The highlight of my Pondicherry trip along with my family was the French architecture but for my daughter, her main intention was to splash in the waters of The Bay of Bengal. Thus the very moment we landed in the Union Territory of Pondicherry (now Puducherry) my daughter started throwing all sorts of tantrums forcing us to head for the beach first.
This tour of Pondicherry was completely unplanned thus I had not done any research on the important places of interest and in this confusion booked a hotel quite far from the main attractions. We took an Auto which would take us to Promenade Beach, unknown to me this is basically a beach front with a sea wall made up of large boulders and swimming is a big no no here considering the deep waters.
All the hopes of splashing waters and enjoying a long sea bath were completely evaporated and this made my daughter very depressed. I promised her that next morning we will definitely drive down to a beach and give her the opportunity to splash in the waters.
That very night I dug through resources online to research on the number of beaches in Pondicherry. What people generally forget is that Pondicherry is a Union Territory comprising of four separate land masses and not the main Pondicherry town as such. There are places like Mahe, Yanam and Karaikal which also forms a part of Union Territory of Pondicherry even though these are physically separated from each other.
After my research I found that Pondicherry as a whole has the following beaches (accessible to tourists):-
Paradise Beach / Plage Paradiso
Mahe Beach (Mahe)
Karaikal Beach (Karaikal)
From the above list, I found that the best two beaches to take a swim would be Auroville Beach and Paradise Beach which is also known as Plage Paradiso. The rest of the beaches are good for a stroll but not recommended for a swim considering its topology.
This beach front has a long road winding along locally known as Beach Road and people usually come here for a walk in the evening when all vehicular traffic is stopped and only people are allowed to walk.
All the major local tourist attractions are here along this road and also some of the top restaurants that the town can offer. The whole road is very scenic and throughout the day you will find tourist sitting all along the beach front.
Unfortunately, the water out here is extremely deep and swimming is absolutely not allowed, every evening at 5 PM the traffic is closed and the entire strip of the road becomes free for the tourists to enjoy. On a weekend you will find almost the entire town out here enjoying their free time.
If you are staying in White Town or its surrounding areas then the nearest would be Auroville Beach as this can be easily reached in an Auto or with a hired Scooty or Motor Bike. Luckily for me, I had booked a Scooty the previous day and this would mean that we can go to the places that we want to without any time restrictions.
So with the maps pre-loaded on my GPS enabled phone we started to head towards Auroville Beach, I was the driver and my wife was the navigator with the phone instructing me to turn left of right. Being a Scooty my daughter managed to take the front section where she could easily adjust and get the best view.
Being Sunday and that too early in the morning there was no traffic and zoomed across the four-lane roads and within half an hour we were are Auroville Beach. This is the most deserted beach that I have ever been to, there were just no one in sight just blue waters and yellow sand.
My daughter enjoyed every minute that she was here building sand castles and waiting for the big waves to sweep in and splash both her and her castle.
The fishermen were slowly returning with their catch and it was a scene worth looking at. Even though I would not consider Auroville Beach as a good swimming beach since the waters are still quite deep here but nevertheless better than Promenade Beach which is just surrounded by big boulders.
These are two small beaches right between Promenade Beach and Auroville Beach. Serenity Beach is a mix of rocky boulders and sand beaches. Being its close proximity to White Town this place may be a bit crowded on weekends and do not expect pristine secluded beach environment. This beach is, however, the best place to see the sunrise.
Some call this the foreigners’ beach as this is quite frequented by the foreign guests who stay at Auroville. This is a small portion of the beach that lies between Serenity Beach and Auroville Beach.
This is actually a coastal village a little far from the center Pondicherry, visit this place to enjoy its scenic beauty. This is not a popular beach to go for a swim but if you want to see the daily lives of fisherman in their daily ritual then this place should be a go-to destination for you.
Paradise Beach / Plage Paradiso
This is undoubtedly the best beach that this town can offer but this is also the farthest from the main city center. To reach this place you need to first reach a place called Chunnambar Boat House which is basically a very deep backwater with boating facility. You need to buy a boat ticket from here which would take passengers by speed boat to Paradise Beach and visitors can spend a couple of hours enjoying the soft white sand and then return by the same boat.
Apart from speed boats groups large in number can hire bigger houseboats exclusively for taking them to Paradise Beach. The waters of Chunnambar backwaters are extremely deep and when I was taking photographs a minder was constantly nearby warning me about the deep waters.
Once you reach Paradise Beach you will realize why it is called the best beach in Pondicherry, first of all, due to its remote location which requires you to travel by boat makes this not accessible to all thus less number of visitors and secondly the soft sand and long beach makes it perfect for a quick swim.
Recently there are lots of activities that you can do at the beach like Jet Ski, Beach Volleyball and other activities which will surely keep you entertained. There are also some shacks on the beach to grab a quick bite or just sip a cold drink.
Mahe Beach & Karaikal Beach
Even though these are officially part of the territory of Pondicherry but in fact physically these are quite far. For instance, Mahe is actually in Kerala and Karaikal is south of Pondicherry near Nagapattinam. Both of these places have fantastic beaches but you need to plan a separate trip for these.