The beautiful long coastline of India is fringed with an overwhelming array of beaches. However, many of them have been spoilt by overcrowding and overt commercialisation. The good news is that there are still undiscovered beaches out there — serene hideaways to enjoy the majesty of blue skies and white-crested waves.
While some of these offer splendid isolation, others provide an encounter with sleepy villages that haven’t changed in decades. Beloved by locals, these sandy stretches are off the tourist track, and brimming with character.
With temperatures set to soar for the next few months, we thought it was time to reveal a few secret beaches – stunning stretches of honeyed sand or cool coves that remain uncrowded even on a holiday weekend.
So, if you don’t fancy sharing your patch of sand with hundreds of other sun-seekers, here’s our pick of lesser-trodden, offbeat beaches across India. And if you have a favourite one that we’ve missed, don’t forget to share in the comments section below!
1. Ezhimala Beach, Kerala
Located 55 km from Kannur, Ezhimala is a serene seaside haven in Kerala. Home to one of India’s largest naval academies, it is also an important historical site that has featured in Sangam-era literature and the Ramayana. Culture vultures will also like exploring an ancient burial chamber, hill caves and carved tone pillars nearby.
2. Cola Beach, Goa
South Goa is sleepier than the north but what it lacks in cosmopolitanism, it makes up for in natural beauty; the beaches and fishing villages of Canacona are set in a truly stunning landscape. One of the little-known beaches in this region is the Cola Beach. Gentle waves crashing on the golden sands, an endless blue sea and a clear palm-fringed freshwater lagoon is what makes this beach perfect for those craving seclusion and surreal beauty.
3. Mandvi Beach, Gujarat
Hardly explored by many travellers to the spectacular Kutch region in Gujarat, the pristine Mandvi Beach is a hidden gem still not seen by many. Once the region’s leading port of entry, Mandvi still boasts a 400-year-old shipbuilding yard, where even today ships are manufactured. Large wooden blocks still float on the silent waters, like a fairytale woven on frozen times. There is also a historic palace nearby, Vijay Vilas Palace, that exemplifies an eclectic mix of of architecture and cultures.
4. Ottinene Beach, Karnataka
Chances are higher that you are completely unaware of Ottinene’s mere existence, leave alone paying a visit to this little beach in the coastal Karnataka town of Byndoor. In-fact, ‘town’ might be a little exaggeration, and ‘environs’ of Udupi district would be an appropriate description. Located beneath the overhanging cliff of a little hillock that hosts the Someshwara Temple, the sight of this beach surrounded by lush green forests overlooking the sea is spectacular. Add to that the estuary of Sumana river merging on to the Arabian sea right beside, and you know why it was once voted the ‘Most Exotic Beach in India’ in a survey conducted among the verified travellers at TripAdvisor.
5. Mandarmani Beach, West Bengal
One of the longest driveable beaches in India, Mandarmani lies 22 km from Contai, a small town in West Bengal. The ideal location for a laidback beach holiday, it remains one of the more unpolluted beaches in the country, and supports countless colonies of red-hued sand bubbler crabs. The beach sees some additional action at dawn, when fishing boats drop anchor and disgorge their catches of fresh seafood.
6. Yarada Beach, Andhra Pradesh
Surrounded by picturesque hills, palm-fringed valleys and mangroves, the Yarada Beach (near Visakhapatnam
in Andhra Pradesh) is seldom spoken of, but offers some of the best seaside scenery on the eastern coast of India. Built atop Black Mores Hill, the historic Dolphin’s Nose lighthouse lies just a short distance away from the beach and is still in use today, with its powerful white beacon shining every 10 seconds.
7. Cherai Beach, Kerala
Located just 25 km from Kochi, the 15 km long Cherai Beach maybe one of the most understated beaches in Kerala but it’s among the best places in the state to enjoy the sun, sand and sea, far from the crowd. The beach is clean and perfect for trying out some outdoor yoga. You can also engage in various activities like swimming and catamaran rides – or more culturally interesting ones like getting a glimpse of the local ways of life.
8. Butterfly Beach, Goa
Unlike its overcrowded counterparts in Goa, the pristine and solitary little beach on the Butterfly Island in Canacona is just the place for some secluded fun in the warm cerulean waters of the Arabian Sea. There is no road access to this beach – one has to either trek through the forest on the island for two hours or take a ferry from another beach to get here! And yes, the effort is definitely worth it!
9. Jallandhar Beach, Diu
With a tranquil, sun-kissed shoreline, the Jallandhar beach in Diu is a place that sings to an ocean-lover’s heart. The beach get its unusual name from a nearby shrine, which bears the face of Jallandhar, a mythical demon killed by Lord Krishna. Perched at the edge of a quaint village where tourism hasn’t yet eclipsed the local culture, Jallandhar Beach is perfect for an old-fashioned seaside holiday.
10. Malpe Beach, Karnataka
Malpe in south Karnataka is home to seriously surreal sunsets, unique rock formations and long, winding roads. After enjoying the sylvan setting of this beach, take a ferry ride to St.Mary’s island. The formations of crystallised basalt rock – a peculiar geological formation much like the Giant Causeway in Northern Ireland – is truly a visual delight.
11. Kondura Beach, Maharashtra
If it’s serenity and solitude you’re after, head to Kondura, a tiny fishing hamlet in the Vengurla region of Maharashtra. It has a small temple, verdant cliffs overlooking the aquamarine Arabian Sea, and a beach where the only footprints belong to the fisherfolk. Paths wind through the trees on the hillside if you fancy a bit of a hike.
12. Lalaji Bay Beach, Andaman Islands
A wide sweep of white sand surrounded by swaying coconut trees, Lalaji Bay beach is one of Andaman Island’s most unspoiled beaches. Sheltered and secluded, there are warm shallows for swimming and the soft silvery sand of this pristine beach squeaks when you walk on it. Primeval forests that seem to be straight out of the Jurassic age add to the enchanting aura of the emerald isles and a hike through them is perfect for those seeking adventure on a beach vacation.
13. Astaranga Beach, Odisha
Turquoise sea, solitary vibe and a beautiful, sandy beach makes this the best seaside destination along the coastal stretch in Odisha’s Puri district. Named for its stunning multi-hued sunsets, Astaranga is also home to a thriving fishing community that works to ensure that the beach remains a safe nesting site for the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. This little hamlet is about 30 km away from the world heritage site, the Konark Sun temple.
14. Tip Beach, Lakshadweep
A protected little cove with sweeping views of azure lagoons and coral atolls in the distance, Tip beach lies literally at the northern tip of Kalpeni Island, one of the emerald isles of Lakshadweep. With lovely big boulders to jump off, coral debris-filled rock pools and tranquil tropical waters, this secluded beach is perfect for those who want to luxuriate in the lap of pristine nature. All in all, it’s just the kind of secret beach for travelers who want to return home with got-there-first bragging rights!