Kerala is blessed with a stunning coastline that spreads 550 km in length along the Arabian sea. I went to Kerala on March of this year and obviously, I could not visit all the beaches. However, I managed to visit few of the popular beaches in Varkala, Kovalam, Alleppey and Kochi. In this blog, I will mention some of the beaches I felt were the most scenic and worth visiting for landscape photography.
Varkala is a seaside town frequented by tourists from abroad and India. Varkala Beach is also known as Papanasham Beach. The word “Papanasham” means to wash away sins and the local people believe that dipping into the waters of this beach will wash away their sins. The main attraction of Varkala is that the beach is surrounded by cliffs and one needs to climb down a series of stairs in order to reach the sea. There are numerous hotels, restaurants, shops etc on the edge of the cliff from which one can see and get amazing photographs of the sea. The beach is considered very good for swimming and sun-bathing. Varkala is also a hub for ayurveda and yoga, as I found numerous people coming here from abroad for treatment.
There is a fishing village near to Varkala and I suggest checking it out if you want to experience the local culture. If you walk towards the Odayam beach which is on the right side of the Varkala cliff for 2 kms, you come across a fishing community. Head out early in the morning if you want to pictures of the local fisherman catching fish in the sea.
How to reach
Varkala is around 45 kms from Thiruvanthapuram and 30 kms from Kollam and can be easily reached by train. From the train station, it costs 100 rupees to reach the Varkala helipad at the cliff by tuk-tuk. A private car costs 1200 rupees from Thiruvanthapuram.
Anchuthengu is a small town near to Varkala. To get there, you have to take a train from Varkala station and get down at the next stop which is Kadakavur. From there you can take a tuk-tuk and reach the lighthouse. There is a lighthouse in Anchuthengu, from where you can take panoramic photos of the surrounding backwaters and sea from the lighthouse.
Kovalam is a beach town, located very near to Thiruvanthapuram, around 18 kms from the city center. It has mainly three beaches – the Lighthouse Beach, Hawa Beach and Samudra Beach. Only the first two beaches are frequented by tourists, whereas the last beach does not have much tourists. There are numerous hotels, restaurants and shopping centers near the beach. The waters are clear blue, which makes it great for photography.
There is a fishing community in these beaches and you can lots of fisherman with their boats and nets trying to catch fish in the sea.
How to reach
Kovalam is 18 km from Thiruvananthapuram and can be reached by bus. Public buses depart from East fort every 10 minutes and takes 45 minutes to reach Kovalam. The bus stand is very near to the beach and can be reached by foot. Similarly, if you want to get back to Thiruvananthapuram, all you have to do is get back to the same bus stand and board the bus.
Marari beach is famous for its white sands. The name ‘Marari’ originates from ‘Mararikulum’, a local fishing village. There are various staying options near the beach like resorts, villas and home stays or you could stay in Alleppey, like I did and visit it during the day. It is frequented by lots of tourists from abroad, but at the same time it is quite and peaceful. There are few beach shacks available offering local cuisine, which you can try.
How to reach
It is 15 kms from Alleppey and can be reached by bus or train. I would recommend bus as the bus stop is quite near to the beach, also the train station is far away and trains are frequently delayed. To check bus schedules, one of the best websites I use is https://www.aanavandi.com/.
Vypin island in Kochi has a long coastline with a number of beaches. Cherai beach is the most famous of them all, it is good for swimming and other water activities, however I did not like it very much as it is not very good for photography. I visited an unknown beach named Ambedkar beach and I was the only tourist there. It is calm and peaceful, good for photography purposes, however swimming is not allowed nor there are any kind of activities. It depends on your taste, you may or may not enjoy it. If you want to go there, you have to use google maps to reach. Public buses ply on the main road in Vypin, and you have to get down on the stop that you feel is nearest to the beach, then turn left and keep walking by using GPS, or you can simply get a tuk -tuk and reach there.
It is very easy to walk along the sea and get lost while taking pictures but be careful, stray dogs in Kerala are vicious. They will attack and bite you if you are not cautious. There have been many incidents of dog attacks on tourists. Also, a lot of fisherman feed these dogs and they in turn protect them by barking at strangers who come near to the fishing boat. So, if you happen to come across a pack of dogs barking at you, just turn around and leave the place immediately or you will get bitten.
When to visit
Kerala is very hot and humid, generally November to February is the main tourist season. However it can be visited whole year round.