THE 11 BEST BEACHES IN INDIA
If you’re wondering where the best beaches in India are, look no further. Here, our India specialists share their advice on where to go for your beach experience. They’ve taken into account location, culture, swimming conditions and more to make sure you find exactly what you’re looking for or discover something a little different. Which beach will work best for your India holiday?
Even though you may not think of India as a beach destination per se, there are some true gems to be found that can enhance and elevate your trip. Whether you’re looking for relaxing beaches or buzzing locations immersed in culture, our experts can help you find the best Indian beach experience.
1. Neeleshwar – Best for being peaceful and tropical
Neeleshwar bags the top spot in our run-down of Indian beaches because it is beautiful and wonderfully low on tourists. The beach is close to the tranquil northern waterways (which differ compared to those around Alleppey), small villages and the impressive Bekal Fort so you’ll find plenty of things to do. The endless palm-fringed beach is home to a couple of fantastic hotel options too: rustic and peaceful or higher-end and refined. This remote part of northern Kerala is worth the journey and also gets our award for the best swimming beach in India.
2. Andaman Islands – Best for being remote and; picture-perfect.
The beaches on Andaman are probably the most beautiful in India: think wide sweeps of white sand and the pristine waters of the Bay of Bengal. While you are here you can expect great sea fishing and diving, as well as a secluded paradise island experience. The only caveat is that they are somewhat hard to reach. Though Indian, they are in fact closer geographically to Myanmar, and require either a flight from Kolkata, Delhi or Chennai then a boat trip from Port Blair. That said, the adventure is worth it especially when you arrive in sandy paradise…
3. Goa – Best for having more than meets the eye
If you’ve been looking for the best beaches to visit in India, Goa will almost certainly be on your radar. India’s most well-known beach destination, Goa is famous for its hippie feel and long stretches of white sand. There are a lot of beach hotels under the umbrella of ‘All-inclusive holidays to India’ in Goa but there are a select few that make a stay truly special. However, Goa has more than an incredible coastline – inland Goa is well worth exploring, with its charming, Portuguese influences, laid-back atmosphere, amazing birdlife and gorgeous hotels. Even though it is a visit that is often not even considered when visitors head to Goa, it instantly becomes a highlight for travellers seeking the true Goan experience.
4. Sindhudurg – Best for remote, rugged coastline
Sindhudurg is found on the coast of Maharashtra state. Here you’ll find a stunning, rugged coastline and some of the best diving in India, with a profusion of colourful coral and exotic fish. It’s rather remote, which, on the plus side means you won’t encounter many tourists and it’ll feel like your secret, However, this can mean accommodation options are limited. Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg is a hilltop paradise and gets our award for the best honeymoon beach destination in India.
5. Mararikulam – Best for being quiet and easy to get to
If you’re looking for the best family option, this peaceful palm-fringed beach in Kerala, with warm water and generally good swimming conditions is for you. It’s well located close to the Keralan backwaters and Cochin, so you have the option of various activities to keep you entertained after you’ve had enough lounging in the sand. Also, the area has accommodation for all budgets so can suit different travel styles – one of our favourites is Marari Beach Resort. You could also consider having your end of trip relaxation in a boutique property in the beautiful backwaters just a short distance inland, particularly if you’re looking for a more luxurious stay.
6. Kovalam, Kerala – beachfront restaurants
This is a well-known resort area in south Kerala with lots of restaurants and activities to keep you entertained. The waters here are ideal for playing and swimming. The beaches perhaps aren’t quite as idyllic and isolated as in other parts of the west coast, though you can get more privacy on the hotel beaches – we particularly like Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, just south of Kovalam’s two main beaches. If you are looking for the best place to watch the sun go down, head to the iconic white and red striped lighthouse.
7. Varkala – Best for backpackers
A couple of hours north of Kovalam, lies Varkala, known for its spectacular setting: a long, very wide beach set against a dramatic cliff. It’s a lovely laid-back option and a particularly great place to watch the sunsets. It’s worth noting that the scene is more backpacker-orientated and the beach is only accessed via a climb down the cliffside. There is no accommodation directly on the beach. However, there are some great local restaurants nearby that offer incredible local cuisine
8. Pondicherry – Full of interesting architecture
On the east coast of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry coastal town gives spectacular views of the sea. Although Pondicherry isn’t a beach town per se, it offers the best alternative. Running along the coast is a promenade along the waterfront. It gives visitors the chance to take in the French architecture, history and dine on delicious French-Indian fusion food. A good option if you are looking for more culture and a seaside feel but not focused on swimming and sunbathing.
9. Mahabalipuram – Best for people watching
The beaches on the bay of Bengal are pleasant and some of the best in India. Among them, Mahabalipuram is a brilliant spot for people-watching and experiencing local culture. In a festival time in particular (from January to February) it’s great to spend a few days here to soak up the atmosphere, either at the beginning or end of your trip. You’ll also find the incredible shore temples of Mahabalipuram and the weaving traditions of Kanchipuram nearby. However, we wouldn’t suggest this area for prolonged r&r as it is a busy state.
10. Tranquebar – Best for something a little different
A truly off-the-beaten-track spot on the remote coast of Tamil Nadu, Tranquebar offers beaches with something a little different. This small town is very remote and quirky which is why some visitors make the journey here. In fact, it is the first and one of the only Danish settlements in India; there is a distinctly different feel here to other parts of the country. There is only one quirky and characterful accommodation option. Don’t expect a relaxing beach experience as such, but an insightful stay and something a bit different.
11. Mamallapuram – Best for Surf Lessons
Located an hour down the coast from Chennai, Mamallapuram is a thriving beach town with a cool and laid-back surf vibe. You can find the best waves here between June and July, which is an ideal time for lessons. Even if you aren’t interested in heading into the waves, the water off the coast here is ideal for swimming, and the golden sand offers the perfect place for families to relax. If you’re looking to explore the local area, the UNESCO World Heritage monuments aren’t far away either
What are the best beaches you can get to from India?
If you’re a real beach lover and have the time while exploring India to add on a special beach option to your trip, then we’d recommend heading to the Maldives. With its close proximity to India, it may be worth hopping on a short-haul flight to explore the most famous beaches in the world. India is well connected to countries across the region from the Maldives to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Singapore, which means there is always an incredible beach to find.
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