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5 Lesser known beach getaways in India for this summer

There’s something about the sea that is at once endearing and awe-inspiring. The first sight of the vast expanse of water is usually an overwhelming experience. It is also fascinating that the same sea can have an array of moods – smooth and gentle, fierce and turbulent, grey and violent… For those whom the pull of the ocean is like a clarion call, India’s vast coastline is perfect as it has something for every kind of soul. But if crowded and overhyped beaches are not your scene, then here are some hidden gems that are ideal for relaxed and family-style vacations.

Except for those who know it, Kapu on Karnataka’s coast near Udupi, isn't likely to show up as an idyllic seaside getaway. So tranquil that it is perfect even during the monsoons. The Arabian Sea stretches out in front, while a stream, scattered fishing hamlets, and miles of deserted beach make it the ideal seaside monsoon getaway. It stands in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours like Udupi and Mangalore, which is probably why it has managed to retain its serenity. Whether watching the monsoon drama of stormy clouds and angry seas or serenely contemplating its beauty in the glorious colours of sunset, long walks on the golden sands or slow drive along narrow coastal roads fringed by tall coconut trees, Kapu is all about pausing, mindfulness and quiet contemplation, in between haring off to Udupi or Malpe for seafood and temple fare.

Stay: There are a few resorts and homestays; Sai Radha Heritage is comfortable with beach access while Blue Matsya, a homestay is ideal for families.

Eat: While hotels serve generic and basic fare, for a true local coastal food experience, drive to one of these. Hotel Thimmappa is rustic while Machali Udupi is more spacious. And while here, try and swing by Mitra Samaj near the Udupi Krishna Temple for delicious dosas and several other local eats.

Know: The nearest airport is at Mangaluru (60km) and is well connected to Bengaluru and other cities.

On the Kerala coast, hidden amidst some famous beaches is one that is relatively lesser known. Just a few minutes from Alleppey is Marari beach, a secluded haven. Short for Mararikulam, a fishing village nearby, the beach is scenic with lovely surroundings and is ideal for a family getaway. Long walks along the beach on pale yellow sands, or just lounging by the water, especially at sunset when the sea turns liquid gold, is the perfect way to enjoy the place. If you feel the need to work off some energy, then the century old pier is a great destination to walk to. There are also fishing villages and a fish landing harbour nearby, where one can watch fisher folk haul in the day’s catch. During the day, head out on a backwater cruise and get a glimpse of life in villages along the banks. For nature junkies, it is also worthwhile to explore the area’s unique eco-system.

Stay: There are plenty of choices near Marari, but CGH Earth Marari Beach is plush and offers a memorable stay. Also family-friendly is Marari Beach Bungalow.

Eat: Both these hotels offer excellent Kerala food. For adventurous kind, try a Thattukada (local roadside cart or shack) that serves traditional snacks and dishes.

Optional: Adventure-junkies can opt for a clutch of water sports such as surfing and parasailing near Alleppey beach, which is next door to Marari.

Know: The nearest airport is at Kochi (42 km) to the north; taxis are easily available. The nearest railhead is at Alleppey (15 km).

It might seem like an impossible prospect to find a beach that’s relatively unknown in Goa, but fortunately, such places still exist. Heading south from Colva, the crowds thin out. Soon after, the river Sal river meets the sea at Cavelossim. At this triangular stretch of beach, the sands are deserted and the place is secluded and clean with the most stunning seascape. This is also where the coastline has several luxury hotels with plush accommodation and lavish facilities, ideal for indulgence and to kick back for a relaxed vacation. Head out for morning and evening walks along the pristine sands. One of the most striking aspects of the beach is the presence of dark lava rocks which are a stark contrast to the pale sands. The other side of the river is lined with fishing boats in various hues. This also the stretch which has several shacks and tiny bars which offer a local experience. If relaxing on the beach or wading into the gentle waters gets a bit staid, then set out on a boat trip to sight dolphins or just for a trip on the seas.

Stay: Visitors are spoilt for choice; however, St Regis and Novotel offer comfortable stays for families.

Eat: Most hotels have pretty good dining options but if you must step out, then head to Fisherman’s Wharf or Mike’s Place for a taste of local food. For the more adventurous, there are several shacks along the beach as well as the river.

Know: Dabolim airport is about 45 km; taxis are easily available. Check with the hotel for pickup and drop facilities.

Diu is possibly one of the best kept secrets on India’s west coast, frequented mostly by those in the area but largely overlooked as a seaside destination by the rest. But a visit will quickly charm and ensnare visitors. A coastal enclave which was once ruled by the Portuguese, Diu together with Daman, constitutes one of the few Union Territories on India’s Western coast. It is a charming colonial place, as evidenced by the architecture which is predominantly Portuguese in style. There are a clutch of beaches – Ghoghla, Chakratirth, Jalandhar – but opt for staying outside the busy town, where the sands are golden and the water is a beautiful turquoise blue. Needless to say, sunsets are stunning, but walks along the sea early in the morning are also worthwhile since it is cool and calm. If you must head into town, don’t miss the striking Zampa Gateway and the fort, its mossy walls with beautiful carvings, a chapel and the lighthouse.

Stay: There are a host of options within town but opt for a seaside stay. Kostomar Beach Resort with a spa is ideally located.

Eat: Local food is heavily influenced by Gujarati cuisine and is widely available such as places like Apana Foodland. For a Portuguese twist try O Coqueiro.

Know: Diu has limited flight connectivity from Mumbai; Rajkot (225km) has more options.

Nestled just outside the busy city of Visakhapatnam, Rushikonda is a seaside stretch that is incredibly scenic. It is a gently curving bay, with golden sands that are met by gentle azure waters, and where the tides are surprisingly languid. On the other side, serving as a backdrop, are a series of hills, mostly covered by lush greenery and studded with swaying palms. Needless to say, the sunrises are spectacular, while walking along the unspoilt beach in the evening is meditative as it cools down and a welcome breeze blows through from the sea. It could get hot during the day, so opt to stay indoors or head to the pool or spa. But there are also plenty of things to see and do just a short drive away in Visakhapatnam such as a drive up to Kailasagiri hill or swing through Kambalakonda wildlife sanctuary or head North to the beautiful environs of Bheemli. There are also several museums including a submarine museum.

Stay: Visakhapatnam has several stay options but opt for Radisson Blu near Rushikonda.

Eat: While most hotels offer good choice of cuisines, for a lovely seaside experience head to Shore Front Resort which serves delicious seafood. The adventurous should try Raju Gari Dhaba for a truly local experience.

Know: Visakhapatnam is well connected by flights and trains, and it is easy to get local transport. Ask your hotel about pickup and drop to the airport.

Tip: Time your visit for full moon night, when the night sky becomes surreal and the water is a mass of reflected silver.


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