Foreigners can only visit the islands with prebooked accommodations and an entry permit. Visitors intending to stay at the Bangaram Island Resort (the best of the two options available to foreign travelers) can have all permit arrangements made through the CGH Earth central reservations (Casino Building, Willingdon Island, Cochin 682 003; tel. 0484/301-1711; fax 0484/266-8001; www.cghearth.com). Foreigners must supply their name and address, as well as nationality, place and date of birth, passport number, place and date of issue, and expiration date, and also give their Indian visa number and expiration date. Permits usually take 2 full working days to be processed; they cost Rs 200 for adults over 18, and Rs 100 for children. The CGH Group will also book your flight to and from Kochi (or Bangalore) for you.
To make your own permit arrangements (a laborious process; best avoided), contact the Society for Nature, Tourism and Sports (SPORTS) run by Lakshadweep Tourism (tel. 0484/266-8387) in Kochi. Or contact their Delhi office (tel. 011/2338-6807).
For details about Lakshadweep, contact the Assistant Manager, SPORTS, Lakshadweep Administrative Office, Willingdon Island, Kochi (tel. 0484/266-8387; 10am-1pm and 2-5pm; closed Sun and second Sat of the month).
Unless you fancy a time-munching trip from Kochi by ship (14-20 hr.), you'll have to get to Bangaram by air: Kingfisher (www.flykingfisher.com) flies daily from Cochin (and Bengaluru) to the tiny airfield on Agatti (Agathi) Island; the private airline usually offers a better deal than state-owned Indian Airlines, but do check for deals. You can also leave all the travel arrangements in the hands of CGH Earth when you book your accommodation; at press time they were getting return tickets for Rs 12,000. At Agatti you'll be met by a resort representative who'll usher you to a waiting boat anchored near the shore not far from the airport for a memorable 90-minute journey to nearby Bangaram Island (Rs 1,400). Alternatively, you could shell out for a transfer via helicopter (Rs 6,000), which is the only way of transferring if you visit during the monsoon season (mid-May through mid-Sept).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.