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Ocean views, beachside dining, cooling breeze...what more could you ask for?
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East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach.
Look for spicy dishes flavoured with tamarind and coconut in Kochi, and don’t be surprised if your dinner is served up on a banana leaf. The region is a major banana-growing area, and traditional Kochi cuisine employs the fruit in many dishes, both sweet and savoury. Coconut water provides a refreshing and sweet contrast to the piquant food.
Often compared to Venice due to its abundance of canals, Alappuzha is the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. Rent a houseboat for an up-close view of the palm-lined waterways. In August, the snake-boat race is a remarkable festival—each traditional boat has a crew of over 100 local sailors.
Blossoming bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals on leafy boulevards and 18th-century colonial buildings colour the former French colony of Pondy, which sits on the Bay of Bengal. But it's also unmistakably Indian, with colourful festivals throughout the year, several mosques and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Quiet beaches stretch north and south from town, good for swimming and sunrise strolls. Pondy is a popular weekend getaway destination from Chennai and is easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle.
A beach town on the Arabian Sea in southern India, Kovalam features three spectacular crescent beaches. The most popular and largest beach is Lighthouse Beach, aptly named for its 30-metre lighthouse, which features a stunning site - the Vizhinjam mosque. For a less crowded beach, visit Samudra Beach, with ample coconut trees and great views of the local fishermen at work.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
Colombo is the gateway to Sri Lanka for most travelers—but don’t be tempted to simply pass through this diverse and interesting city. Take a train ride along the coast to Mount Lavinia, a popular beach, or explore the Talangama Wetland, which several TripAdvisor travelers say is the perfect place to take a break from the bustling streets of the city.
Sparsely-populated beaches that give way to an ocean brimming with interesting marine life and coral gardens are just one of the reasons to visit the beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Ghandi Park, Sippighat Farm and the century-old Cellular Jail (now a pilgrimage destination) provide glimpses into the past and present of these peaceful islands with a mysterious and multicultural past.