Prepare for a long flight with a stop on the way, for Kovalam is not the easiest place to reach from Delhi. A ticket to Trivandrum could cost you as much as a return flight from Dubai, and probably more. You’ll be in a plane long enough to think you’re traveling international. It’s a 45 minute drive to Kovalam from the Trivandrum airport in scorching heat, though a majority of the drive is atop a smooth highway.
The bad and the good:
I wish I could say the hours spent in the plane are worth it, but Kovalam only boasts of a land gone to ruins. It’s the sad truth about the South, where we think of beautiful empty beaches, long stretches of sand and coconut trees along the coast; but the beaches are no longer clean and beautiful. The beaches we see today are littered with wrappers, empty coconut shells and muddy water, with crows hovering above you. One of the most famous beaches here in Kovalam, is the Lighthouse Beach, which now welcomes tourists with a pool of stale water covered in moss, that now serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. While you find children peeing into the sea water at the beach, you wouldn’t be too surprised to find that the water just doesn’t seem too appetizing anymore.
While the beaches disappoint, there are plenty other ways to entertain oneself around Kovalam. Flying all the way is only worth it if you’re planning a luxury vacation. With Taj Vivanta, Niraamaya and others to boast of, Leela Palace Kovalam is the best option, though considerably overpriced for the experience. Here’s a full review on the property.
Various other places are within driving distance of Kovalam for day trips and visits. Should you find yourself in Kovalam, bored and wondering what to do, here’s a quick guide:
Get a speedboat to whisk you away into the ocean at sunset. Starting at 800 for 20 minutes (lower if you bargain hard enough), the boat will take you to 3 beaches around Kovalam, including the lighthouse beach (5 minutes walking distance otherwise) and the Golden Sand Beach.
The lighthouse at Kovalam’s Lighthouse Beach opens it’s door to visitors during the day. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse and watch the world from a height. Even an aerial view of the beach on both sides doesn’t compare to the experience of standing at the top of a lighthouse!
Poovar is a 17 kilometer (30 minutes approximately) drive from Kovalam. While the backwaters don’t compare to those at Varkala, they’re still quite an experience. What makes these backwaters so surreal is the Golden Sand Beach. A thin strip of land separating the backwaters from the ocean, this beach breaks down the violent waves that crash along it’s surface. The boat stops at these backwaters for somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes, and if you time your visit around sunset, you would find that the thin strip of beach is far cleaner, and it’s water far fresher, than any other beach around the area.
Day Trip to Varkala:
A 60 kilometer drive from Kovalam, Varkala is a convenient day trip option, with plenty to offer visitors. It’s lack of luxury resorts might force you to stay at Kovalam instead, but you’ll be tempted to spend a day in Varkala. The beach is long and huge but far from tempting. It’s another one where the force of the water is quite heavy, and religious ceremonies taking place at the entry add their share of garbage into the sea. But the cafes at the top of the Varkala Cliff are worth strolling through, and the cliff is a beautiful place to watch the sun go down. For 90% of your drive from Kovalam to Varkala, Google Maps is a reliable option. Once you get there, you might struggle to find the beach. It’s best to stop and ask the locals!
Drive to Kanyakumari:
The prospect of standing at the southern-most tip of our country doesn’t come by often. Though Kanyakumari is a good 83 kilometers (3 hour drive) away, why waste a chance to check it out? You’re unlikely to be back here, this close to Kanyakumari for a long time. Make the most of it and get behind the wheel!