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Located in the southwestern state of Kerala, Kovalam is a beach town overlooking the Arabian Sea. Named for the endless coconut trees that populate its beaches, Kovalam was home to the Halcyon Castle, one of the first beach resorts in India. Today, Kovalam's beaches are popular with international tourists, many of whom are somewhat more mature than their wanderjahr counterparts in Goa.
The best time to visit Kovalam is from September to March, when the weather is dry and fairly cool. Summers, which run from March to May, are exceedingly hot, and the monsoon season, which runs from June to August, is humid and rainy.
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Two miles (three kilometers) from Kovalam lies Vizhinjam, a quaint fishing town slated to be developed into an international port. Because of its natural harbor, the town was contested by myriad dynasties and kingdoms; today, however, it is a peaceful, relaxing village that offers excellent views of the sunset.
Comprising three beaches set along 10 miles (17 kilometers) of sandy coastline, Kovalam’s beaches are separated from each other by rocky outcroppings. Of the three, Lighthouse Beach is the furthest south, as well as the most popular with tourists; it is named for the charming lighthouse perched on the nearby rocks. Hawa Beach, further north, is a short walk away, and is less crowded than Lighthouse Beach. Furthest north is Samudra Beach, which is frequented by fishermen, and largely devoid of other travelers.
Cuisine and dining
Given Kovalam’s close proximity to the sea and its abundance of coconut trees, its cuisine is mostly centered around fresh fish, meat, and tropical fruits. There are a number of upscale restaurants along the beach which serve vegetarian, seafood, and fusion cuisine - all of which feature locally grown ingredients.
With swells of up to 7 feet, or 2 meters, Kovalam is an excellent surf destination. However, visitors should note that the area is home to a number of powerful currents and undertows; surfers should always speak with lifeguards prior to entering the water.
The Old Lighthouse
Located near the southern beach, the old lighthouse was originally built to help ships navigate to the nearby port at Vizhnjam. Visit the lighthouse at dusk for a glimpse of the sun as it sinks beneath the horizon.
Travel from Kerala’s languid backwaters to Goa’s famous white-sand beaches on this 10-day luxury India journey. You’ll sleep aboard a luxury kettuvallam, learn to make a rich, thick Indian curry, and spend days doing nothing but relaxing by the pool and observing the Arabian Sea at either the Leela or Taj Exotica Goa.
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.