Discover Kerala: Kovalam

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

The final destination on our Kerala tour was Kovalam, a beach town on the Arabian Sea in Thiruvananthapuram (colonial name Trivandrum). I had heard mixed reviews about Kovalam, mainly negative things about the public beaches and unwanted attention by local males so was totally unprepared for the stunning scenery and standard of our amazing upmarket retreat located on the cliffside above its own secluded private beaches.

Kovalam itself has three beaches separated by rocky headlands which forms the well known crescent of the public beach area with distinctive black sand.  A paved promenade lined with budget accommodation, small authentic shops selling souvenirs and trinkets as well as food stalls runs alongside it from the lighthouse. Once a small fishing village, fishermen still frequent this area and their fishing boats are housed on the shore at one end of the beach. It wasn’t the cleanest beach and surrounding area wasn’t great either as you were approached by touts selling goods and fruit (the older women more persistent/aggressive than the men) but nonetheless it still attracts tourists looking for ayurvedic treatments and yoga courses. The last beach next to the car park was packed with locals, mainly men and was not really a touristy spot.

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What we did……

Chilled out for a few days at our resort, had a traditional Ayurvedic massage, took a sunset yoga class and relaxed by the pool.

On our last day we visited Lighthouse Beach and climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the old Vizhinjam red and white striped lighthouse located on the top of the Kurumkal hill, a perfect spot to survey the surrounding beaches and out to sea. A brisk walk from the lighthouse along the promenade was enough to see the public beaches and rendezvous with our driver, Nisanth.

On route to the airport we visited Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, a bustling city with loads of traffic and a colourful busy street market lined with traders and food vendors. We visited the outside of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, a two hundred and sixty year old building that can only be entered by Hindus. Next door was the Puthe Maliga Palace museum, an ancient palace that housed traditional artefacts and memorabilia including paintings, portraits and sculptures of maharajas and their dynasties.

Where we ate…..

We ate at the hotel enjoying everything the two restaurants, cocktail bar and poolside service had to offer.

Where we stayed…..

The luxurious Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra was our home for three days, a secluded clifftop beach resort, a jewel in the crown of Southern India on the Arabian Sea, read more about it here.

IMG_2525.jpgKovalam was the perfect end to a hectic trip, our clifftop resort a sanctuary of calm after days on the road. Kerala surprised me in many ways and definitely exceeded my expectations in terms of accommodations, scenery and experiences. The people we meet were so friendly and proud of their country, our driver Nisanth was a godsend and made our trip the success that it was. From historic towns to traditional spice gardens, lush green rolling tea plantations to unspoilt beaches, wild elephants to crazy traffic and everything in between Kerala was a fabulous and rewarding experience that I will never forget.

 

All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.

Read my ten previous Kerala posts In Pictures: A Postcard From Kerala, India, Discover Kerala: Faces of India, Discover Kerala: Cochin , Review: Vivanta by Taj-Malabar, Cochin, Discover Kerala: Munnar, Review: The Fog Resort & Spa, Munnar, Discover Kerala: Thekkady, Review: Greenwoods Resort, Thekkady, Discover Kerala: Kumarakom and Review: Kumarakom Lake Resort