One of Tamil Nadu’s most famed coastal cities comes with colourful French structures, quaint cafes, and quirky street art. And while these Instagrammable features underline the typical Pondicherry experience – the beaches are what really make the itinerary complete. Here’s our pick of the best ones to hop on over to on your next tropical getaway. By Eshita Srinivas
A typical day in the city of dawn would involve a late breakfast of Parisian croissants, crepes, and coffee at a picturesque cafe, a lazy stroll along the White Town to take in colonial architecture, and a seafood dinner at an old-school restaurant. That said, if you’re an oceanophile or have managed to get your hands on a two-wheeler – beach-hopping is a must-do. This, especially since the quaint city’s cultural wealth often overshadows its coastline, which plays host to exciting water sports and stunning sunsets. Whether you’re keen on a dip or a late-night stroll by the waves, pop by these picturesque beaches in Pondicherry.
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Pondicherry’s experimental township is known for more than just its laidback lifestyle and environmental initiatives. The region is also home to a few quaint beaches, including this particular one that’s perfect for a leisurely stroll or an afternoon spent lazing in a hammock, gazing at the lighthouse. Its shallow waters also make it the go-to spot for swimmers and surfers. In fact, head there early enough and you’ll spot a throng of water sports enthusiasts testing out the waves. Reportedly, this also happens to be one of the few beaches in the region to have shacks and resorts on its sands. Head here between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.
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While in Auroville, don’t forget to pop by this secluded beach which is known to be one of the best tourist spots in Pondicherry. Locally known as Plage Paradiso – a reference to its breathtaking beauty – this spot is a ferry ride away from the city and plays host to stunning golden sands and tranquil environs. It’s located at the tip of the peninsula where the Bay of Bengal and Chunnambar River meet. And the ride to the spot features mangrove forests and a host of birds – making it ideal for birders. Once there, you could spend hours taking in the crystal-clear waters from one of its shacks. You could also sign up for canoeing, kayaking, or jet skiing. Swimming is common here as well and there are a few surfing schools here that will let you rent a board. The spot is accessible until sunset.
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Perhaps one of the most popular beaches in Pondicherry, Promenade Beach offers stunning views of the Bay of Bengal. The 1.5 kilometre long shoreline is ideal for a stroll – particularly considering it is flanked by quirky street art and Instagrammable cafes. Not to mention, there’s plenty of colonial-era structures as well as the War Memorial and Dupleix Park to explore. Locals often head here to enjoy the sunset. That aside, you’ll almost always spot people walking or jogging here. Over the summer and winter months – you might spot yachts and sailboats on the waters – both of which you can sign up for.
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A short walk away from Promenade is this rocky spot that’s known for offering front-row seats to the most breathtaking sunrise. You could sit here for hours, spotting fishing boats going about their day as the waves gently hit the rocks. Right next door are street food spots for a quick bite of local bondas or sip of coconut water. Swimming isn’t recommended here and monsoons often come with high waves. That aside, the beach is clean and picturesque, with palm trees to keep it company.
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Another popular beach in Pondicherry, Serenity beach – as the name suggests – is about twenty minutes from the centre of the city and boasts of sapphire waters and golden sands. Sunrises here are popular. As is the surfing school – Kallialay Surf School – where you can learn how to play with the waves. That’s not all, there’s plenty of picturesque beach cafes right next door to savour seafood from as well as colourful shopping markets for you to pick up souvenirs and other knick knacks from. That aside, spend time walking along the shoreline, watching fishing boats go about their day, and sunbathing.
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An underrated spot in the city, Karaikal beach offers stunning views, clear waters, and sunny sands. There’s a sea of watersports opportunities here – including boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Be wary of swimming here if you’re a beginner, since many locals report spotting jellyfishes. You could spend hours watching fishing boats, sunbathing, walking on the landscaped path, playing volleyball or other sports, and savouring seafood at a nearby cafe. You could hang around until about sunset.
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Also called Virai – this spot gets its name from a local village and is one of the best beaches in Pondicherry. It features a long coastline – perhaps one of the longest in town – as well as clear sands and glistening waters. Once a port of trade with the Romans, Arabs, Chinese, and Greeks – its large landscape makes it ideal for some quaint sunbathing. You could also get in a few pictures for the ‘gram here. The water here is shallow, making it ideal for swimming. You might even spot locals enjoying a few beach games here. A few shops close by offer local fare – particularly coastal delicacies. That said, a short walk also offers cafes with Parisian fare. If you’d like to challenge yourself to some jogging at the beach – this spot is the best, owing to its clean sands. That aside leisurely strolls here come highly recommended as well.
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Answer: There are several beaches in Pondicherry, of which Auroville, Paradise, Promenade, Rock, Serenity, Karaikal, and Veerampattinam are the most popular.
Answer: Although Pondicherry is safe with low rates of crime, most beaches are only accessible until a little after sunset – about 6:00 pm.
Answer: Access to Auroville is free. However, accommodation can cost up to INR 5,000 (approximately) a night.
Answer: Beaches in Pondicherry are quite clean, especially Veerampattinam and Karaikal beach.
Answer: Karaikal beach is quite underrated and offers stunning views, clear waters, and sunny sands. There’s a sea of watersports opportunities here – including boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
Answer: Rock beach is a popular spot to watch the sunrise in Pondicherry.
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