Goa: Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach, Bom Jesus Basilica and Church of St. Catejan
Gokarna: Mahabaleshvara Temple, Maha Ganapati Temple and Koti Tirtha
Kovalam: Head out to the ocean in a traditional catarmaran
Pondicherry: Meditate at Sri Aurobindo Ashram and watch a Bharatanatyam performance
Mahabalipuram: Sample vegetarian Indian dishes at The Golden Palate
Vizag: Try Chocolate Bomb at Flying Spaghetti Monster
Kovalam: Little Tibet Arts for authentic Tibetan artwork
Havelock: Head over to Govind Nagar to buy Andaman & Nicobar T-shirts
Dil Chahta Hai, Go Goa Gone, Bobby... and many more blockbusters shot in Goa
Want To Go ?
Another New Year, another reason to explore the world. Last time I had international tours on my mind but this year, I’m sorting through the best beaches in our country to kick back and relax. Scattered all over India’s 7500-kilometre long coastline, here are the top 10 beaches that will leave you surprised and satisfied with India’s coastal beauty.
When in doubt, go Goa! One cannot really go wrong with India’s party capital. A place where people can be seen sunbathing, swimming, parasailing or relaxing in their hammocks sipping a cold beer all year round, Goa is my first pick. In fact, Goa is the best place to kick-start your beach blast in advance with Sunburn Goa this December! Sunburn is when a conglomerate of party mongers and DJs from all over the world get together at the Candolim beach for the grandest New Year beach party. Late night parties, hypnotic music and people dancing away; Sunburn exponentially increases the fun quotient.
2. Gokarna, Karnataka
Gokarna in Karnataka is situated 190 kilometres south of Goa and makes for a wonderful change from Goa’s fast pace! Famous for the Mahabaleshwar temple and its pristine beaches, in this tranquil town, you can enjoy a day basking in the sun or laying in a hammock reading a book without distractions. Gokarna is well-connected to major cities through buses and trains and the closest airport is Dabolim Airport in Goa. Though an important pilgrimage site, Gokarna blends religion with beach fun. Om Beach, Paradise Beach and Half-Moon Beach are the famous ones, which have both fine sand and rocky coasts mostly untouched by commercial activities.
3. Ganpatipule, Maharashtra
A tiny coastal town in Maharashtra, Ganpatipule has a grand beach, one of the most spectacular on the Konkan coast. The beach has distinctive red sand and shallow water, making it ideal for swimming. Ganpatipule can be visited en route to Ratnagiri and is just 35 kilometres from the famous Jaigad Fort, which offers a panoramic view of the sea and villages from the cliff. Ganpatipule is also famous for the Swaymbhu Ganesh temple where Lord Ganesh’s statue is believed to have originated from the ground.
Try Out: Pick up a packet of delicious Ambapoli and Phanspoli, which is delicious and similar to aam papad but made of jackfruit.
4. Marari, Kerala
Kerala and its exotic beauty is an open secret. This vibrant state draws tourists from over the world who readily succumb to its magnificence. This time round, visit the lesser known treasures in Kerala like Marari Beach in Alleppey district. A sleepy town brimming with beauty on all four sides, this town is your paradisiacal retreat from the world. In Marari, you can stay at the Marari Beach Resort, a lavish property that subtly blends modern day comforts and a range of recreational activities with surrounding natural beauty.
Further down south from Marari, another rejuvenating beach holiday destination in Kerala is Kovalam. Basically a fishing village, Kovalam has garnered a lot of tourist attention in recent years and its famous Eve and Lighthouse beaches are pristine and clean lined with coconut trees of one side. You can opt for a highly rewarding cruise early in the morning with the fishermen or hire a surfboard and set on a mission to control the waves!
This New Year, take you family to Kovalam for a rejuvenating and fun-filled beach holiday.
6. Havelock, Andaman
Sparkling white sand, turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs and a calmness that fills the air. Add to this, scuba diving, snorkelling, trekking, elephant rides and a lot more - your ideal beach holiday this New Year is ready! Havelock in Andaman promises a pleasant and highly rejuvenating holiday where celebration comes from being one with nature. The Radhanagar and Elephant beaches are the best places to go for a swim in the warm water and enjoy water sports. Seeking a break from your metropolitan lifestyle? Havelock is must on your Beach Holidays list. Read more about Andaman beaches here.
One of the best known places in India for meditation and relaxation, Pondicherry or Puducherry is famous as India’s French connection. The erstwhile French colony retains French culture and architecture and is definitely a unique place to visit. Famous for the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in neighbouring Auroville where thousands go to seek solace, a well-maintained waterfront is just completes the package of a beach holiday. Beach activities in Pondicherry include camping at the beach, sunbathing, canoeing, kayaking and backwater sailing.
Clean, beautiful, sunbathed beaches, a string of restaurants offering fresh seafood preparations and a dash of cultural history, a holiday to Mahabalipuram will give you ultimate relaxation and culinary indulgence on the beach along with a sneak peek into this city’s rich culture. Activities like windsurfing and swimming can also be enjoyed on a warm day at Mahabalipuram. A must-visit is the famous monolithic Pandava Rathas and Varaha Cave Temples that date back to the 7th century with scenes from Mahabharat sculpted from the rocks.
Do Not Miss: Seafood at Alokosay Cafe at Othavadai Street, a simple diner for lip-smacking fresh fish and prawn preparations along with a tea room.
Despite being a busy coastal city with Indian Navy headquarters and India’s busy harbour, Vizag or Visakhapatnam has plenty to offer a tourist for relaxation like beautiful beaches, lakes, gardens and museums. The Ram Krishna Beach is ideal for spending evenings where one can stroll down the beach or along pedestrian tracks that lead to beautiful parks and open air restaurants. Book a cottage at the beautiful Rishikonda beach for a comfortable stay right at the beach. Also visit Kailasagiri, a well-maintained hilltop that offers a panoramic view of the sea.
10. Gopalpur, Orissa
The coastal stretch of Orissa is dotted with hamlets of tribal fishermen and Hindu temples that Orissa is famous for. Gopalpur Beach in Orissa, just 190 kilometres from Bhubneshwar, is a popular beach with golden sand and a gentle slope that makes it ideal for swimming and sunbathing. An old light house now remains of an ancient seaport at Gopalpur but the natural beauty that abounds is eternal.
A Sight To Behold: The east facing beach offers the most magnificent views of the sunrise that any photographer dreams of!