The Best Beaches in India

In a country full of colors, blue is, in fact, the warmest.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Camels wearing colorful garlands on the beach and Indian tourists riding them during holidays in Puri, Orissa, India.
Photo: Getty Images

When most travelers think about planning a trip to India, certain activities immediately come to mind. You may want to sample Mumbai's famous street food, practice yoga with a guru, or see a Bollywood movie (if you're lucky, you may even find yourself cast in one). If you're visiting Chennai, you'll want to bring back hoards of spices, and see as many temples as possible. But many in-the-know travelers will tell you that the beach culture in India is very much alive — and thriving — thanks to the country's 4,670-mile tropical coastline dotted with surfing spots, lively festivals, and pristine places to kayak, dive, and reconnect with nature. Below, we've rounded up some of the best beaches in India to add to your itinerary.

Puri Beach: Puri, Odisha

Puri Beach
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Puri, in the state of Odisha, has long been famous for its temple to the Hindu god Jagannath. In recent years, however, travelers have discovered that it also has one of the cleanest beaches in India. On this 4.3-mile-long strip overlooking the Bay of Bengal, you can ride camels and horses, swim, and sample local foods like khaja (a fried pastry soaked in syrup) or chungdi malai (coconut shrimp curry). Every November, the city hosts the Puri Beach Festival, during which tourists and locals come together to watch over-the-top sand sculpting, dance performances, and traditional sports like mallakhamb and kabbadi. People often peddle handicrafts and snacks along the shore, but take a walk in either direction and you'll find less crowded areas.

Chowpatty Beach: Mumbai, Maharashtra

Kite flying festival on Chowpatty beach, Mumbai, India.
Christine Pemberton

Chowpatty Beach is a must-visit for anyone visiting Mumbai, especially during Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival celebrated in honor of the deity Ganesha. The festival, which usually occurs in August or September and lasts ten days, draws thousands to the beach, where beautifully crafted statues of the god are submerged in the Arabian Sea. Due to pollution, it's not safe to swim in the water, so most people just come here to stroll and socialize on the shore.

Om Beach: Gokarna, Karnataka

Om Beach in Karnataka
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The tiny temple town of Gokarna boasts a handful of beaches worth visiting, but Om Beach — named for its double-crescent shape, which resembles the symbol for the sacred mantra Om — makes our list thanks to its remote location and relative lack of tourists. A variety of bungalows offer quaint lodging, and you can find plenty of eateries along the shore. You'll also find several tour operators offering dolphin-watching tours, water sports, and scenic boat rides that will take you around Gokarna.

Varkala Beach: Varkala, Kerala

Sunset on northern end of Papanasham beach.
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The palm-lined coast of Kerala is home to Papanasam Beach (also known as Varkala Beach), which is one of the most spiritual destinations in India. Legend says that one dip in the water will wash away your sins. Located below a stretch of red cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea, this religious site also offers everything you’d expect from a perfect beach. Gorgeous stretches of golden sand? Check. Hidden staircases that lead inland? Check. Clear blue waters that are ideal for swimming? But of course. On the cliffs overlooking the beach lies a strip of quirky stores, massage parlors, and restaurants serving up fresh seafood and cold drinks. Don’t forget to check out the nearby town of Edava — only a 10-minute drive away — to explore quiet beaches and surfing spots, as well as a blue lagoon.

Agonda Beach: Canacona, Goa

Agonda Beach, Goa, India
Ben Pipe / Alamy

Locals will probably tell you this is the most unspoiled beach in Goa, as it has somehow managed to avoid the crowds that have infiltrated other beaches like Baga and Candolim. If you want to go dolphin watching, there are several local boat owners who happily take tourists out to the Arabian Sea for a fair price. This 1.8-mile beach is known for its colorful huts that line the shore, but it's also a nesting site for endangered Olive Ridley turtles. They normally lay their eggs between October and May, so be extra careful when walking on the beach during those months.

Radhanagar Beach: Swaraj Dweep, The Andaman Islands

Radhanagar Beach

There are several beaches on Swaraj Dweep (formerly known as Havelock Island), but Radhanagar Beach, or Beach No. 7, takes the cake. Here, you’ll find clear blue waters and the 1.2-mile stretch of white sand is also often touted as one of India’s cleanest beaches. Explore the lush, green jungle that fringes the shore, take a stroll, and come back before dusk to witness one of the most memorable sunsets of your life.

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