer at Kayal Island Retreat. Calm, lapping waters, Kerala-green landscape, sounds of happy toads, singing cicadas and rapping woodpeckers, Kayal is so tucked away, you are the only one from the outside world. Oh, the other 300 villagers living on the island call it 'home'.

Getting to Kayal is part of the experience. It’s only accessible by water. When you climb into the traditional boat and head towards the retreat, you literally leave the world behind and slow down.

In about 20 minutes you have skimmed over Lake Vembanad past beautiful coconut treelines, past swooping, fishing eagles and curious fishermen into the lap of nature.

Reception area at Kayal

The reception of Kayal is a shaded shore of the Kakathuruthu Island, or the crow island, drawing you into the untouched, unspoilt, un-touristy Kerala.

After its fame from being featured in National Geographic’s ‘Best places to be on Earth’, one would expect it to be teeming with people. But Kayal continues to have only 4 cottages to ensure an intimate rendezvous with nature.

Outfitted with reclaimed teak furniture, local art and open bath spaces, the rooms seem to co-exist with the surroundings. Unboxed by walls, here is, perhaps, the best dining area in the world that invites a calming sun set for company.

My breakfast was a freshly-cooked wholesome meal of Idiappams, Puttu, Kadla and steamed bananas. Greed got the better of me, thanks to the encouraging staff who love to feed the guests.

If your gait already seems more leisurely wait till you are row-boated deeper into the island. As you turn into the narrow backwater lane, there is not a single other tourist for miles. Even though Shaju, the boatman, will transport you into the abundant landscape in a slow glide, you'll want him to slacken further. You will reach a point when you feel like asking him to stop on the lagoon to allow the stillness to sink into your bones.

If tranquillity had a sound, it would be the occasional drawls of elegant island crows and the rhythm of an oar gently breaking the water in the stillness.

Take a stroll through the village and learn about their agriculture and fish farms. Pause. Get a healing Kerala massage. Pause. Flip a few pages in the open reading spaces. Pause. Slowly sip tea. Pause. Stargaze. Pause. Reflect. Pause.


Don't leave without this!

On arrival, you are welcomed with a glass of freshly made grape juice. It's sheer nectar in the tropical heat.

Kayal Island Retreat

Kayal Island Retreat

Door No. VIII/265-A, Kakkathuruthu, Eramalloor, Alleppey, Kerala, India. 688534

+91 77360 00989

  • 1 hour from Kochi airport

  • 30 min from Ernakulam | Fort Kochi

  • 15-20 min ferry ride at Kodumpuram Ferry near Eramalloor Junction

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