With a 7000km coastline dotted with amazing beaches, explorers, traders, evangelists and refugees have docked on India’s shores shaping its culture, cuisine and faiths. ANURAG MALLICK & PRIYA GANAPATHY pick out 10 unique beaches this holiday season.
Laxmanpur | Neil Island, Andamans
The Andamans is a paradise of turquoise waters fringed by white sand, 4000 varieties of corals and a shimmering underworld of marine life. While Radhanagar at Havelock Island has often been voted as Asia’s best beach, Laxmanpur 2 on Neil Island boasts a natural rock bridge and a unique coral walk at low tide.
Muzhappilangad | Malabar Coast, Kerala
Muzhappilangad is India’s longest drive-in beach, with a 5km stretch of compact sand near Kannur offering a chance to whiz along the surf in your vehicle with views of Dharmadom Island and fishing boats bobbing on the surf.
St Mary’s Island | Karavali Coast, Dakshin Kannada
A two-hour boat ride from Malpe harbour, 6km into the Arabian Sea, is a volcanic palm-fringed island with feral goats, pristine water, a crunchy beach of seashells and hexagonal basalt rock columns that make St Mary’s Island a National Geological Monument.
Om Beach | Gokarna, Uttara Kannada
Karwar’s scenic coast inspired Rabindranath Tagore to write his first poem, but the world can’t stop singing praises of Gokarna’s pristine Om Beach shaped like a gigantic Om and a coastal trek leading to smaller beaches like Half Moon and Paradise.
Arambol Beach | Goa
Originally named Harmal after a local ruler Veer Harhar Mahal, Arambol (as the Portuguese called it) has a freshwater lake on the beach lined with sulphurous mud and mud-smeared hippies basking in the sun.
Kunkeshwar | Konkan Coast, Maharashtra
A region known for its divine Alphonso mangoes and Malvani cuisine, Kunkeshwar in Konkan’s Sindhudurg district has a 400-year-old Shiva temple that was built by shipwrecked sailors from Arabia as a gesture of thanksgiving!
Nagoa Beach | Diu
A Portuguese colony from 1535 to 1961, Diu is strewn with churches, forts and the most visible imprint – the hoka tree (Hyphoena indica). Lining the crescent shaped Nagoa Beach, Diu’s most popular seaside hangout, the branching palm was brought from Africa by the Portuguese and is not found anywhere else in the country.
Land’s End | Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
Once connected by rail to Rameshwaram and ravaged by a devastating cyclone in 1964, Dhanushkodi was a bustling fishing hamlet that is today a ghost town. Ruined railway tracks, weatherworn boats, marshes dotted with birds, relics of rama setu (Lord Rama’s bridge to Lanka) and an exciting access by four wheel drive vans.
Tranquebar | Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu
A gust of sea breeze can be invigorating on any beach, but Tranquebar is special because it is India’s only ozone-rich beach and the only Danish trading outpost in India.
Puri Beach | Orissa
Orissa’s coastline is blessed with great diversity – from the mangroves of Bhitarkanika, nesting of Olive Ridley turtles at Gahirmatha or water receding upto 5 km every day at low tide at Chandipur on Sea. However, at Puri watch the unique spectacle of sunrise and sunset on the same beach.
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Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This article appeared on 24 September 2013 in Conde Nast Traveller online.