Kerala is known as God’s own country and justifiably so. In addition to pristine backwaters and natural diversity, it has some of the best beaches along the western coast of India, some wonderful hill station like Wayanad and Munnar of the Nilgiris and a treasure trove of wildlife sanctuaries such as Periyar. The famous backwaters are the main attraction of Kerala, and a cruise on the houseboats are an unmissable attraction. The backwaters are serene water streams connecting the sea with beautiful lakes. The beaches however are some of the most pleasant and clean beaches of India which are worth exploring for all their glory! The following are some of the most important beach destinations of the state:
Varkala is a rocky beach in Kerala. The Varkala cliffs are very famous and are perfect for trekking to the shore. Apart from the natural beauty of the place, there are other attractions in Varkala such as the Janardana Swami Temple which is more 2000 years old and the Sivagiri Mutt, which is a mausoleum to a religious leader located on top of a hill. The Papanasam beach is located very close to Varkala Beach. It is said that the water here is holy and washes away all sins. The Ponnumthuruthu island is also located close by and is very picturesque. One can enjoy paragliding over the beach here. For tourists, Varkala is also a great shopping and dining experience. The place is located about 40 km from the state capital city of Trivandrum. The nearest airport is Trivandrum and Varkala is connected to the major cities in India by railway.
Kovalam is a picturesque beach by the Arabian Sea. It is located in Thiruvananthapuram and very close to the centre of the city. The beach is a crescent shaped one cut into three parts by rocky outcrops. Kovalam translates to a grove of coconut trees and it is named so because the whole beach is lined with coconut trees. There are actually three beaches in Kovalam and these three beaches are the Lighthouse Beach, Hawah Beach and Samudra Beach. The Lighthouse beach has a lighthouse built of red and white stones. The Hawa Beach or Eve’s beach is a bustling beach filled with fishermen. The Samudra beach is a quieter one. The Kovalam beach looks surreal while moonlit. The attractions around Kovalam are the Vellayanin Lake and Valiyathura Pier. The beach had become very popular during the hippy era, resulting in many resorts, ayurvedic spas and the likes sprouting here. The Kovalam Art Gallery, Vizhinjham Rock Cut Cave Temple and Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple are worth a visit too. There is also an interesting aquarium at Vizhinjham that must be visited. Since this beach is located in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, it is easily reachable from the railway station or airport which are not too far.
3. Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi is an area in the city of Kochi or Cochin and is also known as Old Kochi. Fort Kochi beach located here is a splendid tourist spot. With rocky shores, piers and pretty resting places along the beach, Fort Kochi is one of the most popular destinations in the state of Kerala. The Indian Naval base is located here. Chinese fishing nets, a unique method of fishing can be seen on the beach here. The sunsets here are golden and magnificent. Fort Kochi part of the town is also artistically quite evolved. The Biennale, an annual art festival takes place here. There are spectacular art installations all over the area. A walk around the pretty streets, filled with colonial style buildings is a pleasant experience. One can enjoy a breezy open air dinner along the beach, on the many restaurants overlooking the ocean. The Indo Portuguese museum and Southern Naval Command Maritime Museum are ‘must visits’. The promenade along the Kochi Beach is also not to be missed. There is a Dutch cemetary, a host of temples and churches, a Jewish Synagogue and a Jain Temple that are also worth visiting.
Alappuzha is a beach town in Kerala. It is a very popular tourist attraction and a perfect preface to the backwaters. The beach is one of the cleanest beaches with high waves. It has a 150-year-old pier. The lighthouse near the beach is ideal for viewing the serene ocean. The Alappuzha beach festival held here is a major crowd puller. Sand artists from all over the world come here to showcase their talents. One can reach Alapuzha from Kochi, which is about 2 hours of drive away. It is also connected by ferry to other beaches and lakes as well as by railway with other cities.
Kannur was once an ancient trading port. The beach here is a stretch consisting of five beaches in Kerala. These five beaches are Payyambalam Beach, Meenkunnu Beach, Adikadalayi Beach, Baby Beach and Thayyil Beach. All the five beaches are extremely picturesque and very popular with European tourists. The striking feature of this beach are the graves of many social leaders of Kerala. There is a beach garden here which has beautiful sculptures. The St Angelo’s fort, which is a 16th century Portuguese fort, is a tourist attraction here. Other nearby attractions include the Mappila Bay Harbour and the Arakkal Museum. This museum is housed in a former palace and displays the possessions of a Muslim Royal family.
Thirumullavaram beach is located 6 km from Kollam in Kerala. It was titled one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world by Discovery Channel. The beach is very serene and very popular for swimming as well as scuba diving. The kings of Travancore used to spend their leisure in this beach. The temple of Sri Maha Vishnu Swamy is an attraction here. The temple pond lies only a few metres from the Arabian Sea. As per the folklores, this temple is one of the seven temples established by Parasurama who is said to have raised Kerala from under the sea. There is an annual 10-day festival that goes by the name of Thirumullavaram Fete (Mahotsav) during which the place gets footfalls in millions.
Vizhinjham is a natural port area located near Trivandrum very close to Kovalam beach. It is an important shipping route and a fishermen’s hub. It is a good place to see the fishermen venturing into the sea. There are many cave temples here, the most famous ones being the rock cut cave temples of Vizhinjham. There are lingams and scenes from battles sculpted in these caves. There are a number of Ayurvedic treatment centres and international beach resorts around. Vizhinjam is easily accessible from anywhere in the city of Trivandrum.
Anjengo or Anchuthengu is a town and beach in Trivandrum. The name Anjengo means “five coconut palms” which are seen in abundance around the beach. The town has an old-timey feel to it. There are churches, buildings and tombs from the Portuguese, Dutch and British eras. The Anjengo Fort, which is now in ruins, is a popular tourist destination. There is a lighthouse here as well as many temples.
Kozhikode is historically important as an ancient spice trading centre. It lies very close to the Kappada Beach where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama had landed in 1498 AD. The Kozhikode Beach is also known as Calicut Beach and there is a lighthouse overlooking it. It is located on the Malabar coast on the western coast of India. The beach is breathtakingly beautiful and quite different from other beaches. It has paved stones as well as wonderful lighting. The beach road is about 28 km long. Around the beach there are Thodiyil Shree Bhagawathy Temple, Mishkal Masjid and Barami Masjid. For the children there is a Lion’s Park and an aquarium. The Cherooty Road here is famous for shopping.
Bekal is a small town and a beach located in Kasaragod. The major attraction here is the keyhole shaped Bekal Fort. The beach surrounds the fort beautifully. One can view the ocean in all its glory from the fort. The backwaters are nearby and so are the hills. It can be reached either from Mangalore or Calicut.
Cherai Beach is located on Vypin island which is located across the ocean from Fort Kochi. It is a very popular beach in Cochin and is reached by simply a ferry. Cherai Beach is famous for being the spot from where backwaters and the sea can be seen together at once! Since the tides are low here, swimming is done at ease. Also, if one is lucky enough, one can sight dolphins from here! All these make this beach a very popular one with tourists. The Cherai Beach is also strategically located only 20 km from Cochin International Airport.
Chavakkad is a town and beach in Thrissur. Fishing is the main feature of this beach. There are also many interesting places to see around such as the Manathalajuma Masjid, the St. Thomas Church, better known as the Palayur Church, as well as the Manathala Vishwanatha temple.
Mundakkalbeach is situated in Kollam. It is not only a popular tourist destination but also a place of religious importance as rituals are performed here. Another striking feature is the abundance of cashew nuts, which has flourished into national and international trade. The Paravoor, Pozhikara and Thirumullavaram beaches are located close by.
Muzhappilangad is a beach located between Thalassery and Kannur. It is also the name of the tiny coastal village where the beach is located. The beach is about 5 km long which makes for a wonderful marine drive. The Dharmadam Island is located nearby and is visible from the beach. The Anjarakandy river also confluences with the sea nearby. This place is famous for a festival called Thalappoli where a gorgeous procession takes place.
This is a historically significant beach located near Kozhikode. A stone monument at the beach pays tribute to Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama who is believed to have landed here in 1498 AD. The nearest railway station is Koyilandy (10 km) and nearest airport is Calicut International Airport (25 km).
Some of the other beaches that deserve mention are the holy beach of Shankumughamin Trivandrum, the Snehatheeram beach or the Love Shore in Thrissur and the Kappil Beach in Kollam.