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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Ellis is a travelblogger from the Netherlands with over 20 years of experience as an independent budget traveller in more than 50 countries. She has a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health with a specialization in South Asian cultures and the Caucasus.