Tranquil immaculate beaches, often isolated enough that you’re the only person walking on the shore with the odd local walking home, Kovalam was once renowned for spotless beaches and its endless shore-line. The hippies, however, ‘discovered’ the secret hideaway that Kovalam beach is back in the 1970s, and tourism here hasn’t looked back since. Significantly less ‘touristy’ than Goa, Kovalam has its share of small cafes and hotels with rocky shores that provide calmer waters for serene swims. Weekends, however, could get a little crowded. If you do need a break from the scenery, there’s always the option of the ever-enjoyable backwater cruise. Picture-perfect locales ensure Poovar remains ‘the’ top destination outside Kovalam. Apparently the port where King Solomon’s ships landed back in 1000 BC, Poovar is now a bustling tourist destination. Magnificent mangroves on stunning beaches with an estuary out to sea at high tide make Poovar an island you’ll want to come back to. Trivandrum is just a stone’s throw away from Kovalam and makes for a good day visit. The glorious legacy of the kingdom of Travancore can be seen, quite literally, around every corner here in Trivandrum. From ancient temples to fascinating museums, embark on this culturally exquisite Travancore Heritage Trail of one of South India’s finest cities. When here, you might want to stopover at the $20 billion temple of Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple and the zoo that was supposedly the inspiration behind Yann Martel’s ‘The Life of Pi’.
un[travel]’s Top Picks in Kovalam
Yoga on beach
Yoga on the beach
Discover a serene enlightened you with a yoga session on the rocky sands of Kovalam beach as the sun comes out. There’s no day that can possibly begin a better way.
Lunch at Vizhinjam
Head over to the bustling beachport village of Vizhinjam, 3km away, with history dating back to nearly the 7th century AD. Colourful fishing boats dot the coastline here against a backdrop of the 18th-century rock-cut temple. Fresh seafood cooked in Kerala’s finest spices.
Kovalam is now a tourist’s haven largely due its incredible array of beaches. Begin at the Hawa Beach before a short walk leads you to Lighthouse Beach, complete with a 118m tall lighthouse. End the tour on relatively quieter Samudra Beach.
Cultural evening in Kovalam
Enjoy the essence of Kerala’s culture while you are treated to performances of Kathakali and Mohiniattam, the former being of stupendous intricacy and the latter being sheer poetry. Marvel at the martial art, kalaripayattu, a combat technique inspired by kung fu.
When to un[travel] Kovalam
For clearer skies, opt for a slot between early September to the end of March. The beaches look their best early November through to March as well, so look out for some spectacular sunsets. Mid-October and November does see a fair amount of rain with the North-West monsoons. Sultry summers set in by April to the end of May with fairly high outdoor temperatures. Monsoons arrive by the first week of June right through to the end of August. Cool temperatures with overcast skies and green all around make this a visit like none other.
un[pack] That Bag
• Light clothing and sandals • An umbrella if you’re here in the monsoons • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen • Chargers and prescription medication.
un[travel]’s Top 5 Places to Stay
• Niramaya Retreat, Kovalam • Udaya Samudra, Kovalam • Tapovan Heritage Home, Kovalam • Estuary Island, Poovar • Over The Hill, Poovar