One of the oldest tourist enclaves in India, Kovalam in Kerala is home to one of the best beaches in the world. The clean beaches have shallow waters and very gradual gradient that allows you to walk a long way into the sea.
Kovalam is internationally renowned for its three beaches shaped like crescents. There is a cliff on the beach that creates a bay of calm water which is ideal for sun bathing.
Kovalam is ideal for relaxing and spending time in a leisurely way. There are several activities to like sun bathing, swimming, catamaran cruising, herbal body massage and cultural programs, intended at heightening your touristic experience.
Life is very laid back at Kovalam and everything starts off late in the day and continues well into the night. If you want to have a break from the beach hopping, head to the numerous shopping complexes and ayurvedic health resorts that abound in the beach town.
Water sports like kayaking, surfing and water skiing are some of the activities that can be enjoyed in Kovalam. You can also go fishing all by yourself on a sail boat.
Kovalam has its share of nightlife with parties going on till late at night. Some restaurants and cafes organize music recitals on the beach which creates a nice ambience to enjoy a nice meal with family and friends.
Kovalam assumed importance when Maharani Sethu Laskhmi Bai, the Queen of Travancore, built a palace, the Halcyon Castle, on the top rock near the beach. In 1936, the then queen chose to spend her honeymoon with consort Prince GV Raja. It was GV Raja who saw the tourist potential of Kovalam and invited Thomas Cook and Sons from the United Kingdom to develop the region.
The Maharaja of Travancore started having regular gatherings here and Halcyon Castle would house his European guests. The popularity of the region grew and it became the favorite holiday destination of European guests who lived in Madras and other nearby regions.
After Independence, Kovalam was relatively unknown but it came to the limelight in the seventies when hippies arrived here and transformed a laid-back fishing village into a tourist destination with their wild parties.
The beach area of Kovalam is a treasure trove for shopping. Small shacks on the beach are ideal for picking pretty trinkets and small handicrafts made from ivory, rosewood and sandalwood. The Tibetan Curio Shops, Kashmiri and Rajasthani emporiums are the best places to buy handicrafts and fashionable clothes.
Where to stay
There are a lot of options when it comes to accommodation in Kovalam. The budget hotels are concentrated near Light House Beach with decent amenities and facilities.
Mid-range hotels offer good facilities like parking spaces and room service. They are located mainly near Hawwah Beach.
Luxury hotels are located near Chowara and Light House Beach. They offer excellent facilities like pick-up and drop from the airport, spa, laundry services and many others.
There is an Ayurveda Wellness Centre and India's first Ayurveda Resort.
Where to eat
The best place to eat is near Light House Beach where there are many restaurants that serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Chicken Fry and Fried Chicken in red masala paste are made well in restaurants near Kovalam Junction.
You can get a wide variety of chicken dishes in Kovalam. Other favourites of Kovalam are beef fry and fish fry. The best vegetarian dishes are served in restaurants on Light House Beach.
You can get Chinese, Punjabi, Italian, South Indian, and North Indian and Continental cuisine in different areas of Kovalam.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Kovalam is during the months of September to March but it can be visited any time of year.