With a nearly 485km long coast along the Bay of Bengal, Odisha is home to many beaches. But here are five beaches that are easily accessible. The best time to go beach hopping in Odisha is in winter, between December and February. But remember, it is always better to book the accommodation of your choice months in advance as it is also the peak tourist season.
One of the most popular and hence the most crowded of all the beach resorts in Odisha is Puri. It is also the seat of Lord Jagannath, the guardian deity of the state. Therefore there is a steady stream of visitors round the year. But in winter, the town bursts at the seams — because it is the time when people visit Puri with the twin intentions of pilgrimage and a beach holiday. The stretch of Beach Road between Chakratirtha and Swargadwar is dotted with hotels, restaurants and shops, and sees a lot of traffic by day; and therefore rather noisy from dawn to dusk. Beyond Swargadwar, it is relatively quiet. Frolicking among the boisterous waves and bathing in the sea are the most favourite activities here. But it is always prudent to be cautious while in the water. Some of the breakers can be rough. In the evening, a part of the beach gets converted into a night market with kiosks selling local handicrafts, plastic toys, and local street food, including fried seafood-based snacks.
Around 16km by road from Brahmapur (Berhampore) town, Gopalpur-on-Sea is relatively less crowded than Puri. Once a port, it became popular as a beach resort dotted with retirement homes of Anglo-Indians working in the Bengal-Nagpur Railway, it began to attract the elite of Calcutta (as Kolkata was then known as) after Rai Bahadur MS Oberoi bought the Palm Beach hotel, in 1947, from an Italian lady to start his third hotel after those in Shimla and Kolkata. But even that is history now. Enjoy the blue waves of the Bay of Bengal receding into the horizon and the surf washing up the shore, watch the fishermen coming in with their catch in the early morning and late afternoon, go boating in the lagoon; Gopalpur-on-Sea is truly a place to rest and recuperate.
Chandrabhaga Beach, about three km from the famous Sun Temple of Konark, remains forlorn for the greater part of the year. Largely because there is no place to stay in the vicinity. So if you are staying in Konark, pay an early morning visit to see the sunrise and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. In February-March, on the day of Magha Saptami, people come here for a holy dip.
About seven km by road from Konark, Ramchandi Beach is being developed as a water sports zone. An annual surfing festival is being organised here over the past few years. It is also one of the relatively uncrowded beaches that has to be visited from Konark.
About 16km away by road from Balasore railway station on the South Eastern Railway route, Chandipur lies in the inter-tidal zone. Hence, the sea recedes from the shore line for about five km, twice day. But visitors with boundless energy go chasing the sea by day. But if you are not one of them, wait for the sea to flow back during high tide. In the meantime, you can have fun chasing the red crabs on the beach or collecting drift wood.