India’s Coastal Gems: Exploring Top Beaches For Exquisite Coral Reefs – TRAVEL + LEISURE INDIA

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Explore India’s best beaches adorned with stunning coral reefs, diving into a world of marine wonders and vibrant hues.

Esha Dasgupta
Published on Feb 06, 2024, 02:00 PM

India's Coastal Gems: Exploring Top Beaches For Exquisite Coral Reefs
Image credit: Mike Workman/Shutterstock

India is blessed with natural wonders, including beaches that are home to vibrant coral colonies near the shoreline. Beneath the undulating waves lies a world of wonder, with some beaches ideal for an intimate exploration of these underwater beauties. These pristine coral reef beaches offer mesmerising diversity and vibrant colours. Join us for a virtual dive into a realm of unmatched beauty as we explore the best coral reef beaches in India.

What are coral reef beaches?

marine life
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Often termed the “rainforests of the oceans”, coral reefs have diverse biological communities. Corals, tiny sea animals belonging to the cnidaria group, create colonies known as polyps and build hard calcium carbonate exoskeletons, providing protection and a uniform base for the polyp colony.

These skeletal structures form entire coral reefs, with different species of corals creating structures of various sizes and shapes, resulting in vibrant diversity. Coral reefs thrive in shallow, clear water, as the zooxanthellae algae, crucial for coral food production, need light for photosynthesis. Beaches close to these coral reefs are known as coral reef beaches, sometimes with entirely submerged reefs, while other times only their tops are visible from the shore.

Best coral reef beaches in India

Bangaram Atoll, Lakshadweep

coral reef beaches
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Surrounded by a shallow lagoon enclosed by vibrant coral reefs, Bangaram Atoll in Lakshadweep boasts clear waters and ideal temperatures for supporting diverse marine life. A designated marine conservation area, it is a haven for scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. The ring-shaped coral reef teems with various sea creatures, including hermit crabs, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, and parrot fish among others.

Best time to visit: October to mid-May

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Netrani Island, Karnataka

Also known as Pigeon Island, Netrani Island off the Murudeshawara Coast showcases stunning vistas of coral reefs and marine life, including butterfly fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, eels, orcas, and whale sharks. Several diving spots offer underwater visibility ranging from 15 to 20 metres, with diving conducted from boats anchored close to the island.

Best time to visit: November to February

Elephant Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

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Starting only a few metres from the shore, Elephant Beach’s colourful coral reefs are rich in marine diversity, including fish, turtles, anemones, and octopuses. Featuring both soft and hard corals, it is one of the best places in the Andamans for encountering these rare underwater beauties. Ideal for snorkelling, sea walks, and glass bottom boat rides.

Best time to visit: October to May

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Book your stay at Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Bay Island via

Kalpeni, Lakswadeep

Kalpeni Island in Lakshadweep, forming a single coral atoll with three uninhabited islands, is known for its rich coral life. The southern and eastern shorelines are home to large accumulations of coral debris resulting from a violent storm in 1847. The clear, shallow waters of the reef are ideal for snorkelling, offering glimpses of amazing underwater creatures, including coral colonies and colourful fishes.

Best time to visit: October to mid-May

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Malvan, Maharashtra

coral reef beaches
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The port of Malvan was declared a Marine Sanctuary in 1987, boasting rich marine diversity spread across nearly 30 sq km. Within this sanctuary lies a patch reef nestled in a shallow, protected area. Shielded by Sindhudurg Island and a chain of exposed and submerged rocks, the coral reefs here are safeguarded from harsh winds and strong waves, showcasing colourful marine life that’s increasingly becoming a major attraction and one of the best coral reef beaches for tourists.

Best time to visit: November to February

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Kavaratti Island, Lakshadweep

coral reef beaches
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As the capital of Lakshadweep, Kavaratti Island offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the gorgeous coral reefs. Its crystal-clear emerald waters are adorned with sloping reefs, coral gardens, and abundant marine life, including turtles, dolphins, and even grey reef sharks beyond the shallow reef area.

Best time to visit: October to mid-May

Bharatpur Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Bharatpur Beach, hailed as the coral capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is a popular destination for observing the magnificent hard and soft corals up close. Ideal for both snorkelling enthusiasts and non-swimmers, it offers glass-bottom boat rides for a mesmerising glimpse of the corals and other marine life.

Best time to visit: October to May

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Nemo Reef, Andaman and Nicobar Island

coral reef beaches
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Nemo Reef offers one of the best diving spots for beginners, nestled in a sheltered bay with a shallow coral reef forming two long fringing reefs. One of the most popular coral reef beaches of India, it is home to a variety of colourful fish and sea creatures like damsel fish, octopuses, butterfly fish, parrot fish, and various types of sea anemones.

Best time to visit: October to May

(Feature image credit: David Close/Unsplash)

Related: Explore Lakshadweep: Unlocking The Perfect Timing For Your Tropical Island Getaway

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

-What makes Indian coral reefs unique?
Indian coral reefs contain an amazing diversity and are home to more than 700 species of corals.

-Can I go snorkelling or diving to explore Indian coral reefs?
Yes, most coral reef beaches of India offer snorkelling and diving options either from the shore or from boats on shallow waters.

-What is the best time to visit Indian coral reefs for diving or snorkelling?
The best time for diving and snorkelling to explore coral reefs in India is from October to May for the Andaman Islands and Lakshadweep, and November to February for Netrani Island and Malvan.

-What are the threats to coral reef beaches in India?
Overfishing, pollution, climate change, and increased tourism are some of the threats to coral reefs in India.

-Are there marine conservation initiatives for Indian coral reefs?
Yes, various marine conservation initiatives are underway in India across various locations such as Malvan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Netrani Island.

-What species of marine life can I expect to see in Indian coral reefs?
Expect to see plenty of colourful coral fishes such as butterfly fish, clown fish, sea anemones, and Emperor angelfish at the coral reefs in India.

Written By

Esha Dasgupta

Esha Dasgupta

Esha is a traveller at heart, with a penchant for exploring the unchartered. She has previously worked with TravelTriangle and Internet Moguls. When not in work mode, she can be found downing endless cups of coffee while reading Enid Blyton/Sidney Sheldon.

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