Tourist’s guide to Kovalam – the main Ayurvedic resort of Kerala

Kovalam, India, whose name means “grove of coconut palms” in Hindi, is a small village offering everything you need for a comfortable and complete stay. Young people on the crescent of Kovalam, and that’s what European tourists called local beaches, comes extremely rarely. Mostly middle-aged people have a rest here, who want to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and traditional entertainment.

Kovalam Beach View

General information

One of the most popular resorts in India is located 15 km from the capital of Kerala – the city of Trivandrum. Until recently, Kovalam was an ordinary fishing village, but today its entire coast is lined with restaurants, shops and large chain hotels offering European-level service. But perhaps the main feature of this place is the abundance of Ayurvedic clinics, yoga classes and wellness programs.

The best period for a trip to Kovalam is September-May, when hot and dry weather sets in India. Moreover, the largest number of people can be seen on the eve of the New Year and Christmas holidays, falling at the peak of the tourist season. But the rest of the time there are many vacationers – this is facilitated not only by climatic conditions, but also by developed infrastructure.

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Activities in Kovalam (India) are represented by traditional water sports, visiting ancient Hindu temples, churches and mosques, as well as excursions to Padmanabhapuram, the former palace of Raja Travankor, which is one of the few examples of Kerala architecture that has survived to our days. In addition, you can go to the Cardamom Mountains, which rise 54 km from Trivandrum, visit the zoo located in the same city, the Kutiramalik Palace Museum and other state attractions.

Cardamom mountains
Cardamom mountains

The local population also deserves no less attention, combining European looseness and naivety and spontaneity traditional for Indians. People in Kovalam are calm and friendly, so in the evening you can walk the streets of the village without fear.

But there is practically no nightlife at this resort. The main part of the institutions closes around 11 pm, and the main evening entertainment is watching the sunset on the beach. Although sometimes after it they still hold discos and theme parties.

As for the Ayurveda, which this part of Kerala is so famous for, vacationers are provided with not only all kinds of massages (with oils, sandalwood paste, shirodracha, etc.), but also a special therapeutic menu, as well as other Ayurvedic procedures.

Massage with aromatic oils

Beaches

The entire territory of Kovalam (Kerala, India) is divided between several beaches, each of which has its own characteristics.

Ashok

Ashok Beach, Main Beach, Lila Beach or just Kovalam – the main beach of the resort has not one, but four names. However, even this did not help him become a popular tourist destination – mainly the local population has a rest here, the largest influx of which is observed on holidays and weekends.

Ashok Beach

Despite the sandy bottom, a smooth entry into the water and a fairly calm sea, Ashok is completely unsuitable for families with children. Firstly, it is very dirty. The reason for this is all the same Indians, leaving behind them whole mountains of garbage. Secondly, it is from here that high-speed boats set sail for sea trips, spreading around themselves the specific “aroma” of gasoline and motor oil.

There are no hotels on Lila Beach at all, and cafes and restaurants can be counted on the fingers – simple stalls with food took their places. There is a public toilet on site, but its condition is poor. As for umbrellas, sunbeds and other beach amenities, they belong to the local hotel and are paid. But Kovalam beach is perfect for surfing, snorkeling and parasailing. In addition, a public stop is located next to it, from which you can go to any other point in the resort.

Samudra
Samudra Beach

A small sandy beach located in the northern part of the village. Unlike the “neighbors” arranged in the lagoons, Samudra is a narrow and completely straight strip surrounded by rocks and large boulders. Another important feature of this beach is the stormy sea – the waves hit the stones with such force that they can easily carry you a few meters from the coast. In addition, the bottom in this part of the Arabian Sea is rather steep, and the depth comes unexpectedly quickly, therefore, in the absence of good swimming skills, you must enter the water with extreme caution.

The set of beach services on Samudra is limited to several good restaurants, paid sunbeds and a number of comfortable hotels, from which narrow paths lead to the coast. In general, this entire beach is quite quiet and secluded – a suitable place for those who are looking for peace and quiet. Well, the main feature of Samudra is the unusually dark sand, which in some places turns black. It looks very beautiful.

Gava
Gava Beach

Gava Beach, surrounded by high picturesque cliffs, is considered the main base of local fishermen who come here almost daily (either in the early morning or in the late afternoon). They can not only buy fresh fish, but also order a boat for a trip to distant beaches. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kovalam, so taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers are always crowded with him.

Sunbeds and umbrellas on Gava are paid, but if you want to save money, rent them for the whole day ($ 4.20 versus $ 2.10 paid for 1 hour). As a last resort, hide in the shadow of a dense palm grove stretching along the entire coast. The bottom is shallow, the entry into the water is smooth, there are no sharp cliffs. The sea is clean, transparent and much calmer than in other parts of Kovalam. Soft volcanic sand and a wide strip of shallows make Gava Beach a good place to relax with children.

The entire coastline is dotted with cozy cafes, grocery stores and Ayurvedic offices offering services for budget travelers. In addition, on the beach you can find a medical office, proudly called “Upasana Hospital”, but serious medical care within its walls can not be expected.

With the onset of night, life on Hawaii Beach calms down. But in the afternoon you will not get bored here – diving, surfing, water skiing, catamaran trips and other types of outdoor activities will simply not allow this. Moreover, this is the only place in all of Kerala where women can sunbathe topless.

Lighthouse
Lighthouse Beach

Lighthouse Beach or Lighthouse Beach is located in a picturesque place at the southern tip of Kovalam. Its main characteristic features are the gently sloping bottom, a smooth descent to the sea and clean, almost transparent water. However, it’s unlikely to be able to swim calmly here – the waves are constantly rolling on this part of the coast, only their strength and frequency change. Near the coast there is a stone-coral reef, near which snorkelers, surfers and mussel collectors swim.

Sunbeds and umbrellas are, but both are paid. Among the vacationers there are both Indians and Europeans. The latter either live in one of the many hotels, guest houses or resorts, or simply come here from other parts of Kerala. Peace and security are guarded by a team of rescuers.

Lighthouse Beach got its second name because of the proximity of the lighthouse, which is equipped with an excellent observation deck. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Opening hours: 10:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 16:00. Ticket price – a little less than $ 1 + 20 cents for permission to take photos and videos.

Not so long ago, a musical elevator was installed in the lighthouse, but it does not reach the very top of the structure. The remaining segment of the path will have to be walked, overcoming a rather steep climb, so do not forget to really appreciate your physical capabilities.

Housing

Hotel in Kovalam

Being one of the most popular resorts in Kerala, Kovalam offers a huge selection of accommodation for every taste and budget. And in the village itself, and in the immediate vicinity of the sea, you can find many ultramodern hotels, guest houses and apartments. Most of them are equipped with gyms, outdoor pools, restaurants, spas and Ayurvedic complexes. The cost of such a stay is quite high, but the service meets all European standards.

In addition, there are several Ayurvedic resorts in Kovalam with comfortable rooms, private ponds, palm groves and a protected coastline. The most expensive of them are located at some distance from the village, so you will have to get to public beaches by the provided transfer.

But the budget tourist here also will not be lost. So:

  • the cost of a double room in a 3 * hotel starts from $ 16,
  • You can rent a room in a guest house for $ 14,
  • and living in a beach bungalow will be even cheaper – from $ 8 to $ 10.
Hotel room in Kovalam

As for the district, each of them has its own characteristics, so the choice is only yours. So, renting housing in the village itself, you will have to spend daily walks to the coast, and settling on the first line of the sea – almost all day to smell the food and listen to the endless cries of not only other vacationers, but also local merchants.

Where to eat

Even with developed tourist infrastructure, Kovalam continues to be an ordinary fishing village, where literally at every step there are small fish restaurants. In them you can taste not only fish of all possible species, but also various seafood caught almost before serving. In addition, the resort has many establishments specializing in international, European, vegetarian and Ayurvedic cuisine.

Cafe in Kovalam

Prices in most of them are quite acceptable, and they cook here deliciously. A hearty dinner in a restaurant will cost $ 8-11, excluding alcohol. With the last in the village tight. The fact is that Kerala has a dry law, so alcohol is sold here only in one specialized store, which opens in the afternoon (around 17:00). A bottle of beer in it costs up to $ 3, local rum – $ 5.50, wine – about $ 25. But let’s tell you a secret: and the rest of the time, you can buy a bottle of a drink in almost any place you can. It is enough to make a subtle hint to the waiter.

It is also worth noting that the most expensive establishments of Kovalam are located on the first coastline. And we are talking not only about beach necks, but also about local markets, arranged near the sea. In this regard, many tourists prefer to shop in ordinary supermarkets – the prices there are much lower:

    Cocktail at Kovalama cafe
  • 10 eggs – up to $ 3;
  • Water, soda with mango, cola – $ 0.50;
  • Juices (grape, guava, etc.) – $ 1.5;
  • Pizza with chicken and cheese – $ 3.50;
  • Paneer cheese – $ 1.30;
  • Curd (local yogurt) – $ 0.50;
  • Pineapple – from $ 0.80 to $ 1.50, depending on size;
  • Drinking water (20 l) – $ 0.80;
  • Ice cream – $ 0.30.

Many restaurants offer not only takeaway dishes, but also free Wi-Fi. In addition, there are several inexpensive Internet cafes in Kovalam.

How to get from Trivandrum?

Kovalam (Kerala) is located 14 km from Trivandrum International Airport (Thiruvananthapur), which can be overcome in several ways. Let’s consider each of them.

Method 1. By bus
Bus in Kovalam

The journey from Trivandrum to the beaches of Kovalam takes about half an hour. Buses run every 20 minutes. A ticket costs a little less than $ 1 (with air conditioning – a little more expensive).

Method 2. On a tuk-tuk (rickshaw)

There are no special stops for this type of transport, so they are caught just outside. The fare is about $ 4, but you can bargain for a smaller amount. Travel time is 30-40 minutes.

Method 3. By taxi

You will definitely not have problems finding a taxi – they can be found both at the exits from the terminals and in Trivandrum itself. It will take about 20 minutes to get there. A one-way trip will cost $ 5-8 (as you bargain).

Taxi in Kovalam

Most importantly, do not forget to specify which beach you need to go to. The fact is that only Ashok has a normal access road, so if you just say “Kovalam”, you will surely be brought there.

All prices on the page are for September 2019.

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Useful Tips

Going to Kovalam (India), do not forget to familiarize yourself with useful tips that will make your stay even more enjoyable:

  1. Do not rush to exchange money in the first available place. Go through several exchangers, compare the rate, and even better – say that you have found a better offer. After that, you will probably make a good bonus.
  2. Bars of soap
  3. In order not to catch an intestinal infection, always wash your hands with soap. Running water is present in every, even the smallest cafe. In extreme cases, use hand antiseptics.
  4. But with toilets in India, everything is not so simple. If those located in decent public institutions are in good hygiene, then the rest is better not to use.
  5. The food on the beaches of Kovalam in Kerala is not very spicy, but if you don’t tolerate traditional Indian spices at all, remember one phrase – “No spices”, that is, without spices.
  6. Most of the fashionable restaurants provide vacationers with cots and cots, so if you come to rest with young children, but really want to have a late dinner, go to one of these places.
  7. When strolling through the local markets, be sure to buy pickled fruits (mangoes, gooseberries, etc.). You can not only eat them on the beach, but also bring along as a tasty souvenir.
  8. Mosquito repellent
  9. In Kovalam, like in any other resort in India, there are a lot of mosquitoes – do not forget to buy a special spray.
  10. Many Indian cities have 2, or even all 3 names. Do not be alarmed if a completely different settlement is indicated on a bus or train ticket.
  11. The streets of Kovalam have a specific layout, so it is better to travel around the resort in tuk-tuk or taxi. Their parking lots are located in 3 different places: near the bus station (main), on Lighthouse Beach promenade and on Main Road, a small sandy street leading to one of the Indian temples.
  12.  Whirlpools often occur even on the calmest beaches of Kovalam in Kerala. Moreover, they are formed almost on the coast. In order not to fall into one of these traps, pay attention to the red flags near the water and follow the instructions of the beach “whistlers”.

Overview of one of the best beaches in India:



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