The backwaters of Kerala - meandering inland lakes and lagoons networked by canals - stretch to over 900 km. Boat cruises across these winding serene stretches are an experience unique to Kerala. Large kettuvalloms (traditional country crafts over 60 ft. in length) have been converted into luxury houseboats for these cruises.
Thiruvallam. This serene backwater stretch, en route to Kovalam, is famous for its 2000-year-old temple on the banks of the River Karamana, canoe rides, kayaking and cruises in traditional houseboats. (10 km from Thiruvananthapuram)
Kappil. A confluence of the sea, river and the backwater, this secluded, picturesque spot is worth the visit. (53 km from Thiruvananthapuram)
Kollam. One of the oldest ports in the State, Kollam is enriched with magnificent network of waterways. From the famed Ashtamudi Lake, a 130 km long system of interlinked canals and lakes proceed to the north. The eight-hour trip between Kollam and Alappuzha is the longest backwater cruise in Kerala. An important stop during the cruise is the picturesque village of Alumkadavu, home of the skilled artisans who craft the enormous kettuvalloms. (71 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram)
Alappuzha. Referred to as the Venice of the East, this backwater country with its vast network of lakes, lagoons and freshwater rivers is immensely beautiful. Venue of the world-renowned snake boat races, Alappuzha is also famous for its marine products and coir industry. Kuttanad in Alappuzha, known as the Rice Bowl of Kerala, is the very heart of the backwaters and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. The enchanting island of Pathiramanal (sands of midnight) on the backwaters is a favourite haunt of hundreds of rare migratory birds from different parts of the world.
Kumarakom. Nestled among lush green paddy fields, highlands and extensive rubber plantations is Kumarakom, one of the most popular and most beautiful backwater stretches of Kerala. An exotic picnic spot, Kumarakom provides boating, fishing and sightseeing experiences that are truly exhilarating. An exclusive attraction here is the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is an ornithologist's paradise. (10 km from Kottayam)
Kochi. A cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake, Kochi, one of the finest natural harbours in the world, is more popular as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Half the fun of visiting Kochi is going about in the local ferries. A conducted cruise through the winding waterways will take you to several quaint spots including the pictutesque islands of Bolgatty, Vypeen, Gundu and Vallarpadam.
Kozhikode. Unexplored and unspoiled, the backwaters of Kozhikode offer delightful holiday options. Elathur, the Canoli Canal and the Kallai River are favourite places for boating. Kadalundi, with its beautiful bird sanctuary and Korapuzha, the venue of the Korapuzha Jalotsavam (water fiesta) are popular tourist destinations.
Valiyaparamba. This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Fed by four rivers and dotted with numerous little islands, one can explore the backwaters in a houseboat along the Tejaswini River - from Kottappuram in Nileswaram to Kannur through the Valiyaparamba Backwaters. (30 km from Bekal Fort in Kasaragod)