The first place that possibly comes to mind while dreaming of a tropical getaway in India is Goa — a former Portuguese colony about an hour’s flight south of Mumbai. But it isn’t India’s only sandy shoreline worth a visit while you’re traveling here. Every Indian beach offers a different experience, from family-friendly water sports to riotous full moon-style parties, private coves, and some of the best diving in Asia. We combed the coastline to find some of India’s best beaches:
- Gokarna, Karnataka
Gokarna offers an alluring package of beach escape and spiritualism, all overlooking azure waters. There are indeed several separate beaches in the city, all with powdery white sands. They include coconut tree-lined Kudle and Om, blessed with scenic coves, popular with backpackers who enjoy their lively buzz and makeshift cafes. The ultra-secluded Half Moon Beach is only a short walk or boat trip away. Paradise is further along — a spot with low hammocks over the sand, fresh seafood in beach shacks, and friendly homes owned by the locals.
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- Tarkarli, Maharashtra
With Goa’s beaches packed round the year, Maharashtra’s southern coast — a few hours’ drive northwest — is an ideal alternative. Besides the fine white sands, the area of Tarkarli is also home to serene backwaters, bustling villages, and ancient sea forts. Travelers will enjoy the relaxing life on the beach or enjoy ample water sports such as scuba diving, parasailing, and snorkeling. Just off Malvan’s coast (about 45 minutes northwest of Tarkarli), Sindhudurg Fort is the area’s most beautiful monument, offering large views of the Arab Sea from the top of the stone walls of the 17th century.
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- Kaup, Karnataka
Kaup is set up in the backwaters of the Netravati river, near the temple town of Udupi, in the southern state of Karnataka. It’s a vision of blues and greens, surrounded by the groves of needled casuarinas trees. Travelers can find a century-old lighthouse along the expanse of gold beach providing fantastic sunset views from the top of the tower. If shore walks and banana boat rides get repetitive, we will suggest a side trip off the coast to St Mary’s Islands. A national geological monument, the archipelago of four islands is renowned for its impressive columns of hexagonal basalt lava rock — believed to date back millions of years. It is also believed that the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed on the island in the 1490s on his way to Kerala.
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- Radhanagar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Located on Havelock Island — between India and Thailand in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands — Radhanagar is also identified as one of the best beaches in Asia. Travelers combing the remote coastline will see the attraction easily — calm waters and fine beaches, fringed by a lush canopy. Travelers fill their days with water sports, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, sailing, kayaking, and treks through the rainforest — to name a few. Scuba diving is one of the best ways to discover the underwater environment and vibrant coral reefs, with courses accessible for beginners as well as experienced divers.
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- Bekal, Kerala
On the north-western edge of the Kerala region, in south-western India, shallow Bekal beach is situated next to the majestic Bekal Fort, shaped like a giant keyhole. A few decades ago, the city shot into the limelight after the famous Bollywood movie “Bombay” featured the fort of the 17th century as the backdrop to its main sequence of songs. Offering a long stretch of sand, the beach is famous for lush gardens and art installations among both locals and tourists, including reddish laterite rock sculptures depicting the yam (a traditional dance).
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- Palolem, Goa
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Goa — it’s the country’s uncrowned coastal capital, renowned for its laid-back feel and beautiful beaches. The success of the state among both Indian and foreign tourists over the years has meant a steady rise in visitors. You can skip the crowded northern beaches and head down south towards picturesque Palolem. You are guaranteed a decent night’s sleep here, due to a ban after 10 p.m. on live music. Hugged by a coconut-studded palm forest, the area provides several soothing activities right on the beach, such as Ayurvedic massages and yoga lessons. If you are looking for a day out, common day excursions include dolphin-sighting tours across the Arab Sea. Travelers can explore different wildlife sanctuaries, to possibly spot lions, leopards, monkeys and deers.
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