Kovalam is possibly India’s best beach for a number of reasons. There is good surf, waters are ideal for sports activities although going out too far is palm not recommended unless you are familiar with the tides. Because the headlands are so structured, rocky outposts carve out small bays which are fringed by date palms. Each bay thus exudes a quietness and exclusivity since it is not easily accessible across the beach front. Except for the monsoon stretch from May to August when rain, high winds and rough waters call a stop to beach activities, Kovalam is an idyllic year round destination. Many fishing enthusiasts swear by the beauty of Kovalam waters. Fish are in plenty and it takes only a rod, mussels for bait and an outcrop of rocks to throw your line. Here, the action is quick and if you are an experienced angler you can bring in your own fresh catch every day and ask the local restaurants to cook it for you. Since sea food is the mainstay of the regional cuisine, a mouthwatering array of preparations await the gourmet. Shredded coconut finds its way into fish, shrimp and prawn preparations, not to mention exotically spiced and baked fish in plaintain leaves that produce perhaps the most succulent fish delicacies anywhere in the world.
As yet, Kovalam remains an unspoilt retreat. It has not so far been heedlessly exploited. Restricted room supply limits the number of tourists. The local lifestyle continues like it always has. Green paddy fields under a mellow sun stretch out into the interior. Narrow metalled roads wind their way through small villages, over several water bridges and verdant rice fields, coconut and date plantations. While many Keralites grow their regular supply of vegetables, pawpaw, banana, pineapple, the fishing community spread out their nets and dexterously steer thin dugouts called “Catamarans” over the racy waters of India’s deep southern seas.
There is a sparkle and dash to these sun baked fishermen who dare the waters each day and can often be seen on the beaches. Anecdotes dot their conversation as they string their nets to dry out in the sun on the sea shore. High seas, storms and hurricanes are the norm rather than the exception and all boys and men are strong swimmers with a great liking for the local spirits—toddy (rice beer) and feni (fermented coconut or cashew nut).
For the visitor this natural, traditional lifestyle comes as an attractive bonus. Walking seems to be a favoured means of getting from one place to another. Angular dark men and buxom women wearing pure white for the most part and coloured blouses and dhotis occasionally dot the landscape. The unmistakable black umbrella tucked under the arm is typical of Kerala. Emerald green fields stretch into one another, broken only by a stream of rivulets, canals, lakes and waterways. Coconut plantations pepper the countryside. The houses are neat, clean and orderly. Village roofs are tiled in a traditional symmetry that is extremely attractive.
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