Kerala is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and it has something to offer all year round. Hence, the best time to visit Kerala will really depend on what you want to see and do there. The weather does need to be taken into account though, as the climate is a hot tropical one that receives rainfall from two monsoons.
Kerala Weather and Climate
The weather in Kerala can be split into three distinct seasons:
- The cool dry season from December to February. (This is the peak tourist season).
- The hot, humid summer season from March to May. (You'll be sweating a lot).
- Monsoon season (southwest and northeast monsoons) from May to November. (Intermittently heavy rain).
Kerala is actually a very rainy state, which no doubt contributes to its lush greenery. Rain is commonly received during nine months of the year there!
The southwest monsoon arrives in Kerala in late May each year. If you want to chase the monsoon in India, head to Kovalam beach in Kerala. It's one of the first places in India to receive monsoon rain, and you can watch the storm roll in. Check out these 10 Best Kovalam Beach Hotels for All Budgets for ideas of where to stay.
Rain from the southwest monsoon usually eases up by August and there's a break in the rain during September. However, the northeast monsoon arrives by October. It produces shorter but much more intense bursts of rain, which can last until early December.
If you're a nature enthusiast, Kerala has one of the few national parks in India that remains open during the monsoon season. Find out more about Periyar National Park and how to visit it. If you're into culture, don't miss The Blue Yonder's Hop On Hop Off Monsoon Trail along the River Nila.
If you want to avoid the summer heat in India, the hill station of Munnar in Kerala is a good option.
Take a look at these 10 Magical Munnar Homestays and Hotels for inspiration.
Ayurveda in Kerala
The rainy, monsoon season is the best time to receive Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala. The cool, moist, and dust free atmosphere helps the body's pores to open up, making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy. Find out more about Ayurveda treatment in India.
You'll be able to enjoy some fabulous monsoon discounts as well, including at these 9 Rejuvenating Kerala Ayurvedic Resorts for All Budgets.
If you're looking to save money, Kerala is one of the best places in India to visit during the off-season from May to September. Most hotels and homestays offer substantial discounts (20-50%) and very attractive packages to draw tourists at this time of year. The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation has summer and monsoon packages listed on its website too, for the accommodations that it manages. Also see:
- 12 Kochi Hotels and Homestays for All Budgets
- 10 Relaxing Kumarakom Hotels and Resorts
- 9 Best Homestays in Alleppey on the Kerala Backwaters
Festivals in Kerala
One of the highlights of visiting Kerala is experiencing the state's unique festivals. The most popular ones occur during the following months:
- July to September: Snake boat races. The biggest race, called the Nehru Cup, is always held on the second Saturday of August every year. The Splash monsoon carnival and Aanayottu elephant feeding ritual also take place during July.
- August/September: Onam festival. The biggest festival of the year in Kerala, celebrations last for around two weeks. Join in the celebrations at these 6 Kerala Onam Festival Attractions (with dates).
- October to May: Theyyam. The small town of Kannur, in northern Kerala, is known for its mysterious masked spirit-possession theyyam rituals. Kerala Tourism has a list of the major theyyam events, and a detailed calendar can be found here.
- February to April/May: Elephant festivals. The festivals feature large processions of bejeweled elephants, drummers and other musicians, colorful floats carrying gods and goddesses, and fireworks. The most well known elephant festival, the Thrissur Pooram, takes place in late April or early May each year.