West Bengal is not just about literature, cultural history, or the lip-smacking food. If one looks close into the natural wealth of the state, one will be surprised to find almost all kinds of geographical features here! Except deserts maybe! From rivers, to plains, deltas, islands, mangroves, forests, hills, there is so much that the state has to offer. To add to that, a major part of the state is connected to the Bay of Bengal, which automatically gives rise to one of the most coveted tourism destinations – beaches!
Exploring the beaches of West Bengal will open a whole new world to the traveller. From the largest delta in the world to the border of the state of Odisha, there are many beautiful beaches in the state. The following is brief information about the most prominent beaches of Bengal.
Digha is undoubtedly the most popular beach in West Bengal. It is easily reachable by road from Calcutta. It is about 187 km to the south west of the city. Digha has a shallow sand beach. The beach is as long as 7km in length! The long beach shifts its shoreline through the day, depending on the tides. The beach is lined with Casuarinas. There are lots of things to do at the beach. There are souvenirs being sold, fried fish and seafood on offer at the beach. One can even go to nearby tourist places such as Biswa Bangla Park, the Marine Aquarium, Digha Science Centre and Amaravati Park. If one wants some serenity, one can go to New Digha Beach, since that has less people. The beach can be visited any time of the year, but it is most pleasant in the months from July to March.
A word of caution here! Since some of the areas in the Digha shore are prone to quick sand, one should not attempt to go beyond the designated swim point.
Mandarmani is a village in East Midnapore district of West Bengal. It also has a beach of the same name. It is a very popular vacation spot for people in the state, and the perfect weekend getaway. One can drive there from Calcutta, as it is only 180 km away from the city. The unique feature of this beach is the red crabs that crawl all over the sand on the beach. There are lots of accommodation options here and it remains busy throughout the year. The greatest claim to fame of this beach is that it is the only motorable beach in India and one can enjoy driving on the beach here.
Shankarpur offers an isolated beach experience. It is a virgin beach located about 10 km from Digha. It is a fisherman’s beach, so one will be able to see a lot of fishing activities. After a pleasant sunrise, the fishermen can be seen hauling their nets out of the sea filled with fish! The clean beach and clear waters, combined with a wonderful breeze is perfect for a vacation.
Tajpur is a rare gem in Bengal. It is a beach tucked away in the East Midnapore district of West Bengal, away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation. Tajpur is a fast growing vacation destination in Bengal and it is a comparatively new one. The beach lies on the way between Kolkata and Digha and is about 170 km away from Kolkata. Many fancy accommodation spots have come up here of late. Water sports are also available. Therefore a tourist will not only enjoy the calm and quiet natural beauty but also be enthralled by the water sports that are sure to raise adrenaline levels.
Bakkhali is a beach in one of the islands on the deltaic region of the Ganga. The island opens into the Bay of Bengal, promising both sunrises and sunsets, the vast ocean, lots of tranquility and not to mention pristine beauty. The beach of Bakkhali is unique in that it is half moon shaped. On one side is the mangrove forests of Sunderbans and on the other is the sea. Since the water of the Ganga meets the ocean here, the water here may appear muddy. It is rich in aquatic animals. Even beautiful birds are seen here making it very popular with birdwatchers. There are many places one can visit from Bakkhali. These are Frazergunje, which also has a very long beach, and Henry’s Island. One may even take a boat ride upto Jambu Dweep. Bakkhali is about 130 km from Kolkata.
Junput is located about 40 km away from Digha. It is a beautiful sea beach, lined with casuarina trees. It is almost a virgin beach with less tourist interference. The beach is important as the State Government Fisheries Department does brackish water fish cultivation and research here. The pretty turquoise water against the lush greenery looks very pristine.
One of the most spectacular beaches in West Bengal is Udaipur. It is located about 2km away from Digha, very close to the border with Odisha. This is another virgin beach surrounded by casuarina trees. There are a lot of activities that one can do in the beach. There is a host of water sports like banana boat and speed boats. There are a number of makeshift stalls on the beach where fresh fish are cooked and sold, which is a local delicacy.
One of those rarely treaded upon beaches in Bengal is that of Bankiput. It is not yet frequented by tourists, so it retains a lot of its pristine charm. It is located very close to Junput. Bankiput can be reached from Digha, which is about 40 km away. The major attractions here are the Dariapur Lighthouse and the fishing harbour where the Rasulpur River meets the Bay of Bengal.
9. Falta Beach
Falta Beach is one of the many beaches of Bengal which is frequented by localites only, and not really by tourists. The Damodar River and the Hooghly river confluence near the Falta beach. An interesting fact about the beach is that the name of the beach has been derived from a ship of the same name that was damaged here, back in the 17th century.
10. Sagardwip Beach
Sagardwip Beach is located in the Sunderbans. It is also known as the Gangasagar beach. Sagardwip is an island at the confluence of the Ganga River and the Bay of Bengal. The colour of the beach is silvery. The beach also has religious importance. People come here to take a dip in the holy Ganga river during Sankranti in the month of January. The Sagar beach is at the tip of the island where the Bay of Bengal starts. There are a number of attractions here. For the spiritual ones, Kapil Muni Temple and Onkarnath Temple will be of importance. The Sagar Lighthouse and Bharat Seva Ashram are other places to visit. The Ganga Sagar Mela takes place here every year during Sankranti.
11. Talsari Beach
The Talsari beach is located close to Digha Beach – about 7 km away. The beach is a part of the Gangetic delta. It is a pristine beach surrounded by palm and coconut trees. There are mostly calm low tide waves here. There is very little human intervention and the beach retains its beauty. It stretches for about 3 km.
12. Henry Island
Henry Island is located near Bakkhali and has turned into a very popular weekend destination for tourists in West Bengal. The name of the island can be attributed to a British explorer who had ended up in this place in the 19th century. The serene beach here is one that must not be missed. Henry Island is located about 130 k from Kolkata. The beach here is often seen crowded with red crabs.