3 Beach Vacations That Are Not Goa


Publish Date: 3rd June 2020

 

 

Goa has been fulfilling vacation dreams of millions of travellers and is without a doubt the beach capital of India! Not just Indians, but Russians and Israelis are also crazy about the vibe of Goa.

There are some conversations you absolutely dread, like hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore” or “You are bankrupt” but what tops the list is   - “Bro, this time we have to cancel our GOA PLANS”. You immediately start regretting the time invested in planning and dreaming of the heavenly beach side and shack parties.

 Also, there are travellers who look forward to spending quality leisure time at Goa’s beaches and meditating to the peaceful sound of waves but often the throngs of tourists play spoilsport.

The idea of travelling is different for every traveller and keeping that in mind, here are 3 alternatives to the beaches of Goa, perfect for different kinds of travellers.

 

 

 

1. Gokarna

 

 

This famous coastal town of Karnataka is a great weekend getaway for Bangaloreans but can be explored as a trip in itself too. Known for its crystal clear waters and unconventional beaches, there's more to Gokarna than just lounging by the ocean. Thrill seekers can also try Gokarna’s Hilly Beach trek while families can enjoy sightseeing, temples as well as the local culture. The region is also getting popular for its beach yoga retreats & wellness tourism.

Ways to Reach:

Air

Goa Airport (around 150 kms away from Gokarna) or Bengaluru Airport (around 502 kms away from Gokarna)  

Train

Gokarna Road or Kumta or Ankola Railway station

Road

KSRTC buses from various Karnataka cities & even from Goa. Also, self-drive rental vehicles from Bengaluru or Panaji.

 

Famous places to visit: Gokarna Main beach, Om beach, Kudle beach, Mahabaleshwar Temple, Paradise beach, and Half Moon beach.

Activities: Dolphin watching, Watersports – Banana boat ride, Jet Skiing, Scuba Diving, and Parasailing.

Excursions from Gokarna:

·         Vibhooti Waterfalls (70ft height)

·         Yana Caves

·         Murdeshwar (Famous for Shiva Statue – 123ft)

·         Belekan beach

 

What to eat: Gokarna is famous for seafood as well as the local Karwari cuisine and ofcourse international cuisines like Continental, Russian and Thai. It has a thriving café culture with some of the popular choices being Namaste Café, Sunset Café (near Gokarna Main Beach), Chez Christrophe (with a distinct hippie vibe), Nirvana Cafe (situated near Om Beach – famous for its Nutella Pancake) and more. The meal cost can vary from Rs. 300 to Rs. 1000 per person per meal. Those who want to try the local food can head to Gokarneshwar Mess and other such lunch homes situated in the city centre. These eateries provide affordable Thalis at Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per person per meal.

 

Where to Stay:

·         For 3 star hotels – Kudle Beach View Resort & Om Beach Resort

·         For Luxury – Stone Wood Nature Resort and Kahani Paradise House

·         Also, one can opt for camping at Paradise beach or one of the many hostels.

 

Best time to visit: From November to February

 

This destination is perfect for all types of travellers – families, party lovers, adventure seekers, backpackers, couples, and even corporate incentive tours etc. Suitable for different budgets, 2-3 nights are ideal for a Gokarna trip.

 

 

2. Radhanagar Beach, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

 

 

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are becoming an alternative to international beaches like Maldives or Mauritius because of their scenic beauty and well-kept beaches. Radhanagar is the largest as well as the most popular beach on Swaraj Dweep Island (earlier known as Havelock Island). This island paradise boasts of tropical beauty (it is thickly forested), sparkling white sand, turquoise blue water along with mesmerizing sunset views.

 

Ways to Reach:

Air

Port Blair Airport

Jetty

From Port Blair (Haddo Wharf or Phoenix Bay Jetty) to Swaraj Dweep (Havelock) Jetty (takes approx 1.5 hrs). Private companies and Government both operate ferries and price varies accordingly.

Road

From Swaraj Dweep Jetty to Radhanagar beach is a 20 mins drive. AC bus, Rickshaw, Cab or Two wheelers can be used.

 

You can also rent a scooty to explore the beauty of Havelock island. Keep in mind that there are only a few petrol pumps and petrol prices are higher compared to other Indian cities. All of the stations close after 7pm so ensure you have your tank full.

 

What to eat – Head to Emerald Gecko for fresh & delicious sea food. Full Moon Café is great for healthy salads and tasty vegetarian and vegan meals. For a sumptuous meal experience, one can visit the highly rated Sea Dragon restaurant near the Havelock Jetty, known for its seafood yet no dearth of options for vegetarians.

Famous places to visit – Elephant Beach, Kala Patthar Beach (lot of black coloured rocks gracing the coastline), and Vijay Nagar Beach

Activities: Snorkelling, Scuba Diving, Trek to Elephant beach (from Radhanagar Beach), Elephant ride

Excursions from Radhanagar Beach / Havelock Island:

·         Neil Island (Bharatpur & Laxmanpur beach)

·         Long Island (Lalaji Bay beach, Cosy caves, Merk bay beach and Guitar Island)

Where to stay:

·         3 star / Economical hotels – Dreamland Resort (2 star) and TSG Blue Resort (3 Star) which are both near Radhanagar beach. There are many hotels near the Jetty or other beaches. The famous ones are Shagrilas beach (3-star resort) and The Wild Orchid Resort, both near Vijay Nagar beach.

·         Luxury Properties – Taj Exotica Resort and Barefoot at Havelock

Best Time to Visit – From December to February when the temperature varies from 18 to 25 degrees.

 

These beaches are perfect for honeymooners, those seeking exclusivity and families who want to spend time minus the crowds.

 

 

 

3.  Varkala

 

 

This calm and peaceful seaside town lies 50 km north of Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) and is one of the most famous hangout place for backpackers in Kerala. Infact Varkala beach is a good alternative to the more popukar Kovalam beach. Preferred by a lot of international tourists for its breathtaking views and cleaner seashore, Varkala is dubbed as the 'medicine for our soul in god’s own country'.

It is settled along the edge of a 15-metre cliff which is adjacent to the Arabian Sea. The area is blessed with a natural spring which has medicinal properties. Varkala is also known for its Kerala Ayurveda centres & yoga institutes for wellness.

 

 Ways to Reach:

Air

Trivandrum International Airport (around 58 kms away from Gokarna)

Train

Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station or else Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station 

Road

Multiple State-run buses from all cities of Kerala. Also, there are options of Rental vehicle to drive down from Cochin (170 kms) or from Trivandrum (50 kms).

 

Where to eat: Like Gokarna, Varkala also has a thriving cafe culture due to international visitors and other tourists flocking over weekends. Some of the popular cafes include Darjeeling Cafe (North Indian, Tibetan, Continental cuisine - around Rs. 500 per person per meal), Cafe Italiano (enjoy good Italian food with amazing views of the coastline), Trattorias (Continental, Pan Asian, local seafood platter) and Coffee Temple (other than freshly brewed coffee, they serve juices, salads, and fusion Indian snacks).

Since it's a famous religious place, vegetarians will get umpteen options for pure veg restaurants (Oottupura Vegetarian Restaurant) serving Kerala's local cuisine and its speciality is tangy rasam over soothing rice served on a banana leaf. Local fish fry cannot be missed by non-vegetarian food lovers. For authentic Kerala food, head to True Thomas or Chimney Family Restaurant where the Fish Moily is a must-have.

 

 Famous places to visit: Varkala Beach, Sivagiri Mutt, Varkala Cliff, Sri Janardanaswamy temple (2000 years old!), Kappil beach, Anchuthengu Fort and Odayam beach.

 

Excursions from Varkala:

·         Thiruvanathapuram (can be covered in half day)

·         Kovalam Beach

·         Kollam (Famous for Astamudi Lake - Gateway to Kerala’s Backwaters) which is only 40 kms from Varkala

 

Where to stay:

·         3-star hotels – Prashanthi Cliff (Best rated resort, beachfront) and Hill View Beach Resort.

·         Luxury Properties – Grand Rodina Resort & Spa (4 star), Gateway Varkala (Beachfront 4 star) and B'Canti Boutique Beach Resort Varkala (5 star).

·         Experience luxurious backwater stay - Fragrant Nature Backwater 4-star Resort & Ayurveda Spa in Kollam (16 kms drive from varkala beach)

·         For Backpackers - Cliff Stories, Zostel, Short Giraffe and many such affordable hostels

 

Best time to visit: From November to February (It has tropical climate wherein summer months of April to June are unbearable and hence winter is suggested)

 

This destination is perfect for those seeking peaceful wellness therapies, believers who want to visit religious places, backpackers, couples,and even adventure junkies.

 

 

 Time to look beyond Goa, imprinted on our collective imagination as the best beach destination in India! Here’s to making a new version of ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ in the cliff of Varkala, with a thrilling beach trek in Gokarna or scuba diving in the corals of Havelock Island!

 

 

 Kedar Ubhaykar is a travel expert at Travel Tours in Mumbai. An explorer since his childhood days, he loves to trek, tour new places and try new cuisines. Follow him on his Instagram handle @exploreyourplan


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