With 7,517 kilometers of coastline, India is home to some of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful and tourist-friendly beaches. But, let’s face it, with our huge length of shoreline, poor level of hygiene, pollution, and overcrowding, we also have some of the worst beaches. While environmental safety monitoring at beaches has a long way to go, we can recommend that beach-goers visit or avoid certain beaches, based on parameters like safety, cleanliness, and crowding. Based on news reports and feedback from tourists, here are some of the best and worst beaches in India:
Radhanagar Beach is truly a gem, tucked away in the coves of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The islands are dotted with beautiful beaches, scattered in the Bay of Bengal. While the beaches here are known for their natural beauty, Radhanagar manages to stand out even among them and was voted as Asia’s best beach by Time Magazine in 2004. This gorgeous beach is blessed with clean white sand, turquoise waters, and an air of tranquility that you will rarely find anywhere else.
Palolem may not be the best known beach of Goa, but this is probably why it has managed to retain its distinctive appeal. Located in South Goa, the beach is known for hosting the Silent Noise-Party, which attracts tourists from across the world. But most of the year, it remains free from the crowds and has an idyllic charm. The beach itself is beautiful, enveloped in the shade of a thick forest of palm trees. Visitors to the beach can even enjoy dolphin-spotting tours from here.
Varkala’s gorgeous sandy, white beaches have long been regarded as auspicious to thousands of devotees from across the country, who believe that the waters here contain healing powers. The beach is always cloaked in a serene atmosphere that becomes even more enchanting when rituals are performed on the beach early in the mornings. This is one beach that you must visit with your DSLR to capture the magical confluence of India’s natural beauty and timeless traditions.
As the only beach in the state of Maharashtra with a training center for scuba diving and snorkeling, Tarkarli is quite popular and well-known with diving and water-sports enthusiasts from across the state. The beach hosts a number of water-sports activities, attracting tourists from far and wide, but it still doesn’t suffer from overcrowding. Far from being crowded in fact, the long coastline offers plenty of quite coves and is the perfect romantic weekend getaway. The beach is also known for its crystal clear waters, and pollution-free environment.
Kerala is famous for its beautiful backwaters and also for its spectacular shoreline that is dotted with gorgeous beaches. Kovalam has been the most famous beach destination in the state for decades, with three beaches that draw tourists from across the world. Lighthouse Beach is the most popular of the three and boasts of a number of luxury resorts and world-class tourist facilities. With a beautiful paved esplanade, rows of shops and eateries, and a beautiful old lighthouse overlooking it all, this is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in the country.
Calangute Beach is one of India’s best known beaches, but it’s no longer one of its best. The beautiful beach once epitomized the idyllic Goa beach destination, but its glory-days are long gone because of rampant commercialization. With water-sports activities, hawkers, eateries, and restaurants springing up along the entire length of the beach, Calangute has become overcrowded, drawing a whole breed of tourists who care little about preserving its beauty. From the aggressive vendors to the lecherous groups of men, everything about this beach has become repulsive.
Girgaum Chowpatty is a defining feature of Mumbai’s cityscape and it is one of the most popular hangouts for the locals. Although the beach is still incredibly beautiful, it has suffered all of the ill-effects of urbanization, making its waters terribly polluted. While the sands of Chowpatty are littered with debris and rubbish, the state of the water is even more worrying. The condition of the water that touches the shores worsened with the sinking of coal-bearing ship near the coast in 2011. With overburdened sewage treatment plants, the water quality deteriorated even further - harmful bacteria levels rose by 46% just between the years of 2012 to 2013. The waters here are best avoided unless you want a serious bout of gastroenteritis.
Visakhapatnam is a popular tourist destination with a beautiful coastline and a fascinating history. Unfortunately, most of the beaches here are classified as unsafe because of the presence of rip current zones along the coast. This makes beaches in the region extremely dangerous, as even seasoned swimmers can be swept out to sea. Lawson’s Bay is the only beach here where you can enter the water, but it has come to be used as a dumping ground and toilet by the local fishing communities and visiting tourists alike. This has earned it a reputation as one of the dirtiest beaches in the country.
According to some claims, Dumas Beach, in Surat, is a site of paranormal activity, with its shores having once been used as a Hindu burial ground. According to these unsubstantiated claims that surfaced on the internet, the beach is frequented by restless spirits and you might even hear whispers at night, when no one is around. Most locals dismiss the claims as fiction, but the presence of a cemetery on one of the beaches cannot be disputed. Haunted or not, the beach has an eerie atmosphere and is best avoided by anyone who is superstitious.
Chandipur Beach, in Odisha, is not just breathtakingly beautiful, but it also presents quite a rare spectacle. Located in the Bay of Bengal, this beach puts on a display twice a day, as its waters recede into the distance with the falling tides. During the low tide, the sea recedes by as much as 5 kilometers, exposing vast expanses of sand and allowing you to literally walk out into the sea. This phenomenon makes the area rich in biodiversity, but it can also be dangerous to tourists who venture too far out and are caught off guard when the tide comes back in.
All said and done, such ratings are often a matter of perspective, so what works for some may not work for others. Beaches that are unappealing to some could be perceived as perfect by others, and vice-versa. We hope that the information in this list helps you pick the perfect beach, based on your expectations and desires.