5 incredible Kerala backwater destinations

5 incredible Kerala backwater destinations
Backpacking India: A travel guide to the best Kerala backwater destinations

This post is about 5 incredible Kerala backwater destinations. I heard so much about Kerala’s backwaters that I was dying to go there. This was only enhanced by the amount of Bollywood movies recorded in the Kerala backwaters. Indian movie stars dancing among romantic canals fringed with palm trees in some of the best backwater destinations in Kerala.

For me it was a dream come true and in reality it exceeded my expectations. Most people visit the backwaters from Allepey, but I could not get enough and there are also other places to explore the intricate maze of waterways across Kerala’s coastline, each with its own charm.

Kerala Backwaters

The best Kerala backwater destinations

1.Monruthuruttu: Vijeesh’s homestay in Munroe island

Travelling always gives you surprises, sometimes in the most unexpected remote places in this world.  While looking for ways to explore the backwaters I stumbled upon a place called Monrothuruttu, or in English: “Munroe’s Island”. Vijeesh’s homestay had good reviews and I decided to try it out.

It was the best choice I could make as this gave me the most intimate and authentic view on life around Kerala’s backwaters. Vijeesh took me through the narrowest canals with his small canoe and made me enthusiastic about the huge variety of birds and other animals that call the canals their home.

Read more about my experiences in my post on Munroe Island: a hidden backwater gem in Kerala

Kerala Backwaters

2. Allepey: the Venice of India

Allepey is also called the Venice of India and it’s the place where most people arrange their Kerala backwater adventures. Here you have a wide choice of tours you can take. From multiple days on a luxurious houseboat to one day tours in a small canoe. My budget allowed for the last option and I spent a leisurely day floating through the canals.

Kerala Backwaters

3. The ferry from Allepey to Kottayam

Probably the cheapest way to see the backwaters is to take the ferry from Allepey to Kottayam. If you plan to visit the Periyar National Park I can recommend taking the ferry rather than the bus.

The bus will be cheaper but the ferry is a nice experience. It is an old boat and locals will be hopping on and off. It doesn’t go through the most scenic canals, but still gives you a good insight in local life in the backwaters.

Kerala Backwaters

4. Fort Kochi: Kochi’s backwaters 

Most people will visit Fort Kochi, known for it’s old colonial town. I was surprised to find out I could book a backwater tour here as well. I was still not tired of the backwaters after Munroe’s Island and Allepey and signed up one more time. The backwaters around Cochin are less touristic and more quiet and once more I enjoyed a nice homecooked lunch at our midday stop.

Kerala Backwaters

5. Varkala: Kappil backwaters

Kappil beach in Varkala is where the ocean meets the backwaters. Most tourists come to Varkala for the beach and are unaware of the tranquil beauty that lies just around the corner. It’s a long, but scenic walk of 7 kilometers towards Kappil beach from where you can do a boat tour or you can organise a tour in Varkala beforehand.

Read more in my post about Varkala: secrets and surprises in Kerala’s beach paradise.

things to do in varkala

Logistics and accomodation in Kerala’s backwater destinations

Allepey and Kochi are both easy to travel to. From most places there are frequent buses and trains to Allepey (Allapuzha), Kochi (Ernakulam) and Varkala. To reach Munroe’s island you can take a taxi from Kollam or the infrequent local train.

Munroe’s island:  the only accomodation here is Vijeesh’s homestay that I can truly recommend. It was the highlight of my trip.

Allepey: I stayed in the new Allepey 3 palms guesthouse. It is basic and a bit difficult to find, but a nice and cheap place to stay.

Kochi: In Kochi I stayed in Mother Tree B&B and I had a very pleasant stay here with Shyam and his family.  It felt more like a homestay than a guesthouse and the place is nice and clean.

Varkala: In Varkaka I stayed in Bamboo village at the north side of the cliff, close to black beach and kappil beach.

From Kerala it is a short detour to Madurai. You can see my post about Madurai in pictures to see why you should consider a detour to one of India’s most incredible temple after you have seen the best backwater destinations in Kerala.

Last updated: July 2019

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Backpacking India: A travel guide to the best Kerala backwater destinations

13 thoughts on “5 incredible Kerala backwater destinations”

  • Lovely post, and nice to get some insight into backwater sightseeing opportunities other than Alleppey 🙂 I spent a couple of days there recently, but my budget only allowed for the ferry to Kottayam and back. Not necessarily the most scenic, but definitely still beautiful! (… and cheap, most important.)

  • I have never hear of Karelas Backwaters but it seems to be an amazing place; I love the pictures and that you have been there when the temple festival happens is really a great luck! That must have been so interesting. Same for the food Veejays mom cooked for you, sounds delicious!

  • I’ve never been to Kerala but this looks like such a fun trip – you always get a different perspectives from the water and see new things. Munroe’s Island and the local festival looks such fun – what an amazing privilege to see!

  • This is a great adventure. The places in your pictures just look so beautiful. It’s wonderful that you were able to experience such a magical looking place.

  • Vijeesh’s Homestay looks INCREDIBLE! I can’t wait to go to India – I’ve wanted to explore Keraala for a while now. One of these days I’ll finally make it to India (seriously, its easily number 2 on my list).

  • Great post. I went on a Backwater tour during my trip last year. Reading this and seeing your pictures brings back good memories. The highlight for me was taking a small boat through some narrow sections with the beautiful foliage all around (similar to your first picture).

  • Such a beautiful article. I had a wonderful experience in Kerala houseboat. I will never forget that moment. Next time also I want to try remaining backwaters of Kerala.

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