Kovalam or Varkala: Which is the Better Choice?

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Did you know that Kovalam and Varkala are two of the most popular beach destinations in Kerala, India?

When planning a trip to Kerala, it can be difficult to decide between these two stunning coastal towns. Both offer beautiful beaches, Amazing views, and a range of attractions and activities to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature lover, a water sports excited, or someone seeking relaxation and renewal, Kovalam and Varkala have something to offer.

In this article, we will compare Kovalam and Varkala across various factors such as location, accessibility, beaches, accommodations, water activities, attractions, dining, shopping, nightlife, and more. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clearer understanding of Which destination matches your preferences and allows you to make the most of your visit to Kerala.

The main points

  • Both Kovalam and Varkala are popular beach destinations in Kerala, India.
  • This article compares the two destinations across various factors to help you make an informed decision.
  • Both destinations offer unique experiences and have their own charm.
  • The ultimate choice depends on what you’re looking for in a beach destination.
  • Consider your preferences and focus when choosing between Kovalam and Varkala.


When it comes to choosing between Kovalam and Varkala, the locations of these two beach destinations play a key role. Both Kovalam and Varkala are located in the breathtaking state of Kerala, India, known for its natural beauty and serene landscapes.

Kovalam, situated in the southern part of Kerala, is a charming beach town that boasts three stunning crescent-shaped beaches. With its proximity to the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kovalam is easily accessible for travelers arriving by air, train, or road. The nearest airport, Trivandrum International Airport, is just a short drive away from Kovalam, making it convenient for both domestic and international visitors.

Varkala, on the other hand, is a coastal town located in the northern part of Kerala. Known for its dramatic cliffs, golden beaches, and natural springs, Varkala offers a unique and picturesque setting for beach lovers. The nearest airport to Varkala is Trivandrum International Airport, which is approximately two hours away by road. Alternatively, visitors can also reach Varkala by train, as the town has its own railway station, well-connected to major cities in Kerala.

Accessibility Option

For those traveling to Kovalam or Varkala, there are several accessibility options available. Trivandrum International Airport serves as the main gateway to both destinations, offering domestic and international flights. From the airport, visitors can easily hire taxis or take public transportation to reach their desired beach destination.

In addition to air travel, Kovalam and Varkala are well-connected by train and road. The railway stations in Thiruvananthapuram and Varkala cater to train travelers, providing convenient access to these beach towns. For those who prefer road travel, there are regular buses and private taxis available from major cities in Kerala to both Kovalam and Varkala.

When it comes to location and accessibility, both Kovalam and Varkala offer their own unique advantages. Kovalam’s close proximity to Thiruvananthapuram makes it easily accessible, while Varkala’s secluded location on the northern coast adds to its charm. Ultimately, the choice depends on the type of experience you seek, whether it’s convenience or tranquility.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Beaches and Scenic Beauty

When it comes to natural beauty and picturesque beaches, both Kovalam and Varkala have a lot to offer. Let’s take a closer look at the unique features and attractions of these coastal destinations.

Kovalam Beach

Kovalam Beach is known for its golden sands, clear blue waters, and palm-fringed beachfront. Its shaped like a structure creates a sense of calm and peace of mind making it ideal for those looking for a relaxing beach vacation.

The beach is divided into three sections: Lighthouse Beach, Hawa Beach, and Samudra Beach, each with its own distinct charm and character.One of Kovalam Beach’s highlights is the iconic 30-meter-tall lighthouse on Lighthouse Beach. The lighthouse not only serves as a directions aid, but it also provides amazing views of the coast. It’s an excellent location for taking memorable sunset photos.

The view from the lighthouse is simply amazing. On one side, you can see the huge Arabian Sea, and on the other, lush green hills. It’s a sight you’ll never forget!” – Local resident.

Varkala Beach

Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam Beach, is famous for its dramatic cliffs, recovery mineral springs, and pristine beachfront. Its distinct surroundings, complete with red rock formations and verdant coconut groves, creates an attractive against which against the azure waters of the Arabian Sea.The beach is surrounded by the Varkala Cliff, then an amazing cliffside stretch covered with cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. This elevated vantage point provides a view of the beach and is ideal for enjoying a relaxing meal while watching the gorgeous surroundings.

In addition to its natural beauty, Varkala Beach is famous for its mineral-rich waters, which are thought to have medicinal properties. Many people come here to soak in the mineral waters and enjoy the health benefits.Both Kovalam and Varkala beaches are simply stunning, leaving visitors in awe of Kerala’s coastal beauty. Whether you prefer the calm and serene atmosphere of Kovalam or the dramatic mountains and healing waters of Varkala, the choice is ideal.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Accommodation Options

When planning your trip to Kovalam or Varkala, one of the key factors to consider is the wide range of accommodation options available in both destinations. From luxurious hotels to charming guesthouses, there is something to suit every traveler’s taste and budget.

Hotels and Resorts

If you prefer the comfort and convenience of a hotel or resort, Kovalam and Varkala have lots of options. You can choose between famous worldwide chains and locally owned establishments, each with its own set of amenities and services. Whether you prefer a beachfront property or a secluded retreat, there are plenty of hotels and resorts to suit your needs.

Guesthouses and Homestays

If you’re seeking a more intimate and immersive experience in Kovalam or Varkala, consider staying in a guesthouse or homestay. These accommodations offer a chance to connect with the local culture and hospitality. From cozy rooms with personal touches to sharing meals with your hosts, it’s a fantastic way to get a glimpse into the authentic lifestyle of the region.

Quality and Pricing

In terms of quality, both Kovalam and Varkala provide a variety of accommodations that meet international standards. However, it is critical to conduct research and read reviews to ensure you select a reputable establishment that meets your expectations.When it comes to pricing, Kovalam tends to have a wider range of luxurious options, particularly along its famous Lighthouse Beach. Varkala, on the other hand, provides more affordable accommodations without compromising quality. Regardless of your budget, there are numerous options available in both locations.

Whether you choose Kovalam or Varkala, trust that both destinations have a well-established tourism industry and a diverse range of accommodation options to suit every traveler. Take your time, consider your options and budget, and make the decision that best meets your needs.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Water Activities and Recreation

While both Kovalam and Varkala offer stunning coastal landscapes, they also provide a plethora of water activities and recreational opportunities to make your vacation truly memorable.


If you want to ride the waves for thrills, Kovalam is the place to go. The shaped like a beaches and consistent swells make this a popular surfing destination. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, Kovalam offers breaks for all skill levels.

Varkala, on the other hand, is better known for its steep cliffs and tranquil beaches, which draw swimmers and beachcombers. While surfing is not as popular in Varkala, there are a few good spots to catch some waves.


Both Kovalam and Varkala have crystal-clear water that is ideal for snorkeling. Explore the vibrant marine life and colorful coral reefs that exist beneath the surface. Snorkeling in Kovalam provides an opportunity to see schools of tropical fish and possibly spot a sea turtle or two.

Varkala’s reef formations near the rocks beaches offer excellent snorkeling opportunities. Dive into the turquoise waters and see a wide variety of corals, sponges, and marine species.

Yoga medications.

Are you looking for a restoring experience? Both Kovalam and Varkala are known for their medicinal practices and wellness centers. Massages, herbal baths, and yoga sessions are traditional therapies that can help you relax and renew your mind, body, and soul.

Beachside Sports and Activities

If you’re looking for some beachside fun, both locations have a variety of options for entertainment. From beach volleyball and football to frisbee and kite flying, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in friendly competitions or simply relax on the beach.Whether you prefer an adrenaline-fueled adventure or a relaxing beachside experience, Kovalam and Varkala have something for every water enthusiast. Take your pick and enter a world of limitless water activities and refreshing recreation.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Tourist Attractions

When it comes to touring and exploring tourist attractions, Kovalam and Varkala have a plethora of options that highlight Kerala’s cultural and historical richness. From iconic landmarks to ancient temples, each destination has its own distinct appeal.


In Kovalam, you can visit the famous Lighthouse Beach, which is known for its beautiful surroundings and lively atmosphere. Take a stroll along the beach to watch the fishermen in action, or simply relax on the golden sands. Another must-see attraction is the Halcyon Castle, a stunning colonial-era palace that provides insight into Kerala’s history.


Varkala is known for its amazing cliffside views and the religiously important Janardanaswamy Temple. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the cliff, taking in the stunning views of the Arabian Sea. Do not miss back in time Vishnu Temple, which draws devotees from all over the country.

Both Kovalam and Varkala combine cultural heritage and natural beauty, providing visitors with a diverse range of experiences. Whether you choose to explore the vibrant beaches of Kovalam or immerse yourself in the peaceful environment of Varkala, these destinations will leave an indelible impression on your sightseeing route.

Key Highlights

  • Halcyon Castle in Kovalam
  • Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam
  • Janardanaswamy Temple in Varkala
  • Vishnu Temple in Varkala
kovalam or varkala which is better

Dining & food

When it comes to dining options in Kovalam and Varkala, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Both destinations offer a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls to cater to all tastes and budgets.

Restaurants and Cafes

From old-fashioned beachside cafes to upscale fine dining establishments, Kovalam and Varkala offer something for everyone. You can try authentic Indian cuisine, international flavors, or fusion dishes that combine the best of both worlds. Whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, aromatic curries, or healthy vegetarian options, the local restaurants and cafes have you covered. Don’t miss out on popular local dishes such as Kerala-style seafood  or appam with stew.

Street Food Delights

If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive meal, Kovalam and Varkala’s street food scene is a must-see. Explore through bustling markets and along the shoreline to find stalls selling delectable snacks such as dosas, crispy fried fish, and spicy chaat. The aroma of freshly cooked street food fills the air, enticing you to try the local flavors and immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary culture.

Don’t miss out on trying the popular local specialties like Kerala-style prawn curry or appam with stew.


No dining experience is complete without a refreshing beverage to accompany your meal. Kovalam and Varkala offer a variety of options for heating your thirst. Enjoy a traditional South Indian filter coffee or a fresh coconut water straight from the source. For those seeking something stronger, there are bars and beachside shacks serving a wide range of local and international beverages, including tropical cocktails and chilled beers.

So, whether you’re a foodie looking for new culinary experiences or simply want to satisfy your palate, Kovalam and Varkala will not disappoint. The variety of dining options and distinct local cuisine will leave you wanting more, ensuring that your culinary adventure in these coastal paradises is as memorable as the natural beauty that surrounds you.

kovalam or varkala which is better


When you visit Kovalam and Varkala in Kerala, you’ll have lots of opportunities to indulge in retail therapy and find unique things to remember your trip. Both destinations have a thriving shopping scene, complete with bustling markets, colorful stalls, and charming boutiques.

Markets and Stalls

Exploring the active markets in Kovalam and Varkala will immerse you in local culture. From fresh produce to handicrafts, these markets have a wide range of offerings. Don’t miss out on the Hawa Beach Market in Kovalam, which sells traditional artwork, handwoven textiles, and aromatic spices. Varkala’s North Cliff Market features a variety of souvenirs, clothing, and jewelry that reflect the town’s coastal charm.


If you favor a more curated shopping experience, visit the small stores and arts and crafts shops located throughout Kovalam and Varkala. These establishments sell a variety of locally made items, such as intricate wood carvings, vibrant paintings, and fashionable clothing. Explore the narrow lanes of Kovalam’s Lighthouse Beach or Varkala’s Papanasam Beach to find hidden treasures and support local artisans.

Tips for Shopping

When shopping in Kovalam and Varkala, keep these tips in mind to make the most of your experience:

  1. Bargain: It’s common practice to negotiate prices at local markets, so don’t be afraid to haggle for a better deal. Remember to be polite and respectful during the process.
  2. Check for Authenticity: Be cautious of counterfeit products, especially when buying expensive items like jewelry or artwork. Trustworthy sellers will provide proper certificates of authenticity.
  3. Support Local Artisans: Look out for authentic handicrafts and local artwork to support the talented craftsmen and women of Kerala. These unique pieces make for meaningful souvenirs

Whether you’re looking for colorful clothing, complex artwork, or traditional spices, the shopping scene in Kovalam and Varkala has something for everyone. Put up the vibrant atmosphere, accept local culture, and take home a piece of Kerala.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Nightlife and Entertainment

When it comes to nightlife and entertainment, both Kovalam and Varkala provide a vibrant and lively atmosphere that will satisfy your desire for a good time after the sun has set. Whether you’re looking for a cozy bar to relax with a drink or a club to dance the night away, both options have something to offer.

Kovalam Nightlife

Kovalam is known for its relaxed beach vibes during the day, but once the sun sets, the town comes alive with a variety of nightlife options. As you stroll along the promenade, you’ll come across numerous bars and lounges where you can sip a refreshing cocktail or a local beer. If you want to dance, visit one of the beachside clubs and groove to the beats of live DJs. Kovalam’s nightlife is a mix of relaxing spots and more energetic venues, so there’s something for everyone.

Varkala Nightlife

Varkala has a distinct charm when it comes to nightlife. The cliffside location adds an extra layer of excitement, as you can enjoy breathtaking views while sipping your favorite drink. Along the cliff, there are numerous bars and cafes where you can relax and meet other travelers. Varkala occasionally hosts live music performances in some of its popular venues. The intimate settings and acoustic vibes create an unforgettable night out.

Both Kovalam and Varkala offer cultural performances highlighting Kerala’s rich heritage. From classical dance performances to traditional music shows, you can immerse yourself in local arts and culture while having a memorable evening.

Key Highlights

  • Experience a dynamic nightlife scene in both Kovalam and Varkala
  • Enjoy beachside bars and lounges with stunning ocean views
  • Dance the night away at vibrant clubs with live DJs
  • Unwind at cozy cliffside cafes while savoring your favorite drink
  • Indulge in occasional live music performances for a unique entertainment experience
  • Immerse yourself in the local arts and culture through traditional performances

Whether you prefer a calm and relaxing evening or a lively party atmosphere, Kovalam and Varkala have a variety of nightlife and entertainment options to suit your preferences. So, prepare to let loose and make  memories as you explore the after-dark scenes in these stunning coastal destinations.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Budget Considerations

When deciding between Kovalam and Varkala, it is essential to take budget considerations into account. The cost of accommodation, meals, activities, and transportation can significantly impact your overall expenditure during your visit to these destinations.

Accommodation options in both Kovalam and Varkala cater to various budgets, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. While Kovalam may have a wider range of high-end resorts, Varkala offers more affordable options. If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation, Varkala may be the better choice for you.

When it comes to meals, both Kovalam and Varkala offer a wide array of dining options to suit different budgets. From local street food stalls to upscale restaurants, you can find something to satisfy your taste buds without breaking the bank.

In terms of activities, both destinations offer exciting opportunities to explore the local culture, nature, and water sports. While the cost of activities can vary, it is worth researching and comparing prices to ensure they align with your budget.

Transportation costs also play a crucial role in your overall budget. If you are traveling from major cities in Kerala, such as Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi, the availability of affordable transportation options, like buses and trains, makes both Kovalam and Varkala easily accessible. However, if you are traveling from further away, it is essential to consider the cost of flights or long-distance transportation.

Kovalam and Varkala offer a range of budget considerations for travelers. Consider your accommodation preferences, dining choices, activity costs, and transportation expenses to make an informed decision that aligns with your financial plans.

kovalam or varkala which is better

Safety and Security

When planning a trip to Kovalam or Varkala, you must prioritize your own safety and security. These coastal destinations in Kerala provide an enchanting experience, but you must be aware of certain precautions to maximize your enjoyment and peace of mind.

Beach Safety

While both Kovalam and Varkala have beautiful beaches, you must prioritize your safety when participating in water activities. Always follow the lifeguard’s instructions and swim only in designated areas. Be wary of strong currents and rough waves, especially during the monsoon season. Keep an eye out for warning signs and flags indicating hazardous conditions, and never underestimate the power of the sea.

Remember that the sea is unplanned, so it’s best to be careful and prioritize your safety when visiting Kovalam and Varkala beaches.

Tourist Scam Awareness

Like any popular tourist destination, Kovalam and Varkala can attract people looking to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors. Avoid touts, unauthorized guides, and suspicious offers. Before going on an excursion or activity, conduct research on reputable local businesses and services. Always use licensed tour operators.

To make sure a safe and reliable travel experience in Kovalam and Varkala, trust your instincts and stick to authorized sources.

General Warnings

While Kovalam and Varkala are relatively safe destinations, you should take general safety measures to protect yourself and your belongings. Always keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially in crowded tourist areas, and keep valuables in hotel safes. It’s also a good idea to keep copies of important documents, such as your passport and visa, and avoid flashing large amounts of cash in public.

To make sure peace of mind in Kovalam and Varkala, stay alert, use common sense, and take the necessary precautions. Your safety and security are paramount.

  • Swim only in designated areas and follow lifeguards’ instructions
  • Beware of strong currents and rough waves
  • Pay attention to warning signs and flags
  • Be cautious of tourist scams and use authorized services
  • Protect your personal belongings and use hotel safes
  • Carry copies of important documents and avoid displaying large amounts of cash


After carefully considering the various factors, it can be concluded that the choice between Kovalam and Varkala ultimately depends on your personal preferences and priorities.

Both destinations offer unique experiences and have their own charm.If you are seeking a vibrant and bustling beach destination with a range of water activities, nightlife, and a plethora of dining options, Kovalam may be the better choice for you.

The beaches in Kovalam are known for their lively atmosphere and buzzing tourist scene.On the other hand, if you prefer a more relaxed and tranquil beach setting with breathtaking natural beauty, Varkala might be more suitable. Varkala is famous for its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and the peaceful ambiance it offers.

Ultimately, your decision should consider factors such as the type of experience you seek, your budget, accessibility, and the specific activities and attractions that interest you. Both Kovalam and Varkala have their own unique appeal and are worth considering when planning your trip to Keral.


Which factors should I consider when deciding between Kovalam and Varkala?

The choice between Kovalam and Varkala should be based on factors like location, accessibility, beaches, accommodation, water activities, sightseeing, dining, shopping, nightlife, budget, and safety.

What are the key differences in terms of location and accessibility between Kovalam and Varkala?

Kovalam and Varkala, both located near Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, are easily accessible via Trivandrum International Airport and are well-connected via roads and trains.

What can I expect in terms of beaches and scenic beauty in Kovalam and Varkala?

Kovalam, renowned for its crescent-shaped beaches and stunning cliffside views, is a popular tourist destination offering a variety of water sports and leisure activities.

What types of accommodation options are available in Kovalam and Varkala?

Both offer diverse accommodation options, including luxury resorts, mid-range hotels, guesthouses, and budget-friendly homestays, with Kovalam offering high-end resorts and Varkala offering boutique-style resorts.

What water activities and recreational opportunities can I find in Kovalam and Varkala?

Both are popular water activities destinations, offering surfing, snorkeling, catamaran rides, beachside sports, Ayurvedic treatments, yoga classes, and cliffside walks for relaxation and rejuvenation.

What are the major sightseeing spots and tourist attractions in Kovalam and Varkala?

In Kovalam, you can visit iconic landmarks like the Vizhinjam Lighthouse, Hawa Beach, and Samudra Beach. Varkala is famous for its Janardanaswamy Temple, Sivagiri Mutt, and the stunning views from the Varkala Cliff. Both destinations offer a mix of cultural, historical, and natural attractions.

What dining options and local cuisine can I find in Kovalam and Varkala?

Kovalam and Varkala boast a variety of dining options, including restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls. Kovalam offers a wider range of cuisine choices, including international dishes and seafood specialties. Varkala, on the other hand, is known for its local South Indian cuisine, especially traditional Kerala dishes like appam, fish curry, and banana chips.

What shopping opportunities and souvenirs can I find in Kovalam and Varkala?

Both Kovalam and Varkala offer shopping opportunities, with markets and boutiques selling a range of items. In Kovalam, you can find handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry, while Varkala is known for its beachside stalls selling clothing, accessories, and souvenirs. Look out for unique items like Kathakali masks, spices, and Ayurvedic products.

What is the nightlife and entertainment scene like in Kovalam and Varkala?

The nightlife in Kovalam is livelier in comparison to Varkala. Kovalam has a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues where you can enjoy the evenings. Varkala, while more relaxed, still offers opportunities to enjoy cultural performances and participate in beachside events. Both destinations have something to offer for those seeking entertainment after dark.

Which destination is more budget-friendly: Kovalam or Varkala?

In terms of budget, both Kovalam and Varkala offer options to suit different travelers. Kovalam has a wider range of accommodations, which means there are options available for different budgets. Varkala, being more boutique-oriented, may have slightly higher pricing for accommodations. However, both destinations have options to suit various budget considerations.

Are Kovalam and Varkala safe for tourists?

Both Kovalam and Varkala are generally safe destinations for tourists. However, it’s always advisable to take standard precautions such as practicing beach safety, avoiding isolated areas at night, and being aware of common tourist scams. It’s also recommended to follow any local advisories and guidelines to ensure a safe and pleasant experience.

Maharudra walke Is traveler and blogger, has over Ten years of experience writing about beach destinations, water activities, villas, solo travel, transportation and travel tips. He shares his experiences and recommendations on his blog, focusing on offbeat beaches and hidden gems. Maharudra enjoys water sports and renting luxury villas for relaxation.

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