Forget Tarkarli, and go instead to Devbagh. A narrow strip of land, about the width of a four-lane highway, it’s flanked by the gentle Karli River on one side and the azure waters of the Arabian Sea on the other. At Devbagh’s tip, the water bodies meet in a choppy confluence to the cacophony of a hundred gossiping seagulls. At dawn, the ocean takes on a silvery lavender hue, like a cloak of gossamer silk. During the day it gleams blue, and at night, the stars twinkle so fiercely bright, there is no need for artificial light on the beach—not that there is any. The village’s homes and hotels turn off their lights well before the clock strikes midnight.
Insider tip: The fishermen in Devbagh also offer fishing trips. This does not mean that visitors will get to fish, just that they can watch the professionals at work. It’s still a fulfilling experience, especially when you get to take the just-caught barracuda back to the hotel for dinner.
–Neha Sumitran, Editor, Web
I fell under Arambol’s spell from the moment I first spied white surf pounding on its soft sand, as our ride curved towards the street-market leading to its beachfront. It was a heady weekend that introduced one of my dearest friends to the man she would one day marry, singing karaoke in Loekie Café on our last night. I returned two years later on a landmark birthday road trip to introduce my besties to my favourites at this backpacker-friendly beach: the potent Irish coffee at Pizza Olive, cinnamon ice cream and chocolate mousse cake at Cheeky Monkey, nachos with guacamole at Bee’s Knees, desserts at Double Dutch, coffee at Dylan’s Toasted and Roasted, the Earth Queen shake at Magic Park, the screwdriver at 21 Coconuts,and the simple but wonderful Traditional Tibetan Ocean Massage Centre. Sleep in a shack and wake up to the sound of the waves. Take an impromptu yoga class on the beach, go kite-surfing, and walk to the sweet lake (Vagkolam) on the other side of the beach. If you’re there on a weekend, hit up the Saturday Night Bazaar at nearby Arpora for great grub and bohemian buys. Best of all, end your day at Sunset Point, as hippies and locals gather to drum, dance, perform t’ai chi, capoeira and fire poi, and generally go out in a blaze.
–Saumya Ancheri, Assistant Editor, Web
Four hours from Mumbai is a beach that reminds you of Goa – well, of a Goa you can get to in less than half the time. Shacks line the beach at Kashid, hammocks invite you to fall asleep in them, swaying gently, with your favourite book, and the sand – white almost – is cleaner than a lot of other beaches close to the city. It’s a lot more crowded now than it used to be, with water sports and sand biking offered to travellers. The best time to enjoy a walk along the water is sundown, when things are winding down for the day and the sun isn’t harsh anymore. The sand is soft and without the crowds, it’s serene, too.
–Sejal Mehta, Former Editor, Web
The Lakshadweep group of islands makes for a fabulous holiday. Kalpeni, which has a massive but shallow lagoon, is a great stop for coral and watersports. Though stay options are almost next to nil, it makes for a good day trip. All the tourism-friendly islands – Kavaratti, Bangaram, Minicoy, Kadmat – make for gorgeous views, sandy afternoons and night-time walks; Agatti is the only one with an airport. All the lagoons have brilliant clean beaches, sparkling water alive with marine life that you can scuba dive for, and opportunities to soak in the sun.
–Sejal Mehta, Former Editor, Web
Havelock Island’s Radhanagar Beach features prominently on lists of Asia’s best beaches. It’s nearly impossible to find such a beach so stunning and yet so devoid of crowds. Especially, since it has something for every kind of beachgoer. Many visitors drive up to Beach No. 7, as it is also known (Havelock’s beaches have been numbered to make the names easier for its foreign visitors), on scooties, buy green coconuts from one of the handful of vendors lining the road to the beach, and saunter in to catch one of Radhanagar’s spectacular sunsets. The waves at this point are huge and a lot of people enjoy going into the water to splash around. The setting sun casts a special light that makes everything look better. If you rent a snorkel mask and walk around the left of the beach for 10 minutes until the large patch of rocks, you’ll reach a great spot for snorkelling. Don’t be afraid to swim out when the tide is high and you might find yourself floating with a school, or wrasse or even a turtle if you’re very lucky. If you’re looking for a more relaxed time, then walk to the right. You’ll reach a little cove where the sea forms a lagoon: the waves are gentle, making it perfect for languid swims interspersed with naps on the sand. There are enough secluded corners where you can spread out your beach towel under the shade of a tree and feel like you have the beach to yourself. The sand is soft and white, the water a clear blue, and the weather just the perfect kind of balmy.
–Neha Dara, Deputy Editor
En route to Kerala, I was reading The Beach by Alex Garland that centres around a secret beach. By the time we were in Varkala (aka Papanasam beach), I had finished the book but as we reached the precipice of the North Cliff and looked out to the sea, the image was all too familiar. I hadn’t seen waters of such a stark shade of aquamarine in real life before. Nestled in a cove, with shacks offering Continental cuisine and knickknacks a stone staircase away, the beach wasn’t very crowded when I visited last April. I’m certain it’s one of the country’s cleanest beaches, and the surfing classes (both here, and on beaches a little further way) make it definitely worth your while.
–Fabiola Monteiro, Features Writer, Web
I only discovered the beach at Velas a few months ago but already it’s one of my favourite beaches. The ferry ride across to the villages of Bankot and Velas, and the secluded beach that is cut off from the roads and fields by a long strip of forest, make it the perfect weekend break from Mumbai.
–Kamakshi Ayyar, Features Writer, Web