The tourism department of Kerala boasts that the state is God’s Own Country. Once you visit, you will see where this claim comes from. The state really is blessed with great natural beauty, and diverse ecology.
The state is also considered to be one of the safest regions of India. Incidents of local people cheating tourists are almost non-existent. Kerala has high standards of living compared to its neighbours and other Indian states and has social lifestyle indices such as education and healthcare that are on par with developed countries. Therefore tourists can relax without being followed around by taxi drivers, touts, guides and similar. However still be prepared to put up with beggars who have migrated from poorer neighbouring states. Abundant rainfall means that you can find lush greenery that remains pretty much throughout the year. A holiday here is an opportunity for rejuvenation. You can get an Ayurvedic oil massage, spend a day or two on a houseboat with nothing to do but watch coconut trees pass by, or just laze around on Kovalam or Varkala beaches. Thus tourism is more experiential here, rather than being composed of superficial sightseeing options.
Kerala was named as one of the “ten paradises of the world” and “50 places of a lifetime” by the National Geographic Traveler magazine. Kerala is a state wedged between the Western Ghats on the eastern side and the Arabian Sea on the West, thus having a wide range of topography from high altitude mountains to golden beaches and is criss crossed by 41 rivers. The tributaries, unique backwaters, lagoons and numerous small islands provide many scenic attractions for visitors.
- Canoeing: Canoeing is a favorite sport among the tourists of Kerala and among the local inhabitants of the state. A canoe is a small 2-3 seater boat which is rowed by the sailors. Canoeing expeditions are undertaken in Kerala by groups of tourists and such sashays are often arranged by tourist operators on request. One can find many canoe races among tourists in Backwaters of Kollam.
- Catamaran Sailing: A catamaran is small often wooden vessel with twin hulls joined together. Catamarans are usually set sail across the backwaters of Kerala nowadays motorised catamarans are in vogue along with traditional oar propelled ones giving the tourists of the state more variety to indulge in. Catamaran sailing can be seen in Kollam Beaches and limited usage in Kozhikode Barbour. The government discourages this, due to absence of safety measures, hence such sporting options must be done under personal risk.
- Kayaking: Kayaking requires high levels of physical fitness. A Kayak is a small one or two man boat which the rowers actuate with twin paddled oars. Kayaking can be undertaken on rocky rapids (similar to white water rafting) or on calm sea waters. The backwaters of Kerala are extremely conducive to such sea kayaking. Kollam Backwaters, particularly Ashtamudi Lake has many good areas for Kayaking.
- Trekking is a good option. Lot of trekking options prevails in Palakkad and Kottayam districts, which are safer. Trekking in Idukki and Wayanad is also good, but is much more adventurous and not as safe. Do contact DTPC of these districts available at district capitals to know more about it. Kottayam mountains are the best for anybody to trek, whereas trekking at Iddukki is surely for the experts. Vagamon and nearby areas have lot of short trekking options.
- Rock Climbing – Popular in the Munnar mountains, which are more rocky in nature and have cliffs that make for a real adventure. Areas near Poojnar in Kottayam also have options for rock climbing.
- Mountain Biking – Popular in hill station areas, especially for racing. Ponmudi in Trivandrum, Munnar, Thekkady, Vagamon, and Nelliyampatty are main centres for mountain biking and racing.
- Mountain Hiking – is also emerging as a popular sport, to conquer the largest peak of Western Ghats- Anamudi in Iddukki district. Many Mountain hikers go in search of tall peak points, for hiking options. Need to check at Iddukki, Palakkad and Kottayam districts.
- Para gliding – Para gilding are available at Munnar and Varkala. A try is surely something you going to cherish, due to the natural beauty and the extreme thrill associated with it. Recently Vagamon has emerged as one of the popular centre for Para gilding, due to its less mountainous terrain and vast expanse of open space, coupled with scenic beauty. Recently it was chosen as permanent centre for Kerala Para-gliding Prix. ASSTA Kochi is one of the premier sporting agency in Kerala ((91)94472-88252, 98470-59735)
- Para Sailing: Parasailing is a water sport commonly indulged in Kerala’s beaches and sea side resorts. This highly recreational sport is one of the primary adventure sports in Kerala’s many beaches. Commonly seen in Varkala, Kovalam, Cherai beaches. Recently started in Kannur beach too.
- Scuba Diving: Scuba diving is deep sea diving with an oxygen pack fitted to the diving suit so that the diver does not need to depend on any surface supplied equipment. The deep Arabian Sea off Kerala shores makes scuba diving a veritable pleasure sport. The rich underwater flora and fauna attracts the diver over the risks involved in the sport. Mainly done in Kochi Backwaters and Highseas area. This yet has not emerged as a popular sporting in Kerala, though its popular in nearby Lakshadweep seas, from the Kochi Cruisers.
- Snorkeling: Snorkeling is a major tourist recreation at the beaches of Alappuzha, Kovalam and Varkala. It involved swimming at the surface of the deep sea equipped with a snorkel or a breathing tube and mask. It allows the diver to view the natural underwater bounties and the diversity of marine life.
- Wind Surfing: Windsurfing is skimming the water face on a surfboard with a revolving sail. The skill of the surfer is tested in maneuvering the craft amidst the high waves and tearing winds. Windsurfing is a sport that rouses much interest in the numerous beaches that fringe coastal Kerala. This is not as popular as other sports, though at Kovalam and Varkala, one can find some wind surfers.
- Oxen Racing:- Oxen racing is an adventure sporting, where the racer needs to drive two oxens tied to wooden boards and need to make 5 circles around the paddy field. This is a popular village-side sports, especially done before sowing season, to make soil ploughable, while providing an entertainment option. Traditionally tourists are not encouraged to take part in this sport, as it requires high level of skill and expertise, though recently many tour companies are catering this option to their adventurous guests.
- Tree Climbing:- Tree climbing is an adventure sporting, similar to rock climbing. After rock climbing and surfing, adventure travellers are turning to tree climbing in Kerala. For tree climbing, age and fitness levels are not a bar. The tree climbing sub-culture involves bestowing every new climber with a name, Jenkins is called Treeman and Kovar goes by the name Tengu. Climbing equipment, including a seat and pedal unit, are provided for safety.