Beach time in Kovalam

Kovalam beach in Kerala is one of the most sought after beach destinations in India. While it doesn’t rival Goa to the north for its wealth of golden sand beaches, nor its hippy vestiges, it doesn’t have the crowds or price tag either. And that could be a welcome relief for those looking for a break from westerners in India – still there’s plenty of banana pancakes, air conditioned rooms and swimming pools to go around.

Local fishermen's boats by the beach. Pic: Joanne Lane,

Kovalam consists of two coves: Lighthouse Beach and Hawah Beach and you can stroll between the two in about fifteen minutes. Even if you’re feeling low on energy with all that beach time, it’s definitely worth strolling up to the lighthouse of an afternoon (open 3-5.30pm). Not only is it a working lighthouse so quite a buzz to visit but you can get right to the top for some great views of the coast.

The spiral staircase inside the lighthouse. Pic: Joanne Lane,

There are hotels and restaurants along both stretches of Kovalam, making for some wonderful vistas every time you look up from your banana lassi, Tiger Beer or your book. The fresh seafood available is excellent, with prawns a size you have to see to believe. Most of the restaurants sit right along the beach front amongst the coconut palms making for fun dining of a night. Some also have wifi available.

Fruit sellers on the beach. Pic: Joanne Lane,

The beaches themselves are complete with the usual fruit and cloth sellers you find around India. Bargain hard and set your price first before you eat the fruit which consists of anything from coconuts to mango, pineapple and banana. The fruit sellers might also have some coconut oil they’ll produce in small bottles. There are also private chair set up that you can book for the entire day (Rs 250). Usually beach massage is also available.

The beach front at Kovalam. Pic: Joanne Lane,

There are a number of craft shops and book stores along the beach front as well where you can get anything from Tibetan prayer flags and jewellery to Kashmiri rugs or Rajasthani cloth – plenty of options to fill your suitcase.

The other activity to enjoy for a completely decadent holiday is the local Ayuverdic massage. Ayurvedic massage originated in south India so Kerala is a good place to sample it, just be prepared to strip down and be rubbed head to foot in local oils for a good hour. A slippery, but fun experience and  a good way to end any time in Kovalam.

Fresh seafood at a beachside restaurant. Pic: Joanne Lane,