Cherai Beach is in the southern state of Kerala in India and faces west to south west and is further south than the popular holiday resort Goa. The beach is just outside Cochin (Kochi) which has an international airport and 2 train stations and runs for a full 10 km with the soft Arabian Sea lapping the shores. The beach itself is gently sloping lined with palm trees providing excellent safe swimming and bathing.
You can gaze out to the Arabian Sea and watch small flotillas of fishing canoes, which are normally beached above the tide line, slowly fishing the waters and experience the hoards of funny crabs being washed to and fro by the tide. These crabs bury themselves in the beach sands and have an ever watchful eye for the foraging crow or swooping sea eagle…and these majestic birds of prey are abundant here, floating on the thermals right above your head, flashes of orange and white plumage.
You can witness the sole fisherman on the beach casting his open, weighted net, into the very water you could later be bathing in, to snare the small shoals of miniature silver fish available on this coastline.
I have sat for the past week watching….watching….watching….these guys must be so patient because I haven’t seen a solitary fish landed yet!! A thoughtful, meditative ritual worth watching though.
There are a number of fine places to stay from the top of the range 5* Indriya Hotel complex and the Cherai Beach Resort to more basic homestay accommodation which I stayed in. I have written a post on the Cherai Beach Resort and you have a link above to the Indriya Hotel.
The water is about 1 degree Celsius less than the Jacuzzi spa in my local health club back home
There is absolutely no issue with sliding down into this relaxing all embracing tide to clear your head first thing in the morning. (possibly a little dramatic writers licence here but it is so wonderfully warm after you have become accustomed to a cold Welsh winter)
Afternoon & Romantic Sunset
The late afternoon is superb because you are treated to a fantastic sunset with nothing between you and the African coastline or if you look to your left nothing between you and the Antarctic!! Honeymooners can come here for peace that they would not find elsewhere in India. The sea in the afternoon is whipped up by the very welcome warm breeze but it doesn’t stop you from laying in peace on the beach. Sit up and watch the display that the crabs provide dancing around in the surf and scurrying away into their burrows at the first hint of danger.
Enjoy the walk
It is a pleasant walk to the southern end of the beach and you have the option to wander back along the beach road if you tire of the ocean breeze. You will always be able to hail a tuk tuk even in this remotest part so don’t worry about whether you can make it back…just freeze a bottle of water in the freezer the night before and you will have cool drink the whole walk.
There are numerous Ayurvedic (Indian Homoeopathy) centres on the beach front and you can take advantage of a super massage or alternative treatment and this massage is much different to those I have had elsewhere around the world…top class. The cost of a 1hr full body massage will be about Rs 1000 and worth every ruppee.
Eating & Drinking
This beach front is not like the much more popular resorts in Goa further north; do not expect much by way of bars and restaurants. There are a number of small Indian stalls and depending upon your tolerance to the local food or your perception with respect to health considerations, then you might feast on what’s on offer, otherwise the choice is more limited.
We often used the facilities in the Cherai Beach Resort and generally speaking the food was pretty good. We were also recommended the Holiday Hotel up in the village (Rs 30 by tuktuk) which had a really comfortable dining room and the food was super.
Alcohol is hard to come by here and if you wanted it for your room you are best to request it through your hotel otherwise you would have to queue at the “Beer shop” for your max quota of 5 bottles of beer! You will not normally see alcohol in any menu so you will have to ask for it specifically but we managed to get some with our meals…unlike Rishikesh in Northern India where I can get no beer AND no meat!!!
The jewel in the crown for me was the opportunity to wander through some of the backwaters and witness a completely different lifestyle with the brackish sea waters coursing through the area. You will of course be an attraction but if you are an open relaxed person then there are no problems in wandering…probably best to do so with someone else as company though.
If you are new to India then this is such a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in a completely different culture and there is so much to see and witness….I even become engaged in an impromptu game of badminton with the local kids when the added complication was avoiding overhead electricity lines and overhanging palm fronds.
If you wish to have a break from the beach then take a well worth trip to Fort Kochin (Cochin) which will take about 35mins by taxi or if you are brave or skint then by local bus (your new bride might not be impressed if she has to dive on the local boneshaker though!! It is recommended to hire a car and driver for the trip there and back again and does not cost so much about Rs350 to Rs1000.
These strange devices like giant “Edward Scissorhands” replicas, are an ancient fishing mechanism for catching prawns and smaller fish. These can be seen in operation in the local area and just before Cherai junction, at one end of the bridge, you will find the prawn shop which is open each day at 10:00 until the catch is depleted. You can expect to pay Rs250/kg for the large prawns and about Rs650/kg of huge Tiger prawns (about 13 in the Kilo).
The whole time we were here we experienced almost no hassle from traders and had the beach almost to ourselves for most of our stay. We wandered the beach down to the Cherai Beach junction and attracted a little bit of attention because the few busloads of Indian tourists wanted to have photos with us…initial paranoia over “what do they want and watch your wallet” were soon dispensed with and we felt totally safe for the whole time we were here.
A calm Southern oasis
This part of Kerala is undoubtedly a calm relaxed little oasis in what is a frenetic country…if you want the sun and the sea and local culture without commercialisation then this is the place to come and kick back without a care.