A Complete Guide To 7 Unique Indian Beaches You Need To Explore - Homegrown

A Complete Guide To 7 Unique Indian Beaches You Need To Explore

We could wax eloquent and sing you ballads about our love for beaches, but we think you get the gist. Here’s a list of relatively untouched beaches, which are really sanctums by the shore, away from the hordes of enthusiastic tourists. Let’s leave Goa alone for a while; we’ve dug deep to bring you quieter getaways for unforgettable visits, where you can do as little or as much as you want.

I. Varkala Beach, Kerala

Best time to visit: December—March

Sheer, red laterite cliffs stand guard over the rolling sands of this quiet hamlet, lending a cinematic touch to the lapping waves frothing against the shore. The waters here are gentle, perfect for a languid swim, and this is the only beach in Kerala where the sea and the cliffs converge with just a stretch of sand separating the two.

Also known as Papanasam (or the ‘destroyer of sin’) beach, named after a natural spring nearby, Varkala is essentially a temple town, rich with cultural and religious history, a place which has evolved slowly into a backpacker haven. The cliff-stop stretch overlooking the beach is abuzz with restaurants and stalls selling clothes and silver jewellery; for when the crowd seems to be getting too much, there are other spots to escape to and set up camp, such as Kappil beach, a cleaner, quieter alternative that lies 9km away.

Where to stay: Soul & Surf

Gazing out over the Arabian sea, this picturesque hotel organises surf and yoga sessions, with the added bonus of friendly owners who are always happy to give visitors insight into some of the best places around to check out.

What it will cost you: There’s a minimum stay of 3 nights at this hotel, with prices ranging from INR 4,000 - 8,000, depending on your room of choice. The rooms are more expensive during season as you can imagine, so don’t sleep on this one — book ahead.

What to do there:

For good music - Make a beeline for the Rock n Roll Cafe, where the tunes bring to life an otherwise regular beachside restaurant-bar. Most nights in season witness live music, DJ sets or movies being screened here, along with tabla lessons. Food is available from 6pm, and there’s cold beers and a good cocktail list.

For those on a spiritual quest - A dip in the natural spring here is believed to wash away your sins, and the main Papanasam beach is a holy place where Hindus come to make offerings for loved ones who have passed. There’s also a 2, 000-year-old Vishnu temple nearby that’s really worth checking out, with architecture dating back to the 12th century, as well as the Sivagiri muth, an ashram founded by philosopher and social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.

For those on the spiritual quest for a coffee fix - Think freshly-ground coffee beans, bread that’s baked in-house and a daily paper — Coffee Temple knows just how to greet you a good morning. This English-run place has an expansive menu to boot, including crepes, Mexican burritos, fajitas and tacos.

How to get there: Varkala is accessible by car, bus or rail, and taking the train is the fastest way to reach the beach town. The beach is located about 57km from Thiruvananthapuram, which has an airport, while the nearest town is Kollam, about 30km away, where you can enjoy a gorgeous backwater cruise.

Source: The Culture Trip
Source: The Culture Trip

II. Agatti Island, Lakshadweep

Best time to visit: October—May

No coincidence, either; functioning under strict environmental laws to protect its endangered coral reefs and biodiversity, entry is restricted. Facilities for visitors are basic, and you’ll need an entry permit to visit the island — but here’s a place that’s worth wading through seas of paperwork for.

Heading off the western coast, as you arrive at Lakshadweep, you land into Agatti beach, the most habitable area around that’s located on a coral atoll. All of 6km long, the island borders on the idyllic; you can see the surrounding waters dotted with coral reefs as you explore the roads lined with lush green palm trees and the various shades of sky and sea blue.

Under the water is where the magic happens, though; 4200 sq km of pristine archipelago lagoons, and sparkling coral reefs create a universe that leaves divers coming back for more every time.

Where to stay: Agatti Island Resorts

The only resort on Agatti Beach, these guys have beach cottages or white waterfront bungalows, overlooking a shallow, turquoise lagoon with plenty of space to swim. Facing out west, it is comfortable without being extravagant, and lets you enjoy the sight of a blazing sun sinking into the Arabian Sea.

What it will cost you: Around 5000 a night depending on which time of the year you go. It’s quite a popular resort, though, so we suggest you pre-book well in advance.

What to do there:

For those looking for water adventures - Azure, crystal clear waters make it ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and scuba-diving, as well as deep-sea fishing, sailing, glass-bottomed boat rides, water-skiing and kayaking.

For excursions to other equally sublime islands - Your hotel should be able to organise these trips to islands like Bangaram (the only island where alcohol is allowed), Thinnakara, Parali and Kalpitty.

For a trip to the fish hatchery - The fish hatchery in Agatti offers a pretty interesting educational experience in understanding how aquarium fish are bred, reared and harvested.

How to get there: Fly to Agatti directly from Kochi.

III. St. Mary’s Beach, Karnataka

Best Time to Visit: December. Avoid this during the monsoons, the waters are choppy and unsafe.

Just 6km away from the Malpe beach in Udupi, lies an island that you can walk the entirety of in just twenty minutes; a paradise dotted with sub-volcanic rocks (a rare occurrence in India) that have captured the fascination of geologists for being the remaining scientific evidence of Madagascar having been an extension of the Indian subcontinent, at one point.

A government-run boat ride of 200 rupees would lead you to St Mary’s Island, or Coconut Island, a place awash with shimmering, white powdered sand, littered with crabs, pebbles and seashells, lined with towering coconut trees. The colonies of butterflies and various birds that populate the island make it a wildlife enthusiast’s haven, and the black, basaltic rocks here have been exquisitely moulded into various shapes over time, with the hexagonal ones standing proud in columns particularly spectacular, pummelled endlessly by the waves of the Arabian Sea.

Where to stay: You can stay in Malpe beach before and after your daytrip to St Mary’s (from which the last boat departs at 6PM) or experience staying in a breathtaking houseboat with Paradise Lagoon, who can also organise your trip to the island.

What it will cost you: To occupy one room on the boat will cost you between INR 6,000-8,000, while to really go in for the kill and rent the entire boat (with two double occupancy rooms), it is INR 12,000- 16,000.

What to do there:

Look out for dolphins - Visitors on the ferry ride from Malpe to St Mary’s island are often treated to the sight of pods of dolphins frolicking in the sea, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled!

Haggle for more time - The tour operators on the ferry generally give you only one hour on the island, but the endless coastline here is worth negotiating for.

Carry some food - All you can get on the island are bhel puri and coconut water, and you’re going to get hungry, so carry some munchies for the go.

Respect the island - Do not be a douchebag and litter.

How to get there: A 15-minutes ferry ride from Malpe Beach will take you to St. Mary’s Island; there are also private boats for hire.

IV. Yarada Beach, Andhra Pradesh

Best Time to Visit: November—February. Avoid visiting during March—May (the summer) and June-September (the monsoon).

Even though it has the second-longest coastline in India, beaches in Andhra hardly get the attention they deserve. Yarada Beach here, just 15km (or half an hour) from Vishkhapatnam, is a classic golden-sand example. Surrounded by the lush green hills, and coconut and banana plantations on three sides, and the vast Bay of Bengal on the other, this beach enjoys a seemingly endless coastline.

While Yarada has waters which aren’t too safe for swimming, it is currently one of the cleaner beaches in India, that you can generally enjoy in a pretty secluded environment.

Where to stay: The Park Hotel, Vishakhapatnam

You will need to splurge a little to stay here, but it’s spectacular view of the Bay of Bengal will make it all seem worth it. While it’s half an hour away to Yarada beach, it is centrally-located and has good connectivity.

What it will cost you: Approx. INR 6,000 a night for a room.

What to do there:

Carry your own food - As a general rule, this is hardly ever a bad idea, but since there isn’t much infrastructure that’s been developed around Yarada with few eateries around, your own well-stocked picnic basket will give you a good day’s worth of sustenance as you focus on things like lazing on the beach and keeping an eye out for multi-coloured crabs climbing rocks.

Yarada has plenty of sightseeing opportunities, here are some places that you should put on your to-see list:

  • Krishna Temple — one of the prime tourists destinations close-by, this is a popular pilgrimage site amongst visitors and residents alike.
  • Araku Valley — a beautiful hill in the Eastern Ghats, breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys, streams and waterfalls beckon from an altitude of 600m above sea level.
  • Borra Caves — located near the Araku Valley, these caves were discovered in 1807 by William George, and are among the largest caves of India, karstic limestone structures to inspire awe.
  • Dolphin’s Nose Lighthouse — Atop Black Mores Hill, this is a lighthouse that is still in use today, projecting a powerful white beam every 10 seconds, that can be seen from up to 65km away.

How to get there: Private taxi, auto or the bus facility from Vishakhapatnam. Unfortunately, except for the occasional RTC bus, there is no alternative cheap public transport available.

V. Elephant Beach, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Best Time to Visit: October—May.

Stop dreaming, and start planning a trip to the Andamans. Just 20 minutes away from the Havelock Island dock lies Elephant beach, brimming with its own adventures against the backdrop of fallen tree trunks and a mango creek. Vibrant coral reefs dot the waters of this pristine beach, starting at a depth less than a metre, an occurrence rarely seen anywhere else in the world.

The boat ride to the Elephant beach takes the traveller through a light house, and while this is an island that is relatively difficult to reach, it’s worth going the distance for.

Where to stay: As there are no accommodation facilities on Elephant, you’ll have to stay in Havelock, and travel there for the day. Emerald Gecko has these amazing two-level lodges constructed with bamboo and sustainable organic materials by local craftsmen at Havelock as well as Neil’s Cove, replete with tastefully-decorated rooms. Located in a lush coconut grove, you can expect to be surrounded by dense rainforest, and the resort offers the exact getaway from the grind you need.

What to do there:

Water adventures - This is the place for several kinds of water-based sports; you can go jet-skiing, boating, snorkeling, kayaking, do the sea walk or ride in the glass-bottomed boats. These guys can take you from the Havelock dock to Elephant, and help you out with these activities.

Pro-tip - There’s a 2km trek from Radhanagar, but no matter how adventurous you’re feeling, try not to trek this trail alone, as the forest is very dense. Definitely don’t attempt this trek in shorts, because there are plenty of venomous reptiles that inhabit the area.

Go swimming in the area - But remember that while there is a lifeguard in the area, there are no shower rooms on this beach, and the changing rooms are less than ideal. More tips here.

Remember that you have to leave by 4 PM so head out nice and early in the morning.

How to get there: A boat ride from Port Blair or Havelock Island will take you to Elephant beach, or you can trek to the beach through a thick forest trail.

Source: Mukul Banerjee
Source: Mukul Banerjee

VI. Neil’s Cove, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Best Time to Visit: October—May.

A ten-minute walk northwest of the popular Radhanagar beach leads you to a beach called Neil’s Cove. Fresh water streams beckon with promises of sublime swims in the azure waters.

Where to stay: Emerald Gecko has these amazing two-level lodges constructed with bamboo and sustainable organic materials by local craftsmen at Havelock as well as Neil’s Cove itself, replete with tastefully-decorated rooms. Located in a lush coconut grove, you can expect to be surrounded by dense rainforest, and the resort offers the exact getaway from the grind you need.

What it will cost you: Approx. INR 3,000 per night, with discounts thrown in off-season.

What to do there:

Snorkeling - The calm waters make this perfect to go snorkelling in, but be careful: salt-water crocodiles have been spotted here several times.

How to get there: A boat ride from Port Blair or Havelock Island; from there, you can go exploring and find your own glorious spot.

VII. Talsari (or Talsharee) Beach, Orissa

Best time to visit: October- December & Feb

Located at the border of Orissa and West Bengal where River Subarnarekha meets the Bay of Bengal, Talasari (‘Tala’ meaning ‘Palm’ and the word ‘Sari/Sarani’ implies ‘a row’) Beach offers a respite in solitude. The gleaming waves and white sand are as peaceful as you like it, and perfect for long walks on the palm-fringed shores, a dip in the waters or to set out exploring by yourself in search of coves and hidden spots.

Where to stay: While accommodation options are pretty slim, you stay at this resort in Digha which is only about 8-10 kms from Talsari Beach.

What it will cost you: It is a mid-range hotel that costs around INR 1,200 — 2,500 depending on the time of the year you are visiting, and how crowded it is.

What to do there:

For other interesting places around -The Chandaneshwar Temple and Udaipur Beach is just a few minutes from Talsari.

For a great walk - Along the Mohona (confluence), you can enjoy strolling on the kilometer-long beach all by yourself.

For fresh fish - There’s a wholesale Fish Market in Talsharee where you can work your bargain skills. You can also bring out the rod and go fishing yourself at Talsari, the shore of which is pretty suitable for it.

For a lighthouse - Treat yourself to a climb to the top of a lighthouse in Dariapur.

How to get there: Bubaneshwar is the closest airport (about 300 kms away) & Jaleshwar (36 kms away) is the closest railway station. You can also approach it from West Bengal from Digha which is 8-10 kms away from Talsari.

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