Summer’s just around the corner—well about as far around the corner as it can be in a country with only two real seasons. India boasts a coastline of a mind-blowing 7,517km which means you don’t have to squeeze yourself back onto Baga and Chowpatty this year. Here’s a list of the lesser known sandy swathes that grace our edges. Keep in mind though, that a populated beach doesn’t have to be any less pristine—respect these surviving beauties and leave them as spotless as you find them.
KODI BENGRE BEACH- UDUPI
Udupi is criss-crossed with rivers all across its land, rivers lined with sparkling gold until the age of the sand mafia. Yet its more prominent beaches on the seaface remain safe, and are gaining in popularity, particularly Malpe. 10kms down from Malpe’s camel rides and ice-cream carts is Kodi Bengre beach, an estuary where the river Suvarna meets the Arabian Sea. Fill up on dirt cheap seafood before nodding off on the clean sand for a couple of hours. Watch out for the crabs!
Getting there: The nearest airport is in Mangalore city. Buses and trains will take you to Udupi from Bangalore, Mumbai or Managalore. City buses from Udupi make frequent trips to Kemmannu, Hoode and Kodi Bengre (dead end point). From Bengre one can reach Hungarkatte (other side of the river) by boat. NH66 is a stone’s throw away from Hungarkatte.
MARARI BEACH- ALLEPPEY
Are you put off by all the tourist signboards rising up on the pavements through the backwaters? Move closer to the sea, 11km away at Marari Beach. It’s a great place to do absolutely nothing in particular, and let the waves crash over your thoughts. If you’re looking for absolute luxury, get a room at the Marari Beach Resort. If you’re itching for a little more activity go help out the fisherman from Mararikulam village that throng the beach, maybe one of them will invite you back to share the catch!
Getting There: The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport. Mararikulam is connected by rail and has a railway station by the same name. It is also well connected by road. NH 47 passes through S.L.Puram, which is 5 km to the east of Mararikulam.
The very definition of chill. It’s been famous much longer than the others on this list, and as such has its share of beachside shacks, readily available alcohol and random bag checks by the local police. The reason it still qualifies for this collection is its determinedly low-key vibe. Accommodation is still limited to a couple of thatched roof huts and it’s not advisable to be wandering around after dark, but there’s the added charm of a whole other side to the town, its temples and bustling market.
Getting there: Goa’s Dabolim airport is the closest at 140km away. Trains from Mangalore, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Veraval halt at Ankola, 20km from Gokarna. KSTRTC buses come in from all of Karnataka’s major cities and it’s just 10kms off the NH17
This one’s for those looking for more than just a beach. While the beach may be bustling, you’ll find only a small fraction of the crowd to be tourists and instead witness the practical use of beaches, for fishing and shipbuilding, and the local recreational style of hauling your family off for an evening of cotton candy and horse rides. Indians don’t just relax on beaches, they frolic, letting their children run amok with little bamboo and paper windmills as they charge up on delicious beach street-food, it can be a welcome change from the assumption that beaches are strictly for lolling about. Mandvi is itself a beautiful city, its streets lined with ancient buildings in fading pastels and intricately carved temples.
Getting there: The Bhuj airport 60km away receives daily flights from Mumbai and Bhuj’s railway station has trains passing through from both Mumbai and Ahmedabad. 450 km from Ahmedabad by road.
Nestled on the Maharashtra-Goa border that makes it a great spot for some mouth-watering Malwani seafood, this little town boats more than 23 beaches packed with activities—Kayaking, Cycling, Swimming, Fishing—but no people. It was an important trading port both with the Dutch and the British, and you can follow these bits of history around for a little added fun.
Getting there: The nearest airport is in Mumbai. You can catch a train to Kudla or drive over from Mumbai, Pune or Nashik.
Surrounded by the sea on all sides, it’s fabled to be the island from which Ram built a bridge to Lanka to rescue his wife. As deeply entrenched in lore as it is, it tends to be packed with pilgrims in town for a visit to the mighty temple at its centre and a quick holy dip on its myriad beaches. From sandy to pebbly to sheer cliff-faces, Rameswaram has every kind of beach. Be warned though, this is definitely not the spot to show off your hard-earned bikini bod.
Getting there: Fly into Madurai or Tuticorin airport or get a train in from literally anywhere in the country. The same goes for buses, there’s always a crowd of pilgrims moving in and out which means easy access.
In my opinion, the only reason these gorgeous beaches go unnoticed is the hassle of getting there. But you don’t need to worry about that, you have us! Walk on white sand out of a dream, scuba dive into the coral reef, meet the world’s largest ocean swimming elephant, oh it’s a paradise down there! And with the government starting to promote ecotourism on the islands, there’s even two ATMs!
Getting there: Once you land in Port Blair via air, it’s all a complicated and often unruly mess of grabbing at ferry tickets. You can pre-book the fast selling government ferries, push and shove for the local alternatives or dish out for the luxury A/C catamaran. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s done in advance!
Similar to Vengurla in a lot of ways, with the added attraction of an old fort and the deep blue Karli backwaters hedging in the beaches on the landward side. There’s scuba diving for a closer look at the coral reefs and great camping options if you’d like palm fronds and glittering stars for a roof. And again, the Malvani food!
Getting there: Follow the Mumbai trains to Kudal, just as with Vengurla, and simply ask your ride from the station to take you here instead.