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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Kathadi North: a chic, rustic homestay by the sea

There are four guest cottages on the property, plus mine, which are designed to be as natural as possible, but still very comfortable…

By Jehan Driver
Founder and Managing Director of Quest Expeditions and Quest Adventure Sports Academy

I was blown away when I first stumbled upon this beautiful part of the world. There was so much life in this remote corner of India that I decided there and then that it was going to be my home. I’m a professional kitesurfer and instructor, and the water was clean and the wind was perfect, so my first thought was to organise a competition here – and once I’d done that, I essentially never left. I bought this plot of land, five acres about 500 metres from the sea, and we’ve planted more than a thousand trees. Walk one way and you reach the beach; walk the other and you’re surrounded by lush farmland.

There are four guest cottages on the property, plus mine, which are designed to be as natural as possible, but still very comfortable. We used local materials such as coconut-palm thatch for the roofs, brick for the walls and timber for almost everything else, and rescued the carved doors and window frames from an old house in Chettinad, which is famous for its architecture. Each cottage has a private courtyard and there’s an outdoor shower with solar-heated water so you can gaze up at the palm trees while you wash. 

The day begins with breakfast, which is laid out on a long table in the dining area. If you’re an early riser and you go to the coffee bar – which is open 24 hours a day – there’ll be 10 peacocks on the roof crying like cats. If it’s a windy day, you’ll hear the wind and you’ve got to hold on to your cornflakes to stop them from blowing away. Otherwise, all you can hear is jungle babblers and Indian rollers singing in the trees. It’s a very relaxed affair. We have a shallow plunge pool just next to the dining area and sometimes people sit in it to have breakfast or they grab what they want and take it back to their own courtyard.

There’s a small menu of light bites for lunch and a buffet in the evening, based around seafood, organic vegetables and rice, and all we ask is that guests tell us in the morning whether they’re opting in or out. Otherwise, the only other decision they have to make is what to do that day – there are so many options out on the water. If people are interested in kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, I can take them out at sunrise for a couple of hours to watch the fishermen, for instance. Rameswaram and its famous temple are just half an hour away for those who want to sightsee but a lot of the time people just want to hang out and enjoy Kathadi’s laidback atmosphere, which is fine by us!

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Alfred & Jehan Driver

Growing up by the coast in Mumbai, Jehan Driver was drawn to watersports from an early age, going on to hone his skills as a practitioner and instructor in Queenstown, New Zealand, where he studied Adventure Tourism Management. He has more than 25 years of experience in the field of experiential travel, many of them at the helm of his own companies, Quest Expeditions and Quest Adventure Sports Academy.