Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Don't take us wrong, Goa is an amazing destination...its just that its very commercialized. Don't you think so ? We love Goa, it has always been a destination everyone wants to go with friends however we feel India has a lot more to offer than Goa. So in this blog we will talk about beach destinations of India beyond Goa. Why? because India has a coastline which extends to an overwhelming 7516 + Kilometers.
First up is the largely unheard beach city of Varkala. Varkala is rightly referred to as "The Pearl of Arabian Sea" tucked away in the South Indian state of Kerala. While places like Munnar, Alleppey, Kovalam, Kochi grab all the attention Varkala has managed to underplay and retain a unique vibe which many of us keep longing for. This is the same vibe which attracted Russians to Goa, Israelis to Kasol & many others to Rishkesh unfortunately all of them cease to have the same feel as millions of tourists flock to those widely popular holiday destinations. Well Varkala is still raw & happening. Checkout this video by a popular travel film maker who has done a great job of capturing the true hippie vibe of Varkala.
Some pictures which would tempt you enough to leave everything and head to Varkala for relaxed weekend:
Varkala is not a place for ticking off sightseeing checklist but for relaxing in a coastal setting with wind breezing through your air while you munch on some authentic French & Italian delicatessen. How often do you find a confluence of backwaters & ocean? Yes you can find that on Kappil beach in Varkala.
What else to do in Varkala?
Take surfing lessons (there are many professional surfing coaching centers)
Shop and dine at the promenade on North Cliff
Black sand beach (Thiruvambady beach) *
Experience the backwaters near Kappil beach
Shop at the Tibetan flea market
Learn & practice Yoga
Relax & detox with an authentic Kerala ayurvedic massage
Watch the sunset from southern cliff of Varkala
Visit the Anjengo lake
Visit one of the oldest temples of India
Climb atop the Anjengo lighthouse for panoramic views of the Arabian Sea
Varkala is accessible by road from Trivandrum International airport & Kochi International airport respectively. Nearest major train station is in Thiruvananthapuram.
Team Wander Womaniya recommends Varkala for an all girls trip for its serene & beaches and a blend of Tibetan & coastal vibes which is exclusive to Varkala.
Fun Fact: Do you know there is a Zostel available for stay in Varkala?
*Black sand comes from eroded volcanic material such as lava, basalt rocks, and other dark-colored rocks and minerals, and is typically found on beaches near volcanic activity. Black-sand beaches are common in Hawaii, the Canary Islands, and the Aleutians. There are only two black sand beaches in India, which are Kovalam & Thiruvambady beach (Varkala)
What comes to your mind when you think of a trek? Himachal ? Himalayas ? Sikkim How about a beach trek? Yes you can do that in Gokarna. Gokarna is lately getting a lot of eyeballs & attention & well rightly so. Gokarna can be considered Goa's sibling and it shows in the name too! "GOkarnA"
Contrary to Goa, Gokarna is a religious destination first & then beach destination but it is getting thumbs up from more & more travellers every year because of some beautiful & clean beaches. There are many vlogs from not so popular influencers but we found this video which gives you a good idea of what to expect in Gokarna.
Some pictures of Gokarna for you to decide if this destination should be on your wishlist.
What makes Gokarna special is that its cheap , not very commercialized, away from the maddening crowds and still has authentic local culture. People are god fearing & helpful. There are some good resorts & cafes which have opened up which is just about perfect for our liking. The most popular beaches are Om beach , Kudle Beach, Half moon beach & Paradise beach*
*Apparently Paradise beach has been sold to a private company and is no longer free to camp, sounds weird right? We smell foul play alas we can't do much about it!
What else to do in Gokarna?
Set up your own camp for overnight stay on a cliff overlooking the ocean
No big buildings means unrestricted sunsets
Stargazing at Kudle Beach
Spotting phytoplankton at Half moon beach (if you're lucky)
Explore the many hidden waterfalls in &around Gokarna
Visit the Yana caves
The nearest airport to Gokarna is Goa International airport and Gokarna is very well connected by railway network with many stations like Ankola , Gokarna road & Kumta. They are all near to Gokarna and you can easily get autos and taxis from these railway stations to reach Gokarna. Having said that its recommended that you drive to reach Gokarna as you will witness many rivers flowing into ocean and some beautiful landscapes on your way.
Have you been to Gokarna or Varkala yet? Let us know in comments how was your experience and if you recommend it to other travellers. We at Wander Womaniya have decided to plan a lot many ladies only trips to both Gokarna & Varkala so that our women explorers get a fair opportunity to experience the best of nature & vibes.