A near deserted beach near Kovalam and Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), Kerala, India

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Once a calm fishing village clustered around its crescent beaches and backed by a sea of cascading palms, Kovalam now competes with Varkala as Kerala’s most developed resort. The touristed main stretch, Lighthouse Beach, is flanked by hotels and restaurants stretching back into the hillside from the shore; just north, Hawa Beach is usually crowded with day trippers heading straight from the taxi and bus stands to the sand. Neither beach could be described as pristine, but, at under 9 miles (15km) southeast from Trivandrum, Kovalam remains a convenient and immensely popular place for fun by the sea; there are promising waves (and a surf club), as well as some charming guesthouses and a flourishing ayurveda and yoga scene.


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