A comprehensive guide to Chennai’s beaches: Tourist attractions for all travellers

Many of us can relate to the feeling of being overjoyed about a beach vacation, only to find half the beach thronged by a sea of people. While most people’s first instinct is to flock to Goa’s beaches, India’s long coastline is brimming with unexplored, unheard, unspoiled, lesser-known, less crowded, and underappreciated beaches that India’s fabulous coastline has to offer, beyond Goa. One of the cities with a surprising offering of beaches in India is the city of Chennai. Referenced by the popular tagline “Singara Chennai” by the locals, Chennai is the self-appointed custodian of South Indian traditions and culture. However, Chennai is much more than just its heritage. The city lies along the Coromandel coast, which makes it privy to some of the prettiest beaches in the region with glorious blue-green water lapping at its busy shores.

Chennai beaches - Infographic

Table of Contents

  1. Beaches in Chennai for diverse travelers
  2. Marina beach for history lovers
  3. Elliot beach a delight for foodies
  4. Thiruvalluvar Nagar beach – A spiritual sojourn
  5. Broken bridge for the Ghostbusters
  6. Breezy Beach for the seekers of calm & peace
  7. Covelong Beach for the adventurers

Diversity in the beaches of Chennai – Sand, sea, surfing, spirituality and a stellar heritage

Chennai has some of the cleanest beaches in India and it is hard to resist the nautical allure of these beaches. Aside from splashing in the water, participating in various water sports, basking in the sun and gorging down on delicious grilled corn on the cob by the ocean, the beaches of Chennai are beyond perfect to take in the timeless sagas of sunset and sunrise and ride in the wave of nostalgia. Some of these beaches are bustling, while others are secluded, sheltered by the spindly shadows of palms and mangroves swaying in the cool sea breeze. Chennai’s beaches are a roadtrippers’ heaven, with a plethora of attractions to suit every taste. We recommend that you book a full day cab in Chennai, get chauffeured around from one beach to another and capture the entire essence of the city, beach-hopping.

“I’ve always thought Goa and Mumbai had the greatest beaches in India. But, when I was in Chennai, my Savaari chauffeur suggested numerous beautiful beaches to visit like Eliot’s beach and Covelong beach, and I was pleasantly surprised by how mesmerizing and underrated these beaches were. I would definitely visit Chennai again, only to experience the beaches.”

Kiara Yadav
Beaches in Chennai

Whether you consider yourself an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a foodie, the beaches in Chennai have much to offer all kinds of travellers. From going on a food tour to exploring the mystical caves to quenching your adrenaline rush, there are many fascinating things to do on these beaches. This guide to the best beaches in Chennai will inspire you to see the city through a different lens. It will also show you how to make the most of coastal Chennai in a few days.

Marina beach – Chennai’s Protagonist – For History lovers

Marina Beach, near Triplicane, is India’s longest beach and the world’s second-longest beach. This predominantly sandy area of nearly 12 kilometres extends from Beasant Nagar in the south to Fort St. George in the north. It is a must-visit place for history lovers as they will get to see the magnificent statues of prominent dignitaries from Indian history. Before the construction of Madras Harbour, this beach was considered a strip of mud. During this time, the governor of Madras Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff was captivated by the scenic beauty of this place and then decided to build a promenade alongside the beach. Named so after the Italian word ‘marina’ by the then Governor-General, the beach has been a popular location in Chennai since 1881.

Marina Beach

This urban stretch in the coastal city of Chennai has a significant history that’s as old as the city. Built-in October 1909, the country’s first aquarium is currently being refurbished from its gloomy interiors to accommodate a cutting-edge facility. The Ice House, built near the beach in 1842 to store massive blocks of ice brought from America, is a noteworthy structure. It was eventually converted into a shelter for Brahmin widows after the building of local ice companies. In 1863, the Ice House was renamed Vivekananda House, and it presently hosts many art exhibits and religious speeches. 

Marina beach had served as the meeting place for the freedom fighters before independence. A little after Indian independence Debi Roy Chowdhury, an artist and the first Indian principal of the College of Arts and Crafts, donated two remarkable art installations in the 1950s. The Triumph of Labour and Gandhi statues have become landmarks on the promenade. Statues of Tamil greats such as Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar, Kambar, and Subramania Bharati were erected on the shore to commemorate the first World Tamil Conference in 1968.

Savaari’s Protip – Our Savaari drivers in Chennai recommend refraining from venturing too deep here as there are often strong currents at the Marina beach.

Things to do at Marina beach

  • Go on a horseback ride along the shore.
  • Take a walk with your loved ones by the beach.
  • See the various statues present on the beach and learn the inspiring stories behind them.
  • Buy lip-smacking South Indian snacks like Sundal and Maangai (raw mango) from the vendors on the beach.
  • Go on a tour to the aquarium and observe the deep-sea fishes.
  • Visit the Ice House which houses ice brought from North American lakes during the British era.

[Also Read: Mahabalipuram – A history lover’s delight and a beach town close to Chennai]

Elliots Beach – A gastronomic delight for the Foodies

Beaches in Chennai

Located 10 km from Marina Beach, Besant Nagar beach is another name for Elliot’s beach. It is named after the former British governor of Chennai, Edward Elliot. It is regarded as Chennai’s cleanest beach. There’s so much to do at this serene beach: watch the sun set or rise, fly kites, make sandcastles, or simply sit on the soft sand and enjoy the sea wind. Satisfy your taste buds with delectable foods from the eateries and food establishments that line the sandy coastline.

Street food vendors along the beach sell irresistible bajjis, pori, ice cream, and sweet corn, while sea-view restaurants, cafes, and bars line up along Elliot’s Promenade for even more dining options. They offer continental, South Indian, American and Asian cuisine. While you may take a leisurely stroll at the beach and feel the sensation when the endless sea and golden sands meet right beneath your feet, the amusement park gives you a perfect adrenaline rush with thrilling rides like Roller Coaster, Top Gun, London Bull, Flying Carpet and so on.

Beaches in Chennai

Savaari’s Pro Tip – Our Savaari drivers in Chennai suggest avoiding street food that has been left out in the sun for too long. Heat can quickly deteriorate food, putting you at danger of food poisoning. Instead, settle in at a hygienic sea facing cafe/restaurant and enjoy the food with a view.

Street food to try out in Elliots Beach

  • Fresh seafood
  • Sweet Lime Soda
  • Cheese Pani Puri
  • Fuljar Soda
  • Colostrum Milk
  • Khao phat (Thai fried rice)

Savaari recommends – Restaurants and cafes in Elliots Beach

  • Kanimozhi Fish Stall
  • Pablano Food Truck
  • Kurtosh Bistro
  • Flavours of Nellai
  • Chai Galli

Marundeeswarar Temple near the Thiruvalluvar Nagar beach – A spiritual sojourn

Arulmigu Marundeeswarar Temple

The Arulmigu Marundeeswarar Temple, one of the largest in the city, boasts a rich mythological history. Dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva, it stands near the Bay of Bengal coastline in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai. Located 8.4 km from Marina Beach, legend states that Sage Valmiki worshipped Lord Shiva at the temple, impressing the deity with his devotion, who then honored Valmiki, leading to the name Thiruvalmikiyur. A temple in memory of the sage also exists on the western side of the main temple.

The temple has a written history dating back to the 10th century, but scholars believe it was present as early as the 8th century, under the reign of Sundarar, the legendary Saiva Nayanar who glorified the temple in his poetry in the 11th Thirumurai of Thevaram. The temple has a sculpted image of the legend indicating Shiva feeding Sundarar.

 Marundeeswarar temple

The Chola period recognized the road starting from Marundeeswarar temple, now known as ECR, as an important route named Vadagaperuvazhi. It linked the kingdom to Thanjavur and Andhra Pradesh. Inscriptions in the shrine of Tripurasundari Amman from the 11th century during the reign of Rajendra Chola attest to its historical significance.

The temple is one acre in area and has two seven-tiered entryway towers and a big tank. The Marundeeswarar temple has traditionally served as a healing centre for individuals in need. This is because it is believed that if an ailing person prays here, his or her illness will be magically healed. This temple’s prasadam is primarily a mixture of sacred ash, water, and milk. The natives believe that this prasadam has tremendous healing power. 

Savaari’s Protip – Our Savaari drivers in Chennai recommend visiting the Marundeeswarar Temple in the month of March or April. This is when the Brahmotsavam is annually held here, where the event of Shiva feeding Sundarar is enacted.

Broken Bridge at the Adyar estuary – for the Ghostbusters and the Daredevils

Broken bridge

Have you ever heard of a broken bridge that leads nowhere? One may be found in Adyar, a lively neighbourhood near Chennai’s tranquil beaches such as Santhome Beach and Elliot’s Beach. Located 6 km from Marina Beach, this bridge was created to enable the fisherman to cross over. However, it couldn’t withstand the test of time and the rough seas, and it collapsed. It has since been claimed that the bridge became a conduit for unusual occurrences. Fishermen claim to have heard horrifying screams in the middle of the night. They suspect that it was from the woman who was attacked and raped here. On multiple occasions, dead bodies with no indication of accidents or identities have been discovered along the bridge.

Savaari’s Pro tip: Our Savaari drivers in Chennai recommend not visiting the beach after 6 pm. This is to ensure that you don’t have a spooky encounter.

Things to do in Adyar 

  • Visit the Adyar Eco Park
  • Relish Chettinad and seafood fare at Azzuri Bay
  • Explore the Birla Planetarium 

Breezy Beach at Valmiki Nagar for the seekers of calm and peace

Breezy beach

The usual city life in the 21st century is noisy and tiresome. If you are looking for a getaway to renew your mind and body, the Breezy Beach is perfect. Breezy Beach, also known as Thiruvanmiyur Beach, is located in the secluded Valmiki Nagar neighbourhood. Because it is smaller and less polluted, it is ideal for people looking for a relaxing day out. This beach in Chennai is less famous and well-known than Elliots Beach, and thus more calm and tranquil. Breathtaking sunsets attract more people to this beach in recent years due to its increasing beauty.

Things to Do

  • The best way to take some time off is by reading a book and relaxing.
  • If you love to capture beautiful scenes, the Breezy beach is the best way to show some creativity. Keep the photographs as memories for a lifetime.
  • The nearby area has several markets to shop from. These places include Thiruvanmiyur market. Go around and you will get to explore a lot more.

[Also Read: Pondicherry, South India’s darling beach destination]

Covelong Beach – For the adventurers and adrenaline junkies

Beaches in Chennai

Covelong Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Chennai and is located on Tamil Nadu’s East Coast Road, a scenic roadway that runs along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Although it is a short drive from the city, travellers continue to come to this Coromandel Coast beach for its swimmable seas, long stretch of pristine sand where you can take a walk, and the numerous food establishments that dot the area.

Surfing, on the other hand, is the main attraction. The surf is always up at Covelong Beach, and you’ll see plenty of surfers riding the waves or waiting on the beach with their boards in hand for the right wave. Covelong Point Celebration, an annual surfing festival replete with live music and cuisine, is a must-see. There are also surfing schools where you can learn to surf. If you plan on visiting this fantastic beach in Chennai, you’re in for a treat. You can book your activities in advance.

Water sports to experience at Covelong beach

  • Parasailing
  • Snorkeling
  • Windsurfing
  • Backwater cruise

Which beach will you visit?

Chennai offers a month’s worth of diverse beaches on its coastline for everyone to explore and never run out of options. So be an intrepid traveller and forego the commercial destinations this holiday season to try your hand at one of the fabulous beaches in Chennai. Rent a car in Singara Chennai to take you to these beaches or anywhere around the city with a driver with immense local knowledge. We are sure that you will return to the city on multiple occasions to simply experience the beaches.

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Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Swati Deol

A quick summary
A comprehensive guide to Chennai's beaches: Tourist attractions for all travellers
Article Name
A comprehensive guide to Chennai's beaches: Tourist attractions for all travellers
This guide to the best beaches in Chennai will inspire you to see the city through a different lens. It will also show you how to make the most of coastal Chennai in a few days.
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About the author

Shabari, a modern-day wanderer, seeks out the hidden stories within the world's serene landscapes and vibrant cultures. She views each person as a living, breathing tale, a unique signature in the grand narrative of existence. With an insatiable curiosity for local customs and traditions, Shabari explores the rich drapery of humanity wherever her journey leads. Her passion is to unravel the secrets of tranquil temples, scale majestic mountains, and share the ancient wisdom they hold. Join Shabari on her quest for solace amidst the world's quiet corners and let her writing transport you to the heart of these captivating adventures.

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