Each and every travel destination in this world is unique. But some are more exotic than others either owing to the unique landforms or due to the bounties of nature that leave the travellers and tourists transfixed and mesmerized. Travellers choose Andaman because of the pristine, secluded beaches with clear waters and absorbing marine life, abundant scope of enjoying the fascinating water activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving and beach relaxation and also last but not the least a quieter, less commercialized atmosphere for a tranquil island escape.
Kerala on the other hand is preferred because of its lush greenery, backwaters and serene houseboat experiences apart from a rich cultural heritage with traditional art forms, Ayurvedic treatments and diverse religious influences. Kerala offers its visitors a wide diversity in experiences, from beaches to hill stations, wildlife sanctuaries and cultural immersion. The tranquillity and fathomless greenery of the regions of backwaters is fascinating.
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1. Beaches and Island Life
The beaches and island exoticism of Andaman is happily pitted against the remarkable beauty of the backwaters and greenery of Kerala. While Andaman offers beautiful, pristine, secluded and sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. It’s ideal for those seeking a tranquil island getaway away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life and claustrophobic crowds of popular tourist spots. Among its breath-taking beaches and idyllic island life, we have a few that deserve mention. Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island is famed as one of Asia’s best beaches, known for its white sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters and fabulous sunsets. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and serene walks along the shore. Another beach in Havelock, the Elephant Beach is known far and wide for exotic water activities such as snorkelling and scuba diving. The coral reefs teeming with abundant marine life and underwater visibility is superb. You can spot a milieu of colourful fish and other underwater creatures close to the shore. Similarly, Bharatpur Beach of Neil Island features relatively shallow waters, which makes it excellent for swimming and snorkelling. The marine life here is also equally diverse and vibrant. Laxmanpur Beach in Neil Island is unique because of its natural rock formations, especially during low tide when the water recedes and reveals amazing geological features. It’s a great spot for leisurely strolls and sunset views. Long Island Beach is a more secluded and less crowded experience. The beach is pristine and ideal for relaxation, with opportunities for kayaking and exploring nearby uninhabited islands. Ross and Smith Islands are eye-catching with the beaches being connected by a sandbar. These twin islands are a treat for nature lovers. The turquoise waters surrounding the white sandbar create a stunning visual appeal.
Kerala might sound comparatively domestic and less exotic when we compare it with the ethereal beauty of Andaman islands. But Kerala is famed worldwide for its stunning backwaters, lush green landscapes and serene houseboat experiences. Kerala is no less exotic when it comes to attracting foreign tourists. The fact that it is joined or rather a part of the mainland of India, makes life easier, rations and varieties easily and abundantly available. The backwaters of Kerala are a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and lagoons, forming a serene and picturesque landscape. Alleppey also known as Alappuzha Backwaters is often referred to as the Venice of the East, and is renowned for its backwaters. Houseboat cruises here offer a leisurely journey through a labyrinthine network of canals lined with coconut trees and villages. The Kumarakom Backwaters are located near Vembanad Lake, the largest lake in Kerala, Kumarakom offers a tranquil backwater experience. It is home to a bird sanctuary and provides a serene ambiance for houseboat stays. Then there is also the Kuttanad Backwaters that are known as the Rice Bowl of Kerala. Kuttanad offers scenic backwater views amidst vast paddy fields surprisingly located below sea level. It is a unique landscape and scenario where farming takes place below the water level. The huge and tranquil Vembanad Lake is the largest lake in Kerala. Vembanad is a vital portion of the backwaters. It hosts the famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race and provides a picturesque backdrop for houseboat cruises.
2. Hill Stations and Wildlife
When we talk about proper hill stations, Andaman has a few elevated areas and viewpoints on some islands that offer beautiful panoramic views and have slightly cooler temperatures compared to the coastal regions. These places are not exactly hill stations in the traditional sense, but they provide scenic views and a change in altitude. For example, Mount Harriet is the highest peak in the Andaman Islands and it offers trekking trails and viewpoints overlooking the archipelago. It is known for its lush greenery and scenic beauty. Similarly, Chidiya Tapu, even if it is not a hill station it is an ideal spot for sunset views and panoramic vistas. It is visited for its natural beauty, diverse birdlife and a serene environment. Then comes Saddle Peak which is the highest point in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located on North Andaman Island. Trekking to Saddle Peak provides beautiful views of the surrounding forests and landscapes.
Kerala is a rich mix of extensive tea plantations that roll up and down the blue and green hills and coffee and spice plantations that supply a huge amount of cash crops to India and abroad. Kerala’s beaches are pitted against the beautiful hill stations like Munnar and Thekkady. The idyllic fishing villages stand side by side with the hilly haunts offering tea plantations, wildlife sanctuaries and trekking opportunities. These beautiful hill stations offer cooler climes, scenic vista, and opportunities for trekking and wildlife exploration. Munnar is very famous for its sprawling tea plantations, misty valleys and pleasant weather. Attractions include the Eravikulam National Park, tea estates, Mattupetty Dam and Anamudi Peak, which is the highest peak in South India. Then comes Wayanad which is picturesque with dense forests and wildlife. Attractions include Chembra Peak, Edakkal Caves, Soochipara and Meenmutty waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries like Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Vagamon is a serene and less crowded hill station offering lush greenery, meadows and pine forests. Paragliding, trekking and boating are some popular activities in Vagamon Lake. Thekkady is known for the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, offering opportunities for wildlife safaris, boating in Periyar Lake and exploring spice plantations. Ponmudi is closer to Thiruvananthapuram, it’s a small hill station with winding roads, tea estates and trekking trails. Agasthyakoodam, a peak in the Western Ghats, is located close to it. Idukki is also there with its Idukki Arch Dam. It is a picturesque region with mountainous terrain, lush forests and wildlife sanctuaries.
3. Ayurvedic Centre
Andaman is traditionally not known as a prominent Ayurvedic centre when compared to Kerala. Though in recent years, some resorts and wellness centres have begun offering Ayurvedic treatments and therapies to cater to tourists seeking holistic wellness experiences, Andaman Islands might not have the extensive infrastructure or historical legacy of Ayurveda found in Kerala. Only a few resorts and spas provide Ayurvedic massages, therapies and wellness packages incorporating Ayurvedic principles in Andaman.
Kerala has a long and glorious tradition and legacy and a rich heritage in Ayurveda. It has a history of traditional practitioners and occupies an important place in ancient texts. The state has successfully preserved and practiced Ayurveda for centuries and offers specialized ayurvedic centres, resorts and hospitals dedicated solely to Ayurvedic treatments. Cities like Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode have renowned wellness centres where they have qualified practitioners. The state has experienced and skilled Ayurvedic doctors and therapists who offer personalized treatments based on individual health needs. Some authentic Ayurvedic treatments, including Panchakarma or detoxification and purification therapies, herbal massages, rejuvenation therapies and dietary guidance are practiced here. Kerala’s abundant vast natural resources containing a variety of medicinal plants and herbs contribute to the authenticity and effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatments. These immersive ayurvedic retreats offer a peaceful environment amidst nature for comprehensive healing and wellness and promote medical tourism cantered around Ayurveda. Visitors from around the world come here seeking holistic wellness and rejuvenation.
4. Water Activities
The joy of getting thrilled in water activities can be enjoyed more in the exciting options provided in Andaman Islands. The Andaman sea is known for excellent snorkelling, scuba diving, and other water sports due to its vibrant coral reefs and marine biodiversity. Go for snorkelling or sea walking or even scuba diving and explore the underwater world, coral reefs, and colourful marine life at popular snorkelling spots like Havelock Island, Neil Island, and North Bay Island. The thrill of speeding through the water will be available on a jet ski. Kayaking along the coastal areas, mangroves, and hidden coves, banana boat rides and glass bottom boat rides at various beaches around the islands, underwater scooter rides that lets you explore the underwater world without any need for diving skills are all available in Andaman islands. Windsurfing and fishing trips will give you the sense of vastness and exploration of the uncharted waters.
Among the unique activities that distinguishes Kerala from Andaman, we have houseboat cruise in Alleppey and Kumarakom to enjoy the tranquillity, scenic views, and local life along the waterways Explore the stand-up paddleboarding in the backwaters or calm coastal areas for a relaxing and enjoyable water activity. Canoeing and Kayaking along the narrow canals, rivers and backwaters of Kerala is a peaceful way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty. White water rafting can get you thrilled in the Periyar River, particularly in the region around Thekkady. Activities such as banana boat rides and jet skiing, snorkelling and scuba diving at Kovalam and Varkala, parasailing along the coastlines, catamaran sailing in the backwaters of Kochi, guided fishing trips in the coastal areas and bamboo rafting in Periyar National Park offer a mix of adventure and relaxation in a Kerala trip.
Commercialization and seclusion
Compared to Kerala, Andaman is less developed commercially, offering a more untouched and serene environment. In terms of seclusion and relaxation, Andaman is perfect for travellers seeking solitude, relaxation and a closer connection to nature. On the other hand, Kerala has a rich cultural heritage with traditional art forms, Ayurvedic treatments and diverse religious influences. Ultimately, Andaman is ideal for those seeking a secluded island experience with emphasis on beaches and water activities. Kerala, on the other hand, is more diverse in terms of experiences, offering cultural richness, backwaters, hill stations, and a more varied landscape. Both destinations have their unique charm, so the choice depends on your preferences for the type of vacation you’re looking for. Neither destination is inherently better or brighter than the other, but they do offer distinct experiences. Andaman is known for its secluded island vibe with a lot of focus on beaches and water activities, while Kerala offers a wider range of experiences encompassing cultural richness, backwaters, hill stations, food, ayurvedic healing, ethnicity and more. Before you plan, think deeply what aligns best with your vacation preferences to make the choice that suits you.