Best beaches in India

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 09.10.2023

With 7500 kilometres of coastline to explore, good beaches in India aren't hard to come by. From the party sands of Goa to the bustle of Marine Drive in Mumbai, here are some of the best beaches in India.

The information in this article is inspired by the Rough Guide to India, your essential guide for visiting India.

One of the best beaches in India? Chakratirth Beach, Gujarat

The larger Chakratirth Beach, overlooked by a high bound, is a little to the west, just outside the city walls. In many ways, this is the most attractive beach on the west coast of India, and usually deserted, making it the best option for an undisturbed swim – especially for female travellers.

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai

Situated at the top of Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach is a Mumbai institution. On evenings and weekends, Mumbaikars gather here on this city beach – not to swim (the sea is foul) but to wander, sit on the sand, munch kulfi and bhel puri and gaze across the bay while the kids ride a pony or rusty Ferris wheel.

Planning your first trip to India? Check 10 tips for first-time visitors

Evening Mumbai, Chowpatty beach. View of Malabar hill at sunset © O'SHI/Shutterstock

Evening Mumbai, Chowpatty Beach © O'SHI/Shutterstock

One of the best Goa beaches? Anjuna Beach, North Goa

The vibe is much nicer at the south end of Anjuna Beach as opposed to the north, where a pretty and more sheltered cove accommodates a mostly twenty-something tourist crowd. A constant trance soundtrack thumps from the shacks behind it cranking up to become proper parties after dark.

Then bars Curlie’s and neighbouring Shiva Valley take turns to max their sound systems, hosting international DJs through the season. Chai ladies and food stallholders sit in wait on the sands, just like for the raves of old, but the party generally grinds to a halt at 10 pm sharp.

If you are planning a romantic trip to India, discover the most romantic places in India


Anjuna Beach in North Goa is one of the best beaches in India © Pavel Sapozhnikov/Shutterstock

Morjim, North Goa

Morjim Beach itself is dramatic and well worth a walk, especially in the early morning, when you’ll see teams of fishermen hauling giant hand nets from the surf. The spit at its southern end, opposite Chapora Fort, is also a great birding hotspot, making this among the best beaches in India for a wide range of reasons.

Morjim beach, North Goa, India © Andrei Bortnikau/Shutterstock

Morjim Beach, North Goa, India © Andrei Bortnikau/Shutterstock

Arambol, North Goa

Arambol’s main drag is a winding road lined cheek-by-jowl with clothes and bedspread stalls, travel agents, internet cafes and souvenir shops selling tourist knick-knacks. The lane bends downhill to the main beach – dotted with wooden outriggers and one of the most picturesque in south India.

The best view of Arambol is from the crucifix and small Parasurama shrine on the hilltop to the north. After dark, when the Hula-Hoopers, fire juggles and bhajan singers have turned homewards, the candles and fairy lights of the shacks illuminate the beachfront to a magical effect.


Arambol beach in north Goa, India © saiko3p/Shutterstock

Mandrem, North Goa

From the far side of the creek bounding the edge of Ashwem, a magnificent and largely empty beach stretches north towards Arambol – the last unspoilt stretch of the north Goan coast. Olive Ridley marine turtles nest on the quietest patches, and you’re more than likely to catch a glimpse of one of the white-bellied fish eagles that live in the casuarina trees – their last stronghold in the north of Goa.

Resort huts on Mandrem beach in north Goa, India © saiko3p/Shutterstock

Resort huts on Mandrem beach in north Goa, India © saiko3p/Shutterstock

Browse dozens of Goa hotels and start planning your stay.

Palolem, South Goa

With the gradual spread of package tourism down the coast, Palolem, a ninety-minute drive south of Margao along the main highway, is Goa’s most happening beach. Even in the realm of the famous Goa beaches attracting droves of sun seekers from November through March. Set against a backdrop of forest-cloaked hills, its bay is spectacular, though the crowds can feel overwhelming in the high season.

Colorful bungalows on the tropical beach of Palolem, South Goa, India  © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock

Beach of Palolem, South Goa © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock

    Where to stay in Goa:

  • Best for a couple's holiday: juSTa Morjim Beach Resort Goa
  • Situated in Goa Velha, a few steps from Morjim Beach, juSTa Morjim Beach Resort Goa - 80 Steps from Morjim Beach features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, free bikes and an outdoor swimming pool.

  • Best for a family holiday: FabEscape Vagator Retreat Cottage Vagator
  • Situated 1.4 km from Ozran Beach, FabEscape Vagator Retreat Cottage Vagator features rooms with air conditioning in Goa Velha. Local points of interest like Chapora Fort and Thivim railway station are reachable within 2 km and 18 km, respectively.

  • Best for a back-pack trip on a budget: Hotel Swarnam
  • Featuring a terrace, OYO 12647 Swarnam is located in Old Goa, a 20-minute walk from Viceroy’s Arch. Popular points of interest nearby include Se Cathedral and the Church of St Francis of Assisi.

Marine Parade, Odisha

In the west end of town, along Marine Parade, the atmosphere is more akin to a British Victorian holiday resort. This stretch is very much the domain of the domestic tourist industry and the beach is much cleaner here. It’s a pleasant place to stroll and becomes highly animated after sunset when the nightly souvenir market gets going.

Gopalpur-On-Sea, Southern Odisha

Having once been a lively place, today, the only time you’re likely to encounter much action is during festivals and holidays when the village is temporarily inundated with Bengali holiday-makers. For the rest of the year, its desultory collection of seafront hotels stands idle, left to the odd backpacker and armies of industrious fishermen (katias).

Gopalpur beach Odisha in India © Moumita Maity/Shutterstock

Gopalpur Beach Odisha in India © Moumita Maity/Shutterstock

India is famous for more than just its beaches. In this guide, we've compiled a list of the best things to do in India.

The Marina, Chennai - one of the longest beaches in the world

One of the longest city beaches in the world, the Marina (Kamaraj Salai) stretches five kilometres from the harbour at the southeastern corner of George Town to near San Thome Cathedral. Today the beach itself is a sociable stretch, people by idle paddlers, picnickers and pony-riders; every afternoon crowds gather around the beach market.


Marina Beach in Chennai City, India © jayk67/Shutterstock

Benaulim, South Goa

An ideal first place if you’ve just arrived in the region is Benaulim, six kilometres west of the state’s second city, Margao. The most traveller-friendly resort in the area, Benaulim stands slap in the middle of a spectacular 25km stretch of pure white sand. Although increasingly carved up by Mumbai timeshare companies, low-cost accommodation here is plentiful and of a consistently high standard.

Benaulim Beach, a popular destination in South Goa, India © Jim W Kasom/Shutterstock

Benaulim Beach, a popular destination in South Goa, India © Jim W Kasom/Shutterstock

Want to get to know India better but don't know where to start? Read 25 awesome facts about India.

Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam

The largest and most developed cove at Kovalam, known for obvious reasons as Lighthouse Beach, is where most foreign tourists congregate. Lined by a paved esplanade, its seafront of shops and hotels extends along the full length of the bay, overlooked by the eponymous lighthouse at the southern end. You can scale the 142 spiral steps and twelve ladder rungs to the observation platform for a fine view.


Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam, India © Vivek BR/Shutterstock

Kovalam Beach, Kovalam

Kovalam beach, the third of the coves, is dominated from on high by the angular chalets of the five-star Leela Kempinski. Coach-loads of excited Keralan day-trippers descend here on weekends, but at other times offer a peaceful alternative to the beach further south and why it makes our list of the best beaches in India.

    Where to stay in Kovalam:

  • Best for enjoying the mountain scenery: AMARA AYURVEDA RETREAT
  • Overlooking Evergreen Western Ghats, this is an ecologically sustainable living space in Kovalamas. There is also a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a shared lounge and a garden in Kovalam.

  • Best for its location: Rockholm at the Light House Beach
  • Set in Kovalam, 200 m from Light House Beach, Rockholm at the Light House Beach offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a garden.

  • Best for spa lovers: Taj Green Cove Resort and Spa Kovalam
  • Located along Kovalam Beach offering a backdrop of natural surroundings. It features a traditional Indian spa providing rejuvenation therapies and a private plunge pool and dining nook. An infinity pool and fitness centre are also available.

Papa Nashini, Varkala

Known in Malayalam as Papa Nashini (“sin-destroyer”), Varkala’s beautiful white-sand beach has long been associated with ancestor worship. Devotees come here after praying at the ancient Janardhana Swamy Temple on the hill to the south, then perform mortuary rituals on the beach, directed by specialist pujaris (priests). The best time to watch the rites is in the early morning, just after sunrise.

Papanasam Beach, Varkala

Backed by sheer red laterite cliffs, Varkala’s coastline is imposingly scenic and the beach relatively relaxing – although its religious associations do ensure that attitudes to public nudity (especially female) are less liberal than other coastal resorts in India.

Western sun-worshippers are supposed to keep to the northern end (away from the main puja area reserved for the funeral rites). There they are serviced by a nonstop parade of local “hallo-pineapple-coconut?” vendors. Sea otters can also occasionally be spotted playing on the cliffs by the sea.

    Where to stay at Varkala:

  • Best for a family holiday: Vishram Village
  • Located in Varkala, 1.6 km from Edava Beach, Vishram Village provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness centre and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free WiFi throughout the property.

  • Best for a peaceful isolated holiday: Maadathil Cottages
  • Featuring a restaurant and terrace, Maadathil Cottages offers rooms in Varkala. Free Wi-Fi throughout and parking on site are available. Odayam Beach is only 100 m away. Each room includes air conditioning. The bathroom comes with a shower and free toiletries. Restaurant Maadathil serves Indian, Continental and local dishes.

A beautiful landscape with a house in the seashore of Papanasam Beach, Varkala, India © Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

Papanasam Beach, Varkala, India © Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

Cherai Beach, Kochi, Kerala

The closest beach to Kochi is Cherai, 25km north of Vypeen Island. A 3km strip of golden sand and thumping surf, it’s sandwiched on a narrow strip of land between the sea and a very pretty backwater area of glassy lagoons. Chunky granite sea defences prevent the waves from engulfing the ribbon of fishing villages that subsist along this strip.

India has so much to offer if you're interested directly in the South region of India - find more useful information in our Rough Guide to South India and Kerala.

If you don't want to miss out on all of Kerala's beauty check out our tailor-made 7-day сomprehensive Kerala tour of its most renowned places.


Cherai beach in Kochi © Saurav022/Shutterstock

Ullal, Mangalore

If you want to escape the city for a few hours, head out to the village of Ullal. It’s a deservedly popular place for a stroll, particularly in the evening when Mangaloreans come out to watch the sunset, but a strong undertow makes swimming difficult, and at times unsafe. You might be better off using the pool at some of the hotels nearby: Summer Sands Beach Resort, immediately behind the beach.

What's a holiday in India without local food? Discover 10 Indian dishes you need to try.


The beach of Ullal village near Mangalore © Mikhail Nekrasov/Shutterstock

Kudlee Beach, Karnataka

This wonderful 1km-long sweep of golden-white sand sheltered by a pair of steep-sided promontories is now punctuated by around fifteen restaurants-cum-hut ventures and one proper hotel. This is the longest and broadest of Gokarna’s beaches, and with decent surf too, though the water can be dangerous.

View of Kudle beach, Karnataka, India © VijayV88/Shutterstock

View of Kudle Beach, Karnataka, India © VijayV88/Shutterstock

Inspired by our best beaches in India? Feel free to check our tailor-made 12-day tour of India.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to India without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

Ready for a trip to the beaches of India? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to India. If you travel further, read more about the most beautiful places in India and the best things to do in India . For inspiration use the India itineraries from The Rough Guide to India and our local travel experts. A bit more hands-on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.

We may earn a commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Top image: Lighthouse Beach, Kovalam, India © Vivek BR/Shutterstock

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 09.10.2023

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍