It’s been a year since I had a good long vacation, and I miss those days when I could travel freely wish ease – no tests, no masks, no PPEs, no shields, no certificates necessary. All I needed then was a flight ticket, a hotel booking, my wallet, my phone, and some essentials. It is so much more complicated now. Call me paranoid if you would, but thinking about traveling still gives me the creeps, and I haven’t dared to venture out just yet.
But let’s talk about my last vacation – to Kerala. I spent 10 days in Kovalam and explored the beach, as well as some other places around Tiruvananthapuram like Meenmutty, Ponmudi, the Jatayu Earth Center, etc. And if you’re planning a vacation, could be a weekend getaway or a staycation or maybe a slightly longer break (which I swear I need), here is a quick guide to help you plan your trip to Kovalam. Call it a list of things to do in Kovalam, if you may.
Stay at the beautiful rooms of Beatles Inn
Kovalam and even nearby Varkala are cliff beaches. So, be prepared to do a lot of climbing up and down the cliffs, and it isn’t a cakewalk, I assure you. Beatles Inn is a lovely place to stay at Kovalam. If there’s one place that has spectacular undisturbed unobstructed views of the sea, this would be it. The rooms are simple and the staff is very helpful. This is where I stay when I am in Kovalam, I wouldn’t want to stay anywhere else.
A hearty breakfast at the Beatles Cafe
If the Beatles Inn is located on one side of the Lighthouse up the cliff, then at the base of the cliff on the other side of the Vizhinjam lighthouse is the Beatles Cafe. And this cafe has views to die for, just like the inn. Rewind and relax at this cafe all day long. They offer delicious food serving both Indian and International cuisines. My personal favorites – the cinnamon coffee, the cinnamon grilled pineapple, the soups, the burgers, and the pancakes. I had an Indian mushroom preparation once, I forget the name, but it was so delicious, I can still feel the taste as I write this. And their cinnamon coffee is the best I have ever had. I down cups of Beatles’ cinnamon coffee by the gallon when I am in Kovalam because it is irresistible. If like me, you find it difficult to choose what to order, ask the staff, they are very warm & nice, and they will help you in every way they can. The nicest staff I have found in any cafe I have ever been to, I promise. While you wait for your food, enjoy the good music and the beautiful beach in front of you.
Window shopping some baubles and beachwear along the beach
The entire Kovalam beach is lined with shopfronts. As you walk along, shop owners will call out to you and greet you ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Evening’, ask you to come into their restaurant for a meal, or just ask you how you are? Respond casually. I have walked up and down the beach, hundreds of times, it has never been uncomfortable. Now I travel solo, so I am always looking over my back. But it is fun. Say Good Morning and walk on. Check out the sarongs and flowy sundresses, the hats and shorts, and all sorts of baubles in the shops. Feel free to bargain a bit before you buy.
Learn to surf the waves
Why just enjoy the beach from the land when you can enjoy it in the sea too. Kovalam has an active surf club – the Kovalam Surf Club. The club is a social venture that helps the local youth. Don’t be surprised to see kids as young as 8-10 years old surfing like pros in the waves. You can rent surfboards from the club too if you are already well-versed with surfing. Learn, surf, play with the waves all day!
Have a traditional Kerala lunch at Annam Restaurant
There aren’t a lot of restaurants that will serve you traditional Kerala meals in Kovalam, especially if you are a vegetarian like me. However, if you are seeking a plate of Hakka noodles, or a bowl of paneer butter masala it would likely be a much easier task. And delicious seafood is available all along the beach in every restaurant there. Well, that doesn’t mean being vegetarian is no fun, I’ve been one all my life. And Annam restaurant is my recommendation for a hearty lunch. I am a huge fan of good rasam, sambar, rice, thoran, and the traditional Kerala fare, give me that any day, and I will go crazy with joy. If you sail in the same boat, find Annam restaurant in a small bylane off the beach, and dig in. Thank me later.
Chill out on the beach couch
The locals offer a pair of beach couches on rent on an hourly basis. Negotiate the rate for the number of couches you need under the umbrella, stretch out your legs, lie on your back, and just watch the waves rise and fall. No better way to spend the day, you will feel relaxed and refreshed. Take a book along if you must, but please keep the devices out of it, I would say. You’re there for a vacation, not to Netflix and Chill, you can do that back home.
Dig into some awesome cakes and sundowners at German Bakery
Climb up a flight of stairs somewhere in the middle of the Lighthouse Beach to arrive at the awesome German Bakery. They have some of the best cakes and beverages to cheer you up on a sunny day at the beach. My personal favorites – Lemon cake, Coconut cake, and a Sundowner. They also offer a good breakfast menu and a lot of other delicious dishes. Plus, they have a beautiful unobstructed view of the beach.
Take a Banana Boat into the sea
Kovalam beach offers some adventure activities apart from surfing too – the banana boat kind. Just walk on the Kovalam beach and there will be people approaching you, offering to take you on a ride on the boat. Pick and choose what you would like to do and have a blast!
Relish some desi chatpata treats
If like me, you are a fan of the spices (Indian palette, what can I do!), and like to have the chatpata street food, then Kovalam beach is your paradise. Get the most delicious pineapples and raw mangoes you have ever tasted, doused in chatpata masala, and get your fingers dirty. You can have a mixed salad, sip on the freshest tender coconut water, and even enjoy a chatpata corn on the cob. A lot of restaurants cook their food keeping the foreign palette in mind, so you might sometimes find it going mild on the seasonings, but when you crave the masalas, go out to the beach. You’ll be surprised how much pineapple and mangoes you can get for Rs.20!
Early morning yoga and meditation
Early in the morning, you’ll find a lot of travelers like you engaging in peaceful yoga and meditation. A lot of hotels also offer morning yoga classes to help travelers. And if you are staying for a longer duration, you can sign up for longer courses too. Practice yoga and meditation by the beach in the morning and begin the day on the right note, letting go of all your stress. Inner peace, come on!
Indulge in ayurvedic massages
Kerala is the home of ayurvedic massages that have a huge positive impact on your health and well-being. Massages like shirodhara, abhyanga, takradhara, pizhichil, udwartana, etc. are focused on the overall well-being of the person, and trained professionals in Kovalam can guide you on which massage would work best for you depending on what you are looking for. Ask, and you shall receive (peace and rejuvenation)!
Boat-gazing & plane-watching in the night
Now, this is something you can do in the day too, but it has a special charm at night. On the night horizon, watching the teeming lights of the passing boats is such a joy. With the Trivandrum airport nearby, the airplanes pass quite low, and seeing those blinking lights in the night sky is another delight. You can sit in a rooftop restaurant, or out on the steps at the beach, just feel the peace and calm of the sea, and hear the sound of the waves. Avoid going into the water at night, it is not safe.
These are just some of the things you must do in Kovalam, this is more like what I like to do in Kovalam. Always keep an open mind and explore the place. Ask the local people, interact with fellow travelers.
Note: Carry enough cash. A lot of places in Kovalam insist on taking cash or Google Pay. Paytm wasn’t so popular every time I visited. And even when I visited in the thick of demonetization, I found cash to be the most acceptable form of payment everywhere in Kovalam.
Have you been to Kovalam? Would you like to add anything to the list? OR maybe take anything off this list? Would love to know your experience. Drop me a line in the comments or find me on Instagram – @banjaranfoodie.