Everyone’s heard stories about India travel – both good and bad. From food to transport, the country seems to have a range of options to suit the timid or the adventurous traveller. One aspect that isn’t always mentioned are the country’s beaches. A beach holiday to India can be cost effective, and is also a way to spend some downtime relaxing after touring some of India’s more popular tourist attractions. Here are a few sunny backdrops you might consider for your next sand-in-your-toes trip.
Gujarat is a magical place. It’s the home state of visionary Mohandas Gandhi, and from an economics standpoint, this is one of the country’s most important areas, from the bustling port to the many fairs and festivals. Not to worry you, but some of Gujarat’s coastal cities, such as Dwarka, have believed to have sank into the sea and have been rebuilt a number of times due to flooding and other natural disasters. Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach is one of the more well-equipped, with resorts and lots of activities – including, strangely enough, horseback riding along the ocean. I hear it is relaxing.
A great place for photographers is Chorwad Palace (pictured above). The resort here is in ruins, damaged by an earthquake and then left abandoned.
Heading south we have Maharashtra, home to the major city of Mumbai and some of India’s richest families. In Mumbai itself there are well over ten beaches you can choose from, and of course plenty of options further along the coast, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Juhu is a popular choice, and while it isn’t a place to go if you want idyll and peace, it certainly is a place to people watch. From children flopping around in the sea, lovers holding hands, and vendors hawking their wares, it is a beach experience you can only have in India.
Kashid beach is a good place to go and get away from the world for awhile. There are few amenities but few people as well. Arnala beach is an often-quoted favourite for picnickers daytripping from Mumbai, but there are resorts if you’re looking to spend a little extra time here.
When you say beaches and India, people think of Goa. Despite being India’s smallest state, it has the most famous beaches. Palm trees, pink sunsets, glorious hotels…this really is the most Caribbean-like backdrop, including the casinos and other over-the-top tourist attractions. Popular beaches include Calanute (and its quieter next door neighbour, Baga Beach), Vagator Beach which has lots of great nightlife, and Palolem where you can join a dolphin cruise or a fishing trip.
When planning your Goa trip, be mindful of the Goa Carnival, which is every year in February. It means the streets are filled with colourful floats, buffets of gorgeous food can be found everywhere, and at night people go dancing. It is a crazy time – in a good way – though it may mean some of the attractions you want to see are closed, or you might be paying more for your accommodation.
National Geographic Traveler called the Malabar Coast, part of the Kerala shoreline, one of fifty places of a lifetime. Because of this, Kerala is one of India’s most popular tourism destinations on the coast. Don’t miss the black, sandy crescent beaches of Kovalam; these were the first topless beaches in India, but keep your clothes on now as this is frowned upon. Cherai Beach has 10 miles of sand and resorts quite close to the water. Kappad is the spot where Vasco da Gama landed his ship back in 1498.
The fun in the sun isn’t restricted only to the west coast. India’s east coast also has plenty of Oceanside fun. Consider a stay in Chennai where you can explore the attractions as well as enjoy beach time. Marina Beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world, and for good reason. You’ll find great food here, loads of history (from statues to monuments), and recent renovations makes a stroll along the boulevard very pleasant.
We end our counter-clockwise tour of India’s coast up in Orissa, on the east side of the country by the Bay of Bengal. Beach visits are popular with Indians who visit here; Puri beach is a hotspot combined with a trip to Puri temple, and the beach is unique in that you can see both sunrise and sunset.
Another unique beach is the one at Chandipur; during low-tide, the beach can recede up to two and half miles out to sea! It’s a great way to see some of the creatures that make the sand their home, just be sure to time your visit properly as to not get stranded as the tide returns.
As you can see, the sandy shores of India offer a number of different experiences – that doesn’t even include the islands and lakes that offer even more choice. Don’t forget India next time you’re planning a beach adventure – it might be just what you need.
Posted : Monday, July 26th, 2010 at 10:48
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.