Kerala is one of the most authentic states in India with its cultural events, hospitable people, calming backwaters, spicy food and its amazing scenic beaches. The peak travel season is from December to March, though Kerala welcomes visitors all around the year.
In summer 2018, Kerala suffered severe floods that displaced over a million of people and left a big impact on economy and development of the state. Whether you are an Indian or a foreigner, there is one definite way you can help – travel during the upcoming season to support local businesses.
Tourism encounters 15% of the revenue of the state and you can only imagine the losses it went through during the summer. NOW is the case, when Kerala needs tourism.
Since you know a broad picture of what is happening, let me introduce you to some of the best beaches in Kerala.
Beautiful beaches in Kerala
Kerala has a coastline stretch of 580 km (360 miles). It means you can find here beaches for any choice: for sunbathing, sports, deserted places to spend time with nature, some trendy parties near the sea, surfing and other interesting experiences. Here are the top beaches in Kerala and what they are famous for.
It is one of the most popular beaches in India. Though most visitors relate Kovalam to lighthouse beach, you have to know that Kovalam stretch more than 15 km along the shore. There are three bigger and famous beaches: Lighthouse Beach, Hawah beach and Samudra beach as well as many smaller and less popular beaches divided by rocks.
Kovalam is one of the most popular beaches among both couples and families. Due to shallow waters and low waves, it makes a perfect destination for beginner swimmers.
You might have heard, that fishing has a long history in Kerala. If you are an early riser, you might witness groups of fishermen on Kovalam beach pulling long nets from the sea to the shore.
Kovalam has accommodation options for different budgets from guesthouses to private luxury resorts. Depending on your preferences you can either go for crowded and popular lighthouse beach or calmer and less happening neighboring places.
Cherai Beach, Ernakulam
Cherai Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Kerala. Same as Kovalam, this beach gets really low tides, which opens it as a destination for beginner swimmers and families with kids. As in the case with Poovar, you can see here both backwaters and the sea.
Cherai beach has a Portuguese fort and Church left from colonial era if architecture is your thing. Nevertheless, this beach is mainly popular place for dolphin sightseeing.
Practical information: the beach is located in the north of Vypeen Island. There are regular ferries going there from Kochi.
Also not known as Parasnanam beach, Varkala is a natural wonder surrounded by high cliffs. The locality is divided into North and South. North is a more happening place with various options accommodation and resorts, while South is calmer. I found North costlier, that South, though it’s a personal take.
If you climb the cliff, there are plenty of cafes and shacks with nice ambiance and a picturesque view. If you are looking to take a look into the cultural side of a locality, there is a 2000-year-old temple, where you can witness sacred functions and traditions performed early mornings.
In my opinion, Varkala has a fine balance for a holiday – it is not as popular as lighthouse beach in Kovalam, but still has many interesting places to chill and socialize.
Practical information: Varkala beach is just 15 minutes away from Varkala train station by auto and an hour away from Trivandrum (Trivananthapuram). It is connected by buses and trains with other major towns of the state.
Poovar is a small fisherman village, yet it’s another natural wonder. In this place, the Neyyar river connects to the Arabian sea in a way that from one side you can see the backwaters and from another the sea. As the resorts are situated before the river, you will need to take a boat to cross it and reach the beach.
Practical information: Poovar is a town close to Kovalam and Trivananthapuram from one side and almost borders Tamil Nadu state on the other. It is connected by bus network with other towns of Kerala.
This is one of the beaches that looks exactly like you see in the top vacation ads: white soft sands, perfect blue water that looks almost photoshopped, palm trees with coconuts growing all along the sandy shore, very calm and relaxing atmosphere.
If you are looking for a more idyllic type of holiday, this is the place. Nevertheless, if you are not proficient in swimming, this might be a challenging beach for you. It has a steep shore and often high waves, which makes it difficult to swim.
Practical information: Marari beach is just 15 km north from Alleppey and well connected by public transport to neighboring towns. Marari is the short name of Mararikulam village, which has a small train stop as well.
Beypore Beach, Kozhikode
Beypore is a small ancient town in the Kozhikode district. Here you can find another trace of a trade history of the state. This town is home to one of the oldest ports in Kerala, which was a getaway to the Middle East as well as an important stop on the maritime silk route.
Nowadays, Beypore is famous for its 1 km long bridge stretching into the sea, from where you can see scenic sunsets.
Practical information: Beypore is 11 km away from Kozhikode and well connected to the city by road transport.
Alappuzha (more known as Alleppey) is one of the most popular tourist places in Kerala for backwater experience. Nevertheless, there are also two famous beaches: Alappuzha (just in the town) and Marari.
Alappuzha beach has one of the most scenic sunsets. I believe it’s due to an old pear built over a hundred years back stretching into the sea. Back in the days, Alappuzha used to have one of the most important ports in Kerala. Trade has always been part of the local culture as Kerala is one of the top producers of spices in India and beyond.
Alappuzha is more of a family beach, where you can see many locals coming for a picnic in the evenings. As it is more of a traditional environment it is not suitable for open clothes or sunbathing. Nevertheless, it is a hot spot for local Instagrammers trying to catch a perfect angle of a sun sinking into the sea beyond the pear.
Practical information: Alappuzha beach is roughly 3km from Alleppey main town. The easiest way to reach here is by personal or shared auto.
Muzhappilangad Drive-in Beach, Kannur
Muzhappilangad is considered the longest drive-in beach in Asia. The sand is hard enough to drive a bike or a car. Approximately 5 km long, it is the only drive-in beach in Kerala.
Practical information: Muzhappilangad is situated between Thalassery and Kannur, parallel to National Highway 66.
Best beaches in Kerala for swimming and sunbathing
There are many sources that will tell you how conservative India can be in the dressing style. But remember, there are 29 states in the country and you need to differentiate! I found Kerala very open in the dressing style. Overall I do wear clothes that cover my legs and shoulders, anywhere I go in India. Nevertheless, I felt very comfortable wearing knee-length dresses in Kerala.
Lyrics apart, you surely want to know on which beaches in Kerala you can wear a swimsuit to get properly barbequed tanned as well as enjoy swimming beyond shore areas. The most popular choices will be Kovalam, Varkala, Cherai and Marari. In fact, there are many more offbeat coasts.
In these areas, you can see plenty of foreigners in two-piece swimsuits swimming and sunbathing. Consider, that there is always a local part of the beach, where people live and a laid-back part with less crowd. You want to walk a bit and reach the second part.
My personal choice among popular beaches is Varkala, followed by Marari as I like more of a calm environment. Everything depends on your travel style and preferences.
Hope this post has given you an overview of Kerala as a beach destination. If you have visited this state, which beaches did you like the most? I would love to hear from you.