Cherai Tourism, Beach Cherai
The closest beach to Kochi is Cherai, 25km north on Vypeen Island. It is worth the effort of getting to Cherai. A 3 km strip of golden sand and thumping surf, it is sandwitched on a narrow strip of land between the sea and a very pretty backwater area of glassy lagoons. Chunky granite sea defenses prevent the waves from engulfing the ribbon of fishing villages that subsist along this strip.
Nowhere, however, is the sand more than a few meters wide at high tide, and the undertow can get quite strong. Even so, Cherai seems to be gaining in popularity each year. A row of small, overpriced resorts and guesthouses has sprung up to accommodate the trickle of mainly foreign travellers who find their way up here Fort Cochin.
To get Cherai, you can either jump on the car ferry across to Vypeen Island from the jetty next to Brunton Boatyard in Fort Cochin, then transfer onto the hourly bus waiting on the other side, or catch one of the more frequent buses from the opposite the High Court Jetty in Ernakulam.
Alternatively, hire a scooter and ride up-in which case, a preferable route to the main road is the more picteresque coastal lane hugging the sea wall; you can pick this up by turning west down a bumpy back road to Nayarambalam, 1km north of Njarakkal, or via any of the lanes peeling left further on.
Cheri's accommodation costs a little over the odds, reflecting its proximity to Fort Cochin, but you can haggle down the rates if trade is slack.
Brighton Beach House
2km north of Cherai
Tel: 0484 3107661
Fairly basic en-suite rooms opening on to a yard right next to the sea wall, a 5min drive north of the main beachfront. Meals and sundowners are served in a small gazebo-cum-sun terrace, raised to overlook the sand, which is particularly narrow here.
Cherai Beach Resort
Tel: 0484 2416949
A convoluted campus of 45 differently priced mini-villas, squeezed onto a leafy, green plot bounded on one side by the shore road and on the other by backwaters. But the place feel a bit cramped when it is at full tilt, and the only useable band of beach opposite is very slim indeed.
The best-value budget option in Cherai, and the one with most Kerala atmosphere. No sea views(it is set back across the road from the sea wall) but the rooms are pleasant, with high, traditional Kerala ceilings and carved gables, shiny ceramic floors and small sitouts.
Tel: 0484 2418055
With no-frills a/c and non a/c rooms, this is Cherai's most overpriced option, but the only one with rooms actually opening onto the beach. Guests get to use a row of sunloungers on a level strip of sand bang in front of the property, and there is a breezy open-sided restaurant on the top floor.
Tel: 0484 2480785
3km north of Cherai beachfront. Half a dozen very simple budget rooms in a friendly homestay on the roadside. Those on the first floor have sea views.