One of the top experiences we had in Southern India was spending a few days at a homestay in Munroe Island.  This was the first homestay that actually felt like a homestay.  While it was difficult to get to, we were able to experience local life with an Indian  family in a remote area, staying with one of the two families running homestays on Monroe Island.

Around Munroe Island:

Around Munroe Island: workers along the river, school children, Vijeesh’s dad – the canoe driver, us on the canoe, riding through the backwaters, and growing pineapples!

Vijeesh, your main guide is an absolute wonder, and will really make your experience special.  If you go on Trip Advisor, you will see that just about every review has a high rating, and for good reason.  His English is great, and his sense of humor is so refreshing!  He felt like the brother I never had.  I really think Vijeesh, his parents, and his sister actually enjoyed hanging with us and having us there.

Munroe Backwater Homestay:

Hanging out with Vijeesh at home.

The main reason we came here, was to go on a backwater tour on a canoe.  To be honest, this experience kicked the public ferry ride and small boat ride in Allepey out of the water.  Some guests will go with Vijeesh as their guide, and others with his father.  The ride is intimate, you meet a few locals, learn about plants and animals, and see shrimp farms and small waterways with low bridges that force you to watch your head!

Canoe ride:

The sights on the canoe ride.

After doing research about this canoe tour, we realized we could also stay there and do a homestay as well.  I think if you are thinking of doing this trip, an overnight stay is definitely warranted!

At home

At home with the family.

As a bonus, Vijeesh may also take you on a spice walk. Who knew seeing black pepper, cinnamon, and other spices in its raw form could be so interesting!

Our meals were wonderfully presented by his mother and sister.  My favorite meal they made was a thali that consisted of various curries, vegetables, and fish with coconut.  They made us breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we would eat with Vijeesh in the kitchen, swap stories, and just hang out like a family.

Lovely home cooked meals

Lovely home cooked meals at the Vimalan house.

We were lucky enough to be there on the day of a local festival, where they paraded 17 elephants through town, had some interesting floats with some men dressed in drag, and a bunch of super friendly locals greeting and socializing, many asking to take pictures with you.

Some of the 17 elephants at the festival.

Some of the 17 elephants at the festival.

Festival Collage

Temple Festival floats, men dressed in drag, lights, firecrackers, and locals.

Even walking through the village was a great experience.  We stopped off at the famous chai tea in town, made coir rope, and tried the local chilli lime juice.  We also met a lot of locals, one who was spending time with friends on a sort of bachelor party before getting married.


Top left: The bachelor party group (and me).

Not everyone will have the exact same experience as us, but regardless, this family somehow knows how to make a homestay really feel like a welcoming homestay.  If you are going to be in the area, definitely make your way here.  It will be one of the best experiences in Southern India!

Costs for Day 102:
Kream Korner Veg noodle, veg fries rice, water, and chapati 238
Pastries 20
Handmade chips 20
Bus from Alleppey to Chavara 140
Baggage for bus 35
Rickshaw from Chavara to Munroe Island Backwaters Homestay 300
Munroe Island Backwaters Homestay 1400
Car for temple festival 200
Water 40

Total cost for Day 102: 2393 rupees / 2 = $18.70 per person

Costs for Day 103:
Coir rope 20
Tea 20
Canoe trip 800
Bananas and water 60
*Thali lunch
Chai 20
Munroe Island Backwaters Homestay 1400
2 beers
Water 20

Total cost for Day 103: 2340 rupees / 2 = $18.28 per person

*Cost for meals were at your discretion and paid at the end of the stay.

What I learned: It was really hard getting here as there really wasn’t a lot of information online.  You can contact Vijeesh by email, phone or Facebook.  Read my reviews here and here for more information.  If you are confused, contact Vijeesh, and he can help you!

Vijeesh Vimalan telephone: 90 48 176 186
email: vijimunroe@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MunroeIslandBackwatersHomestay

If you are coming from Allepey, you can take a local bus to Chavara, and then get off and grab a rickshaw for 300 rupees.  The location was hard for our driver as well, so it is best if you have your driver call Vijeesh for directions.  Vijeesh will then meet you at one side of the river and take you over to the other side of the water with his canoe.  You can also go to Munroe Island train station (Munroethuruthu) to get there, but the trains are not very frequent. Getting out of Munroe Island is much easier as Vijeesh can check what time the train comes, and can also order a rickshaw to go to the station.

Actual dates of travel: Dec. 14 and 15, 2014