Four Star Hotels, Beach Resorts
Kovalam India is one of the oldest tourist destinations in India. It shot in to the limelight with the arrival of hippies.
You have to envy the travellers who first discovered Kovalam India back in 1970s. At that time there were no crowds, sun beds, hotels, restaurants and shops in the palm groves behind the beaches. This must have been a heavenly location.
Now almost every meter of ground behind the Lighthouse Beach is buried under the concrete buildings.
Tourism boomed in Kovalam in 1990's, when European charter companies started sending plane loads of package tourists here. The chartered flights got suspended by 2008 along with the recession.
Now the resorts depend on fifty plus British and middle aged German and Scandanavian ayurveda tourists.
Middle class Indians from metros are flocking here too - the Indian economic growth story.
The old charm of Kovalam India is missing but you won't find yourself complaining.
If you're looking for a vacation that lives up to the glamour of ads, you'll have to move south of Kovalam. There you'll find dozens of resorts with Kerala architecture, ayurveda massage and private beach access. But the rates are pretty high. If you can afford it, that'll be great.
Things to See in Kovalam, India
A smooth straight road leads to Kovalam from Trivandrum. From Kovalam Junction, you have to take right turn to reach the three main beaches.
The three beaches are Lighthouse Beach, Hawah Beach(Eve's Beach) and Kovalam Beach(Ashoka Beach). The beaches are usually crowded.
Lighthouse Beach is the southernmost and the most popular. This lovely old lighthouse gives the beach its name.
Hawah Beach is the next one. It is fairly clean and very popular.
Third beach is Kovalam Beach. A rocky hill separates the Hawah beach from the Kovalam beach. The hill is home to the Leela Kempinski Beach Resort.
Rocks jut out of Kovalam Beach at various points. The safest part of the beach is near the Leela. But it is all private, only for the guests of the Leela. The part of the beach open to all is not so clean.
This beach lies to the north of Kovalam beach. But it can be only reached the Kovalam Junction.
At high tide, there is hardly any beach here at all. There is a long sea wall that you can walk on. It's an awesome sight to see the waves crash on the rocks below.
Ayurveda at Kovalam India
3000-year-old science of Ayurveda is now Kerala's biggest tourist attraction. Ayurvedic clinics, reosorts, centres and spas mushroomed all over Kovalam.
It is always sensible to opt for classified ayurvedic centres or those run by qualified physicians. All most all reputed hotels have their own ayurveda centres.
Kerala Tourism's accreditation scheme classifies centres in to Green Leaf and Olive Leaf.
Green Leaf applies to the esstablishments with highest standard of hygiene, trained staff and use top grade oils and medicine.
Olive Leaf facilities offer equally dependable treatments, but in a more traditional Kerala surroundings.
So look for the leaf, green or olive.
Shopping in Kovalam
Shops, cafes and restaurants line the cemented pavement that runs the whole length of Lighthouse Beach and much of Hawah Beach.
These sell quality paintings, carpets, metal work and woodwork articles. Tibetan shawls and woodwork are plenty in shops.
One place that's reasonable and reliable is Surabhi Handicrafts, a Kerala State Handicrafts Co-operative undertaking.
You can buy token gifts such as small rosewood elephants, or articles made of sandalwood, ebony, screw pine, bamboo and banana fibre leaf besides lovely shells, jewellery boxes and much more.
Where to Eat in Kovalam
All the hotels have their own restaurants which offer good Kerala food, particularly seafood.
There are lots of restaurants along the Lighthouse Beach, such as Sea Face Dosa Camp. Lonely Planet serves very good veg south Indian food.
On Lighthouse Beach, there's Gracia for Kerala seafood. Swiss Cafe serves Swiss specialities. There is also the German Bakery, famous for its cakes, coffee and snacks.
Beatles is just 25m from the water. The fish and prawns in banana leaves are delicious. Fusion Restaurant offers Indian fusion.