To many people, India does not equal “beach holiday”, but that could not be farther from the truth.
This nation that stretches from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean to the foothills of the Himalayas must be on everyone’s bucket list. Its diversity can satisfy tourists of all types, whether it’s for culture seekers, for wellness tourism, nature lovers or even beach goers!
Don’t believe us? Just browse the list below for some of the most beautiful beach destinations in India!
Less a specific beach and more an entire state defined in large part by its beaches, there’s no way that we couldn’t start our list with the classic Indian beach destination of Goa. Whether you’re looking for active, party-minded beaches or more seclusion provided by beaches like the one pictured above, Goa probably has something for you. If you get tired of the sand and sun, Goa also has plenty more to offer. From its beaches to its fine architecture to its historic places of worship, India’s Goa state is perhaps the country’s most famous tourism destination–and for good reason.
Varkala Beach, Kerala
With its striking backdrop of a red laterite cliff, a dip in the water off picturesque Varkala beach is said to wash away any sins that you may have committed during your lifetime. We don’t know about you, but forgiveness for all our wrongdoings just for taking a nice swim sounds like a pretty good deal to us. On top of the cliff runs a path featuring a number of small restaurants and snack bars that cater to tourists, and the region is also home to the famous Sree Janardhana Swami Temple. If you’re in Kerala state, check it out!
Kovolam is one of India’s premiere beach towns, located in the Kerala state on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Though there are a number of great beaches in the region, the most iconic is without a doubt Lighthouse Beach. This spot has been popular with locals as well as primarily European tourists since the 1930s, and remains a major draw for tourists to India today. Rocky protrusions jutting off of the beach act to break up rough surf, meaning that bathers can enjoy relatively calmer waters just offshore.
Rishikonda Beach, Andhra Pradesh
Just a few kilometers away from one of eastern India’s largest cities in Visakhapatnam, Rishikonda Beach is the first on our list to border the Bay of Bengal. The sand here is more golden brown than white, and the hills rising up almost immediately from the shore make for a picturesque backdrop to enjoy while swimming or lounging about. The beach is also popular for access to water sports such as windsurfing and water skiing, so if either of these are up your alley this would be a fine place to enjoy them.
Agatti Island, Lakshadweep
Our first beach located off the Indian mainland, Agatti Island is actually part of the Lakshadweep Union Territory rather than any Indian state. Almost 500 kilometers offshore from the Indian subcontinent, Agatti Island is one of those places that seem to have materialized from a dream. Only six kilometers or so long, the island is nonetheless home to several thousand people as well as a small airport. If you’re looking to enjoy a quieter, more luxurious Indian beach holiday, Agatti Island could prove a good starting point for your search.
Andaman Islands, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Andaman Islands are part of another Indian Union Territory, but this time on the other side of the Indian mainland. These islands are so far to the east that they’re closer to the shores of Myanmar than to India–in fact, a few of the Andaman Islands even do belong to Myanmar! That said, as a tourist, it’s the Indian Andaman Islands that are going to interest you. The islands are recognized for their astounding nature, which of course continues even under the water line–the coral reefs in the vicinity are some of the best in the world. If you’re looking to get away, this is the place to do it.
Puri Beach, Odisha
Though not the most picturesque beach for sunbathing or swimming, Puri Beach in the Odisha state definitely deserves a mention for its cultural, and particularly religious, significance. This beach is sacred in the Hindu religion, and as such serves as a pilgrimage destination for visitors from across the country and the world. Secular tourism is also promoted of course, and the annual Puri Beach Festival is famous for its sand carvings that wow the visitors coming from far and wide.
Gokarna Beach, Karnataka
Located in the state of Karnataka, Gokarna itself is a small town focused around a number of temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Originally another destination for religious tourism, Gokarna has of late become a more tourism-centered economy. That being said, religious pilgrims still make the journey to the town in droves, though not as many come to the beach itself. Over the course of barely a decade, the area’s beachfront has gone from completely unspoiled to a tourist hot spot including small restaurants, snack bars, souvenir shops, and even some larger resorts. But the beach is still as beautiful as ever!
Marari Beach, Kerala
Back to Kerala with our list! Marari Beach is located towards the southern end of the state, bordering a sleepy village of the same name. There are only a few resorts in the area alongside an equally tiny number of smaller, more boutique accommodations. This means that you’re almost guaranteed privacy here–a true rarity, at least for mainland Indian beaches! There’s not much to do or see here, other than relax, go for a swim, and take in the beautiful natural setting all around you. However, you might find some more stuff to do just a short jaunt up the road…
Alappuzha Beach, Kerala
Just over ten kilometers from Marari Beach sits the considerably more “happening” beach town of Alleppey and its action-packed Alappuzha Beach. However, the beach itself might not be the area’s main touristic draw. This region is known for the Kerala backwaters, a series of brackish lakes and lagoons lying inland from the coast. This area makes for one of India’s most unique and interesting ecosystems, and a houseboat tour of the region comes highly recommended. Afterwards, of course, head to the beach–there is plenty there to see and do as well!
Chowpatty Beach, Maharashtra
First of all, we want to make something perfectly clear–this is NOT a beach to go and enjoy nature, and ESPECIALLY not a beach to go for a swim. In all honestly, conditions at Chowpatty Beach, found in the heart of Mumbai, can actually get pretty disgusting. What you will find here, however, is some of India’s truly beautiful culture on display. Whether you want to chow down on authentic Indian street food, take in the families strolling the sand and enjoying an evening together, or catch one of the religious celebrations that goes down here, there’s always something to take in.
If you want to check out one of India’s most surreal beach experiences, come visit the beach at Gopalpur-on-sea. This town was once a very busy port during the days of the East India Company, but now much of that infrastructure sits in ruins. The once booming town is now much more quiet, though it’s finally starting to make a comeback–as a resort area! Still, however, things are peaceful here, especially considering the massive pier and dock infrastructure you’ll see around you. The area’s lighthouse is emblematic of the city, and the view from the top is truly spectacular.
Ullal Beach, Karnataka
One of the oldest towns found anywhere in India, there’s no denying that Ullal has much more to offer than just its beach. However, the golden-brown sands and lightly crashing waves are certainly a fantastic addition! This is a great place to take a quick dive into the Arabian Sea before getting back and exploring the town. However, you must also be careful–the area is also known for strong rip currents that can prove dangerous even for experienced swimmers. If in doubt, consult a local before you head out.
Kudle Beach, Karnataka
Kudle Beach is one of several located outside of the small town of Gokarna in Karnataka state, and a personal favorite of ours. Just about one kilometer long and book-ended by two slowly rising geological features, this once isolated locale is nowadays getting a little bit more attention from tourists and locals alike. This isn’t a bad thing though–some industrious folk from nearby set up small makeshift restaurants and cafes along the treeline that will feed you get you nice and caffeinated for cheap!
Half Moon Beach, Karnataka
The last of three beaches on our list outside of the small town of Gokarna, perhaps you can see a trend here! However, each of these beaches truly deserved a spot on our list. Half Moon Beach is similar to Kudle Beach in its isolation, so much so that it’s not uncommon to see occasional nude sunbathers here. Locals once again will set up shacks selling food, drinks, and even some souvenirs during tourist season. Because this place never truly gets crowded anyway, this might be one of the few Indian beaches we’d specifically recommend visiting during that time of year.