While most of us think of India’s west coast as the place to go when you want a beach holiday, the east coast is peppered with many beautiful beaches that most of us haven’t explored. With a long coastline, Chennai boasts of several vibrant beaches that are perfect for some fun time and offer a brand new beach experience to the uninitiated. Chennai, the largest city in Tamil Nadu and one of the four main metropolitan cities in the country also offers a huge number of hotels to choose from and you could pick one that’s close to the main beaches in the city. Plan a holiday this summer, discovering the beaches in Chennai and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Want to know which ones are the best beaches in Chennai? Read on to find out:

1. Marina Beach, Chennai

Marina Beach, Chennai

Marina Beach | #1 of 9 Best Beaches In Chennai

Kite sellers, cricket enthusiasts, food stalls, families with kids and a bunch of sea gulls…that’s what you’ll find at Chennai’s iconic Marina Beach. With one of the longest stretches of sand in an urban setting, Marina is definitely the most popular beach in Chennai and we strongly recommended a visit to watch the sun set into the Bay of Bengal (or the sunrise, if you are an early riser!). The promenade has a carnival like feel to it with many rides and activities for kids, food stalls selling bhajias and corn-on-the-cob and colorful crowds enjoying a walk amongst the many memorial statues and installations here.  While you get to enjoy the wide expanses of the sea, a feisty undercurrent means swimming is out of question. Take care and have fun!

2. Elliot’s Beach, Chennai

Elliot’s Beach, Chennai

Elliot’s Beach | #2 of 9 Best Beaches In Chennai

One of the cleanest beaches in Chennai is Elliot’s Beach – situated in Besant Nagar, one of the hippest neighborhoods in the city. Enveloped in a friendly vibe, it is a must-visit beach, especially in the evenings when youngsters and families throng the beach. The clean promenade is dotted with trendy restaurants and cafes that see mostly youngsters out for the evening. The beach is clean and you can take long walks on the beach without a worry. Added attractions on the beach are the serene Ashtalakshmi Temple dedicated to goddess Lakshmi and the Velankani Church. Also of note is the Schmidt Memorial named after a Dutch sailor, Karl Schmidt, who lost his life saving that of a little girl here in the 1930s.

3. Kovalam Beach (Covelong by any other name!), Chennai

Kovalam Beach, Chennai

Kovalam Beach | #3 of 9 Best Beaches In Chennai

Part of Tamil Nadu’s East Coast Road or ECR, a scenic highway that runs along the coast of Bay of Bengal, Kovalam Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in Chennai. The beach is a short drive from the city, but tourists still flock this shore on the Coromandel Coast for its swimmable waters, its long stretch of clean sand where you could take a walk and the many eating joints that dot the area. The biggest draw, however, is the surfing. Yes, surf’s always up at Kovalam Beach and you will find many surfers riding the waves or waiting on the beach, boards in hand, for that perfect wave. There’s even an annual surfing festival, Covelong Point Festival; complete with live music and food that you must visit. There are also surfing schools that you could take lessons at. If you are planning to visit this awesome beach in Chennai, then you’re in for a fab time!

4. Thiruvanmiyur Beach, Chennai

After the energy and chaos of Marina and Elliot’s beaches, you’d love a stroll on the relatively calm and much cleaner Thiruvanmiyur Beach, close to Elliot’s. Almost a hidden gem among all the beaches in Chennai, Thiruvanmiyur is mostly peopled by the local residents, who come here to enjoy a walk in the morning or evening. A friendly vibe welcomes you at Thiruvanmiyur and you will find yourself amidst joggers and runners and families enjoying some down time on this serene stretch of sand. Several (quite hygienic) food stalls on the road off the beach sell delicious snacks and there’s a paintball club close by for hours of fun. One of the quieter beaches in Chennai, Thiruvanmiyur is a surprise delight and we’d recommend a visit.

5. Santhome Beach

Lying in the historically important neighborhood of Mylapore, Santhome Beach actually forms the southernmost tip of Marina Beach. While it is the same arc of sand, Santhome is much more peaceful and clean than its more popular cousin. Ditch the crowds at Marina to go see one of the cleanest beaches in Chennai that is well-visited yet, miraculously spotless. Young couples, groups of friends and solo beachcombers can be found enjoying the sunset over azure seas here and several eateries ensure you’re fuelled up for a long-ish walk here once the sun sets.

Read our blog on Interesting Things To Do In Chennai at Night.

6. Sadras Beach, Chennai

Kovalam Beach | #6 of 9 Best Beaches In Chennai

If you are looking to escape the crowds on beaches in Chennai, head to the beautiful Sadras Beach – an almost pristine shore – that not many tourists know about. Hidden from view (read, happily secluded!), the beach lies behind the historic Sadras Fort, one of the few remaining signs of Chennai’s Dutch heritage (yup! The Dutch got here too!). Sadras Beach is a little piece of heaven in the otherwise crowded city and you could spend hours here just gazing at the brilliant blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. Explore the fort for some hidden gems or splash around in the cool waters; end the day with some quiet time at the beach or gorge on delicious snacks sold at the food stalls on the beach. A visit to this quiet beach in Chennai will help you unwind and refresh for the next day.

7. Palavakkam Beach, Chennai

Remember those scenes from old movies where people went to beaches that weren’t too crowded, where you could sit on a bench and just enjoy the views of the sea and the cool breeze while kids played in the sand? You can still have that. At Palavakkam, one of the finest beaches in Chennai, where ‘reel’ becomes ‘real’ and you really do get to do all those things. A spacious, clean, un-littered beach, Palavakkam is still untouched by the commercialism you see at most other sea sides in Chennai and lets you enjoy the simple joys of life in the company of nature. Of all the beaches in Chennai, Palavakkam is by far the best and a must-visit.

8. Kasimedu Beach, Chennai

When you want to spend a weekend like the locals you go to Kasimedu, one of the most popular beaches in Chennai. Loved for its beautiful pier, colorful boats and the stunning views of the sea it affords, Kasimedu Beach is where Chennai goes to unwind on a Sunday evening. You will see families with kids strolling along the beach, youngsters playing volleyball or cricket and even people fishing on the shore with home-made fishing lines. This is as un-commercial as it gets and if you really want to absorb the essence of the city, Kasimedu Beach is the place you can’t miss.

9. Akkarai Beach, Chennai

One of the most scenic routes in the country is the East Coast Road in TN, running right along the Bay of Bengal and a drive through here will bring you to equally beautiful destinations – all those quiet, serene beaches, unspoilt and near-pristine. Of all these beaches, we recommend a trip to Akkarai – the best of beaches in Chennai. It does not have the carnival-like vibe of Marina or Elliot’s, it does not have the cafes and restaurants that other beaches boast of and not nearly half as many people. But Akkarai lets you enjoy being next to the sea without any distractions. Just you and the sun, sand and the water. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

With a big, fat share of the country’s eastern coastline, Chennai boasts of many beaches and you could spend a month and still not be done seeing them all! There’s Neelankarai (which means ‘blue shores’) in the southern part of the city, the private VGP Beach inside the VGP amusement park on ECR and Pebble Beach close to Thiruvanmiyur Beach and many others. So be the intrepid traveller and ditch the west coast this holiday season to try your hand at one of the fabulous beaches in Chennai. Know of a beach in Chennai that simply must feature in our list? Tell us about it in comments below.