ghatroads - South India Travel and Tourism Guide

Kerala Backwaters & House Boat Cruise

Kerala boat cruise is one of the main reason why tourists come to Kerala. No holiday in Kerala is ever complete without a Kerala boat cruise. Kerala backwaters one of the 10 best boat journeys in the world.

Kerala Backwaters

A network of waterways and canals, lagoons and lakes form a world of its own. Lined by the hundreds of coconut palms, these beautiful backwaters are the lifeblood of Kerala Tourism. The web of water waves its way through entire villages with vast fields of lush green paddy and plantations of coconut palms. Kerala has 900km long waterways known as the backwaters. For centuries they were the main transport and communication lines. Even now hundreds of villages connected to the outside world only through the backwaters (known in Kerala as the Kaayals). There are backwaters almost everywhere in the coastal areas of Kerala.

Backwaters Images

Kerala Houseboat Cruise Routes

The main take-off points for Kerala boat cruise are Alappuzha, Kollam, Kochi, Kozhikode, Kasargod and Thiruvananthapuram.Cruise durations given below are as offered by most agencies.

Alappuzha (Alleppey)

Alappuzha or Alleppey in old, is the most important town for backwater cruises. You can find the best of Kerala boat cruise here. Alappuzha lies in the heart of the Kuttanad region, the rice bowl of Kerala. One of the few places in the world where crops like paddy, yam, cassava and bananas are cultivated below sea level. Among the most popular cruises starting from Alappuzha are:

  • Alappuzha - Pathiramanal Island- Alappuzha
  • Alappuzha - Kumarakom
  • Alappuzha - Thottapally
  • Alappuzha - Kottayam
  • Alappuzha - Kollam
  • Alappuzha - Kochi

Kollam (Quilon)

The centre of cashew nut industry, Kollam is one of the oldest ports along the Malabar Coast. Location of Kollam makes it an important place in the backwater map of Kerala. The city is tucked away between the sea coast on one side and Ashtamudi lake on the other side. The most popular of all the cruises beginning at Kollam are the ones going all the way to Alappuzha.

  • Kollam - Kayamkulam - Kollam
  • Kollam - Kochi
  • Kollam -Alumkadavu - Kollam

Kottayam, Kumarakom

Kottayam is known as the land of 'letters, latex and lakes'. And its nickname says Kottaym is centre of printing and publishing. The district has vast rubber plantations and lakes. Kottayam offers a number of short cruises in to backwaters. These include:

  • Kottaym - Kumarakom
  • Kottaym - Alppuzaha

Kochi (Cochin)

Cochin and Ernakulam spread across the Vembanad Lake where it meets the Arabian Sea. The city's many islands - Bolgatty, Gundu, Willingdon, Vypeen and Vallarpadam - are scattered around the area. The city offers a range of attractions, historical and natural. Hiring a boat to go exploring the backwaters within the city itself is a great experience. State run KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) operates day-long cruises in the area. Another popular 3 - hour trip which take visitors to nearby coir-making villages and vast coconut plantations. A number of private operators too run ferry services. Kettuvallam is an unforgettable experience here. Some of the more popular cruises are:

  • Kochi - Kumarakom
  • Kochi - Alappuzha
  • Kochi - Kollam

Thriruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

Situated in the south of Kerala, away from the main backwater area, Kerala's capital yet offers a chance to see a bit of the famous waterways.

    Thiruvananthapuram - ThiruvallamThiruvananthapuram - Veli

Kozhikode (Calicut)

The historic town of Calicut is also a destination on the backwaters circuit. A number of waterways- the Canolly canal and the rivers Kallai, Korapuzha, Chaliyar and Kuttiadi-form Kozhikode's link with Kayals. Canolly canal, which is named for the British administrator responsible for building it. Among the popular Kerala boat cruise from Kozhikode are:

    Kozhikode - Kappad BeachKozhikode - Kadalundi


In the upper north, the district of Kasargod lies between the sea and the hills. This isn't a backwater country in the full sense compared to Alleppey and Kochi. Still there are opportunities to do a memorable cruising. The Chandragiri River, on whose banks Kasargod town is located, is the main waterway here. Valiyaparamba , fed by four rivers and dotted with tiny islands , considered as one of the most scenic stretches of backwaters anywhere in Kerala. The Valiyapramba lagoon allows visitors a chance to see daily activity in Kerala villages.

    Kasargod - ChandragiriKasargod - Valiyaparamba