India's best beaches from the busy beach resorts in Goa to the quieter beaches in Gokarna and the tropical beaches in Kerala. Goa continues to be India’s most popular beach resort, but Kerala is a serious competitor and Gokarna is an increasingly popular destination for beach India tours.
Choosing from Goa’s Beaches
Goa's beaches are India's most popular and most developed beaches. The beaches in North Goa are generally busier and more developed than South Goa’s beaches, although development is hard to escape in Goa these days and most peace-seeking travellers, hippies and backpackers moved down the coast to Gokarna years ago.
Package holidaymakers and families tend to head to the deckchairs in Calangute and Baga, while the party crowd hangs out around Vagator. Arambol in the very northern tip of Goa is a favourite with travellers who are happy to spend months lying in a hammock. Mandrem and Asvem are some of the quieter and less deck-chaired beaches in North Goa.
In South Goa, Colva and Benaulim are popular with both international package tourists and Indian holidaymakers. Former backpacker favourite Palolem has gotten busier and busier in the recent years, but it still has plenty of simple bamboo huts, earning it the nickname “Bamboo Calangute”.
The Best of Gokarna’s Beaches
When Goa became too expensive and too busy, hippies and backpackers moved to Gokarna. This former sleepy little village and pilgrimage destination on Karnataka’s coast, just south over the border from Goa, is now one of India’s most popular beach holiday destinations.
Gokarna’s four beaches, Kudle, Om, Half-Moon and Paradise are quieter and cheaper than most beaches in Goa, making them very popular with backpackers and long-term travellers. Accommodation on Gokarna's beaches is still aimed towards the backpacker market and most visitors stay in bamboo huts and mud huts. But there is a luxury resort on Om Beach, as well as a few guesthouses and hotels around Kudle and Om Beaches and in Gokarna town, making Gokarna an increasingly popular beach destination.
Kerala’s Beaches Kovalam and Varkala
Kerala offers tropical palm-fringed beaches, great seafood, Ayurvedic massages and spas, and lots to see outside the beaches: there are boat trips to Kerala's beautiful backwaters, traditional Kathakali dances and visits to spice plantations and wildlife parks in the Western Ghats.
Kovalam is Kerala's busiest and most Westernised beach resort, as popular with international holidaymakers and tour companies as Goa. Further north along the Keralan coast, Varkala beach is slightly less developed than Kovalam and a favourite with travellers looking for a quieter beach holidays in India. The beaches in North Kerala are less known and tend to attract more Indian tourists. Find more info on beach tours india and beaches of india