With the summer at its peak, and the monsoon due in a few weeks, it's time to make the most of the season. And what better way than a relaxing vacation by the turquoise blue sea with emerald green coconut trees swaying against the soothing breeze.
And, we'are not talking about Goa. According to travel industry experts, travel enthusiasts are ditching Goa and heading to explore the unspoilt charm of the coral beaches of the Andamans, the beautiful backwaters of Kerala, the white sandy horizons of Lakshadweep and the picturesque coastline of Orissa. Set sail with us to know more.
If Orissa for you was only a visit to the Jagannath temple and the crowded Puri beach, you certainly do not know all about the state's 500km long coastline. "According to traveller reviews posted on TripAdvisor, it's the quieter Konark Beach, Balighai Beach, Gopalpur on sea, Astarang Beach and Paradeep Beach that are wooing the travellers," says Nikhil Ganju, country manager, TripAdvisor India. Walking on the sand, with soothing breeze caressing your face as the sun peeks from the east on the crystal clear blue waters, can instantly lift your spirit and make your day.
Must do: You can get an energizing herbal massage at Puri. A community of masseurs, who are believed to have served warriors, kings and queens for centuries, produce a herbal oil which they use to relive pain. At Konark Beach, you can visit the Sun Temple. At Chilka Lake, you can spot dolphins, along with millions of bird species.
No, we are not sending you here for a glimpse of the Jarawa tribe because attempting to interact with them is illegal under the law. Head to this relaxed tropical island in the Bay of Bengal, for an undisturbed beach vacation. The virgin beaches, incredible corals and marine life, an intriguing colonial past and the remnants of a Stone Age culture will certainly make your vacation highly enjoyable and everlasting.
"It houses some of the most spectacular birds, animals and butterflies of the world. The demand for this place is so high that this year we are expecting to ferry about 7,800 customers to the Andamans -- 40% more than last year," says Mohit Gupta, chief business officer of MakeMyTrip.
Must do: Snorkeling and scuba diving near the Havelock and other islands will give you a sneak peek into the mystic under-water marine life, rare coral reefs and remains of sunken ships. The 10th century prison in Port Blair, Cellular Jail, where freedom fighters were imprisoned during the British rule and referred to as Kalapani, is a National Memorial building now. If possible, take the sea route instead of flying down to the island for a better experience.
Lakshadweep, the land of white beaches and coral atolls, is one of the most exotic islands of the world. The prime attraction is its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise lagoons, thrilling underwater gardens, breathtaking dive sites and marine flora and fauna. The four islands that are open for Indian tourists are Kavaratti, Agatti, Minicoy, and Amini. The fringing coral reefs here are very close to the shores. Passenger ships operate from Kochi, Mangalore and Beypore (Calicut).
However, Lakshadweep requires an entry permit, even for Indian nationals. The permit is available at the Islands' Administrative office in Kavaratti and the Cochin (Kerala) office of the Administrative officer.
Must do: If you are here for the purpose of relaxation, then simply book a plush resort by the white beach, dig into some char grilled sharks, crabs, shrimps and lobsters and enjoy the serenity. If you are game for some adventure, you will be spoilt for choice.
"The exquisite sea surrounding the island makes it an excellent scope for scuba diving, adventure tourism, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, yachting and even night voyages," says Gupta of MakeMyTrip. On your way back home, do not forget to carry a jar of Tuna-pickle, the island's specialty food.
If you are looking beyond sporting sexy swimwear and sunbathing over cool cocktails, then visiting the backwaters of Kerala is a good option. In the coastal regions of Kerala, inlets from the sea meet the estuaries of over 50 rivers and natural canals. These interweaving water bodies are known as the backwaters of Kerala. The region was once listed in '50 destinations of a lifetime' by National Geographic Trave-ller. Alappuzha, Kovalam and Kozikhide are some of the popular backwater beaches.
Must do: A stay in the houseboats, locally termed as kettuvallams, is a must for the perfect experience. Spending a day or two in these ethnic floating wooden cottages, even as you dig into Karimeen fry or soft Malabar parotas with avial on the deck of the boat with full view of the scenery around, can even make your honeymoon to Bali seem less exciting.