I ndia’s 7,000 km of coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world. And there are so many to choose from. The diversity of landscape means each coastal state can offer the discerning visitor something unique. From serene and tranquil, to rolling, pounding surf, India has sun, sand and sea to suit every preference. So pack your swimming gear, grab your sunscreen and head for the beach of your choice.
THE BEACHES OF GOA
The southwest state of Goa may be the smallest state in India, but it packs lots of sand with 40 beaches to choose from.
Baga Beach in North Goa is a busy and popular place; it has even been described as “groovy.” Tourists can expect to enjoy water sports, para-sailing, wake boarding, kite surfing and jet skiing. Dolphin watching boat trips and island visiting is recommended.
There are no lack of food choices with beach shacks, and high-end restaurants to choose from, as well as bars that offer beach cocktails and mocktails on the pink sandy beaches.
Every Saturday night after 6:00 pm from November until May, Mackie’s Saturday Night Bazaar is open with Oriental Goan artifacts on display.
Benaulim Beach in South Goa is a fishing village in appearance but offers delivery service from eateries to people on the beach. It is most populated on evenings and weekends, as the 25 km stretch of white sand beach is wonderful for walking.
Visitors can expect to find a variety of accommodations, including desirable low cost lodgings and time-share facilities.
From early October until the end of May tourists might catch a bull fight, known as Dhirio after 4:00 pm held in an old rice field on the beach with no fences or barricades.
Every Sunday from mid April until May the Beach Bonanza Fair takes place providing lively music and dancing for beachgoers.
The Church of St John the Baptist built in 1581 is a popular tourist attraction. Originally built near the shore, it was moved 4 km to its present location on a hill (Monte Benaulim) overlooking the village in 1956.
For those who wish for a little spa with their sand the long scenic beaches of Kerala in the southwestern tip of India are calling your name.
Verkala Beach (also known as Papanasam Beach) at the southern tip of Kerala provides a peaceful retreat from the activity in bustling Kovalam. Located below the cliffs of the Arabian Sea among coconut palms, the beach is considered one of the most spiritual places in India. With the reputation of being “God’s own country” the translation for Papanasam is “wash away sins”.
At the top of the pathway from the red laterite cliff to the beach are shops, massage set-ups and eateries serving fresh seafood and cold beverages. This is a favourite location for backpackers and those delighting in the gorgeous ocean sunsets.
Yoga enthusiasts are also drawn to Verkala Beach with its stretches of orange sand and free flowing springs that are believed to have healing properties.
Pilgrimages are made to the 2,000 year old Verkala Temple (also known as Janardana Swami Temple) on a nearby hill.
ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS BEACHES
A group of islands make up the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, and although remote they have not gone unnoticed by TIME Magazine.
Radhanagar Beach (also referred to as ‘Beach number 7’ out of 572) is one of many beaches on Havelock Island. Regarded as one of India’s most pristine beaches, visitors are drawn to the silver white sand, clear blue water and lush green jungle.
It has been named the best beach in Asia by Time magazine, and draws nature lovers to the rich fauna, particularly in the splendor of spring. Beachgoers have been known to encounter elephants roaming in from the jungle and lovebirds enjoying the seclusion and tranquility of the area.
Formerly known as Orissa, this State on the eastern coast of India has 485 km of coastline with golden sand beaches.
Puri Beach is located in the Bay of Bengal and is recognized for its cultural as well as natural significance, uniquely offering sunrise and sunset views from the same beach.
Puri is a pilgrimage destination for Hindus and other faiths with historical temples and ancient relics.
The beach receives worldwide attention every November at the annual Puri Beach Festival where the region offers entertainment in folk dance, rock concerts, food festivals and fashion shows. The Puri Beach Festival is famous for its massive and intricate sand carvings that define the event.
Puri offers visitors an excellent selection of hotels, large and small and catering to every budget.
Just a few kilometres away from Brahmapur, the commercial hub of southern Odisha, is Gopalpur a small town but a famous beach area. Ideal for walking, the long languorous beach is bordered by coconut groves, casuarinas and gentle sand dunes.