If you’re planning for an offbeat seaside break on this Holi weekend, look no further
Bakkhali, West Bengal
Bakkhali Beach, on the meeting point of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal on the delta, is on the southern edge of West Bengal. Cross a small creek to reach Bakkhali, a gateway to the Sunderbans. Partly screened off by casuarina trees, the beach is best enjoyed when the tide comes in. The inter-tidal zone is worth exploring for sea life, and you can take a mini coastal trek from Bakkhali to Frazergunj, about 7km. Local eateries offer typical Bengali food, including delicious costal fare of saltwater fish, crabs and prawns.
Getting There: You can take special buses from Kolkata to Bakkhali. It takes about 4 hours to cover the distance of 125km. At Bakkhali, take the barge at the Namkhana jetty to cross the Hatania-Doania creek.
Where To Stay: Bakkhali Tourist Lodge (from Rs1900 for AC doubles; wbtdc.gov.in).
Our Tip: Going to the Sunderbans? Here’s a local myth that you should know about.
Once home to retired British and Anglo-Indian railway employees, this traditional haunt of Bengali tourists in Odisha is now developing into a major resort. Day trippers are rare and you can watch fishermen bring in their catch in the early mornings and late afternoons. From the the local lighthouse, open for a short while in the afternoon, you can get sweeping views of the Bay of Bengal and the neighbouring countryside. Local creeks in the vicinity have created a network of backwaters, and you can take leisurely boat rides, and plan a picnic. The sea currents are quite strong here, so be careful when you enter the water.
Getting There: Take a train to Berhampur from Kolkata on the Howrah-Chennai line. Auto-rickshaws are available from the railway station to Gopalpur, about 12km away. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar, about 170km by road.
Where to Stay: OTDC’s Panthanivas Gopalpur (from R 2,750 for an airconditioned cottage; panthanivas.com). Other options include Mayfair Gopalpur (from Rs 11,000; mayfairhotels.com) and Swosti Palm Resort (from Rs 2,600;swostihotels.com).
Our Tip: Mayfair was featured on our list the best beach resorts in India.
Bhimili, Andhra Pradesh
Formally called Bheemunipatnam, this picturesque beach is rarely part of any tourist itinerary. This is where the Gosthani River meets the Bay of Bengal. The wide curve of sandy beaches make it a great place to enjoy the sea, but the nearby historical sites make it a fascinating place to visit. There are several remains of large Buddhist monastic complexes here, the main one being that of Thotlakonda on a hill overlooking the town. An important site for colonial domination in the region, Bhimili also has remains of 17th century Dutch East India Company trading posts.
Getting There: Local buses run between Vizag and Bhimili, 25km away, but a taxi ride is more comfortable.
Where to Stay: Plenty of hotels in and around Vizag. Take your pick from AP Tourism Hotel (from Rs1,800), AP Tourism Beach Resort, Rushikonda (from Rs 2,000). For contacts, visit aptdc.gov.in.
Our Tip: Read our list of six great hotels in and around Vizag.
Paradise Beach, Pondicherry
A sandy stretch to the east of Pondicherry, this little strip of land where the Chunnambar River meets the Bay of Bengal is increasingly popular with tourists. The beach is open to visitors from 9am to 5pm and is accessible by ferry from the Chunnambar Boat House. There are beach shacks selling food and beverages, and showers and restrooms are available if you want to go swimming in the clear, blue waters of the sea. Stay close to the shore, however, as currents are quite strong here.
Getting There: The beach is nearly 8km from Pondicherry. Take the ferry from the Chunnambar Boat House on the Pondy-Cuddalore Road.
Where to Stay: Accommodation aplenty to suit all pockets in Podicherry, from guest house and budget hotels to luxury hotels. For a comprehensive list of hotels, see pondytourism.in
Our Tip: Check out our list of great things to do, excellent restaurants to savour the local culinary specials and places to stay at while at Pondicherry.
At this picture postcard perfect corner of Goa, white sandy beaches merge into the azure Arabian Sea. Once a laid-back hangout, today its shacks hum with activity, selling sea-food and souvenirs to tourists. If you want to go away from the crowd, try the nearby Colomb cove or the isolated Rajbag beach. One of Palolem’s latest attraction is the ‘silent noise’ parties. According to Goa Tourism website, there is a 10pm ban on playing loud and live music. So slap on your earphones, and connect them to the DJ’s list and groove to the (silent) beat! Palolem is fast becoming a hub for water sports, so if you want to go out sea kayaking or scuba diving, then Palolem’s for you!
Getting There: Take a taxi from Maragao, about 40km away. Alternately, you can take the train to Canacona, 3km from Palolem.
Where to Stay: Palolem, a typical Goan beach town, and has hotels ranging from budget to luxury.
Our Tip: Check out our guide to Goan beaches, which includes Palolem. Goa is culinary hub, and apart from local Konkani food, the state also has some great international options. Read about the Palolem options here.
A little-known beach overlooked by green hills along Maharashtra’s Konkan coast, near the state’s border with Goa. The region is known for its mango, coconut and cashew groves. Try the local eateries for Konkani and Malvani cuisine, especially the fish preparations.
Getting There: Although people from Mumbai drive down to Vengurla, taking the Konkan Railway is a good option too. Take the train to Sawantwadi Road (30 km from Vengurla), which offers better stay and transport options compared to the other get-off point, Kudal. Mumbai is 537km by road.
Where to Stay: Limited but good accommodation options, including homestays, available in Sawantwadi. Dwarka Homestay; tariff – starting from Rs 2800; dwarkahomestay.com. KlubKhavana Beach Resort (about 15km from Vengurla); tariff – Rs 5000 per cottage (for a couple);http://klubkhavana.com.
Our Tip: Check out our Quick Guide to Vengurla. Read this for a more in-depth look at the pleasures of the Sindhudurg region.