Only a 50-km from Trivandrum airport, Varkala is one of the cheapest alternate beach option to Kovalam resorts. The stretch has only a few good hotels/hostels and restaurants. The time I visited the beach, I didn’t find it crowded with tourists.
But, be prepared to play beach volleyball with the locals or take a casual stroll with the modestly dressed Keralite women.
This restaurants in the hotel section mostly caters to the westerners making it difficult to find the authentic Kerala breakfast. I sent the hotel staff running around all morning for puttu and vadakari breakfast, which turned out to be a disappointment.
Pristine beaches, modest locals, great food, cheap hotels, yoga, ayurvedic massage, side-trip to Kerala backwater and delicious sea food – best possible beach vacation in India from my perspective.