Top 8 Beaches in Kerala, India

Kovalam beach and light house.

Stuart Black/robertharding/Getty Images

Among the best in India, Kerala's beaches are an excellent alternative to Goa's. If you're looking to get away from it all, some of the beaches here remain relatively deserted, offering stunning, natural beauty amidst a peaceful respite. If you're looking to do more than kick up your feet, you'll find plenty going on at others. Whatever your travel style, this Kerala beach guide will point you in the right direction to the most suitable beach for you. The best time to visit weather-wise is from September to March. However, you'll get some fantastic off-season discounts (sometimes up to 50 percent) during the monsoon season.

01 of 08

Best for Action: Kovalam Beach

Kovalam beach
Dethan Punalur/Getty Images
9XQG+GCR, Kovalam, Kerala 695527, India
Phone +91 1800 425 4747

If you want action, you'll definitely find it at Kovalam Beach—the most popular and most developed beach in Kerala. Often likened to Goa's Calangute and Baga beaches, Kovalam is located not far from the capital, Trivandrum. It's actually made up of two main coves—Hawa (also referred to as Eve's Beach) and Lighthouse Beach. Lighthouse is the biggest and busiest of the two, with its promenade lined with open-air restaurants.

Kovalam is also a popular surfing destination in India, with reliable right-hand waves and an array of beach, reef, and point breaks. If you're interested in learning how to hang ten, you can sign up for lessons at local surf schools like Kovalam Surf Club and Quick Paddle.

02 of 08

Best for Romance: Samudra Beach

View of the Samudra beach in Kovalam
Elena Odareeva / Getty Images
CX2C+JJ8, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695527, India

If you'd prefer somewhere a little more secluded, you'll find nearby Samudra Beach, about a mile north of Kovalam Beach, to be a better option. With stunning rock formations, blue-green waters, and pristine sand, it offers a romantic backdrop to any couple's getaway, made even better by the lack of crowds.

Take a dip in the water, watch the local fishermen haul their wooden fishing vessels out to sea, or simply take in the sunset—it's one of the most beautiful places to catch it in Kerala. You'll also find plenty nearby, including restaurants, markets, and hotels like Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel.

03 of 08

Best for Wellness: Varkala Beach

Varkala beach, Kerala, India
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Varkala Beach, Kerala, India

Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam Beach, is one of the best in Kerala, in terms of ambiance and facilities. Although more and more tourists are flocking there every year, it's still less crowded than Kovalam and the scenery is striking. Located in the hamlet of Varkala, the beach lies at the bottom of a long stretch of red cliffs bordered by beach shacks and shops. You can stay right on the cliff, overlooking the ocean, or set back from it.

The water, famous for its natural springs, is said to have medicinal properties, so visitors will often flock here to take a dip and book an Ayurvedic treatment at a nearby spa. Also in the area is Janardana Swami Temple, a 2,000-year-old shrine, and the pilgrimage site of Sivagiri Mutt, where the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham headquarters are located.

04 of 08

Best for Serenity: Marari Beach

Golden sands, palm trees and ubiquitous house crows on popular Marari Beach, Mararikulam, Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kerala, India, Asia
Robert Francis/robertharding / Getty Images
SH40, Mararikkulam,Mararikkulam, South.P.O, Cherthala, Kerala 688523, India

Quiet Marari Beach is located not far from Alappuzha (formerly Alleppey), making it convenient for those who'd like to spend some time at the beach in between going on a houseboat trip along the backwaters. Dotted with casuarina trees and coconut palms, this ultra-clean coastline is a popular destination for utter relaxation. A big attraction here is the earth-conscious Marari Beach Resort. Set on a sprawling, 30-acre property filled with coconut groves and lotus ponds, the luxury hotel offers Ayurvedic treatments and yoga classes on the beach.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best for Culture: Kannur

Kannur Beach
Anders Blomqvist/Getty Images
RCP4+P23, Kannur, Kerala 670007, India
Phone +91 94970 50699

Off the beaten track in India, the small town of Kannur is known for its secluded beaches, handloom weaving, and mysterious masked spirit-possession Theyyam rituals, a form of dance and worship typically performed in temples and ancestral houses. If you're interested in attending a ritual, there is a comprehensive calendar of Theyyam events available on the Kerala Tourism website.

During your visit, you'll find some delightful, laid-back (and inexpensive) beach houses in the Thottada Beach area, such as Kannur Beach House, Waves Beach Resort, Chera Rocks, KK Heritage homestay, and Seashell Haris Beach Home.

06 of 08

Most Unique: Muzhappilangad Drive-In Beach

Silhouette of a young girl in the evening/sunset at the Muzhappilangad drive-in beach/Thalassery/Kannur/Kerala
Veena Nair / Getty Images
QCWW+VQG, Muzhappilangad Beach Rd, Muzhappilangad, Kerala 670663, India

Also located in Kannur is Muzhappilangad Drive-In Beach. The only beach in Kerala where you can drive (or cycle!) on the sand, the 2.5-mile-long stretch is also reportedly the longest drive-in beach in Asia. Plan your trip for April, when the annual beach festival takes place, and you can watch gearheads perform vehicular stunts.

For water sports enthusiasts, the beach is also a popular destination for activities such as paragliding, parasailing, sailing around on a catamaran, or even taking a dip in the sea. When you need to fuel up, head to one of the several beach shacks for delicious Malabar cuisine.

07 of 08

Best for Luxury and History: Bekal Beach

Bekal fort and beach

Frédéric Soltan/Contributor/Getty Images

Bekal Beach, Kerala, India

Bekal Beach, in far North Kerala (around a 90-minute drive from Mangalore International Airport in Karnataka) is famous for its old fort. Standing at about 130 feet above sea level, Bekel Fort is one of the largest in Kerala, and, at more than 300 years old, remarkably well-preserved.

The beaches are clean and unspoiled, but luxury hotels have already started moving into the area, making it the place for a pampered getaway. The most popular resort is the gorgeous Taj Bekal Resort & Spa. It's possible to stay there for around 18,000 rupees ($220) per night, depending on the season. The secluded LaLiT Resort and Spa Bekal, meanwhile, is located on a private beach with backwaters running through it. However, it's more pricey. While you can find rooms for 15,000 rupees ($184) per night, during the winter months, they can cost as much as 125,000 ($1,530).

08 of 08

Best Secluded: Cherai Beach

Les 3 Elephants
Les 3 Elephants
Cherai Beach, Vypin, Kochi, Kerala, India

The 6-mile-long Cherai Beach makes an appealing side trip from Kochi. It's located on Vypeen Island, which can be reached from Kochi by ferry and then a bus or auto rickshaw ride through the villages and paddy fields—yes, it is isolated. A substantial portion of the main beach was recently beautified, which included the addition of a new walkway. One of the most remarkable sights there is seeing the sea and backwaters so close together. Stay at Les 3 Elephants, a peaceful backwaters eco-resort.

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Top 8 Beaches in Kerala, India