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India’s Best Beach State

India’s Best Beach State

Goa was my first love in India. I arrived there expecting nothing on my first trip to the country in 2009, after two very strenuous days getting over my jet lag in Mumbai. To say the perfect half-moon of Palolem Beach was a sight for sore eyes is more than an understatement 

I’d been back to Goa another time (in 2013) by the time of my first trip to Kerala in 2018. My love for Goa had deepened, but I simultaneously had high expectations for Kerala, especially its beaches. If you read my content from around that time, you probably already know how I feel.

If not, then I think you’ll find my comparison of Goa vs Kerala lays it all out in honest (though not brutal) detail. I want to help you take the best trip to India possible!

Need help planning your trip to India? Hire me as your Travel Coach!

Why So Many Travelers Choose Goa or Kerala—But Not Both

India is an absolutely massive country, which is a fact that many tourist (perhaps surprisingly) fail to reckon with when planning their trips. While hardcore backpackers tend to give India the several months it deserves, I’ve met some who think they can fit “all of India” into a month, or just a few weeks. Needless to say, as soon as they end up working out the details of their trips, cuts inevitably have to be made.

The good news is that India is still not very expensive, so you don’t need to take part in live casino gaming to earn extra money for your trip. The bad news is that time is a finite thing, so if you only have a few weeks and also want to see the Taj Mahal or the Himalayan foothills, you’ll have to make tough decisions when it comes to the coastal states in India’s southeast.


Ways to Compare Goa with Kerala


I’ll be frank: No beach in Kerala compares to Goa’s Palolem Beach, even if certain ones (namely Varkala Beach) are extremely beautiful. The beaches in Kerala (and, unfortunately, the state more broadly) are covered in trash, and this really degrades the experience of trying to swim at them.

Accommodation and vibe

One main different between Kerala and Goa is that Goa tends to be more expensive, in particular when it comes to beach resorts. It’s easier, by contrast, to find unique, boutique hotels in Kerala. While the local vibe is quite similar to Kerala in the non-beach areas of Goa, most travelers don’t explore these very much.

Things to do

To be sure, the beaches in Goa are so good that I don’t tend to recommend spending much time in the old city of Panaji as charming as it is. By contrast, Kerala offers a rich tapestry of attractions, from the famous houseboats of Alappuzha, to the tea fields and spice plantations of Munnar up in the mountains.


You won’t have a bad meal in India, whether you choose Kerala or Goa or any other state. I will say, however, that spicy food lovers will be more at home in Goa, where classics like vindaloo really make full use of the chili pepper’s heat. Dishes are milder in Kerala, where coconut-base curries almost remind me of Sri Lankan food.

Getting there and away

Goa has just one main airport, and while there are a couple of railway stations for “slow travel” enthusiasts, most people simply fly. Kerala, on the other hand, has two airports (Kochi and Trivandrum), which offers a pair of entry points to (and away from ) the state, making it easier and more convenient.

How to Structure Your India Itinerary

Let’s say you have a month in India, which is the minimum I usually recommend for most travelers, especially those on their first trips. Here’s how that might look:

  • Start in Delhi, where India’s largest international airport is located. After 2-3 days the city, head down to Agra for a day or two see the Taj Mahal. Then, head back to Delhi.
  • If Northern Indian culture and history interests you, continue northwestward to Rajasthan for 5-7 days.
  • Otherwise, fly directly to either Goa or Kerala, which both require a minimum of 3-5 days of your time. If you skip Rajasthan, you may be able to see both.
  • If you visited only Kerala, consider considering your exploration of south India for a week or so, be it in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu.
  • If you visited both, or just Goa, fly or take the train back to Mumbai. From here, you could plan a final week or so in other regions of India like Leh or Ladakh, which are accessible via plane. Otherwise, end your trip and fly home from here.

At the end of the day, you see, deciding between Kerala vs Goa is only the beginning—planning a trip to India is a lot of work!


Other FAQ About Goa and Kerala

Which is better, Goa or Kerala?

I personally prefer Goa for beaches, but Kerala overall. What I mean is that there’s more to do in Kerala, from the cities that lie along the coast, to the tea fields and spice farms you find inland. This makes up for the mostly (but not entirely) lackluster beaches for me.

Are beaches better in Goa or Kerala?

Beaches are better in Goa, in my opinion. This is not because there aren’t beautiful places along the coast in Kerala—there are—but because Kerala’s beaches tend to be absolutely filthy. By comparison, Goa’s Palolem Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in my life, and is also very well maintained.

Is Goa more expensive than Kerala?

Accommodation in Goa tends to be more expensive than that in Kerala, particularly if you stay at one of the nicer beach resorts in Palolem. Since Kerala has more “real” cities and destinations where locals live, it tends to have more affordable hotel option; this is also true for food in restaurants.

The Bottom Line

Comparing Goa vs Kerala is something of a fool’s errand. While there is a certain amount of culture and cuisine on offer in Goa, the reality is that it is more or less a beach state. Conversely, applying this label to Kerala degrades it: There are so, so many more things to do in Kerala besides its beaches, which if I’m honest tend to be disappointing. Ideally, of course, you’ll have enough time in your India itinerary that you’ll be able to see both, and make up your mind for yourself. Not the case? Well, I’d encourage you to consider hiring me as your Travel Coach, so I can help you make the best use of your time.


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