The battering madness of India's cultural mosh pit can exhaust even the most seasoned traveler, which is why many Indians advise leaving the mainland to truly appreciate its charms. There's no better place to get this critical breakwithout passing through customsthan the isolated, talcum-beached coral atoll of Bangaram, one of 26 tiny coconut-palm islands that make up the Lakshadweep archipelago, in the Arabian Sea.
Of the three islands open to tourists, Bangaram Island Resortwhich owns the entirety of the islandboasts the least development, with only 34 teak-and-tile bungalows spread tastefully throughout the island's 128 acres. After you've settled into a private hut, stumble a few feet across the snowy beach to fin through crystal waters. The sea life is so accommodating that the resort asks divers to refrain from riding the massive sea turtles and manta rays that lounge around the house reef.
For more adventurous fauna, house dive masters will take you to deeper reaches, including a sheer limestone chasm known as the Grand Canyon. Deeper still, fishermen will find wahoo and sailfish that are the stuff of Hemingway lore. Or pass on it all and spend an afternoon in a silent hammock for that much-needed perspective on India. DETAILS: Bungalows, $290$350 all- inclusive; 011-91-484-2668221, www.cghearth.com