Chennai’s long coastline is home to several beautiful beaches that can rival even those in Pondicherry and Goa. From the perennially crowded Marina Beach to hidden gems such as Akkarai Beach and Sadras Beach, here are some of the best sandy shores in and around Chennai that deserve your attention.
Considered Chennai‘s most iconic landmark, Marina Beach has served as a hangout spot ever since the days of the British Raj. The beach’s promenade is one of the longest in the world and features wide walkways, gardens and a large number of memorials and statues. Marina Beach is best-known for its local fair-like vibe and is filled with amusement rides and activities for children and adults. The beach also has a large number of street food stalls serving up iconic food varieties, such as bhajjis, fried fish and corn on the cob.
Located in one of Chennai’s coolest neighbourhoods, Besant Nagar Beach is counted among the favourite haunts of the city’s younger crowd. The beach’s promenade is dotted with highly-rated restaurants, cafes and dessert parlours such as Mash Restocafe, a fast-food joint and Cozee, which serves Chinese and Indian cuisines. Head a little further along the sand and you’ll also find great street food stalls that serve bhajjis, spring potatoes and fried prawns.
Located just south of Besant Nagar Beach is the more restful and residential Thiruvanmiyur Beach. A great hangout spot in its own right, Thiruvanmiyur Beach features large walkways with street food stalls and food trucks serving Chinese and fast food delicacies. The beach is extremely popular among evening walkers and running-enthusiasts and the area around the beach is also home to a number of indoor and outdoor sporting arenas, particularly for badminton and table tennis. The area around the beach also has a number of amusement options, such as Planet Adventure Paintball.
Unlike larger and more popular beaches such as Marina and Elliot's, beaches along ECR are known for their lack of crowds |
Chennai’s popular and scenic East Coast Road flanks several quiet and lesser-known beaches along its length. The most popular and stop-worthy sandy destinations along the ECR include the Akkarai and ECR Beaches. Located at the edge of the city, these two beaches are home to a number of great cafes and eateries, such as the popular Kipling Cafe, and are also famous for their quiet and peaceful vibe.
One of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches in the Coromandel Coast, Kovalam Beach lies less than 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Chennai along the ECR. In recent years, Kovalam has become a great surfing destination and hosts Chennai’s annual Covelong Point Surf Festival. Chennai’s leading surf school, the Bay of Life, is also located here and provides professional training in surfing. There are a number of excellent restaurants and hotels around the beach, including the award-winning Taj Fisherman’s Cove.
Mahabalipuram’s scenic beaches have often played second-fiddle to its historic landmarks, such as the Shore Temple. However, the mushrooming of new-age cafes, shacks and resorts on beaches near the town – such as Pallava and Ideal Beach – have resulted in renewed interest. Like Kovalam, Mahabalipuram has also become a popular surfing destination, thanks to the presence of highly-rated surf schools like the Mumu Surf School and Surfboard Rental.
The sandy and secluded Sadras Beach is the closest you can come to finding a genuine hidden beach so close to a metropolis such as Chennai. Located behind the historic Sadras Fort, the beach is popular for its breathtaking sunrise views. Much like the fort, the beach hardly attracts any visitors due to its secluded nature. However, the beauty of this beach, along with the intriguing history of the fort, make it a destination well worth visiting.