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15 kilometres up the coast from your bodyboarding lessons at Mulki is an undiscovered island with dolphins for sentinels. Sorry we discovered it a little: promise we’ve left some for you. Its rocky swells, shady trees and utterly private strip of beach could be your sanctuary too, should you be able to convince the local fishermen at Uchila Beach that you aren’t treading their surf. 

Cos Yermai Lady

The key to this cross between Goa and the Phi Phi Islands is a little beachhouse in the fishing hamlet of Uchila, not far from Yermai. It’s about six hours’ drive from Bangalore, more if you linger in the foothills of the Nilgiris (on literal Route 66, as the former NH-17 is now known). 

Here, a family home under the care of the fatherly Abdulla has been transformed into Akuna Matata, a home stay so lazy and languorous even the ocean seems to roll into slow motion at its doorstep. Uchila is more quaint fishing hamlet than surfer central. Akuna Matata, however, is built for an Udupi Coast version of spring break, with a dance floor, an in-built barbeque grill and disco lights. Don’t forget to take your yacht along if you have one!

At Uchila, all things secret come to the surface with the churn of the tides.

Landlubbers, Mr Abdulla will make an exception to the creeping pace of the village and usher you with uncharacteristic speed down to the sea to make sure you don’t miss the sunset. If you’re not in the mood to switch on the disco lights, his staff will build you a bonfire under a starry night, and wake you up early the next morning to go get your pick of the catch of the day before it heads to the market. For the kitchen’s fresh fish gassi, sent out with neer dosa for mop-up, it’s worth it. 

Isle Be Watching You

At Uchila, all things secret come to the surface with the churn of the tides. Our unnamed island, a little outcrop of trees and small sunny beach, stands alone in the middle of the Arabian Sea, and is more Cast Away than The Beach. Although we learn of its existence from locals, the village’s fishermen clam up when we first ask them to take us there. Once we’re on the boat and strapped into our life jackets, however, it’s easy for relations to go from crustry to trusty. Before long we’re urged to jump off and swim in the waters surrounding the islet, a thrill doubled once we spot a tell-tale fin that lets us know the dolphins are watching.  

Note: Speaking of watching, don’t miss the Kaup (or Kapu, locally) lighthouse next door to Uchila, which rewards an energetic walk and climb with views of all the fishing villages along this stretch of the coast and a sea much more untamed than the gentle breakers near Udupi town. Send us a wave if you spot us.

Getting there: Akuna Matata, Uchila, write to the owners herearound Rs 3000 for a one bedroom cottage. Carry your own beach towels and umbrellas.


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