This area of India has it all: sun, sea, sand, good food, houseboats, culture and wildlife. Its spectacular natural landscapes — think palm trees and sprawling backwaters — lend the region the nickname “God’s Own Country.”
Severe floods during the summer of 2018 wreaked havoc across this southwestern state, but many of its top tourist destinations escaped unscathed.
Visitors will likely land at Kochi International, an airport powered entirely by solar panels. The ancient port city of Kochi, once occupied by the Portuguese, is a multicultural hub offering plenty to do and see. It’s a great place to check out traditional Kathakali dance, the storytelling dance form known for its colorful and intricate costumes and masks that hails from Kerala.
Kerala is also great for beaches, particularly in the southern part of the state. Postcard-perfect Kovalam is a surfing hotspot, while Varkala is good for just relaxing.
Kerala’s backwaters are famous for a reason: a nexus of waterways linking the regions’ villages and best explored via kettuvallam — a traditional wooden houseboat. It’s worth spending anywhere from a single afternoon to a week on one of the many rental houseboats on offer, enjoying the sights and sounds drifting by.
Other top trips include Munnar to see the tea plantations, and Periyar National Park, a wildlife haven offering guided jungle treks.
Don’t miss: The food — from the spice shops of Munnar to the coconut, which is everywhere in Kerala and used to make one of the state’s signature dishes: Kerala prawn curry.