Kovalam

Kovalam's numerous and delightfully clean and sandy beaches are lined with palm-fringed lagoons and rocky coves. Fishermen in lungis (colorful cloth wraps) drag in nets filled with the day's catch, then push their slender wooden boats out again with a Malayalam "Heave ho." Here you can spend the day loafing on warm sand or rocky outcroppings, watch the sun set, then sit back as the dim lights of distant fishing boats come on. In peak season, outdoor shacks come to life right on the beach—just point to the fish of your choice and specify how you'd like it prepared. Be sure to find out how much it's going to cost—a little discreet bargaining might be in order.

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