As you zoom in on Google Earth, you notice a strip of land just east of Kakinada in the Bay of Bengal. A little more zoom reveals a tadpole shaped island with green tinge. More research identifies the island as Hope Island named after the British engineer General Sir Arthur Cotton’s daughter Elizabeth Reid Cotton or Lady Hope. In the map you can see the tail end of the island meeting the river along the coast full of mangrove trees. This spit of sand is a natural barrier that provides Kakinada and the port the protection from cyclones and tidal waves making the port one of the safest harbours in India. Hope Island is spread over 715 acres and is formed from the deposits of sand and alluvium carried by Godavari. This is the point where Godavari flowing from Yanam empties into the Bay of Bengal.
Fishermen Village at Kakinada
The excitement metre is in the red zone! In the map the Hope Island looks tantalising close, but how do you get there? There seem to be no regular boat service to the islands. You had visited the fishermen village the previous evening and saw all these boats coming in after a day at sea catching fish. Maybe you can hire a boat for a couple of hours. Next morning you find yourself in the village negotiating to rent a boat. Deal is fixed at about 1600 rupees and you are instructed to come back at two in the afternoon.
Hold on to your pants..planks - Hope Island, here we come!
You are back in the village with your colleague and the enthusiastic car driver. Now your bravado is failing you. You do not know how to swim and are scared of water. On the beach you can spend hours watching the waves but it is a different deal being on a boat with no safety vests and a sputtering engine that might die anytime. You sit on the centre plank holding on to your dear life. After navigating the unseen trench below, the boat enters the Kakinada Bay and picks up speed. The engine grows louder until it settles at a pitch when it is impossible to listen to your fellow riders. The water is peaceful and the boat mercifully does not bounce much.
You decide to enjoy the moment a little. If the engine dies or the boat chooses this exact moment to get pierced, well too bad! Sea birds fly with you when suddenly they dive into the water and come out with fish. You just wonder where do the birds rest when they are done with the fishing. But then the land is not far away. You can swear that you saw fishes flying. They just come out of the water in a group and with a splash they dive in. What is happening here? Have you turned into the titular hero of the wonderful film Life of Pi? This is amazing. You just hope the tiger does not emerge out of the tarpaulin in the corner.
On the contraption like boat, the engine clatters away noisily. The boat skipper smokes with nonchalance and has a faraway look. He perhaps hope to sail into the unknown horizon one day. The boat thumps on the water and seemingly gets airborne every now and then. You know you are in the zone when everything around is flying - the boat, the fishes and the birds. Now there is barge tugged by a boat. Kakinada has receded and Hope Island is beyond the horizon. For a moment everyone is smiling on the boat. We are like a bunch of Somali pirates who have just sighted an oil tanker with Captain Philips on the horizon.
Hope Island Anchor Point - I am not getting down!
Hope Island - You are not leaving me behind, are you?
The friends cheer you up as you join them. The island at this point is not much wide. What you want to see lies on the other side - you want to go to the eastern side of the island to greet the Bay of Bengal. There is not much on the island - few trees besides the mangrove clumps around the northern end, houses of fisherman that make up the small hamlet and few handpumps for water. You forgot to ask whether the handpump water is sweet or saline. Residents are quite surprised to see the visitors and you wave to them.
And then you come to the beach on the eastern side with the Bay of Bengal stretching before you. The beach is absolutely virgin. In fact there are no people and no shacks - everything is pretty and untouched. Clean sand stretches on both sides. Commercialization is not always good and this is the perfect example. Since there are no regular tourist boats coming to the island, this strip of sand has managed to retain its bucolic innocence. Reports indicate that tourism department has introduced boat services from the city’s Jawahar Jetty to Hope Island in December 2013. This could be the end of innocence for the beautiful island.
Hope Island - Da Beach
Come On Give me Your Best Shot!
Hope Island, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh - Sands of Time
Hope Island - The Ride back to Kakinada
Sunset Over Kakinada
Getting There: Make Kakinada your base. Kakinada is a developed city with hotels of all budgets. Hope Island is about 5 kms into the sea. Tourism department has introduced boat services from the city’s Jawahar Jetty to Hope Island. Please find out the boat times. Enjoy slice of Pondicherry about 32 kms south of Kakinada in Yanam. Visit the Coringa Mangroves on your way to Yanam.
Yanam - Slice of Pondicherry