Kerala, situated on the tropical Malabar Coast of south-western India, ticks all the boxes when it comes to a romantic honeymoon. In fact, it was named India’s Best Honeymoon Destination in a recent readers’ poll in Travel + Leisure India and South Asia magazine.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with this gorgeous Indian state, blessed with a rich history that spans centuries and a host of different cultures. Its emerald-green landscape is crisscrossed by waterways, lakes, and lagoons, with an interior that’s home to mountains, rolling green hills, tea plantations and wildlife reserves. Just as impressive, it boasts a coastline characterised by long stretches of white-sand beaches rimmed by coconut plantations.
Everyone should start their journey in Fort Kochi, an architectural wonderland of well-preserved colonial buildings constructed in different styles over many centuries. The Portuguese, Dutch and British all reigned supreme in this rich commercial centre at one time or another, shipping spices to the rest of the world.
Spend a few days here, staying at the CGH Earth hotel, Brunton Boatyard, which has been designed in the style of Fort Kochi’s early architecture and is very much a part of the area’s history. All rooms face the water, so guests have a view of the busy harbour filled with cruise boats, navy ships and ferries.
This lovely town of tree-lined streets is totally walkable, or you can hire a tuk-tuk for a few dollars to take you shopping at the best locations around town. Bargains await in the form of antiques, clothing, jewellery, perfumes, oils and spices of all varieties, so pack light.
For an alternative mode of transport, grab a hotel bike (and map!) and cycle through the historic heart of the town, where you’ll be transported back to the 15th century, taking in sites such as the oldest European church in India, St. Francis Church, built in 1503. Other fascinating points of interest include the Chinese fishing nets that have been in use in the harbour since the legendary Mongol ruler and Emperor of China, Kubla Khan, introduced them more than 500 years ago.
Leaving Fort Kochi and heading south affords the opportunity to take part in one of Kerala’s most romantic and enduring experiences: a houseboat cruise along the state’s backwaters. Alleppey, the hub of this region, is home to an enormous network of waterways and more than a thousand traditional kettuvallams (houseboats).
On Alleppey pier, you can board a houseboat from local tour company, Lakes & Lagoons. You’ll be accompanied by three crew members who will cook, clean and steer the boat, leaving you free to watch farmers in the rice fields, traders selling their wares from canoes and boats plying the waters back and forth. Sitting back and watching local life unfold as your private cook prepares a delicious lunch is the ultimate in relaxation. An ambient canoe ride before dinner is a great way to take in an amazing sunset before mooring for the night in your air-conditioned cabin. After breakfast, it’s back to Alleppey and time for the beach. A short drive along a stretch of white sand lies the Marari Beach Resort. Spread around the vast grounds of this luxurious, eco-friendly resort are 63 palm-thatched bungalows, along with three restaurants and bars.
Other amenities include a 25-metre pool, tennis, badminton and beach volleyball, yoga and meditation, and an on-site Ayurvedic Spa perfect for a couple’s massage. Hammocks slung between dozens of tall palm trees beckon, offering swaying slumber within earshot of the crashing waves.
Next door is the fishing village of Mararikulam. If you rise early and take a stroll down to the beach, you might see the fishing fleet bringing in the morning’s catch, sometimes over powerful breakers. It’s a picturesque scene that has barely changed in a thousand years.
Explore more of India on your honeymoon or fly from Kochin on to Sri Lanka (just 80 minutes away). India Unbound, Australian specialists in travel to India and Sri Lanka, can craft an unforgettable honeymoon itinerary for you. indiaunbound.com.au
For more honeymoon ideas, check out our online honeymoon directory!