Little-known Marari beach, not far from Alleppey in Kerala, is ideal for anyone who's exploring the Kerala backwaters and feels like some time at the beach as well. This beach is an undeveloped "hammock beach" that's perfect for lazing around. Interest in it is growing though. While the beach is usually peaceful, it tends to become crowded with locals on weekends and holidays. However, this can be avoided by staying away from the main part of the beach.
The name Marari is shortened from Mararikulam, a small and sleepy fisherman's village.
Kerala, just north of Alleppey and around 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Kochi.
The nearest major train station is at Alleppey, about 30 minutes south of Marari. Expect to pay 300 rupees for an auto rickshaw. There's a local train station at Mararikulam, not far from the beach. Alternatively, the nearest airport is in Kochi. You can take a pre-paid taxi from the airport for about 2,300 rupees. Taxis are available 24 hours a day, although you may have to pay an extra charge at night. It's reliable and hassle-free. Travel time is approximately 2 hours.
Weather and Climate
The weather at Marari is warm and humid throughout the year. Both the southwest and northeast monsoons produce intensely heavy downpours of rain. The rain is at its worst from June to July, and late October to December. Late December to March are the best months to visit, when the weather is dry and sunny every day. During April and May, the heat and humidity quickly build, and summer temperatures reach 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit). The high humidity makes it feel much hotter though.
What to Do
Marari isn't a tourist beach with a lot of facilities, but rather a calm place to relax and unwind. Those who visit Marari look forward to the slow pace of life and soaking up the serenity. If you go there expecting water sports and plentiful beach shacks like in Goa, you'll be disappointed. However, it's possible to rent beach chairs and umbrellas. Women may feel uncomfortable sunbathing in bikinis if there are locals around though. It's best to find a deserted stretch of the beach to do this, or somewhere in private close to your hotel.
Marari is an ideal place for a long beach walk. The fishing boats are colorful and sunsets picturesque.
A number of interesting day trips are possible around the area. These include the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, traditional coir-making units, and the Kerala backwater canals. Feeling energetic? You can also cycle around the village. If you're there during August, you may be able to catch a snake boat race.
A Warning About Swimming at the Beach
Unfortunately, local fishermen do defecate on the beach early in the morning, around sunrise. Although the excrement gets washed away by the tide later in the morning, the bacterial content of the water is likely to be high. Thus, while the beach may look clean and unspoiled, it's actually deceptive. Swimming is also discouraged as the sea is quite rough, with big waves.
Where to Stay
Accommodations at Marari beach consist mainly of pricey resorts and villas, and budget-friendly homestays. They're spread out right along the beach. Some are bang on the beach, while others are a bit back from it. Some are in quieter spots than others too. The main part of the beach, which is where locals congregate, is at the end of Beach Road. If you're a solitude-seeker who doesn't want anyone around you, head north or south of there.
CGH Earth's Marari Beach Resort is a big draw. This luxurious resort, inspired by local fishing villages, aims to capture the heart and soul of Marari. It's about a kilometer south of Beach Road, and is set on a sprawling property that's filled with coconut groves and lotus ponds. Among other things, it offers Ayurveda treatments and yoga classes on the beach. It's not cheap though. Expect to pay around 15,000 rupees per night, upwards, for a double.
Maya's Beach House, in the same area, is less expensive but very popular. You may be able to get a deal for around 6,000 rupees per night.
Alternatively, Abad Turtle Beach costs much less than the luxury resorts nearby but is excellent. It has a swimming pool, and 29 cottages and villas spread over its substantial 13 acres of tropical land. Plus, cows to keep the grass down! Expect to pay 5,000 rupees per night upwards.
Further south of Beach Road, Marari Villas offers five separate stunning boutique villas, with one to three bedrooms. Rates start from around 10,000 rupees per night.
Go far south and you'll find La Plage, a best-kept secret with stylish beach-side villas. It was established by a French woman who fell in love with the area. Rates start from around 5,000 rupees per night.
A Beach Symphony is a hidden sanctuary on Beach Road. It has a four cottages in a big palm-filled garden with a swimming pool. Rates start from about 14,000 rupees per night.
About a kilometer north of Beach Road, exclusive Xandari Pearl is set back 100 meters from the beach.
Most of the homestays are located away from the beach. However, there are some exceptions. Marari Sea Scape Villa is clean, cheap, central, and close to Marari Beach Resort.
Welcoming Marari Edens, run by a fishermen family, is steps away from the beach near Carnoustie in the north. Rooms cost from about 1,000 rupees per night. The hospitality is outstanding and the food delicious.
Marari Secret Beach Yoga Homestay is simple but sweet. It's a bargain and guests love it. It's situated quite far south, in a sheltered area.