Kovalam is a beach town located by the Arabian Sea in the city of Thiruvananthapuram city in Kerala. The Kovalam beach is among the most pristine beaches in India. It is extremely popular among westerners due to the shallow waters and low tidal waves. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. Kovalam has three crescent shaped beaches separated by rocky outcroppings in its 17 km coastline; the three together form the famous crescent of the Kovalam beach.
The Kovalam beach has a lot of life in it. You get to take part in a number of diverse activities available throughout the beach. Since it is a commercialized beach, you easily get things to eat and drink. You cannot expect the beach to be clean nor can you expect it to be empty.
The Kovalam Beach is an internationally renowned beach with three adjacent crescent beaches. They are (1) Lighthouse Beach, (2) Hawah Beach and (3) Samudra Beach. The sands on the beaches in Kovalam are partially black in colour due to the presence of ilmenite and Monazite. Ashoka beach is also the part of Kovalam beach. The tourism department provides a vigilant life guard service on both Lighthouse and Hawah beaches. Shallow waters stretching for hundreds of metres are ideal for swimming.
The leisure options at this beach are plenty and diverse. Kovalam tourism is not just confined to sightseeing, swimming and lip-smacking cuisines, but there are more adventurous sports at Kovalam beach which are really pleasurable. This includes water diving, parasailing, wind surfing and many more. Sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programmes and catamaran cruising are other things that will surely keep you happily occupied.
Surfing - Some fine waves from time to time (0.5 - 2 meters). You can hire surf boards and body boards on the beach from $6USD a day. Body boarding can be enjoyed by anyone. Surfing takes a bit more skill. It is wise to follow the life-guards' instructions as there are some strong currents that can suddenly whisk the unwary out to sea.
Wooden Boat Ride - At Kovalam's Main Beach/Leela Beach you can go out on the ocean with a traditional Catamaran. These ancient boats are rowed with a bamboo paddle and maneuvered by experienced local fishermen. There are 11 registered boats available. Rides last from about 15 to 120 minutes and cost between INR 300 to 600 per person. The best time for going snorkelling from the boat is in the early morning. Most romantic are the "sunset cruises". No advance booking necessary. First come - first served.
Lighthouse: Visitors can climb the spiraling staircase inside to the top of the red and white 35-m lighthouse tower and enjoy a spectacular view of the surroundings.
Thiruvananthapuram: It is the capital city of Kerala, is just 16 km away from Kovalam and getting there is no hassle. But if you are on holiday it is better to stay in Kovalam and visit the city. The City of Thiruvananthapuram has interesting places to see like the Napier Museum, the Sri Chitra Art Gallery, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Ponmudi hill station etc. SMSM Institute, a State owned handicrafts emporium, is the ideal place to pick up ethnic curios and other articles.
Thiruvallam: This serene backwater stretch, enroute to Kovalam, is famous for its canoe rides, kayaking and cruises in kettuvalloms. The Boat Club here organises tours to the nearby islands of Pozhikara and Edayar as well as visits to coir manufacturing units.
Parasurama Temple, Thiruvallam: This 2000-year-old temple on the banks of the River Karamana, is the only one in Kerala dedicated to Sree Parasurama, the mythological creator of the State.
Vizhinjam Rock Cut Cave Temple: There are rock-cut sculptures of the 18th century in the cave temple at Vizhinjam. The granite cave here encloses a one-celled shrine with a loose sculpture of Vinandhara Dakshinamurthi. The outer wall of the cave depicts half-complete reliefs of the Hindu God Shiva with Goddess Parvathi.
Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium: Located near Theatre Junction, the aquarium which houses a rich treasure of marine wealth has perfected the Image Pearl production technique, by which a mould of any shape made of shell cement is implanted into the pearl oyster. In 2-3 months a pearl in the shape of the mould will be ready.
Beemapalli: An important place of worship, the Beemapalli Dargah Shareef is dedicated to Beema Umma, a pious Muslim woman who was believed to possess great spiritual powers. The Chandanakudam Festival at Beemapalli, lasting for 10 days, is one of the most colourful events.
Shankhumugham Beach: This place is a favourite haunt of sunset watchers. An indoor recreation club, the matsya kanyaka (a gigantic, 35-m long sculpture of a mermaid) and a restaurant shaped like a starfish are some of the attractions here.
Veli Tourist Village: This picnic spot, where the Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea, offers boating facilities. Pedalboats can be hired to explore the charms of the lagoon in a leisurely manner. For a quick ride over the waters, speed boats are available for hire. Children can also enjoy climbing over the huge sculptures which dot the landscape.
Akkulam Tourist Village: A picnic spot with boating facilities, Akkulam is a place children flock to. It has a well-equipped children’s park, a paddle pool and a swimming pool for adults as well.
VJT Hall: Built to commemorate the golden jubilee of the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1896, the VJT Hall was inaugurated by the then ruler of the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma on January 25, 1896. The hall has witnessed several historical events. Perhaps the most preferred venue for public functions in the city, this towering monument is a proud remnant of the colonial era.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Palayam: This125-year-old cathedral is an important worship centre of Catholics and a prominent landmark in the city.
Kerala Legislature Complex: Located at Palayam, the building where the Legislative Assembly of Kerala meets is a beautiful blend of classical and modern splendour. Situated behind the Legislative Assembly complex, the Legislature Museum throws light into the political history of the State.
Science and Technology Museum Complex: The museum houses galleries on electricity, electronics, power & motion, mechanics, popular science, mathematics, solar energy as well as automobile, computer and biomedical engineering.
Koyikkal Palace, Nedumangad (about 45 km): This ancient palace dates back to the 15th century. Museums of folklore and numismatics are set up here. The Folklore Museum here is a treasure trove of quaint musical instruments, occupational implements, household utensils, models of folk art etc. displayed in the Koyikkal Palace, they focus attention on the cultural background of the State.
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary (about 45 km): The sanctuary has a picturesque dam site serving as its gateway. The dam premise is a popular picnic spot, which comes with a watch-tower, crocodile farm, lion safari park and deer park. Boating facilities are available at the reservoir. The elephant rehabilitation centre at Kottoor is also situated nearby.
Ponmudi (about 75 km): An idyllic hill station, Ponmudi is at a height of 915 m above sea level. Along with a variety of beautiful mountain flowers, exotic butterflies, small rivulets, springs and wildlife, this hill destination offers excellent trekking trails and camping opportunities.
Varkala (about 65 km): Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interest like the beautiful beach, reddish laterite cliffs overlooking the beach and a 2000-year-old Vishnu temple. The fresh water mineral spring originating from the crevices of the cliffs is considered as holy and having high medicinal value. Such a phenomenon is considered very rare near a beach.
Thenmala Eco-Tourism (about 85 km): Covered by dense forests, rubber and tea plantations. Thenmala was selected by the World Tourism Organization as one of the world’s best eco-friendly projects.
Kanyakumari (about 90 km): At the southernmost tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kanyakumari, an important pilgrim center. Kanyakumari is famous for watching spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days.
Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram Central, about 16 km
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 10 km
Best time to visit: September to March