Goa’s reputation precedes itself as a top-notch beach destination in India, and visitors won’t be disappointed by the stretches of lovely coastline. But there is more to be experienced on holiday in Goa than just the famous beaches. The tiny state is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, with great birding in particular. It has its own system of backwaters, incredible Portuguese and catholic history, and crumbling architecture. You’ll find an array of accommodation options in the state, from large resorts in the south to boutique properties on or near the beach. ETG prefers boutique accommodation, as you’ll enjoy a slightly more immersive experience. However, the larger resorts like The Leela and Alila Diwa are two of the best in India for pure relaxation.
Do note that flights back to the UK can be at unsociable early hours, hardly a hardship though compared to getting an inch off the map and exploring this incredible and unique state.
For a pristine beach experience without the throngs of tourists, try the beaches of Mararikulam near the central backwaters or Neeleshwar in the north. Both are quiet, laid back, particularly in Mararikulam, and you can get insight into the life and routines of the local fishermen early in the morning. If you’re looking for a busier atmosphere with a variety of restaurants and more going on in the evening, head to the beaches around Kovalam, famous for its striking red and white lighthouse perched above the water.
Certainly compared to Goa, Kerala is a great value beach destination at Christmas and New Year, too.
The beaches in Tamil Nadu are great spots for people-watching in particular. Those around Mahabalipuram are a great base from which to explore the stunning shore temples or inland Kanchipuram. We would suggest the area is best for a night or two at the beginning or end of a trip. Coastal stays around Pondicherry, Kanyakumari, Tranquebar and Rameswaram provide more immersive and insightful encounters, well worth it for experiencing local sights and festivities.
In all, the beaches of Tamil Nadu aren’t as idyllic as ones found in other parts of the country. For the best beaches in South India, cross to Kerala. You can catch a flight from Trichy to Cochin or work your way through the beautiful western ghats. Alternatively, spend a few days relaxing in the hills of plains of rural Tamil Nadu.
A more unique beach destination, Sindhudurg has an abundance of beautiful, small inlets and beaches sitting along its rugged Konkan coastline. This off-the-beaten-track beach location is ideal for those seeking a more tranquil beach experience than the more touristy hub of Goa.
The only option in the region is the luxurious Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg villas set above the sea on a hilltop. The accommodation is spacious and private, views are incredible with an intimate setting, and the service is personalised.
This beguiling archipelago lies scattered through the Bay of Bengal. At over 1,000kms off India’s eastern coastline, the islands are actually closer to Myanmar and Thailand. In the Andaman islands, you get the feeling you’re far from anywhere else. Comprising 572 islands, only a dozen or so are actually open for tourists to visit.
For those who desire pristine beaches and rich biodiversity amongst jungles and fertile lands - something different in particular - the Andamans are remote, scenic and intriguing. Here, you can discover white sandy shores fringed with pristine coral reefs beneath turquoise, clear waters, providing unparalleled snorkelling and diving opportunities (some of the best in Southeast Asia!) Spend your days relaxing on the beach or island hopping, kayaking and fishing. On the land, discover lush jungles ideal for trekking and admiring the unique flora and fauna amongst the sounds of birdlife. In ETG’s opinion, the Andaman’s are India’s best-kept beach secret and is a great place to end your holiday.