After two packed full but awesome days in Fort Kochi, Steve had found us a new place to visit, the Northern Kerala coastal area of Kannur – a place that supposedly had beautiful beaches and as Lonely Planet called it, ‘a hidden gem that wasn’t frequented much by tourists’. We spent five days in Kannur in what I found to be one of my favourite places in India.

How to get to Kannur from Kochi

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Our awesome homestay host in Kochi had found us a way to get to Kannur by train; a 7 hour journey was a head of us so we decided to leave early for it. When we arrived at the station at 7am, a good hour before the train was to depart, the train was delayed by 1.5h. So, we waited it out until the train kept getting more delayed.

After two hours of waiting, we decided to head over to the bus depot and before we knew it we were off on a 5 hour bus journey before having to change buses at Calicut for another 3 hour ride. It was going to be a long day but when we eventually arrived to Kannur, 12 hours later, we were relieved to get there. We then had another 20 minute tuk tuk ride back down South to Kizzhuna Beach where we were staying.

Where did we stay in Kannur?

We stayed at Ivory Coast’e, a gorgeous guest house right next to THE most beautiful beach either of us had ever seen in India (and this was Steve’s fifth time to India too!).

The beautiful and pretty much deserted beach of Kizzhuna, Kannur.

Our host Bipin was a truly lovely and helpful man that would go out of his way for us in a second. We were finally in peace and quiet again, and as the only people staying in the guesthouse, it was absolutely perfect for what we were looking for. The room was big, clean and modern and I loved how we had our own picnic table and chairs outside our room for meals.

Steve and our host Bipin, owner of Ivory Coast’e guest house.

When we arrived, we were surrounded by a very untouched part of India. A place that you could just imagine what other well known beach destinations must have looked like before they became popular.

The area was so untouched, this was the road next to Thottada Beach.

It was a real experience I don’t think I’d seen anywhere as rustic as here before, next to a pristine beach with zero rubbish to be seen.A traditional South Indian lunch at our guest house, Ivory Coast’e.

It also reminded me of the Maldives in the sense that everything was easy. We could just get up, have breakfast, go down to our own huge private beach, come back to the guest house for lunch and repeat the rest of the day like this until bedtime.

But it wasn’t all about the beach in Kannur, there were loads of things to do there.

8 Reasons to visit Kannur

1. Kizzhuna Beach

Our own pristine, private beach at Kizzhuna Beach, Kannur

As I’ve just mentioned the beach is incredible at Kizzhuna. We honestly couldn’t believe there was no one else on it, and wondered whether it was safe to swim in. It certainly was and after we walked to the very end of the beach, we saw one other couple who were staying in another guesthouse on the beach.

A drone shot of Kizzhuna Beach, Kannur.

The reason why this beach is so amazing is because the sand is swept away during certain times of the year, so it’s like a brand new beach appears every year which is why it’s incredibly clean. The sunsets were incredibly beautiful to watch on this beach.

We went to look at the neighbouring beach, Thottada Beach but it was quite dirty and not nearly as nice as Kizzhuna.

Note, when we went to Kannur in Feb 2018, an airport was being built so I’m sure it will drastically change over the next few years.

2. Theyyam Ritual Dance Festival 

One of the biggest draw cards for tourists (although it wasn’t booming with tourists when we went there) was for the incredibly unique and traditional Theyyam festival which only takes place in Malabar in Kannur.

What is a Theyyam Festival? Essentially it’s a folk festival which is thousands of years old. A product of ritual, music, dancing, painting, sculpture and literature all rolled into one is presented around a shrine in each village every day between October to May every year. It’s also a way to bring all people, no matter what their religion, together to pay their respects to the colourful ritual dance which holds great importance to the worship of heroes and ancestral spirits.

When my host at Ivory Coast’e, Bipin organised for me to attend the festival, I was driven out to a small village that morning to witness it. Being the only tourist there, it certainly felt amazing and was incredible to watch how the whole village came together to watch this ancient ritual.

I spent three hours watching the performers faces being painted to them performing the rituals around the shine with drumming and dance. It certainly felt like one of those I’m actually travelling moments and will easily be a highlight of my entire trip.

3. A tuk tuk tour around KannurBipin then organised another tour for us to include loads of things to do in Kannur with a tuk tuk driver. We spent the whole day visiting many sights including the following:

4. The Lighthouse

We went to visit the lighthouse which was stunning.

5. The fort

The fort was actually really interesting and there were some school kids on a trip there who all seemed to be more interested in Steve and I, as well as the adults too. It was quite funny as everyone wanted selfies with us.

6. Payyambalam Beach 

We also went to check out Payyambalam Beach which actually reminded me of Surfers Paradise in a way, as we looked back to the city behind us. We got the drone out here and it was pretty spectacular. The locals were keen to see it in action too!

7. The cotton factory

Now this was an absolutely fascinating experience. We were taken to a factory where they were making cotton bed sheets. An old traditional way to make clothing and as Steve and I were the only people to walk through this factory, we were in complete amazement.

8. The driving beach 

The driving beach is Asia’s longest beach you can drive your car onto. We stood there watching tuk tuks and car drive along the beach during sunset and it was just magical.

If you’re looking to visit somewhere absolutely beautiful that’s unspoilt, quiet and with loads to do without mass tourism then Kannur is the place for you in Kerala, Southern India.

Have you read my other posts on Southern India yet?

8 reasons to visit Fort Kochi in Kerala

Kerala backwaters houseboat vs boat cruise in Alleppey

A guide to Varkala Beach Southern India