Kovalam – Enjoy a beach holiday with a difference
Kovalam, the enchanting tropical beach of Kerala holds a cult status in the tourist itineraries of Kerala. An erstwhile fishing hamlet, which was a favorite haunt of the hippies in the seventies, Kovalam has perfectly evolved to be world class beach destination today.
The word "Kovalam" literally means a coconut grove and true to its name, the palm fringed rocky beaches of Kovalam and its surrounding villages offer the pleasant views of endless expanses of coconut trees even today.
Kovalam beach, which is in the shape of a half moon has three distinct parts of which the light house beach, which is in the southern most end is the most popular. In case you are craving to have a quiet beach holiday experience far from the maddening crowd, then the Samudra beach at the northern end would be the best choice. The hawah beach in the middle is the best place to be in to soak up the fun of the fishing activities as it turns into a busy hub thronged by fishermen setting out for their daily catch in boats. The calm waters of kovalam beach make it safe for swimming, bathing and other leisure activities. Kovalam is quite popular for snorkeling and the enchanting coral reefs and other under water spectacles draw enthusiastic snorkeling fans from far and wide.
Kovalam in Trivandrum is popularly known as the "Paradise of the South" not for nothing! The swaying coconut palms set a brilliant backdrop against the white sandy coast and the setting sun. The shallow sea along the fringes of the coast would enable you to easily walk upto 100 meters into the sea.
The beautiful blue waters and the pleasant climate make Kovalam a popular honeymoon destination as well. There are many comfortable hotels near the beach, some of which offer great views of the sun and the sand. Honeymoon in Kovalam is likely to be a refreshingly different experience for the sheer multitude of activities on offer. Take a look at the many small eateries and fish kiosks in the beach that offer the spicy and tangy flavors of sea food and fresh fish preparations of Kerala.
Your Kovalam holidays can never be complete without indulging in a rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage and holistic therapies that would leave you relaxed. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach, take a dip in the shallow waters or work up a well deserved sun tan in the bone white sandy beach while the shop hoppers rummage through the many shops that sell arts and crafts items made of corals and shells.
There are many interesting Places to visit in and around Kovalam including the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum which is only 13 Km from here. Kovalam sight seeing could also include Veli Tourist Village, Varkala beach and Padmanabhapuram Palace among others. Do not miss out the world’s richest temple of Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum.
Though the mass tourism trails have made this beautiful beach highly crowded all round the year, Kovalam still retains its charm as a wonderful beach destination. So, in case you are planning an authentic tropical beach holiday experience this season, Kovalam tours could be the best option for you. Check out our Kovalam tour package to enjoy a beach holiday with a difference!
The Light house beach
The southernmost beach and the most popular, this is what is we usually refer to by ‘Kovalam beach.’ The tall red and white striped light house is more or less the landmark of the beach. The light house, which is more than 30 meters high, is open from 2 pm to 4 pm. The view of the beach from the top of the light house is quite worth the long climb. The beach would be crowded during the peak season with sunbathing tourists and groups of locals. Handicraft shops, eateries and other booths dot the shore; the evenings here exude a carnival ambience with the restaurants playing music.
The waters are shallow for quite a distance and are thus safe for swimming. If you feel like getting away from the crowds, you can take a walk along the fishing villages which lie further across the beach side.
The Hawwa and Samudra beaches
The Hawwa beach is used more by the local fishermen than tourists. The Samudra beach is the northern-most beach and the least crowded of the three. A 15-minute walk separates the beach from the lighthouse beach. The Samudra is the quietest of the three; there are also few tourist activities here.
Vizhinjam is a small town with a natural port, which lies about 3 km from Kovalam. The town still has remnants of its old trade connections; a church built by the Portuguese still stands here, close to the sea. Vizhinjam also has a cave temple; within the cave can be found unfinished reliefs of Lord Siva dancing with Parvati.
The city of Thiruvananthapuram abounds with temples, age old palaces, museums and much more. The most famous among them would be the Padmanabha Swamy temple and the Padmanabhapuram palace. The Napier museum and the Sree Chitra Art Gallery attached to it are also well worth a visit. The city also has a zoo which houses a wide variety of rare species of animals and birds. There are quite a few spots of great scenic beauty around Thiruvananthapuram - Ponmudy, Meenmutty etc. The district also has a network of backwaters along which houseboat cruises can be arranged.
Swimming and sunbathing
Swimming is allowed in the beaches, however only at certain restricted points. The waters can be unpredictable and rough, there can be dangerous undertow at certain points. So it is better to stick to those points indicated by the signboards. The climate of Kerala, of course is ideal for that perfect tan. However, if you have recently received an Ayurvedic oil massage, you need to consult an expert before stepping out into the sun.
Ayurveda, the age old system of medicine, literally means the science of life. The basic premise of the system is in treating the mental, social and spiritual aspects of the human body, not just the physical. There are a number of Ayurveda spas in Kovalam; some can be found right on the beachside. There are those which offer just an oil massage, while some offer a full 21 day treatment involving a special diet and daily massage. There is also a ten day package. According to Ayurveda exponents, the monsoons are the best time for rejuvenation, when the pores of the skin are fully open and receptive to the oils and baths.
Yoga and Meditation
The yoga centers are usually attached to the resorts scattered across Kovalam. The instructors here would be professionally qualified and you can combine your holiday with a spiritual journey. The best thing about learning Yoga and meditation here in Kovalam is that you have the perfect setting to practice it; there couldn’t be anything more blissful than meditating on the quiet sands of the beach in the early morning.
Kathakali, the dance drama of Kerala, is an art form which requires long years of training and fitness to be perfected. The very sight of the artist with his elaborate makeup, costume and facial expressions is spectacular by itself; when watched against the backdrop of the sunset or the night sky by the beach, well, it has to be experienced to be believed.
Being a well developed tourist centre, the facilities available at Kovalam are on par with that of any major destination in the world. Beach-volley, water skiing, parasailing, kayaking, skiing, windsurfing etc. are some of the sports in which you can indulge in. Of course, the availability depends on the season in which you are visiting. Also, it is better to seek the instructions of the lifeguard before going into the sea. Surf boards are available for hire here. Snorkeling on the waters near the coast can provide you with magnificent views of the coral reefs on the sea bed. You can actually walk along the sea floor for a distance of nearly 100 meters.
There are two kinds of boats available for cruising, the rice boats and the kettuvalloms. The rice boats are long, narrow affairs, with a flat bottom, more of a ferry or a water taxi, punted by an oarsman. One of the water channels runs parallel to the sea, flanked on either side by shady coconut palms. As you pass by, you will be able to see typical Kerala villages on either side; rows of small houses with the children playing outside, the women engaged in beating coconut husk etc. On the other side, you can catch glimpses of the sea and the surf. At the end of the ride, you reach an island which is used solely for making coir. The experience is bound to remain in your heart forever.
The Gramam Kerala Village Fair
As part of the ten day long festival, a whole Kerala village is recreated on the beach; complete with a house with the traditional Nalukettu, (the inner open courtyard - a part of Kerala architecture) which becomes the venue. Art forms like Kathakali, Thiruvathirakali, Mohiniyattom, Oppana, Kalaripayattu, Theyyam, Kummattikkali, Panchavadyam, Chakyarkoothu and Ottanthullal are brought to life through spectacular performances.
The Great Elephant March
The march, also known as the Tourism Snakeboat Race, is a four day festival, where local folk art and Kalaripayattu performances, boat races and the famed elephant march takes place as part of the festival which culminates with a beach barbeque.
Flavor Food festival
As part of the festival, you can taste a variety of cuisines including typical Kerala gastronomy. Reputed hotels from all over Kerala put up stalls in the festival, which takes place in Kanakakkunnu palace grounds, Thiruvananthapuram.
There are rows of shops lining the beach which can provide you with all the knick-knacks you need; carved wood and metal crafts, handicraft items made of sea shells, paintings etc. It is better to avoid the hawkers who pursue you and try to make you buy their wares.
If you are for real shopping, you might have to go to Thiruvananthapuram. The Kairali emporium outside the Secretariat sells handicraft items of all kinds. The Khadi Gramudyog situated near Pazhavangadi has handloom cloth; silk as well as cotton, which can be used for stitching clothes of your choice.
There are buses and auto rickshaws available to move between points in the town. However, the best and most hassle-free way would be to hire a tourist taxi. You can get one from the airport or the railway station.
Come evening and the open-air eateries on the beach come to life. Candles and white tablecloths appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to make the setting for a truly gorgeous spread; seafood fresh out of the sea, literally. The delicacies include tiger prawns, lobster, mussels, squid, crab etc. The items will be cooked according to your choice - grilled, curried or fried. There are full-fledged restaurants a little more away from the sea, where you can choose between cuisines of various kinds.
Kovalam junction has a few eateries which provide local dishes (parotta- a kind of rotti, with fried chicken, with a dash of fresh chillies) at economical rates. Vegetarians can go for the Suprabhatham restaurant which offers excellent food for the money’s worth.
While in Kovalam, a drink not to be missed is tender coconut water. The mildly sweet drink can be had safely from anywhere, even the roadsides; only make sure the coconut is cut in front of you. The soft white flesh inside is also quite tasty. The drink is not only refreshing in the heat, but nutritious as well.
• Hawah beach was named so for the European women who used to bathe topless there. ‘Hawah’ is the Malayalam of ‘Eve’.
Thiruvananthapuram international airport is about 10 km from Kovalam. Flights operate to all major cities and towns in India from here.
There are excellent roads connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kovalam. Kovalam lies close to the NH 47 by-pass. From Kovalam junction, you have to turn right to reach the beaches.
Thiruvananthapuram railway station is situated around 16 km.