Given that India is the largest peninsular country in the world, there is a vast coast line with the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea sweeping in on three sides of the nation.
When Goa found itself on the travel map of the world as a fervent hippie beach-joint in the 1960s it wasn’t long before the rest of the coastal territories were explored and India became a go to place for getting a long lasting tan, unexplored private stretches and of course delectable sea food.
Starting from the Western edge of the country, we skirt all the way through to the east, exploring the best beach destinations in India
1. Goa - As mentioned before, Goa is the ultimate international destination with a promise of plenty of sun, great food and an easy going culture. Apart from the most popular haunts of Baga and Calangute, try the northern sandiest stretches of Arambol, Morjem and Ashwem for a less crowded beach scene.
|Baga Beach, Goa|
Palolem beach in the south is one of the most popular of the lot. Flea markets, quaint restaurants, a clandestine rave party and some great architecture accompany the large coastal stretch, and accommodate hoardes of visitors during the months of October through March.
2. The Karnataka coast, below Goa is relatively unexplored! Instead of the overly westernised Goan culture Karnataka is more understated. Karwar on the northernmost tip, followed by Gokarna are the two most frequented beaches in the state. Om beach in Gokarna is often quoted as the ‘poor man’s Goa’ but there is nothing lack lustre about it.
3. Varkala – Another destination, fast catching up on the International travel scenario is the small town of Varkala in Kerala. Tucked away into oblivion, far from the more popular destinations of Kerala this beach spot is a tad different. A high cliff which houses a flea market and some restaurants looks down upon an impressive stretch of sand below. The scenery is quite dramatic and is even more extraordinary with a small stretch of black sand.
4. Kovalam – Rapidly becoming a beach frequented by locals, the Kovalam beach of Kerala is lined by a number of top end resorts and hotels and lacks that natural charm, so essential for a beach. Once regarded as one of the top beach destinations of the country, Kovalam is now quite crowded.
5. Kanyakumari – The southernmost tip of India is not for those looking for a sunbathing experience, but certainly for those with a religious inclination. Watch three large oceans mingle at the tip of the country. Rameshwaram, the town from where Lord Rama is said to have built a bridge to Srilanka, is good to pair with Kanyakumari.
6. Moving up to the eastern edge of the country, Pondicherry strikes you with its quiet, unassuming yet exclusive demeanour with its colonial charm. The small town lies south of Chennai and is an erstwhile French colony which still imbibes a strong mix of Tamil and French socio-culture. Here, you can find some lovely undiscovered private sandy spots.
7. Moving northwards, Mahabalipuram and then finally Chennai make an impressive contribution to the coastline. Infact the longest beach stretch in Asia happens to be the vibrant Marina beach in Chennai. Go here for some local flavour – be it a football game, some fried squid by the road or persistent peddlers trying to push their wares on seasoned locals or embarrassed travellers.
8. Further on the North East, Orissa is still relatively undiscovered by travellers. These beaches are known more for the turtle hatching and are extremely important from sustaining the bio-diversity point of view.
If looking for some surfing action, get in touch with the Ashram Retreat for courses in Mulki, just off Mangalore on the west coast. If talking about beaches, don’t cannot miss the pristine surroundings and aqua blue waters of the Andamans. With an array of choices, plan ahead and make a discovery of your own!
This article was written by Mahindra Homestays (http://www.mahindrahomestays.com) who have a range of homestay accommodation throughout India. There are a range of destination guides available on the website including beach destinations such as Goa (http://www.mahindrahomestays.com/destinations/goa) and hill stations such as Coorg (http://www.mahindrahomestays.com/destinations/coorg)