Think of an exotic beach in India and what instantly pops up in your imagery is Goa. But it’s not always the much-talked about destinations alone that give you a unique holidaying experience. You ought to look beyond the regular travel itineraries to make the most of a country like India; explore the length and breadth of diverse landscapes to enjoy your kinda vacation. Kovalam, a cute-n-cosy town nestled along the Arabian Sea in Thiruvananthapuram, has all the essential ingredients of a beach experience and is certainly one of the best places to visit in Kerala. From the gorgeous lighthouse and lively shopping & eatery arcade to bikini-clad tourists sun bathing on the beach chairs… It’s sassy, it’s scintillating and it’s sensuous! And unlike those popular (read: over-crowded) sea views of India, Kovalam beaches are more relaxing, if not absolutely tranquil. Now if that sounds interesting enough, we bring you some first-hand titbits from a travel diary so you have them handy when you plan your trip.
1. Best Way to Reach Kovalam Beach
For busy bees, hard-pressed for time, air travel may be the only obvious choice, in which case Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest one (10 km from the city centre).
However, the best way to enjoy Kerala travel is train or road journey, depending on connectivity. For those who alight at Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station, you have the KSRTC bus terminal bang opposite to it. While you can check out the buses plying frequently between the city and the beach (16 km distance) for a budget option, prepaid autos and cabs are aplenty. Once in Kovalam, you have more options at your service for commuting in and around the town — self-drive cars and two-wheelers.
Car or Bike – What’s Your Kind of Freewheeling?
Although there’s a general perception that Goa and Pondicherry are the only beach cities where you can zoom on bikes, two-wheelers are available for rent even in Kovalam. To experience the fun of freewheeling on lovely roads surrounded by lush greenery and rustic beauty — drive it to believe it!
- Renting car with cab driver: Rs 1500 – Rs 2000 depending on distance
- Renting self-drive car: Rs 1000 – Rs 1500 + petrol charges
- Renting two-wheelers: Gear bikes – Rs 1000; non-gear bikes – Rs 500 + petrol charges
2. Comfy Cocoons by the Sea
Budget hotels for minimalistic stay, boutique hotels for a luxury feel and best spa resorts for Ayurveda treatment — Kovalam has umpteen options for scenic accommodation by the sea. International tourists making the most of the tropical weather, the traditional healing therapies and ayurvedic massage experience in Kovalam is a common sight, especially at the Lighthouse beach. For your very own sea view, check into a beach-facing hotel with its own sun deck. Can you ask for more!?
Three beaches make up the coastline of Kovalam: Lighthouse Beach, Hawa Beach (Eve’s Beach) and Samudra Beach. While all the three have their own vantage views, Lighthouse Beach is a must-visit for sure! On one end of the beach is a 30-metre lighthouse (it’s functional!!), which is a one of the major tourist attractions. All those of you who’re fit enough to climb up the 130+ steps of the lighthouse should not miss the opportunity of catching a breath-taking view of the Arabian Sea and the surrounding greenery. This one is definitely going to be one of those ‘wow’ moments of the trip.
Things to do
- Go up the lighthouse for ‘wow’ view (Timings: 10 am – 12 pm; 2 pm – 5 pm)
- Window shopping of handicrafts and much more
- Go for a rejuvenating massage
- Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium is one of the must-see places to visit near Kovalam beach
- Watch the fishermen sweating it out to get the best fish on your platter
- Fish ‘n’ Chips with your favourite sip by the sea!
4. Backwater Cruising & Other Sightseeing
Although Kovalam may not be a prime backwater location, Poovar backwater is one of the best places for sightseeing. Where else can you experience serene backwaters, sprawling mangroves, golden sands separating the sea and river water, tiny islands and floating restaurants in one cruising experience?! Do stop by to admire some fascinating churches dotted on the way to Poovar.
Thing to Remember: A cruise trip on a speed boat costs Rs 3000 – Rs 3500. Works best for a family of 5 – 6. Advice for couple: Try boat sharing or bargaining for a cost-effective deal.
Around the town: Padmanabhaswamy temple, the richest Hindu temple in the world, in Thiruvananthapuram city; Shankumugham Beach, located 12.7 km from Kovalam; Veli Tourist Village, located 17.5 km Kovalam.
Many sea-facing restaurants at the Lighthouse beach display fresh, raw seafood outside their eatery. All you have to do is pick your favourite and they will prepare it to your taste. From simple treats such as plain rice and spicy fish curry to exotic prawns, squids and crabs — Kovalam brings the best of coastal delicacies on your platter
Well, are you a vegetarian wondering how to survive in a coastal town? Or are you a typical north Indian craving for hot aloo/gobi parathas, no matter where you are? Worry not! Here’s Sharmaji at his small-yet-well maintained Sukar-Punjab restaurant, churning out some of the most mouth-watering North Indian and regional vegetarian and non-vegetarian specialities you may have ever had.
Gastronomic advice: Don’t miss indulging to your heart’s content at Sukar-Punjab. You are missing something if you leave Kovalam without doing so!