Kerala has a long coastline stretching from the north of the country to the south and abounding in beaches. The beaches in the north have cliffs dropping steeply to stunning beaches. Forts built by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British colonial powers can be seen dotting the seashores. The beaches in the south are more touristy offering plenty of water sports activates, yoga, Ayurveda massages, seafood, and swaying coconut and palm trees under which you can simply laze the day away. If you are planning a beach holiday, these are the dream beaches of Kerala you simply must check out.
The Best Beaches of Kerala
Kovalam , which is close to the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, is the beach to head to to swim, sunbathe, and surf. This beach is one of the most sought after beaches in Kerala, with crowds of tourists thronging its shores. The afternoon heat may send everyone scooting to the cooler shades of their hotel rooms but come evening, the crowds are out to enjoy the cool air, golden sands, blue waters and great food.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants teasing you with their seafood fare; you can hire deck chairs to watch all the action or hire surf boards to be part of it. If you are lucky, you can even catch a boat ride from one of the local fishermen. Kovalam has 3 beaches you can check Samudra, Hawah, and Lighthouse and they all have have eateries hotels and shops and surfing spots you can take your pick from. The Lighthouse beach has a lighthouse perched on the Kurumkkal rock and offers a fantastic view of the sea and Vizhinzam harbor.
Ayurveda packages are available all over Kovalam and if you plan on getting yourself a massage, you can look out for the (Green Leaf) certified ones. A visit to Kovalam should also include a trip to the backwaters of Thiruvallom, (some 8 kilometers away) where the Killi and Karamana rivers confluence and where you can enjoy boat rides through the backwaters. 8 kilometers to the south of Kovalam is the Chowara Beach, which has a serene ambiance where you can enjoy the golden sands and clear waters.
Lying quite close to the natural harbor of Vizhinzam lies Poovar, a town that’s practically a tropical island thanks to the confluence of the Kerala backwaters and the Arabian sea. History states that when the legendary king Ravi Verma took refuge in this place during a succession struggle, he noticed that flowers from the overhanging Kovala trees falling into the river presenting a carpet of streaming red flowers. He coined the name Poovar meaning River of Flowers that even today stands the test of time.
Swaying coconut trees with hammocks invite you to laze around all day or you could take a boat ride through the backwaters. Evenings are filled with music recitals, Kathakali performances and fireworks display organized by the Poovar resorts and hotels. Ayurveda and Yoga facilities are also available for anyone interested in de-stressing. For more details check out the Poovar Island Resort website.
If you love to mix religion with a serene beach holiday, Varkala is the place to go. Varkala is a small town perched on cliffs that drop dramatically to two big beaches, the golden sandy Papanasham beach and the black sandy Thiruvambadi beach. Some 9 kilometers away is another idyllic beach, the Kappil Beach, which you can reach on a motorbike. Varkala’s main beaches are great for swimming from October to February but get turbulent and unsafe during the rest of the year.
If you want, you could visit the 2000 year old Vaishnavite shrine of Janardhana Swamy (strict dress code is observed) at the entrance to the Beach road and then in the evenings head to the end of the road to the beach where you can lounge. Take the bus to Kollam while you are here, to visit the enchanting place where you have a golden sandy beach on one side and the tranquil backwaters and estuary of Kappil on the other. The Varkala Cultural Center organizes Kathakali performances during the peak tourist season but you can also catch them for free at the nearby Kuttikkad Temple.
Some 63 kilometers north of Thiruvananthapuram lies Kollam, home to a picturesque kilometer-and-a-half long beach that is usually packed to the brim with families enjoying the cool waters of the Arabian sea. Unlike the beaches we saw earlier, the waters in Kollam are rough and therefore unsuitable for swimming, surfing, or other water sports. At best you can take a relaxing stroll across the beach and the bordering park. 5 kilometers off Kollam is the Thangassery beach where you can visit the ruins of an 18th century Portuguese fort and church.
The 3 km long beach even has a lighthouse offering stunning views of the surroundings. Another beach you might want to check here lies about 6 kilometers north of the town is the Thirumullavaram Beach which is quiet and perfect for swimming. Neendakara, a fishing harbor lies about 10 kilometers from Kollam and is an exciting place to visit post-monsoon, thanks to the Chakra phenomenon.
Within the town of Kollam itself, you can see many colonial relics, like the clock tower. But one activity that you simply mustn’t miss for the world is the houseboat trip along the Ashtamudi lake. Kollam is also cashew country so be sure to enjoy the elaborate cashew flavored and enriched delicacies in the various hotels, restaurants, and food shacks.
The once bustling trade port of Alappuzha now lies quiet and subdued with the sounds of the lapping sea waters and the cries of the sea birds piercing the quiet air. The Beach in Alappuzha has an old dilapidated pier and a lighthouse you can check out while the waters are enticing enough for a swim. You can also see visitors playing volleyball on the beach and you could join in for a game or two if you like.
But the enchanting feature of Alappuzha is its backwaters where you can take a cruise on the Punnamada Kayal and catch a glimpse of various small islands, coconut palms, and paddy fields.
If you have extra time to spare, visit the Maraikulam fisherman’s village (about 17 kilometers off Alappuzha) which feels like a place time forgot. The village life here resembles something from eons ago and you can experience a day in the life of a fisherman in this undisturbed getaway. The Marari Beach resort offers great facilities for staying and experiencing life at Maraikulam.
26 kilometers from the city of Eranakulam, at the northern end of Vypeen island lies the beach of Cherai, where the waters are gentle and free of currents, perfect for swimming and sun bathing. If you wake up early morning, you can even catch a glimpse of the laughing dolphins that pass by. Most hotels will offer you great views of the beach from their deck chairs. Cherai also has plentiful backwaters where you can take a boat ride, arranged by your hotel.
When in Cherai, you can also visit nearby attractions including the 1503 built Portuguese fort Pallipuram, the Ochanthuruth lighthouse, the Gowreeshwara Temple built in 1912 and the Azheekkal temple known for its grandiose chariot.
Padinjarekkara Beach, Ponnani
On the southern Malabar coast, about 80 kilometers south east of Kozhikode, lies the Padinjarekkara beach. This beach isn’t a touristy spot, which means you have the sea all to yourself which you can enjoy at your leisure. Bird watching is an activity that is quite popular here since migratory birds are often spotted here.
The Kozhikode beach isn’t a touristy beach, but is alive and kicking even long after the sun has set. Families can be seen enjoying enjoying ice-cream and beach snacks under the twinkling stars, which is a charming in itself. When in Kozhikode, you don’t just get to enjoy the beach, you can also visit 3 other beaches which are nearby – the Kappad Beach (19 kilometers off the town) where the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in 1498; the Payyoli beach whose star attraction is the Velliyamkallu rock formation that’s about 14 kilometers into the sea covering about 2 acres of space that can be visited by fiberglass boat; and Beypore beach which has a stone structure about 2 kilometers into the sea that you can stroll on. Beypore Beach is also home to the shipbuilding community and you can spot huge boats being constructed under thatched roofs in the town.
The port town of Thalassery in the North Malabar region is home to the beautiful and serene Muzhippilangad Beach. The beach is ideal for lazing around or swimming and if you’re lucky and an early morning riser, you can catch the playful dolphins bobbing up and down in the waters. Muzhippilangad Beach is a drive-in beach that stretches for about 4 kilometers and if you choose to go down this route you can also enjoy the sight of the sea birds catching their prey or hunting mussels on the sandy beach.
To the north of Muzhippilangad is an Adventure Academy, which organizes carnivals where boating, parasailing, paragliding and swimming activities are conducted. It’s a fun affair that shouldn’t be missed if you’re an adventurous person. While you are in Thalassery be sure to check out the nearby attractions – the Thalassery Fort constructed by the British in 1708, the Dharmapattanam Island (requires special permission), the 500 year old Odathil Palli mosque built in Hindu-Muslim architectural style, the Anjarakandy Cinnamon estate (requires special permission), the CVN Kalari center where students are taught the ancient martial art form of Kalaripayattu and Mahe, the tiny French port town where you can enjoy a great view of the sea and soak in the French influences.
The beaches of Kannur are Kerala’s best kept secrets; they are long stretches of golden sands untouched and unspoilt. The main beach in Kannur Payyambalam is quite close to the town and is filled up every evening with families, children playing football and volleyball, couples strolling leisurely along the shores and tiny tots making sand castles.
The other beaches of Kannur like the Meenkunnu are more secluded. The twin beaches of Kizhunna Ezhara and Thottada lie right below the steep laterite cliffs and a view from the top is simply magnificent. While at Kannur, you can also take a boat ride in Mappila Bay and catch sight of the Fort St Angelo, visit the museum of Kerala’s royal Muslim family, the Arakkal Kettu, and the Parassinikadavu temple.
Most people who have seen the movie Bombay will remember this beach which encompasses and embraces the big fort structure next to which it lies. The 2 km long beach is not a tourist spot and there are restrictions on when you can enter and leave. The beach is shallow and deep sea swimming is not advised, but you can chill out on one of the many granite stones and watch the waves crashing around you.
Vendors will also offer to take you on a horse or camel ride on the beach. The Bekal fort itself offers a grand view of the sea and you can feel every crash of the wave against the base of the fort while you’re up there. 6 kilometers to the north of Bekkal is the Kappil beach and about 12 kilometers south is the Hosdurg Beach both of which are definitely worth a visit.0