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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).
For a complete mind and body reboot, look no further than Red Earth. Ideally set up for rejuvenation and healing, this sanctuary conducts tailored wellness programs with Ayurvedic diets, yoga and pranayama (breathing) sessions, night strolls, and stargazing. Or, simply unwind watching the waves. The cozy natural stone cottages are set on a cliff extending down to isolated Honey Beach in Ankola, about 45 minutes north of Gokarna beach. It's the only resort there, providing an exclusive and tranquil experience. Do note that the property has a lot of steps. Locally sustainable, responsible tourism is a focus.
- Rooms: 20, all with air-conditioning. Some have balconies and separate bedrooms.
- Cost: From around 4,500 rupees per night for a double, including tax and breakfast.
Kanan Beach Resort, Nileshwar, Kerala
Situated on northern Kerala's Malabar Coast between Bekal and Nileshwar beaches, Kanan Beach Resort has atmospheric Kerala-style cottages with separate living areas in a lush tropical garden bordering the sand. 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 7,800 rupees per night for a double, including tax and breakfast.
Chera Rock Beach House, Kannur, Kerala
A little way further down the Malabar Coast of Kerala, the Kannur district also has peaceful beaches untainted by development. The small fishing hamlet of Kizhunna is one of them, and Chera Rock Beach House has a private position on the far southern end of the beach. Only a few local fishermen, who are used to tourists, are around. Perfect for those who want to really get away from it all! Seafood and candlelight dinners are a specialty, so it ticks the box for a romantic getaway. The hospitality is superb, with staff who do an outstanding job of looking after guests. Tip: 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 5,000 rupees upwards per night for a double including tax, breakfast and dinner.
Kannur Beach n' Bay, Kannur, Kerala
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 about 3,000 rupees per night for a double, including tax.
Kannur Beach House, Kannur, Kerala
The extremely popular Kannur Beach House is another homestay option 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.
- 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.
36 Palms Boutique Retreat, Cherai Beach, Kerala
Perhaps the best kept secret on Cherai beach just north of Kochi, this attractive rustic-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 about 45 minutes drive from Kochi airport.
- Rooms: Seven. The expansive sea view rooms are gorgeous!
- Cost: From about 5,600 rupees per night for a double, with breakfast and tax included.
Marari Sea Lap Villas, Marari Beach, Kerala
Marari Sea Lap Villas sits right on the seashore at quiet Marari beach near Alleppey (the gateway to the Kerala backwaters), 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.
Karikkathi Beach House, Kovalam, Kerala
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.
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. Read more about places to visit in Tamil Nadu.
- 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.