With Christmas and the New Year holidays just around the corner, we thought it is appropriate to compile a list of places that are slightly offbeat with great activities that are not too far. The best part? Since these places are surprisingly not too commercially popular, you skip avoidable crowds and enjoy a relaxed and socially distanced vacation!
1. Gokarna, Karnataka
Craving Goa but worried about going there in current times? We have an excellent alternative for you. Often called “Mini Goa”, Gokarna has all of Goa’s charm without the crowds. Significantly less commercial and much more chill! Sounds perfect?
Water-based activities: There are plenty of water based activities for you to indulge in including Parasailing, Jet Skiing and Banana Boat Rides.
In the lap of mother nature: Trek to the beautiful Paradise beach and swim in the calm waters there!
Mahabaleshwar Temple: Gokarana is a pilgrimage town for Hindus, with over 60 temples in the area, a temple visit is worthwhile. We would suggest visiting the famous Mahabaleshwar temple, a shrine dedicated to the Lord Shiva.
Mirjan Fort: This 16th century fort is a must visit for those who are interested in history and architecture. The stunning fort is also a great backdrop for pictures!
Unlimited thalis at unbelievable prices. As Gokarna is a religious town you are sure to find several ‘veg only’ restaurants which serve absolutely delicious south Indian food. Make sure you check out the Thali at Pai Hotel!
Check out the Nutella Pancakes at Namaste Restaurant! The breathtaking views from the restaurant is the cherry on the cake.
Since Gokarna is close to the sea you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to seafood. True to its ‘Little Goa’ name you will also find a wide variety of continental food. Sounds like a foodie's paradise to us!
2. The Andamans
The Andaman Islands are an archipelago of about 300 islands located in the Bay of Bengal! Known for their incredible beauty, the islands feature palm trees, white sand beaches, tropical rainforests, coral reefs and mangroves. Apart from being absolutely gorgeous, the Andamans is a haven for those who want an active holiday in a relaxed and beautiful setting.
Water-based Activities: The islands have multiple fun water activities to do including scuba diving and snorkelling. The presence of coral reefs ensure that you get to see plenty of fish and other aquatic animals on your underwater adventures!
Sea kayaking in the Mangroves: We would suggest going to havelock island for an absolutely incredible sea kayaking experience. You can also go kayaking on new moon night and experience the magnificent bioluminescence of the water in all its glory.
Sound and light show at cellular jail: The jail also known as ‘kaala paani’ was used by the British to exile political prisoners during colonial times. The sound and light show is a great way to learn more about the history of the jail and the islands.
Visit Barren Island: Check out the only confirmed live volcano in South Asia. Don’t worry it’s totally safe. You may even get to see some lava!
Chilly curry: For all the spice lovers, the chilly curry in the Andamans is a must try.
Seafood barbecue: Surrounded by water on all sides, the Andamans is a seafood lovers paradise! Enjoy the fresh seafood on a grill - it doesn’t get better than this!
Amritsari kulcha: A kulcha stuffed with onion, coriander and other seasoning - a great accompaniment to fish curry.
3. Yercaud, Tamil Nadu
Are you more of a mountain person? Don’t worry, we have a non- beach option for you. Yercaud is a beautiful hill station, in the Eastern Ghats of India. It is located about 4,950 ft above sea level, which means that you enjoy all the fun of being in the hills without having to worry about altitude sickness.
Go for a boat ride on Yercaud Lake: Picturesque surroundings and crystal blue water, the Yercaud lake is a must visit!
Explore the Kottachedu Teak Forest: The Kottachedu Teak forest is stunning. Choose to explore by hiking or on a cycle. Camping is also allowed in the forest reserve.
Drive the 32km loop: Enjoy a scenic drive on this 32 km long road that's been constructed for your travel pleasure. Tour a coffee plantation or stop for a quick bite en route!
Kiliyur waterfall: Walk down about 360 steep steps to see what is regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in India!
Silk Farm and Rose Garden: Check out how silk is produced from silkworms and also get a tour of the most incredible rose garden.
Deer Park: The lush green gardens with Deers is a must visit if you’re travelling with kids. The Deer Park is close to the Yercaud lake as well as Lady’s Seat (a gorgeous lookout point), so make sure you give yourself time to explore all three sites!
The traditional food in Yercaud is a combination of food from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Make sure you try the thalis at Sri Saravana Bhavan Elite!
If you’re looking for options beyond the local delicacies, check out the Green Park restaurant which serves Asian and Italian cuisines.
Thenga Aracha Meen Curry at the Altitude Kitchen and Bar is a must have on your visit to Yercaud. The ambience too is lovely.
We are fortunate to have these hidden gems so near us!
Our advice? Ditch the popular and explore the lesser known for a truly memorable (and COVID-safe) Christmas vacation.