A Guide to Karwar, India's Lesser Known Beach Destination

Karwar is a beach destination in South India | © Abhijeet Rane / Flickr
Karwar is a beach destination in South India | © Abhijeet Rane / Flickr
Photo of Poonam Binayak
India Writer27 December 2017

When travelling to the west coast of the Indian peninsula, Goa may grab all the plaudits as an ideal beach destination, but the scenic seaside town of Karwar is a worthy pretender to Goa’s title. Located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Kali River in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Karwar boasts unspoilt, peaceful beaches, an abundance of aquatic adventures, and nature in its purest form.

What to see and do

One of the main reasons to visit Karwar is its gorgeous, unblemished beaches where you can enjoy the pleasures of a serene stretch of sand and indulge in watersports to boot. With several beaches to choose from, the Karwar beach, also known as Rabindranath Tagore beach is arguably the most beautiful of the lot. With vast swathes of smooth white sands and limpid waters, it is a perfect destination for those who simply want to relax and soak up the sun and sea. A few meters to the land lies a INS Chapal Warship Museum and next to it, is a tiny aquarium with nearly 30 species of fishes – both are a must-visit. There are several food carts dotting the beach, so be sure to sample the fresh seafood.

Karwar Beach is an offbeat yet spectacular beach in Karnataka | © Ayan Mukherjee / WikiCommons
Warship museum at Karwar beach | © Anurag R Naik / Wikimedia Commons

Another picture-perfect jewel of Karwar is the Devbagh beach. Many visit this gem for its beauty alone – with dense forests on one side and the spectacular Arabian Sea on the other; plus pristine sands and beautiful shades of blue add to the charm. But the beach has more to offer, including adventure sports for all abilities, such as kayaking, snorkelling, dolphin spotting and fishing.

Devbagh beach | © Abhijeet Rane / Flickr

For a rush of sheer adrenaline, Alligadda beach is your spot. There are a plethora of watersports activities available at this beach that would cost you way less than you’d pay in Goa. You can engage in speedboating, kayaking, snorkelling, banana boat riding, jet ski, sea rating, parasailing and surfing. The best time for snorkelling is October to February. There are lots of local operators, you can sign up with them and have some aquatic fun.

For those seeking an intimate atmosphere with their family or group, Binaga beach, Majali beach and Tilmati beach are perfect options – these offer a quieter beach experience. Approximately 7.2 miles from Karwar lies the Tilmati beach that is characterised by black stretches of sand, calm waters and lush greenery. An utter sense of tranquillity is to be had here. To reach Tilmatti, you need to trek from Majali village. Those looking to get active may make their way to the Majali beach, which is located approximately 3.4 miles from Tilmatti beach. You can engage in activities, like pedalling, kayaking, speedboating, dolphin watching and rowing.

Tilmati beach | © Abhijeet Rane / Flickr
Beach at Karwar | © Sankara Subramanian / Wikimedia Commons

When in the area, make sure to visit the secluded Kurumgad Island, located about 4.6 miles from Karwar. The Kurumgad Island is only accessible via a boat ride from the Kali River, and is best for scuba diving, snorkelling and dolphin spotting. The serene stretch of sand is fringed with wild flowers and dense vegetation – a beautiful sight! There are no stay facilities available on Kurumgad Island, so make sure to head back before 5pm as no boats are available from the island to Karwar after that. There are day trips organised by the local operators and hotels in Karwar to this island, just sign up for them to take advantage of all the riches the island has to offer.

History lovers can also get their fix in this seaside town. Nestled on the top of a hill, the 18th-century Sadashivgad Fort is an unmissable spot. Sitting on the embankment of River Kali where it meets the Arabian Sea, the fort today lie in ruins, but continues to stun visitors with its breathtaking vistas of the sea and the surrounding hills from its summit. There is a Dargah within the premises that draws many tourists. Plus, along the way to the fort lies a 600-year-old Shantadurga temple, which is a must-visit.

Panoramic view of Arabian sea from Sadashivgarh fort | © Ayan Mukherjee / Wikimedia Commons

Where to stay and eat

There are plenty of homestays, hotels and eco-resorts available in Karwar for all pocket-sizes. Some of the best ones include Majali Beach Village, Jungle Lodges Devbagh Beach Resort (an eco-friendly option), Sterling Karwar, and the Olive Garden Resort. These accommodation options are kitted out with the best amenities as well as organised trips in and around Karwar.

Karwar is a seafood lovers paradise, thanks to the fresh local catches from its pristine waters. Fish dishes are a delicacy here – from fish thalis to fish biryani, fish curry rice, fish masala and rava fish fry, you’ll get it all. Besides this, there are several options available for vegetarian foodies, as well. Some of the best restaurants where you can sample these delights include the Amrut Restaurant, Swetha Lunch Home, Udupi Cafe and Hotel Poornima.

Seafood at Amrut Restaurant, Karwar | © Charles Haynes / Wikimedia Commons

How to get there

Karwar is easily accessible via road from Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Mangalore. The nearest airport is Goa International Airport (Goa), approximately 60 miles from Karwar, take a cab/taxi the rest of the way. The nearest railway station is Karwar Railway Station, which is connected by Konkan Railways to the other cities across India. So, if you prefer a train journey, hop on Konkan Railways to reach Karwar.

Karwar is a scenic beach destination in Karnataka, India | © Ramnath Bhat / Flickr

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