A Slice Of Blue Haven
Explore India's varied coastline along these less frequented destinations
Located about 20 km north of Kochi towards Vypeen Island, this scenic beach is ideal to spend an idyllic day with the family. Due to the unique combination of the sea and backwaters, the tide at Cherai is always low and the water is safe for swimmers. The beach is known for dolphin sightings and you can also enjoy a dramatic view of the famous Chinese fishing nets of Fort Kochi. For all this, Cherai is relatively less frequented among Kochi's beaches and remains the cleanest and least crowded option. The shacks will serve delicious local food and all the best hotels are a seashell's throw away.
Stay: Cherai is best reached via the local ferry from Fort Kochi; Cherai Beach Resort; cheraibeachresorts.com
Radhanagar, Havelock, Andaman Islands
Not for nothing is Beach No. 7, or Radhanagar Beach, repeatedly counted among the best beaches in Asia. On the largest island of the archipelago, about 40 km from the capital Port Blair, this is a slice of blue haven. Since Time magazine named it the best beach in Asia back in 2004, it has gained popularity. Its 2-km stretch, though, is still pristine, with crystal-clear water and fine white sand. You can find many isolated spots to relax and enjoy Andaman's stark natural beauty. You should also try out diving, snorkelling and other less intensive water-based activities that your hotel will happily organize.
Stay: Check out the beautiful boutique hotel, Jalakara; jalakara.info
Just when you think you have seen everything in the state, Goa throws up a surprise that is exotic. Galgibaga, or Turtle Beach, is one such wonder -- perhaps one of the last few uncrowded places near the touristy town of Agonda. Located in south Goa, on the banks of the Galgibaga, the beach is one of the few nesting grounds for the Olive Ridley Turtle in the state. Here, you are away from the party zones of north Goa, about 85 km from Panaji. You can enjoy all the delights of Goa without any of the noise or overcrowding.
Stay: The accommodation here is simple. Choose from one of the shacks on the beach such as cassoibyciarans.com
Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
An abandoned town on the Pamban Island of Tamil Nadu, thanks to a cyclone in the '60s, Dhanushkodi is now becoming popular for its pristine beach and historical sites. Located in Rameswaram and accessible by a scenic train ride from Chennai, it recently made news as the place where you can see the origins of the Rama Setu. But don't make that the focus of your journey. Instead, chase the sun, as it drops into the … is it the Bay of Bengal or the Indian Ocean? You have each on either side at Dhanushkodi, as you'll be standing at the very edge of the Indian subcontinent! Not many have even heard of this place, so get ready to generate major social envy when you return from this secret beach trip.
Stay: The only decent option is the Tamil Nadu Tourism-run hotel, TTDC Rameswaram; 04573 221064; ttdconline.com
The ecology of Lakshadweep is so fragile that not too many people or resorts are allowed on the island and getting there has become somewhat difficult. (You need to book a package with the government's tourism agency, SPORTS.) However, once you do get there, the capital, Kavaratti, will make it seem worthwhile. Instagram-friendly scenes abound everywhere on this white-sand island -- you can choose between acres of empty beaches and palm-fringed lagoons. Take a boat tour, or go for a diving expedition to witness the unusual marine life, such as sharks, schooling barracuda, trevally, giant sea fans and gorgonians. With very few tourists visiting, you are likely to be among a handful to make a trip to Lakshadweep.
Stay: Book a holiday package, including the stay, through Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports (SPORTS), 0484 266 6789, 0484 266 8387, 09495984001, laksports.reservation (at) gmail.com