India has some of the most picturesque beaches in the world, offering everything from solitude to parties. The best beaches in India are on the west coast, with Goa being the most famous. There are also other places to consider, especially if you want to get off the tourist trail.
In October 2020, eight Indian beaches were awarded Blue Flag certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Denmark. These beaches are found in Odisha, Gujarat, Gujarat, Diu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Rushikonda, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These beaches are Blue Flag certified, which means they are clean, safe, and environmentally friendly.
Best Spectacular Setting: Varkala, Kerala
Varkala Beach, Kerala, India
Varkala beach is about an hour north of Trivandrum in Kerala and offers a relatively peaceful alternative to the now commercialized Kovalam. The setting of this beach is striking enough to take your breath away, with a seemingly endless stretch of paved cliffs on one side and views of the Arabian Sea on the other. There, yoga and Ayurveda are popular, so it’s the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. Use this guide to plan your trip to Varkala beach or explore other top beaches in Kerala.
Best Goa Substitute: Gokarna, Karnataka
Belehittal Rd, Dandebagh, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326, India
Do you think Goa has become too crowded and commercialized these days? There are four of India’s most secluded beaches near Gokarna, a small holy town in northern Karnataka. It attracts both pious pilgrims and casual tourists equally. Get a sense of what Goa was like in its heyday, although there’s not much time since developers are already seeing the potential of this area. Check out this Gokarna beach travel guide.
Best Picturesque Beach: Palolem, South Goa
Palolem Beach, Goa, India
Goa’s Palolem Beach is arguably it’s most picturesque. A thick forest of coconut palms surrounds this mile-long, semicircular beach. South Goa’s most popular beach continues to grow in popularity every year. As permanent structures are not allowed on it, it still retains its relaxed vibe. Check out our travel guide to Palolem beach for all the info you need.
Best for Chilling Out: Agonda, South Goa
2XVP+V5J, Agonda, Goa 403702, India
Agonda Beach in South Goa is the perfect place to get away from it all! A beach is a wonderful place to relax in a hut and to experience peacefulness and solitude. The rear of the beach is lined with shacks and small shops, but aside from that, there isn’t much to do except eat, drink, swim, and chill. Check out our guide to Agonda beach for more information.
Best for Travelers and Musicians: Arambol, North Goa
Arambol Beach, Arambol, Goa 403519, India
From sleepy fishing village to trendiest beach in Goa, Arambol has really started attracting the crowds (unfortunately, perhaps to the point of saturation). Still, it has a traveler vibe, with live music and jam sessions on the beach. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and reiki are all available in addition to traditional treatments. You can walk south from Arambol to the quieter neighboring Mandrem beach. Check out these photos of Arambol beach to see what it’s like there.
Best for Party People and Backpackers: Anjuna, North Goa
Although the original hippies have moved on, the party at Anjuna continues at legendary shacks Curlies and Shiva Valley. The Anjuna area is also close to HillTop in Vagator, where big trance parties usually take place on weekends and New Year’s Eve. Details can be found on their Facebook page. Anjuna has a number of backpacker hostels and guesthouses where you can stay cheaply and meet other travelers.
Best for Action: Baga, North Goa
Baga Beach, Goa 403519, India
In spite of being commercialized and crowded, Baga Beach in North Goa is one of the most happening beaches on the coast for those who like action. There are water sports, para sailing, beach shacks, bars, clubs, and fine dining restaurants. Nowadays, Baga attracts a predominantly Indian crowd, who come for the mainstream music and discount drinks at Tito’s Lane. Find out more in our Baga beach travel guide.
Best for Culture: Pondicherry
Auroville Beach, Tamil Nadu 605101, India
Pondicherry, a union territory on the coast of Tamil Nadu in eastern India, has a rich French heritage and is a top destination for culture vultures. Auroville and Paradise beaches are great for swimming near the historic French Quarter in town. Explore the pristine beaches at Mahe, Yanam, and Karaikal, which are also part of the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Here are some options for lodging near the coast of Pondicherry.
Best for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: Tarkarli, Maharashtra
Tarkarli Beach, Maharashtra, India
For those who cannot make it to the Andaman Islands, Tarkarli beach in southern Maharashtra has one of the best coral reefs on the Indian mainland. The region does not yet feature on the tourist trail and receives few foreign visitors, though it is increasingly attracting domestic visitors from the state. Simple accommodations right on the beach are a delight. Locals often ride bicycles or walk to get around unhurriedly. Use our Tarkali beach trip planner to make your trip more enjoyable.
Best for Learning to Surf: Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu
In less than an hour’s drive from Chennai, Mamallapuram is one of the top places to visit. There is a thriving backpacker and surfing scene in the town, making it a great place to learn how to surf. UNESCO World Heritage monuments (including Shore Temple and Five Rathas) and the stone sculpting industry add to the appeal. Check out this Mamallapuram beach travel guide for more information.
Best Remote Beach: Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
Radhanagar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
Radhanagar Beach, voted Asia’s Best Beach by TIME Magazine, is on Havelock Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are scattered across the Bay of Bengal. The islands are union territories of India. Radhanagar Beach (also known as beach number seven) is known for its calm, still water and fine sand. Here are some of the best Havelock Island hotels for all budgets. Plan your trip with our comprehensive guide to the Andaman Islands.
Best for Families: Kovalam, Kerala
9XQG+GCR, Kovalam, Kerala 695527, India
Kerala’s most developed beach, Kovalam is located near Trivandrum. It consists of two coves: Hawaii (also known as Eve’s Beach) and Lighthouse. Lighthouse is the larger of the two, with its promenade lined with open-air restaurants. Lighthouses atop beaches provide fantastic views, especially at sunset. Children can also learn more about them. Sport activities are available, such as surfing and water sports. We’ve compiled a list of the best Kovalam beach hotels for every budget.
Best for Adventure: Muzhappilangad, Kerala
Muzhappilangad Beach Rd, Muzhappilangad, Kerala 670663, India
Muzhappilangad is one of the best beaches in the world for driving, being the longest drive-in beach in Asia. It lies between Kannur and Thalassery in northern Kerala. This crescent-shaped beach stretches for about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), and you can drive for about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) directly on the sand. The beach is protected by giant black rocks that keep the surf calm. There is also boating, water sports, and adventure sports such as paragliding, parasailing, and microlite flights. The airport at Kannur makes it easy to get there.
Best Offbeat Beach: Chandipur, Odisha
Chandipur Beach, Balasore, Odisha 756025, India
Chandipur, one of India’s most unique beaches, has a disappearing sea that Lonely Planet lists as one of the world’s most unusual beaches. During low tide, twice a day, it recedes for up to 5 kilometers! Thus, you can explore the seabed, chasing red crabs and collecting shells and driftwood. Handipur is located in Odisha’s Balasore district, about four and a half hours north of Bhubaneshwar. There are no quality accommodations in Handipur. Panthaniwas, an Odisha Tourism property, has the best location but basic facilities. Explore other things to do in Odisha.