Kovalam is famous for its beaches, among the most pristine in India. It is about 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, the capital of the southern state of Kerala in India. Kovalam is popular region comprising three beaches situated in the state of Kerala in the south of India. The southernmost, known as the Lighthouse Beach, is the most popular of the three. Many hotels, restaurants, lodges and shops are located here. It is frequented by outsiders who stay and enjoy Kovalam. The Northern most crescent is crowded on the weekends, is very popular with the locals, day-travelers, and passing-by tourist buses. Hawa Beach, is among one of the beaches in India where top-less sunbathing is tolerated and well appreciated by the locals, who come on the weekends to admire this view free of charge. The tourism department provides a vigilant life guard service on both Lighthouse and Hawa beach. Those expecting a replica of Goa will be pleasantly surprised by the more relaxed atmosphere,a bit more laid back,the food a touch softer and lighter.
Kovalam is about 16 km (20 minutes in a taxi) from Trivandrum. Taxis can charge around 400-500 rupees to get to Kovalam. When asked where you want to go, say Hawa Beach, Leela Beach/Main Beach or Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam.
In an auto-rickshaw 250-300 rupees is a fair price, avoid going above 300 rupees. If in doubt ask to use the meter, but in reality they really don’t work at all. Advice being if they are trying to rip you off go to leave for another rickshaw and they will often back down and offer you a fair price, if not, get in a different rickshaw. Even if India is a cheap country, the prices for gasoline are international standard, so don’t expect super cheap private transportation. If you go by public bus from Trivandrum-East Fort to Kovalam Beach you only pay 8 Rps. for the half hour trip.
Buses to Trivandrum can also be caught from Kovalum Junction as well as Amabassador taxis and Autos to pretty much anywhere. Be very careful walking around the junction, especially at night, as there are no traffic lights (what’s new?!) and the street lighting is very minimal. The intersection can be busy.
Tourist taxis are the most convenient way to travel around attractions, especially while travelling in a group. Most airports and railway stations have tourist taxi services that would take you anywhere you would want to go.
A more adventurous option is to get a bike on hire. The highway is a pleasure to drive on, with the cool breeze and coconut palms lined along the way. Once on the highway, drive north for the plains, drive south for the hills. Avoid driving through Thiruvananthapuram city, it’s congested. The old highway, also called MC road, is also good to drive on. The MC road can take you deep into the hills. Try out the throaty Enfield 350 CC bikes for a truly vintage experience, check your fuel levels before you leave.
Two wheelers do not have to pay the highway toll, simply ride through the side lane.
- Varkala Drive north on the highway for about an hour (55 km). It has a superb beach and cliff front and the usual tourist amenities. The quiet sandy beaches and large lakes of Paravur (65 km from Kovalam) are also close to Varkala and are hidden away. Paravur is a shared secret among those seeking a more peaceful getaway.
- Ponmudi – A nice semi-hill station located about 1 1/2 hours from Kovalam.
- Neyyar Dam ca 1,5 hours by local bus. Only worth to visit if you do not know what else to do. It is a water reservoir. No other curiosities except some crocodiles kept in cages. Better spend the time on the beach.
- Backwater Tours between Kovalam and Trivandrum there are backwater trips available that can be booked at Kovalam Beach itself. Small boats for 4-6 persons. A nice experience.
- 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.