Located 100 kilometres south of Mangalore, in a place called Padanna in Kerala, is this beautiful little nature-themed resort called Oyster Opera. Visit this theme village bathed in natural beauty to get a spectacular view of palm-fringed islands and coastal stretches surrounded by backwaters. Run by Mr Mohd. Gul and his trained hospitable staff, you can also understand about mussel farming here. This is one of the best resorts in North Kerala for a relaxing, peaceful holiday.
Oyster Opera resort started a few years back, is still being worked upon, but it is already a popular destination for people looking to get back to nature. The resort currently boasts around 10 cottages, including a treehouse, a double-storey cottage, and a boathouse. It is also a private island retreat one could escape to, far from the hustle and bustle of city life.
I was looking for a resort close to Mangalore to spend a lazy weekend and get some decent food. I figured Oyster Opera would be a great option. So I drove thru a pothole-filled (some of them wide enough to be called a pond), treacherous 100 kilometres of road from Mangalore (the road signs insisted that it was NH17!) to reach my destination in time for lunch. Mr Mohammad Gul, the resort owner, greeted me with a warm smile and some refreshments. Having made short work of the refreshments, I checked into my cottage (named ‘Clam’). The rooms in my cottage had a rustic look, the bathroom being fascinating – it did not have a roof! It reminded me of my engineering college days where we had similar roofless bathrooms. But this one at least had latches for the doors : ). The cottage had all the amenities for a lazy holiday – a couple of easy chairs, a hammock, backwater views, and a nice comfortable bed (with mosquito nets). After shaking up all the bones in my body (thanks to the rough drive), it was a welcome relief to settle into the body-hugging, rocking hammock. I had almost fallen asleep when I got a poke (not the Facebook kind, but a hard one from Manoj, the customer service guy) informing me that lunch was ready.
The lunch was served in the common dining room. The tables were set according to the group sizes, which meant I had no choice in selecting my seat. The lunch would be served on plantain (banana) leaves – as is done traditionally in Kerala. Mr Mohammad and his crew served us lunch (a welcome relief from buffets, thank God. they Saved me multiple trips to gather food and resultant embarrassment). It was indeed a ‘wholesome’ meal. To give you an idea of the wholesomeness involved, let me list the cast: Eggs, chicken, quail, a couple of varieties of fish, mussels and lamb. Half an hour of extreme, perspiration filled flesh-eating later, my stomach gave me the stop signal. So I decided to end the carnage by downing a plate of green, guilt removing salad. I was stuffed and needed to lay myself horizontally somewhere. So I trudged back to my cottage, with my now football like tummy bouncing ahead and leading the way. After another hour of hammocking with some digestion-related snorts and grumbles later, I was ready to move around. Manoj suggested that I do some fishing, and under the circumstances, I thought that was the most active effort I could undertake.
He handed me a crude fishing rod and some prawn baits. I spent the next hour fishing. Just when I was about to give up, I felt a good tug. I reeled the line back in to find this rather slender, small fish attached to my cute, pink prawn bait. I hadn’t hoped to catch any fish and hence didn’t have a plan for the fish I’d caught. I threw it back into the water.
Next up was a group boat ride to a nearby beach. There were around 20 visitors at the resort, and all of us climbed into a boat that took us to the beach. Tea and snacks were served at the beach. Nothing eventful here (other than the snacks, I mean). It was dusk by the time we returned. Now I had to spend my time somehow till the dinner was ready. The rooms didn’t have TV, and so that wasn’t an option. I hadn’t carried any books either. I was forced to relax in the hammock again. The starry sky above and the noise of water splashing against the rocks transported me to a different zone of mental peace. Bliss!
Needless to say, dinner was wholesomely meat-filled too. The only thing vegetarian I saw was the plantain leaf on which the food was served. Thank God I was not a vegetarian. I retired for the day after dinner. I woke up early the next day to find fishermen on their job already. Some were collecting oysters, while some spreading their nets for fish.
Oyster Opera has 2 canoes: a single-seater and a two-seater. I did some canoeing in the morning, and after a while, it was time for me to check out. I’d just had one of the most refreshing short holiday possible – here at Oyster Opera.
So here’s my verdict: Visit Oyster Opera resort in North Kerala if you would like to laze around, have some great food and get close to nature.
What works Great food for non-vegetarians (Seafood and meat), Good recreational activities (canoeing, fishing, swimming, and beach).
What doesn’t: Service is slow, mainly because they are understaffed. Slightly over-priced.