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The colourful buildings and winding coastline are just a few draws of Papnasam Beach in Kerala, India.

Even the most seasoned surfers will be taken aback by the beaches of India’s western coast. According to Forbes, more and more tourists are selecting Indian beaches over those in Ibiza, Rio and Australia. Whether you’ve already booked your Indian getaway, or are dreaming of something different, gain some inspiration from Cover-More’s guide to the best sun-soaking spots in India.

Varkala Beach

A beach nestled between stunning cliffs and surging currents, Varkala Beach—also known as Papanasam Beach—is the perfect location for sunbathing, swimming and sight-seeing. Located south of Kollam and north of Thiruvananthapuram, in India’s southern state of Kerala, Varkala was once a sleepy beach town, but has quickly turned into a popular tourist destination.

What to do

In between catching morning waves and enjoying sunset views—Varkala is renowned for its amazing sunset scenes. Make sure to take advantage of area yoga studios and classes on alternative medicine (the mineral spring near the beach is believed to have medicinal properties). Also enjoy the area shopping, where local vendors hawk their jewellery and crafts. Finally, visit the small black sand beach, called Black Beach, near the coconut grove, for a quieter, peaceful experience.

Warnings

The rapid expansion of this tiny village has made it a popular spot for begging and sexual harassment. If you plan to stay the day, past tourists recommend bringing a flashlight, as power outages are prevalent.

Marari Beach

For a taste of the local life, Marari Beach in Kerala provides a glimpse into the past. Village locals still adhere to the daily routines of their ancestors, with men fishing during the day and women crafting coir mats and brushes. Located 11 km from Alleppey and 60 km from Kochi, Marari has a reputation for tranquillity.

What to do there

Though the primary activity visitors to Marari Beach engage in is relaxing, those looking for a little more adventure can take advantage of day trips in the area. Marari Beach is near the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary and the Kerala backwater canals.

Warnings

Recent reports show Marari beach to be a popular location for fishermen to defecate at sunrise. This leaves an extremely high bacterial content in the water. Do not drink the beach water.

Kovalam Beach

Kovalam Beach is actually a string of three beaches—Hawa Beach, Lighthouse Beach and Samudra Beach. Each has long been a popular tourist destination. The name, Kovalam, means a grove of coconut trees. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what you can expect to see here: rows and rows of coconut trees.

What to do there

The town of Kovalam sits 3 km away from the sea port of Vizhinjam, which offers a variety of seafood dining experiences. For a period in the ’60s, Kovalam was considered one of India’s premier tourist destinations. Since this time, tourists claim its charm has faded some, but it still remains a consistently popular location.

Warnings

Extremely strong undercurrents are often reported at Kovalam beach. While lifeguards are present at most times, as always, beware of entering unsafe waters.

Gokarna

This sacred religious town in northern Karnataka contains four tourist-friendly beaches: Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Halfmoon Beach and Paradise Beach. This secluded getaway is located an hour south of the Goa border and 450 km from Bangalore.

What to do there

As this town remains one of the most sacred Hindu holy towns in south India, there are several temples worth seeing, such as Mahabaleshwar Temple and Ganpati Temple. Visit during the cultural Shivaratri Festival in late February or early March for an inspiring reverberant drums and chants. It is important to mention, though, that temples are off-limits to non-Hindus. Other activities include hikes between beaches, as Om Beach is the only beach accessible by car or rickshaw.

Warnings

Walking between beaches at night or alone is not recommended, as remote areas can become dangerous or confusing for tourists.

Palolem Beach

A thick forest of coconut palms encloses one of India’s most popular and picturesque beaches. Located in southern Goa, 43 km from Marago and 76 km from Panaji, Palolem beach attracts families, backpackers and locals alike.

What to do there

The list of activities available at Palolem Beach seems endless, from dolphin spotting to fishing to kayaking. During low-tide days, walking to the elusive Butterfly Beach becomes possible—but beware, this beach becomes an island when the tide is in. For shopping enthusiasts, a market of small shops sits behind the beach and for nature-lovers, a popular day trip from the beach is the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary with a tree-top watchtower positioned near a watering hole.

Warnings

Mosquitos are very common in this area. Be sure to receive the proper vaccinations before travelling and always carry a mosquito net or repellent.

An Indian getaway can be the perfect way to unwind—if you take the proper precautions. Travel insurance from Cover-More gives you the peace of mind you need to relax. From pickpockets to strong currents to unknown illnesses, we can help. Don’t let your holiday turn sour with unexpected expenses, book cover now from Cover-More Travel Insurance.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Joseph Jayanth