One of the most culturally and physiologically diverse countries, it comes as little surprise that India offers some seriously diverse (and individually beautiful) beaches. From pristine vanilla sands that meet glimmering sapphire waters, to wild red cliffs and eccentric seaside bars, there was some serious competition to crack the nod for our list of India’s best beaches.
Varkala Beach, Kerala: best for natural hot springs
Meeting the glistening Arabian Sea, Varkala Beach is known for its natural mineral hot springs (rumoured to have curative properties – so long hangover) and tall rocky red cliffs that drape around the stretches of hauntingly clean white sand. Paved footpaths offer a bit of cardio for those who tire of languid days at the seashore and a host of quirky restaurants and snack shops sit upon the cliff top to quench the thirst of parched sunbathed bodies.
Nagoa Beach, Diu: best for water sports
Situated on the western coast of India, Nagoa Beach is the most popular beach in Diu. Located a mere 7km from the town centre, and yet, despite its widespread appeal and frequent visits from tourists, somehow remains relatively untouched by commercialization with an overarching atmosphere of pure tranquility (must be all the yoga). Surrounded by luxuriant forest green Hokka trees (not found anywhere else in the country), beach goers tend to spend days here picking the lush oval fruit off the trees and wading in the crystal clear waters, or, alternately, partaking in a variety of water sports from para-sailing to jet skiing, windsurfing and water skiing. You need to work off those curries somehow.
Akshi Beach: best for bird watching
With so much to see and do in the bustling, colourful and aromatic country of India, it’s important to find a quiet respite where you can take a deep breath and feel one with nature. Luckily, Akshi Beach is just such a place. Known to locals as the idyllic weekend retreat for calming your mind and bird watching (clearly one in the same), Akshi is notorious for its clean waters, white sand and dense covering of suru trees; this little spot of solitude invites you to bring your towel, a bottle of sun cream and your best pair of binoculars (because who leaves home without them?).
Karmatang Beach, Andaman: best for animal lovers
Famous for its beautiful sea turtles, Karmatang Beach is a necessary stopover for all environmental and animal enthusiasts (a turtle nesting ground is quickly developing here). With gleaming and still turquoise waters rich in marine life and vibrant coral reefs, many come here to snorkel and scuba dive. So whether on land or under the sea, you’re sure to see more than your share of native wild life, a stark contrast to the noisy populated cityscapes. Now that’s certainly worth a visit.
Anjuna Beach, Goa: best for local night life
Unlike various other beaches that lure visitors with their calm azure seas and soft white sands, Anjuna Beach has a much more that just a stunning landscape (however, it is stunning); night parties, a smattering of nearby clubs and pubs, and a weekly flea market give this Goan beach the hustle and bustle that young travellers (and revellers) crave. Completely unique and extremely popular, this beach first became notorious for its trance music-filled full-moon parties starting in the 1960s. So, whether you’re in the mood to be around a lively atmosphere while indulging in the usual beachy luxuries, or desperate for a wild night out (or in search of an authentic Indian knick-knack. Because aren’t we all?), Anjuna is the place to be.
Bogmalo Beach, Goa: best for the foodies
Although majority of the beaches in Goa are rather busy, Bogmalo is one of the few quiet and rather laidback stretches of sand to retreat to. Known for its small diving school and various shipwreck sites, this beach is great for exploring, or simply observing the handful of quaint fishing villages that back onto Bogmalo and, for the food lovers, the local beach shack restaurants serve up delectable Goan cuisine. What more could you ask for?
Om Beach, Gokarna: best for boat rides
The shoreline is the shape of two semi-circles that join together, resembling the Hindu Om symbol (hence the name). Other than that, it’s just vast stretches of golden sands and a host of water activities from surfing to parasailing and, our favourite, banana boat rides.
Half Moon Beach, Gorkana: best for postcard photos
Just a hop, skip and cliff climb away from Om Beach (beware, there are no signs or painted rocks if you attempt to trek from one beach to the other), Half Moon boasts a relatively desolate atmosphere. So much so that you may even spot a few nude sunbathers (always nice to spice things up). A light sprinkling of beach shacks (and we do mean shacks) offer basic breakfast foods, while wild and rugged landscape presents a perfect background for photo sessions.
By Sara Starkman