Explore the coastline and waterways of Southern India with our laid back Beaches of Goa, Backwaters of Kerala itinerary. You’ll be taking off on 10 days of luxury travel including charming houseboats in Kerala and the stunning, expansive beaches of Goa.
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On the first day of your relaxing India itinerary, you’ll arrive at Trivandrum Airport, known as the gateway to Kerala, and transfer to Kovalam. This idyllic Kerala beach town is flanked by the Arabian Sea, fringed by rows upon rows of coconut palms. Check into your suite at Surya Sanmudra, and become acquainted with your new surroundings.
Today you are free to explore the beaches of Kovalam. There are three spectacular beaches that cover Kovalam’s expansive 17 km coastline. Lighthouse Beach is a particular favorite, while Hawah and Sanmudra are close seconds, and perhaps more ideal for escaping the tourist throngs.
One of Kerala’s most favorited features is its widespread network of backwaters, and the most ideal way to explore them is aboard a traditional wooden houseboat, called a kettuvallam, built without a single nail. Today, you’ll board a luxury kettuvallam for an overnight cruise.
After your culturally-immersive nautical excursion, it’s time to get back onto dry land. You’ll disembark at Kumarakom, home to a rich ecosystem featuring mangrove forests, paddy fields, coconut groves, and all kinds of exotic birds. Transfer to your luxury backwater resort, Kumarakom Lake Resort.
After breakfast this morning, you’ll check out of your hotel and drive two hours to Cochin, West India’s major port city. You’ll be escorted to your luxury eco-resort, Brunton Boatyard, moored on a historic stretch of Cochin's famed harbour.
Today you’ll explore the best that Cochin has to offer, starting with the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations, Paradesi Synagogue. Next up, learn how to mix together just the right ingredients to make a rich, flavorful Indian dish at an authentic Indian cooking class. Finish off your day with a colonial walking tour, learning the rich history of this city which was once a battle ground for European empires.
Goa is one of India’s most popular beach destinations, with miles upon miles of unspoilt beaches, as far as the eye can see. Some even say it’s home to Asia’s best beaches - why not judge for yourself once you check into your luxury room at the Leela Goa, or Taj Exotica Hotel. You’ll be transferred to your preferred hotel upon your plane’s arrival, and you may spend the rest of your day getting settled in.
Explore Goa’s sights today, with a tour that starts with Fort Aguada, a well-preserved 17th century Portuguese fort that overlooks the Arabian Sea. Next up, you’ll head to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Basilica de Bom Jesus, which holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. Cap your day off with a languid stroll along the shores of your preferred Goa beach.
You can enjoy more beach time today, with the freedom to explore the vastness of the Arabian Sea, and the white sand shores it laps upon. Agonda beach in south Goa is a particular favorite for those looking to get away from the crowds, while Anjuna beach in north Goa boasts a large flea market and picturesque sunsets. The choice is yours!
After a restful sleep on your final night of your Beaches & Backwaters itinerary, today you’ll check out of your luxury Goa resort and head for the airport, where you’ll transfer to your next destination.
Located by the foaming waters of the Arabian Sea, Surya Sanmudra's 31 cottages are modeled after traditional Keralan homes, and have been carefully designed to fuse traditional charm with contemporary luxury. Each of the cottages features climate control, immaculate bathrooms, tasteful furniture, and wide, cheery spaces. The Surya Sanmudra’s dining options include Café Samsara, open twenty-four hours and overlooking the Arabian Sea; Essence, the in-house restaurant that sits atop a cliff, and offers East Asian fare; and Madira, a bar with commanding views of the nearby ocean. Amenities include a full-service spa offering Ayurvedic, Thai, and Western treatments, as well as yoga lessons; and an atmospheric, outdoor swimming pool facing the sea. The Surya Sanmudra is a short, 11-minute drive from downtown Kovalam and Vizhinjam Beach.
A night aboard a Kettuvallam, or a traditional wooden houseboat, is the perfect way to truly get into Kerala culture. Our chosen luxury Kettuvallam vessel will explore Kerala’s famous tranquil backwaters, through a series of canals and lakes, allowing guests to discover the region’s rich heritage from the comfort of their own well-appointed luxury boat. Inside, the boat is richly-decorated, with spacious rooms, comfortable furnishings, air-conditioning, and top-end facilities. The sundeck is the ideal place for guests to relax during the day (or night) and watch Kerala drift by. A full crew is available to serve guests at all times, with meal service that includes fresh, local specialties.
Located on the banks of Lake Vembanad, the luxury resort Kumarakom is a beautiful retreat on the backwaters of Kerala. The building that houses Ettukettu, its principal restaurant, was commissioned by the King Marthanda Varma as a gift to his favorite martial arts teacher, and dismantled from its original location before being reassembled at Kumarakom. The 115-seat restaurant offers multiple cuisines, including Continental, Chinese, Mughlai, North Indian and traditional Kerala dishes. Ayurmana, Kumarakom’s Ayurveda spa, has an extensive menu of massages, therapeutic and beauty treatments and more, while the fitness has a wide array of exercise machines and free weights. Thattukada is a traditional Kerala teashop. In addition to the business center, wireless Internet is available across the resort’s public spaces and in villas and rooms. Kumarakom is approximately 1.5 hours from Cochin airport (COK).
Set in a restored boatyard dating from the Victorian era, the Brunton is located at the tip of Fort Cochin. Designed in the style of early Dutch and Portuguese buildings, with whitewashed walls, a sloping tile roof and terracotta floors, the Brunton features twenty-two rooms – all of which face the sea, and are fitted with antique furniture and high royal beds with steps to climb up to them. Dining options include the History Café, which serves a fusion of Dutch, Syrian, Indian and Keralan cuisines in a room paneled with warm woods and teak crossbeams; the Terrace Grill serves the best of that morning's catch; and lastly, the Armoury Bar, which overlooks the harbor and features a selection of teas and classic cocktails. The hotel has a small pool next to the sea, an Ayurvedic center with massage and healing treatments, and a steam room, but does not have a fitness center. There is no business center, though there are secretarial services and Internet access. The Brunton Boatyard lies approximately 30 minutes from the airport in Cochin (COK).
Overlooking a beautiful, blue lagoon, set between the cerulean waters of the Arabian Sea and the river Sal, the Leela Goa’s design draws both from Goa’s Portuguese heritage and south India’s temples. Its 206 rooms feature high speed internet, electronic safes, plush beds, tea and coffee makers, and a blu-ray player. Dining options include the in-house restaurant, which features all-day, buffet-style items; the Riverside, which offers fine Italian cuisine set in an open-air pavilion overlooking the River Sal; the Susegado, a beach-side grill serving fresh seafood; the Javamar, which serves Indian cuisine in a tasteful, elegant setting; and a poolside bar and lounge. Amenities include outdoor and indoor swimming pools, conference and ballrooms, a spa offering holistic and ayurvedic treatments, and a fitness studio. The Leela Goa is an hour’s drive from Goa International Airport, and a half-hour away from Madgaon, the nearest town.
Located on the southwest coast of Goa overlooking the Arabian Sea, the Mediterranean-style Taj Exotica is arguably one of the best five-star hotels in Goa. Set amidst fifty-six acres of lush gardens, the Taj Exotica features a sun-drenched atrium, wide, shady corridors, and flower-lined patios. Its rooms and villas draw inspiration from Portuguese aesthetics and Indian design, and all offer plush beds, separate bathrooms and shower units, flat-screen televisions, electronic safes, and views of either the garden or the sea. Dining options include Alegria, a Goan restaurant serving fresh seafood and Portuguese wines; Eugenia, which serves a mix of Indian and southeast Asian fare; Li Bai, a Chinese restaurant named for a renowned poet; and Miguel Arcanjo, an eatery that faces the Arabian Sea, and serves dishes from a number of Mediterranean cuisines. Amenities include a spa, a pool, and various sporting facilities, including tennis courts and a 9-hole golf course. The Taj Exotica lies forty-five minutes from Goa International Airport.