With thousands of miles of coastline, India deserves to have hundreds of beautiful, unspoiled beach destinations. Here are 10 that are now coming up in a big way
Palolem Beach, Goa
This beautiful beach, far from the hubbub of North Goa, stretches out languidly between two imposing headlands. It creates a crescent cove that is safe, relaxed and friendly for backpackers, romantic twosomes and families alike. En suite shacks are popping up all the time, perfect for walk-ins, but for luxury options, you will have to book in advance. This one is for lazing, swimming, a few select parties, fresh coastal food and a spot of yoga.
Papanasam Beach, Varkarla, Kerala
Fifty kilometres north of Thiruvananthapuram is the peaceful hamlet of Varkarla, which boasts the beautiful Papanasam Beach, overlooked by a cliff on which stands an ancient Vishnu temple (some sources peg its age at 2,000 years!). The name Papanasam comes from a natural spring near the beach, known for its medicinal and curative powers. It follows that a dip in these waters off Varkarla is also good for cleansing the soul of all sins. The accommodation is varied, and Ayurvedic massages are popular here.
Agonda Beach, Goa
Another South Goa gem, this is for everyone who want nothing more than solitude, long walks, swimming and eating the catch-of-the-day on their holiday. As a bonus, no hawkers are allowed here. Accommodation ranges from the upmarket H2O to several family-run beach shacks and huts, so there is something for everyone. If you wish to stir it up a little and enjoy a silent headphone party, Palolem is only 10 minutes away.
Ezhimala Beach, Kerala
Seclusion, abundant natural beauty and relics from ancient history scattered around, this beach is perfect for a weekend. The water seems bluer than usual, the green on the adjacent hills a richer hue, and you will stumble upon carved stone pillars mysteriously cast away upon the hillside. There is even a cave, presumed to be an ancient burial chamber at the foot of the hills. The bushes abound in medicinal herbs, and dolphin sightings in these pristine waters are very common.
Marari Beach, Kerala
This is the quintessence of Kerala, right here—raw and unspoiled. Savvy naturalists will be enthralled for hours with this pristine eco-system amidst the sea, the sky and the wild coconut groves. There are over 350 species of wildly colourful indigenous plants, 97 species of butterflies, 10 kinds of frogs and the bird life is simply impossible to list. Peace and quiet are in great abundance here, and the Marari Beach Resort, run by the Casino Group, is the ideal way to enjoy all of it.
Karmatang Beach, Andaman & Nicobar Islands
If you really wish to get away from it all, hop across to the Andamans and soak in the raw, rugged beauty of these aloof, mysterious islands. Turtles return to Karmatang Beach to spawn their next generation on moonless night. Snorkelling and scuba diving are popular here. Hop onto a steamer for a tour of the thickly wooded mangroves to understand the unique biodiversity of these islands. Trek around Mount Harriet, through the forest, for a change of scene.
Agatti Island, Lakshadweep
This sparkling little island in the middle of the impossibly azure Arabian Sea is called the gateway to the Lakshadweep primarily due to the only landing strip on the entire archipelago. Fringed by a daisy-chain of vibrant coral reef all around, the lagoon is effectively a massive salt-water swimming pool. You may just start to get used to the 15 shades of blue-green stretching out to the horizon when it’s time to leave, ensuring you will keep coming back for more.
Covelong Beach, Tamil Nadu
Drive just 40 km outside Chennai and you will reach the secluded Covelong Beach, favoured by water- sport enthusiasts, and without the crush of local picnickers. Windsurfers and surfers head out here to take advantage of wind and waves. This used to be holiday destination of the French settlers of Tamil Nadu. An old Dutch Fort, a church and other historical ruins that tell the history of Tamil Nadu, are ringed around this little haven.
Rishikonda Beach, Andhra Pradesh
Golden sands, blue water and tranquillity make this the most favoured beach in Andhra Pradesh, just 14 km from Visakhapatnam. A warm and steady breeze whispers through the groves of palm and mango. The sands are taken up by sunbathers, and the waters are busy with water-skiers, wind-surfers and swimmers. There is a 14th-century temple nearby, if history is your thing. Open-air restaurants and beach cafes are perfect for whiling away your sun-kissed days.
Kaup Beach, Karnataka
Far away from the tourist-thronged Om, Half-Moon and Paradise beaches of Karnataka, in the foodie- hub of Udupi, is this little gem. It comes with a ruined fort and a 100-ft lighthouse that once warned ships of jagged rocks nearby. You can also visit the ancient Jain ruins, if you feel like soaking in a little history. Park yourself at one of the beach shacks that serve Udupi delicacies and watch wind-surfers strut their colourful sails.