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Marine National Park/India

Introducing Marine National Park

This gorgeous, isolated park (Indian/foreigner Rs 30/250, Narara car permit Rs 35/200, camera Rs 50/250, video Rs 2500/US$200; Oct-Jun) stretches 170km along the coast and encompasses 42 islands, 33 of which are ringed by coral reefs. It’s rich in marine and bird life. The best time to visit is from December to March. The Forest Office administers the park, or you can arrange a visit (or a sailing trip to Mandvi) through Hotel President. It takes two hours to reach Pirotan island (timings are restricted because of tides – you must spend 12 hours on the island to wait for the tide to turn), which is the only offshore route set up for visitors. Nearby Okamadhi Beach as one of many sheltered havens.

You can also visit beaches along the coast, such as Narara, 110km from Jamnagar off the Dwarka road, where it’s possible at low tide to walk among the corals.

Industry along the coast has affected this fragile ecosystem. In January 2005 Essar Oil, responsible for a new refinery in the region, paid for a whole coral reef to be shifted 1km from its original location. It’s hoped the transplant will prevent damage to the marine ecology, which is threatened by an undersea petrol pipeline and rising sedimentation.