• Post category:Kerala Backwaters
  • Post last modified:June 18, 2024
  • Reading time:8 mins read

An Authentic Kerala Backwater Experience

Kerala is an accumulation of diversified landscapes and peaceful backwaters. The Kerala backwaters are a unique and intricate network of brackish lagoons, lakes, canals, and rivers parallel to the Arabian Sea. Kerala backwaters extend over 900 kilometers and comprise five large lakes connected by artificial and natural canals fed by 38 rivers. It is a region of unparalleled beauty, offering a glimpse into the rural lifestyle of southern India.

Why is it Called Backwaters?

The Kerala backwaters are formed when the rivers that reach the sea are stopped by barriers or opposing currents; we have the Kayal, aka backwaters, due to this process. These waters are slightly brackish. These backwaters are essential in maintaining the ecological balance throughout the Western Ghats.

Houseboats in Kerala Backwaters

Locations with Backwaters in Kerala

Below mentioned are some of the well-known backwater spots among travelers:

  1. Alleppey (Alappuzha) – The place is so very well known for its backwaters, coir industry and houseboats; people don’t even call the houseboats in Kerala, “Kerala houseboats” instead; they use Alleppey houseboats.
  2. Kumarakom -If you’re in Kumarakom, you can expect very little backwater traffic 😜.  The place is quieter than other major houseboat destinations.  Be ready to soar in all the fresh air and inner peace.
  3. Kollam (Ashtamudi) – The name Ashta means eight, and this place is an amalgamation of 8 lakes. It’s not yet spoiled by tourists (unless this post goes viral). So take your sunglasses and sunscreen and call us to book your houseboats in Ashtamudi.
  4. Kuttanad – Known as the “Rice Bowl of Kerala,” famous for its below-sea-level farming. The place in itself is a natural marvel. In addition, you can experience toddy and spicy food, and obviously, they have houseboats and shikaras.
  5. Kochi (Cochin) –  The Cochin backwater gives you an urban touch; if you want a modern experience in the backwaters, head to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Marg. If you are up for an authentic backwater experience that isn’t clustered by tourists, head to Moolapilly. The place will mesmerize you with its beauty while hiding a tale of sorrow and betrayal.
  6. Kasargod (Bekal Backwaters) – You have the Bekal fort overlooking the backwaters, a picture that your mind will cherish forever. Houseboats will be a little hard to find here, and even though they are cherishable, you can always count on Kerala Houseboat for all your houseboat needs.
  7. Thrissur (Chettuva Backwaters) -This place has been kept secretive by the district of Thrissur. The place is uncharted for tourists, but Kerala Houseboat always get your back.

This list is not an exclusive list of backwaters in Kerala; in Kerala, we have backwater spots in every nook and corner. Check this article by Kerala Tourism Department to learn about other backwater destinations in Kerala.

Activities in Kerala Backwaters

The backwaters offer an array of activities that cater to different interests and budgets:

ActivityDescriptionApproximate Price (INR)
Houseboat CruiseFull-day or overnight cruises on traditional houseboats ₹9000 - ₹58000
Canoe Ride Small boat rides through narrow canals ₹2,300 - ₹2,800
FishingFishing activities on the backwaters Included in houseboat
Village Walks Guided tours through local villages Included in houseboat
Bird Watching Observing various bird species in sanctuaries and along the backwatersIncluded in houseboat
Toddy Tapping Experience local toddy tapping from coconut trees ₹90 - ₹110 per liter
Ayurvedic TreatmentsTraditional Ayurvedic massages and treatments ₹1,500 - ₹5,000
Water Sports Activities like kayaking and water skiing ₹1,000 - ₹3,000
Cultural Performances Traditional dance and music performances ₹1,000 - ₹2,000
Accommodation: Hotel vs. Houseboat

When visiting the backwaters, one must decide between staying in a hotel or on a houseboat. Hotels offer more amenities, a stable environment, and often more luxurious settings with access to pools and spas. However, they provide a less immersive backwaters experience, restricting exploration to day trips.

Houseboats, conversely, offer a unique and immersive experience with direct access to the backwaters. They include meals and activities, allowing guests to enjoy the serene environment fully. However, space is limited, there is potential for motion discomfort, and the amenities are fewer compared to hotels.

Now that you know what both options will provide you, it all boils down to whether you want a memorable experience or comfort. If you choose the latter, you must leave your comfort zone.

Overnight Stay vs Day Cruise on a Houseboat

Choosing between an overnight stay and a day cruise on a houseboat depends on your desired experience. An overnight stay provides a whole backwater experience, including sunset and sunrise views, a relaxed pace, and includes meals and accommodation. Though more expensive, it offers a comprehensive immersion into the backwater lifestyle.

A day cruise is less costly and suitable for those with limited time. It includes meals but offers a shorter experience, which may feel rushed and does not provide overnight accommodation.

In conclusion, for a truly immersive experience, an overnight stay on a houseboat is highly recommended. The elevated experience of the backwaters at dusk, the gentle lapping of the water against the hull, and the morning chorus of birds at dawn are experiences that are tied to the authentic houseboat experience.

The Kerala backwaters are not just a destination; they represent a way of life that dances along with Beethoven’s rhythms and is a testament to the harmonious existence of humans with their ecosystem whether you’re gliding through the coconut-fringed canals on a houseboat, sipping on freshly tapped toddy, or indulging in an Ayurvedic spa treatment, a wholesome Kerala backwater experience.

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