It took me a long time to decide which would be the best place to start my trip to India, but in the end the 20 minute taxi ride from the airport to Kovalam decided it for me. I’d been reading lots of stuff about which place is better and thought that the only way to really decide would be to go to both – well I was in the area. In reality both places were very nice and had things to offer everybody. Anyway, I’ll try and sum up my own personal opinion for you;
Accommodation – Well both places have a great range of nice spots to stay. Varkala leans more towards the budget side of things, but still has a few more good looking upmarket places. Overall just for the sheer range of choices Kovalam wins here.
Looks- Kovalam has a nice beach, well quite nice, and the lighthouse and fishing boats add a bit of character to it, but the red cliffs of Varkala win here hands down.
Amenities – Although the cliffs really give a great look to the place they also mean a quick nip to get some water/snacks/something from the hotel just isn’t possible. You can do all three in seconds from the beach in Kovalam.
Location – Well, as I said a 20 min cab from the airport to Kovalam ‘isn’t bad, and nice to do a day trip to Trivandrum for some bits and a visit to the Zoo.
Vibe – Varkala is all over this one. With double story hangouts all along the cliff and plenty of places for some breakfast juice.
Food and Drink – This is something I feel very strongly about and after my fish eating days in Kovalam I was seriously let down in Varkala. The exact same menu in each place, over priced fish, masala dosas for INR70 and all the beer was 100-110. There seems to be more competition in Kovalam, whereas in Varkala there seems to be some price fixing scam going on. Varkala does claw some points back for the good coffee and nice juice bar.
Overall – At the moment I’m saying Kovalam, mostly for the food factor and the quick hop from the airport. If this was different I would choose Varkala and if I was staying longer than a week I’d definitely go there. However they’re both great places and I’d love to go back to both.
I hope this helped somebody make up their mind, because it only made it harder to decide for me!