Alappuzha – still more romantically known as Alleppey – is the hub of Kerala's backwaters, home to a vast network of waterways and more than a thousand houseboats. Wandering around the small but chaotic city centre, with its modest grid of canals, you'd be hard-pressed to agree with the 'Venice of the East' tag.
Once a calm fishing village clustered around its crescent beaches, Kovalam today is Kerala’s most developed resort. The main stretch, Lighthouse Beach, is touristy with hotels and restaurants built up along the shore, while Hawa Beach to the north is usually crowded with day-trippers heading straight from the taxi stand to the sand.
Kollam (Quilon) is the southern approach to Kerala’s backwaters and one end of the popular backwater ferry trip to Alleppey. One of the oldest ports in the Arabian Sea, it was once a major commercial hub that saw Roman, Arab, Chinese and later Portuguese, Dutch and British traders jostle into port – eager to get their hands on spices and the region’s cashew crops.
Pulinkudi & Chowara
Between Kovalam and Poovar, amid seemingly endless swaying palms, laid-back village life, and some empty golden-sand beaches, are a string of upmarket ayurvedic resorts that are worth a look if you're serious about immersing yourself in ayurvedic treatments. They're all between 6-10km southeast of Kovalam.