Tips on visiting Elephanta Island near Mumbai with kids

Located about 10 km from Mumbai, Elephanta Island is one of the most exciting and interesting day trips with kids. We’ve been there countless times – every time we have a visitor, especially a first timer in Mumbai, we make sure to take them to this island, widely known for its ancient cave temples. Our kids often join us on these journeys as well – Adriana started as early as two years old, and the smaller two kids joined us later. It didn’t always go smoothly: generally speaking, Mumbai is not the easiest city to travel around with kids, considering its huge distances, hot weather intense traffic, and intimidating crowds. Then, reaching the island by sea and exploring the island with your little ones comes with its own set of challenges. However, with each new trip, I’ve learned quite a lot of tricks to keep the experience enjoyable right from the beginning to the end. So I thought I’d share some tips on visiting Elephanta Island with kids that might be useful for other parents. Read on!

The ferry ride is the most exciting part of the journey

To reach Elephanta Island, you need to take a ferry from the Getaway of India – the ferry dock is right behind it. The round-trip ticket costs Rs 180 (around $2.5) for adults, and it’s absolutely free for kids under 12. It takes around one hour to get to the island, and in my experience, this is one of those cases when a journey is no less thrilling than a destination. Especially for kids! Do share their excitement as they look at the shimmering waters of the Mumbai harbor, observe the variety of ships and boats of all forms and sizes, feed the hungry seagulls that accompany the ferry all the way to the island!

Elephanta Island with kids ferry ride
The ferry
My son was totally enjoying the ferry ride 🙂
And so did I 🙂
… and my mom with Alexandra, my younger daughter
Adriana is already an experienced voyager 🙂
The shimmering sea
Lots of seagulls!
Elephanta island ferry
The ferries are well equipped with life jackets.

We usually have a snack while one the ferry – even if you had a hearty meal at home just before leaving for the journey, by the time you reach the Getaway of India the kids’ tummies are bound to start rumbling. I usually pack some homemade sandwiches and other easy to prepare snacks, but they also sell some stuff on the ferry. We never eat on the island, because the local restaurants are often crowded, especially on weekends, and the food is rather overpriced. Besides, you can’t just have a picknick there because of the omnipresent monkeys who are always more than eager to rob your stuff 🙂

You may also like: 20 exciting things to do with kids in Mumbai

Don’t skip the toy train

Getting to the cave temples on the island involves a lot of walking, which may prove to be rather tiring for the small ones. The ferry takes you to the end of the jetty where you can take a toy train for Rs 10. Don’t skip the train even if it’s too crowded – it’s worth waiting for the next one instead of walking a few hundred meters with kids under the hot sun. Besides, it’s so much fun!

Elephanta Island train ride
The toy train

Mind the heat!

It’s not just hot on the island, it’s VERY hot, so make sure to protect your little explorers with hats and sunblocks. Drinking lots of water is a must to keep them properly hydrated.

Souvenirs on Elephanta Island are some of the best around Mumbai

Of course, they often come with a tourist price attached, but looking through is absolutely free 🙂 After you get out of the toy train, you pay Rs 5 to enter the island and climb a stone-paved stairway up to the hill. The stairway is lined up with countless stalls where one can bay handicrafts, statues, fridge magnets, t-shirts and nad-made backs, necklaces, and earrings, and what not. Make sure to stop and let your kids examine these “treasures” – not only will it satisfy their curiosity, but it’s also less tiring to climb the stairs this way.

Souvenirs Elephanta iIsland
Elephanta Island souvenirs

Amazing facts about the Elephanta caves will make your children’s imagination run wild

To enter the UNESCO site, you pay Rs 40 (for Indians) or Rs 600 (for foreigners). The stone carvings in the caves are exquisite, especially in cave number 1, and it’s worth telling your small ones about the facts behind these magnificent bas-relieves. This is what I told my kids:

Historians believe the caves were built between 400 to 800 Ad, and it’s amazing that the intricate sculptures made it through the centuries to witness our days.

A huge statue of an elephant used to guard the island, that’s why the Portuguese explorers gave it the name “Elephanta” when they first reached this place in the 16th century. They even tried to take the statue away but had to drop it into the sea. Later it was found by the British and installed near the entrance to Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. My kids saw this stone elephant when we visited the Byculla Zoo and were quite impressed by the size.

Portuguese soldiers used the splendid reliefs in the caves for target practice. Make sure to talk to your little ones about the devastating effects of vandalism.

The majority of statues in the caves represent manifestations of the Hindu god Shiva. The three heads of Maheshmurti Shiva stand for creation, protection, and destruction.

Let your kids explore the nooks and crannies of the caves – it’s a real adventure on its own that will make them feel like brave discoverers and tireless explorers. Make sure they don’t get lost in the crowds though.

Elephanta island trimurti
Little explorers 🙂

Beware of monkeys!

Cute as they are, these creatures can be rather demanding and even aggressive. they’ll come for our food, water bottles, and even a purse or camera. So don’t underestimate them, especially with kids who make an easy target. One of the monkeys took a hat off my mom’s head! And another one jumped on my back and with one professional move took a bottle off my backpack 🙂

Toilets are available on the island

There are pretty decent toilets available on the island (the cost is RS 2 to Rs 5). They were clean and tidy, so there won’t be a problem with taking your kids to the loo.

You won’t miss out much if you skip the Cannon Hill

There is a huge British-era cannon on the hilltop of the island, but we only climb there for the sake of panoramic view over the sea. In my opinion, it’s not worth taking kids over there after exploring the caves, especially if the little ones are already tired.

So that’s it. Hope your trip to Elephanta island with kids will be a successful one! You’re more than welcome to ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “Tips on visiting Elephanta Island near Mumbai with kids

    • I guess you can get a fish thali in Elephanta, but I never happen to eat on the island – the places were crowded and I didn’t feel like waiting 🙂 As I said in the post, we prefer to have a quick snack on the ferry 🙂

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