Words by Roshna Chandran
An enchanting turtle-shaped island located off the West Coast of Karwar in South India, Cintacor is one of the most captivating and adventurous hidden treasures to explore on Kurumgad island. Known for its scrumptious seafood, nature trails and alluring sunsets, the resort has everything one would look for in a utopian island stay.
The adventure began as I hopped aboard the Victor boat and the captain carefully manoeuvred towards the islands in the Arabian Sea. In 30 minutes we had reached the jetty and I was whisked away on a buggy to the top of the property, where my check-in formalities took a wee few minutes. I was greeted with a chilled welcome drink and a cold face towel, and a five-minute briefing of the island by the front desk helped in scheduling the activities for the day. My cabin, named Swordfish, was chic with contemporary artist prints on the wall and French doors opened onto a private balcony that looked straight onto the blue horizon.
One of the favourite hot spots and Instagram moments among visitors here is the infinity pool, which overlooks the sea and, in the evening, delivers a dramatic sunset. Early morning, the poolside turns into a birdwatchers paradise I spotted a kingfisher, Indian golden oriole, bulbuls and the ever-so grand, seven feet wing-spanned white bellied sea eagle. One of the guided nature trails takes you through the entire island and leads you around the ruins of an old stone fort wall built by the Sonda Dynasty during the early 1700s that was later taken over by the Portuguese. The islands mysterious rock formation, freshwater ponds filled with shy terrapins and vast foliage had me completely absorbed in its rapture.
Captain Nemos Restaurant is themed around the classic Jules Verne fiction novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Sure enough, its interiors made me feel like I was inside a submarine. Overlooking the pool and the grandeur of the sea, the restaurant, I would say, has some of the best seafood and local Konkan cuisines. For starters, the crispy fried cogmealo served with aioli dip had a splendid aftertaste of garlic and olive oil sauce. Chef Sendhil recommended the Louisiana prawns for the main course, a popular creole dish served on a bed of rice, hot bell pepper sauce, balsamic vinegar, grilled vegetables and a light drizzle of fresh lime. It was divine. During the evenings, the upper deck of the restaurant turns into a private candlelit dining area and, teamed with a personalised night sky gazing through a telescope, makes this an absolute charming experience.
About an eight minute walk from my cabin was the beach, which, on one side, was sandy with seashells with the other boasting natural rock formations, a favourite meditation spot among yoga fanatics. If patient enough, one can spot the rare sighting of bashful otters going about their business. One of the main attractions at the beach was, without a doubt, the jet ski ride that took me all around the island. The beach experience was complete with refreshments served from the On The Rocks beach shack where the service was prompt and the team of water sports instructors were extremely efficient.
Head to Jolly Rogers Club with its plush interiors and prints of great explorers hanging on its walls for a lively atmosphere. The place doubled up as a bar, indoor activity room, library, karaoke and mini theatre room. I felt it was a lovely way to spend the evening with conversations and a drink.
For a spot of relaxation, Kurumasana Spa is located a little way from the cabins, restaurant and club. Right on the edge of a cliff, the treatment room was lit up with natural lighting and the only sounds were of the melodious waves splashing against the rocks below. A good relaxing foot massage after the nature trails is highly recommended here. If you like a bit more adventure, ask for a boat trip to the nearest Devgad island (also known as Oyster island). Here, the activity team will help you get to the top of an old lighthouse that was installed during 1860s.
In a nutshell
On the whole, Cintacor Island Resort gives a very personalised touch. The team can go out of their way to ensure that everything was flawless which proved to be a one-of-a-kind experience, right from the boat journey to the island and back.
Average room rates Rs.15000 plus taxes (includes boat transfer and breakfast).