For this particular article, I have decided not to beat around the bush but come straight to the point. I visited Pondicherry with my sister in May 2019. Since both of us are beach lovers we were excited on discovering that there was a stunning beach called the Paradise beach, which was a bit away from the Pondicherry town. We immediately decided to head there in look for serenity and more beauty.
But, the Paradise beach was NO PARADISE to us! Neither the money we paid nor the effort we put in to get there was worth it.
Even though it is the most isolated beach in Pondicherry, it is the most popular tourist spot. Mainly because it is the only beach in the city with white sand giving the beach-feels.
With shelters and palm trees as protection from rain and sun, the beach attracts people for being one of the cleanest in the country. In this aspect, the Pondicherry tourism has done a great job.
Also known as Plage Paradiso, it can only be reached by boat/ferry from the Chunnambar boathouse. Our ferry took around 30-35 minutes to get to the beach.
Boat house’s entry fee – INR 10 per person.
Ferry’s fee – INR 300 per person.
Enroute the beach, you cross the Chunnambar backwaters – which are green and have thick mangrove forests – the sight is stunning! However, if you are planning to go there for some quiet time, Paradise beach is not a great idea.
The ferries are usually full and the majority of the crowd are families. You obviously cannot expect a huge group to remain silent and just enjoy the view, right?
A lot of blogs and articles say that you must head to Paradise beach to watch the sunrise. However I would not recommend the same! The boathouse functions between 8 am and 6 pm and there are strict timings to visit the beach, 9 am to 5 pm.
The strong sunshine that lasts at least 4 pm consistently makes it a perfect sunny beach and if you are not going there to get some tan, then avoid it. My sister and I prefer sitting on a beach when there are no sun rays and hence, the scorching summer heat of Paradise beach made the afternoon worse for us.
As the currents can get stronger further in, swimming is permitted only close to the shore. Don’t be surprised if they randomly deny more people on the beach because their incompetent lifeguards fail to handle a big-numbered crowd.
Where food and drinks are concerned, outside food is not permitted so you are forced to eat the substanrd-quality food that is provided by the stalls there. When we visited the beach, only one food stall was working. It was heavily over-priced and the food was just not worth it.
Prices are on the lower end when you visit a place in the off-season and that’s why we visited Pondicherry some time around the end of May. We got a beautiful room in a decent guest house at a reasonable price. We missed the sunrise because we overslept but the evenings on the Promenade beach were wonderful. We hired a two-wheeler and set ourselves free in White Town in our two days there.
Every bit of the trip was perfect except the Paradise beach visit and ironically, we were looking forward to it the most.
IMPORTANT TIPS – Here is how you can avoid having a poor experience like ours on the Paradise beach:
If Paradise beach is your top priority, plan your trip between October and March. But, you’ll have to bear the peak season’s prices. If that’s OK, then go ahead.
Pick a day with pleasant weather . Have a heavy meal in the afternoon and then take the ferry between 3 and 3.30 pm. That way, you won’t have to splurge on the low-quality food there and weather-wise, it will be a lot better than it would be at a regular afternoon.
Avoid public holidays if you want the trip to be a little peaceful. Skip Sundays too because the boathouse shuts as early as 3.30 on the day and there is no option but to take the afternoon ferry.
If you wish to avoid Paradise beach?
One of the main reasons why people flock to the Paradise beach is that the city beach – Promenade – is a rock beach, whereas the former has sand.
But, there is a fine substitue of Paradise beach available and that’s called the Serenity beach. Situated approximately 5kms away from the White Town, the beach is not as popular as the other beaches in Pondicherry. It is also a secluded beach and genuinely has a calmer ambience.
The beach is fringed by palm trees and that wonderfully frames the lovely site. However, avoid going there in the dark for safety reasons as there are no street lights.
Spend the mornings at Serenity beach and end the day admiring the beauty of the Harbour bridge, standing at the Promenade beach – Yes, Pondicherry can win you over in no time!