When thinking of beaches in India, Goa usually comes to mind. However, for a relaxing getaway head further south and you'll find undeveloped pristine locations where you can have a secluded stay right by the water's edge. Here's our pick for all budgets. They include hotels, homestays and beach houses. The rates stated may increase significantly during peak season (mid December to mid January).
Situated on the coast between Bekal and Nileshwar beaches in northern Kerala, Kanan Beach Resort has atmospheric Kerala-style cottages with separate living areas. Ayurvedic treatments are offered, along with a variety of activities such as yoga, beach volleyball, backwater cruises (the tranquil Kottappuram backwaters of Karasgod district are nearby), plantation visits and cycling.
- Rooms: 14, including large family cottages.
- Cost: From 7,500 rupees per night for a double, including tax and breakfast.
This attractive new luxury beach house combines traditional Kerala influences with modern design. As its name suggests, there are 36 palms growing on the property. Facilities include an Ayurvedic spa, infinity swimming pool, poolside terrace restaurant, shared lounge, and free wireless Internet. Yoga and meditation sessions are held, and it's possible to go on local excursions to visit temples and other attractions. If you don't want to simply laze around and enjoy the spectacular view, you'll never be bored! The location is north of Fort Kochi, about 45 minutes drive from Kochi airport.
- Rooms: Seven. The expansive sea view rooms are gorgeous!
- Cost: From about 4,500 rupees per night for a double, with breakfast and tax included.
Marari Sea Lap Villas sits right on the seashore at lesser-known Marari beach near Alleppey, and the sandy beach just steps in front of it is almost deserted. Bliss! This family-friendly homestay is spacious, with plenty of room to relax in hammocks in the garden or go for beach walks. Apart from the location, the delicious fresh home-cooked Kerala cuisine is a highlight. It features seafood caught by local fishermen. Host Anoop is a great chef, and he's also super efficient at taking care of travel arrangements for guests.
- Rooms: Four, all with a sea view and air-conditioning. No TVs though (but free wireless Internet is provided).
- Cost: From about 3,800 rupees per night for a double. Breakfast and tax are included.
Want to really get away from it all? Chera Rock Beach House has a private position on the far southern end of Kizhunna beach, in the Kannur district of northern Kerala. Only a few local fishermen, who are used to tourists, are around. Seafood and candlelight dinners are a specialty, making it ideal for romance! The hospitality is superb, with staff who do an outstanding job of looking after guests. Kannur is renowned for its intriguing ritualistic theyyam performances, and it's likely that you'll be able to catch one somewhere in the district if you visit from late October to April.
- Rooms: Nine. The best ones have sea views. Air-conditioning has been newly fitted.
- Cost: Expect to pay about 4,000 rupees upwards per night for a double, with breakfast and tax included.
Also on Kizhunna beach but in the middle part, Kannur Beach n' Bay is a welcoming homestay that will appeal to anyone looking for personalized service, rustic accommodations, solitude, and tasty home-cooked food. It's set in a compound with landscaped garden and hammocks fronting the ocean. If you get lucky, you might be able to spot dolphins passing by in the water.
- Rooms: Four, all with air-conditioning and hot water.
- Cost: From 2,800 rupees per night for a double, including tax.
The extremely popular Kannur Beach House is another homestay option a bit further north on neighboring Thottada beach. It's a century-old Kerala house that the hosts live in, set alongside a small river and lagoon a couple of minutes walk from the beach. An annex has been added to make space for more guests. Activities include bird watching, canoeing along the river, and visits to local attractions such as theyyam and a handloom weaving center. The hosts are welcoming and engaging, and communal breakfasts and dinners are held with the other guests, making it a memorable place to stay. Read reviews on Tripadvisor.
- Rooms: Five -- four doubles and a triple. All rooms have sea views.
- Cost: Expect to pay about 5,500 rupees per night for a double, including two meals. A minimum two-night stay is required.
If you'd prefer to stay away from the crowds at Kovalam, Kerala's most developed beach, try Karikkathi Beach House. This stunning property is surrounded by a 25 acres of palm grove and can only be reached by a five minute walk through it. The beach is shared with the Niraamaya Surya Samudra hotel though. Guests can use the hotel's facilities, such as swimming pool and restaurant, at a discounted rate. Otherwise, meals are cooked by the property's in-house chef. Karikkathi Beach House also offers guests yoga and full Ayurvedic treatment programs, including special Ayurvedic diet.
- Rooms: Four (two in the main beach house plus two more in another beach house on the property if necessary).
- Cost: From about 8,000 rupees per night, including breakfast. Vegetarian meals are free. A minimum three-night stay is required. The houses are best booked as a whole. Otherwise, you might end up sharing the living space with strangers.
A well-kept secret (but maybe not for much longer), The Blue Matsya is a self-catering beach house in Karnataka's undiscovered Udupi district about an hour north of Mangalore. It gets its curious name from its blue shutters and doors, and abundance of fish (matsya). Inside, bright colors creatively contrast with white-washed walls. If you don't fancy cooking, the caretakers will bring fresh home-cooked local cuisine (featuring plenty of fish, of course). There's a 100+ year old lighthouse only 10 minutes walk away that can be climbed for a panoramic vista.
- Rooms: Two (one upstairs with its own private terrace and one on the ground floor). The living room can also sleep four people.
- Cost: 4,000-4,600 rupees for a double per night. The entire house costs 9,000-14,000 rupees per night, depending on the number of guests. A minimum two night-stay is required.
Newly renovated IRAA Beach House consists of a double-cottage villa nestled into a 1.5 acre palm grove right between the beach and backwaters. The setting is really picturesque and private! The two cottages are connected by a common veranda. There's one bedroom in each, plus dining room and kitchen in the larger one. Both bedrooms have private bathrooms and air-conditioning. The cottages also have porches with captivating views. A local caretaker family lives nearby and will provide home-cooked meals if required.
- Rooms: Two.
- Cost: 6,000 rupees per night including breakfast for the entire villa (up to 4 people). It's not possible to book individual rooms.
Neemrana's Bungalow on the Beach will delight history lovers! This 18th century Danish colonial house once belonged to the Governor of Danish India. On one side is an early 14th century Pandya temple, and on the other a 17th century Danish fort (Fort Dansborg). The bungalow's interior is complemented with Colonial style furnishings and will transport you back to a bygone era. Tranquebar (now called Tharangambadi) lies on Tamil Nadu's Coromandel Coast around 5 hours south of Chennai. It was a Danish colony from 1620 to 1845.
- Rooms: Eight. The ones on the top floor have sea views.
- Cost: Expect to pay about 7,200 rupees upwards per night for a double, with breakfast and tax included.