India is fortunate enough to have approximately 7,000kms of coastline, so naturally we have some spectacular beaches on the mainland, as well as the small islands of the Indian Ocean. Beaches in India aren’t just places for swimming and sunbathing – many have sacred temples and pilgrimage sites too. From the thousands of beaches to choose from, here are our 7 favourites.
Radhanagar Beach, on Havelock Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, was voted Asia’s Best Beach in 2004 by TIME magazine. It’s easy to see why. Fine white sand, turquoise blue waters shimmering in the sun, lush forests to explore and very few sunbathers make this tranquil beach a haven for romantic getaways. Swim, scuba dive or snorkel in this exotic paradise.
Varkala, about an hour north of Trivandrum, nestled at the bottom of a long winding stretch of cliff with spectacular views across the Arabian Sea at sunset. This peaceful beach, in contrast to the busier Kovalam beach, is a relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Trivandrum. The cliff top is bordered by palm trees, and the bars and restaurants here are a perfect place to enjoy a sundowner and watch the colours of sunset across the water, as the fishing boats return from their work. The waters here are believed to have medicinal and curative powers, so jump right in and feel the difference.
Palolem Beach, in south Goa, is fringed with a thick forest of coconut palms. The northern stretch is somewhat quieter than the southern end, and at low tide you can walk out to the nearby picturesque island. At the top of the island is a stone sculpture called “Give If You Can – Take If You Need” or The Money Stone – created by an American conceptual artist – where people leave offerings of food or money for others less fortunate. Palolem is also a fabulous place for dolphin spotting. The largely unspoiled area is inhabited by local fishermen who live in shacks, and cottages right on the beach for tourists. The waters of this crescent shaped beach are ideal for swimming as the currents are not strong.
Located on the very southern tip of India, and surrounded on three sides by water, this is the place for sunrise and sunset. The melding of the Bay of Bengal, The Arabian Sea and The Indian Ocean makes for fairly turbulent waters, and swimming here is not recommended. However, being able to see sunrise and sunset across the water from the same spot is reason enough to visit. Kanyakumari is also a major pilgrimage place with the Kumari Amman Temple, dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanya Devi, and also known for its musical pillars. Perfect for a one or two night getaway from Trivandrum.
Marari Beach, near to Alleppey, is a perfect base to explore the famous backwaters of Kerala. The long golden sands and palm trees will entice you to relax and unwind, or you can try surfing, water skiiing, parasailing or deep sea fishing. The sleepy village has a few resorts and some lovely boutique properties right on the beach, as well as an ayurvedic beach resort. The waters are clean and safe for swimming.
Bangaram Island Beach
Lakshadweep is blessed with the absolutely beautiful Bangaram Island Beach, with crystal clear turquoise water, and silver sands. Relax under the swaying palm trees, dive, and snorkel or sail the coral reefs of this island paradise. You can also visit the blue lagoon, or wander through the lush coconut groves looking for porcupines, parrots and hermit crabs. This is truly a beach getaway you will long remember.
Puri Beach is located in Orissa state, on the eastern Bay of Bengal coastline. This is a famous and popular pilgrimage site of Lord Jagganath, and is located just a short drive from the beautiful Sun Temple at Konark. Puri Beach hosts a festival every year, featuring classical and folk dances as well as local cuisines. The beach also hosts sand art displays, with some impressive works by international award winning sand artists. Enjoy a beautiful sunrise here before a swim in the waters, or breakfast by the sea.