Visakhapatnam (Vizag) is Andhra Pradesh’s second-largest city and there’s no escaping its beaches. Visakhapatnam’s long shoreline can be pretty busy with beach activities. Flanked by lush rolling greens with the odd naval ship on the horizon, it makes for a pretty sight.
Andhra Pradesh’s coastline, including Visakhapatnam and its beaches, are alternately peaceful or bustling with a festive atmosphere. Here, luxury resorts sit peacefully alongside stalls selling local Andhra-bites, and a few days easily go by in the blink of an eye. A few of the beaches have kitschy attractions and cotton candies for children playing on the sand. You can even find surfing spots along its seashore.
Certain beaches have banned swimming. Pay heed as currents are strong.
A taxi from the airport to any beachfront hotel will cost Rs 600. There are direct trains to Visakhapatnam Junction from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, among others.
Visakhapatnam’s main beach is the lengthy Ramakrishna Beach, known by locals as RK Beach. Two decades ago this was a virgin beach that locals rarely visited, but today it is a different story. It’s crowded with joggers early in the morning and people having a good time later in the day. Though it isn’t the best beach for swimming, it is pretty and provides much entertainment in the form of food and people-watching.
RK Beach leads on to Palm Beach, which is quieter and ends up as VUDA Park (Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority), also known as Taraka Rama Park. It’s a large green area at the end of the beach and perfect for picnics and hanging out.
Yarada Beach, half an hour’s drive from Visakhapatnam, offers safer waters for swimming than anywhere else in the city. You’ll have to drive till here or hire a taxi, but carry food with you and plan to spend a good part of the day lazing on this private beach.
Rushikonda Beach is 20km away from Visakhapatnam and is a much smaller, more secluded beach. You can drive out here for lunch or even spend the entire day on the stretch of sand that has a lot less people around. It’s clean, but swimming is forbidden here due to the strong currents. Look out for Dolphin’s Nose – a natural rock structure that captures the imagination.
Bheemili Beach stands on the coastal village of Bheemunipatnam, a former Dutch settlement. It is 25km north of Visakhapatnam and takes 45 minutes to reach. An ancient clock tower, an old Dutch cemetery, lighthouse, motley exhibits of painted sculptures and statues of Buddhist monks and Hindu gods liven it up. It’s peaceful and quaint, and especially nice for children.
This park is located high up on a hilltop and reaching there involves an exciting ride up an aerial tramway. Kailasagiri has neatly paved walkways and trimmed shrubbery, and if you gloss over the kitschy sculptures, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city, the curved coastline of the Bay of Bengal and green hills on the other side.
Andhra’s history reveals that the region was an international centre of Buddhism for hundreds of years from the 3rd century BC. The ancient Buddhist site, Thotlakonda, by the sea is worth a visit. Excavations have thrown up some stunning relics and rock-hewn sculptures. Go on a long scenic drive up a hill that offers brilliant views of the coast and a chance to see the outline of these 2000-year-old ancient structures.
Two and a half hours from the city along the NH5 towards Kolkata is the beautiful Kalingapatnam Beach. Drive through the quaint, adjacent town and you’ll see folk-style temples, vividly painted bungalows and flowering trees. The water here is blue and the beach peaceful, but there’s little else, so go well-equipped with food and water.
The Submarine Museum (the INS Kursura-S20) on the Beach Road is an interesting stop. It’s the only place in India where you can enter the 300ft submarine, dated 1969, and see how the insides work. Also of interest is the Visakha Museum located in an old colonial Dutch bungalow and home to ancient artefacts and naval and wartime displays. A visit to Visakha Aquarium, where you can see some marine creatures is interesting for children.