10 things to do on a houseboat on the backwaters of Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kerala

Alleppey (Alappuzha) is a planned city in Kerala that abounds in picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons.It’s fondly called “venice of the east”. We travelled here in November, 2010 as a part of our kerala tour covering Munnar, Alleppey (Alappuzha) and Thekkady. There are houseboats of different sizes and types available in Alleppey (Alappuzha), that range in price (and facilites) from economy to luxury. You can book as per your requirements. And mostly the booking can be done overnight. We travelled as a couple and had booked a mini houseboat with two bedrooms. No one turned up in the other bedroom during our stay and to our delight it became more of an exclusive stay.
Alleppey (Alapuzzha)
It had a small and well appointed bedroom, a neat bathroom and a open deck cum living cum dining room in the front. We checked-in around 10 in the morning. There was a driver and a cook available on the boat throughout our stay. Post checking-in, we were taken for a scenic cruise through the interwinding backwater canals, all across to the point where the backwater widespread its arms to become a huge lake leading into the sea.
You might wonder what is there to do on a houseboat other than just relaxing and, well, being stay put on the boat. Actually, there is so much more to do. Here goes my list of things to do when on a houseboat on the backwaters of Alleppey (Alappuzha).

1) Have a ride on the canals

Alleppey (Alappuzha) consists of a unique set of interlinked canals across the backwaters. While some are narrow , others are wider. And at some points, they get as wide as a big lake. You will almost feel like you are cruising over the sea. Make sure to ask your houseboat driver to take you across as many canals as possible. As we boarded our houseboat, we started cruising the canals right away and then, we halted only when it came to lunchtime. And, we passed several scenic spots on the shore while cruising through the backwaters.

Alleppey (Alapuzzha)
Canals across the backwaters of Alleppey

2) Halt in the middle of nowhere

Once you are in the middle of the biggest canal, which is actually more of a lake, halt. And relax. It is quiet an experience in itself to stand still atop an equally still waterbody in the middle of nowhere 🙂 You will feel the mild breeze across the backwaters and might occasionally spot other houseboats passing by. But overall, it is so calm and relaxing. Actually, a perfect spot in case you would like to meditate. We would suggest, halt at lunchtime and have your lunch in the middle of nowhere. Although, I bet, you must have had quiet some pool side and river side dinners and lunches. But, this one, right in the middle of the water, is definitely going to be unique.

3) Eat fresh sea food right on the houseboats

Well, one of the best advantages of being on the houseboat on the backwaters of Alleppey (Alappuzha) is that you get fresh sea food in your platter. While we were cruising through the backwater, our cook was busy with his hands on some fresh catch. Although I am a vegetarian, Abhishek had a wonderful meal of his life on the boat with freshly caught and cooked fish. However, I must add, even the vegetarian dishes prepared for me were quiet yummy. And having them right in the middle of the backwaters was quiet an experience. So much so that it became our lunch to remember forever.

4) Hop on and off a resort or cafe

While on the houseboat, you will cross through several canals. There are different establishments on the banks including hotels, resorts, cafes etc. It will be really nice if you can get off the boat, to a resort or cafe on the banks. Have a coffee or a quick byte. And then hop back onto your houseboat for your forward journey. We did spot some very lovely resort on the banks. But alas, we couldn’t stop there. However, we would totally love to (on our next trip to Alleppey whenever it happens)

Alleppey (Alapuzzha)
A resort on the banks of the backwaters

5) Wave to others across the houseboats

Although, you will feel quiet isolated from the rest of the world, while on your houseboat. Still, there are some constant companions. The major one being other houseboats that will be passing by. The canals are frequently cruised by numerous houseboats. In the day time they all splatter across but during the evening hours, they all start cruising back to the banks for the night. And that is when you get to see a whole lot of them. Each houseboat has a little different kind of aesthetics and it is a pleasure to watch them go by. You will see fellow tourists like yourself relaxing and enjoying on the other houseboats as they pass by. Not a bad idea to wave across to them in greeting once in a while 🙂

6) Visit along the paddy fields

Many a times, the canals that you take over the backwaters of Alleppey (Alappuzha) pass right in between paddy fields. You can also spot narrow stretches of land being cultivated amidst the surrounding backwaters. We were lucky enough to come across a beautiful harvest site. Post harvest, the locals were carrying the crops off in boats. But the mini boats were all tied in a line one after the other, creating such a beautiful sequence. This made one of our most favorite snaps of the day

Alleppey (Alapuzzha)

7) Observe the life of the locals

Well, for us, it might be a one to two day stint with the backwaters. But the life of the locals go on these canals every single day. Of course it cannot be same as the one we lead in the towns, cities, or, for the matter of fact, even in general villages where you walk on land, stay on land rather than surrounded by water all the time. It is really interesting to watch how the locals have developed a system wherein they are able to get around the water so easily with their daily chores.

Alleppey (Alapuzzha)
Locals carrying harvest on boats across the backwaters

For instance, they use boats for ride instead of bikes and cars and buses. There are private boats and public boats that you can share with others like buses. Children go to school on boats, adults go to work on boats. And of course, like bus stops, there are boat stops at regular interval. Based on the capacity of an individual , he may own anything from a small hand rowed boat to a steamer. Even farmers cruise to their fields and bring back harvest on boats.

8) Capture the beautiful sunset and sunrise over the backwaters

Sunsets and sunrises are one of the most beautiful phenomenon on the backwaters that you will come across. I don’t have enough words to describe, you got to experience it to understand it. As the evening approaches, the sky changes color several times. And finally you can see the sun setting over the horizon, and it’s beautiful reflections in the water, waving a little now and then as a boat passes by. Equally mesmerizing is the sunrise phenomena. These were one of the best sunsets and sunrises of our lifetime that we got to watch over the backwaters of Alleppey (Alappuzha)

Alleppey (Alapuzzha)
A beautiful sunset over the backwaters

9) Spend a night in the houseboat over the waves of the backwater

There are both day trip options and overnight stay options available for the backwaters stay in Alleppey (Alappuzha). I would strongly recommend go for an overnight stay. As the night approaches, the houseboat will row back to the banks of the backwater. You can have your dinner on the houseboat before it reaches back the banks. Yes, we had ours on the deck. Amidst numerous candles, their reflections casting in the dark water. One of the most romantic dinners that we had – beats any luxury hotel dinners 🙂 And then , the boat had halted by the bank for the night. We retired to our room for the night. I don’t remember ever being cradled after growing up except for this one night – where the waves slowly cradled our boat now and then and we had a wonderful sleep.

10) Step out on the shore

And as a bonus, go to the beach before you leave Alleppey (Alappuzha). For us, It was a cruise to remember, one of a lifetime. We will go there again, and again, as soon as we get a chance. When we finally said good bye to the houseboat, we could not leave the town without saying a hi to the beach of Alleppey (Alappuzha). Thus, we requested our driver to take us to the beach for a small span. It was drizzling a little but it was overall a great experience on the beach – our first together. From here, we boarded back into our cab and started on the backward journey to Cochin.

Alleppey (Alapuzzha)
And finally on the beach

Tips on planning a trip to the backwaters of Kerala

  1. Winter months are best for a visit
  2. Wear comfortable cloths as the climate will be mostly humid and hot
  3. Don’t forget a mosquito repellant as the open deck of the houseboat invites mosquitos particularly during the night
  4. Opt for a clean boat, survey quickly before you settle down and ask for anything you think might be missing. Our boat was closed for a while before we booked it. So, the room was little damp in the beginning. We asked them to clean it and kept the windows open through the day to ensure fresh air fills in.
  5. You can keep some snacks with you. Although the cook on board will provide you with plenty of food and yummy too. Just in case you carve for some, you can keep a small stock. Since, you will be on land only the next day.
  6. Avoid the peak season. The houseboats have become quiet popular off late. And looks like the place gets pretty crowded in the peak season. We had visited in the first week of November. It was the starting of the peak season. So, we faced moderate crowd.
  7. Book the whole houseboat to yourself if you can. Then you will have real good time all to yourself.
  8. The boats vary in the number of rooms that they have. You can book one with the number of rooms as per your requirement. There are some double decker boats as well. With more number of rooms, more space in dining room etc.
  9. You can reach Alleppey easily from Cochin or Thekkady. Even other parts of Kerala are well connected. You can hire a cab like we did or you can also take public buses that ply regularly between these towns.
  10. Try to reach early in the morning so that you can enjoy your full day there.

10 things to do when on a houseboat in the backwaters of Alleppey Kerala

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40 Responses

  1. I’m about to do this trip next month when I visit Kerala. This post got me really excited! Great pics!!
    Kristie

  2. […] Hampi, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Mysore, Munnar, Alleppey being some of them. Finally, we got to visit Wayanad and found them so enticing. The Edakkal caves in Wayanad are located almost 25 kilometers from Kalpetta, in Edakkal village. The major attraction inside these natural caves are ancient writing and carvings that are believed to date back as much as 6000 BC !! The stone age carvings that you see here are epic and rare. In fact, they are the only known carvings from the stone age, discovered in South India. Some of these carvings and writings are believed to have links with the Indus Valley Civilization – that flourished in north India as one of the oldest civilizations. […]

  3. We had a tourist boat ride through the Kerala backwaters when our ship stopped by. It was a beautiful, tranquil, enchanting journey. We saw many of the houseboats and wondered about a holiday on one. Thanks for the report!

    BTW, right at the start, you use the word “abandons”, as in “Aleppey is a planned city in Kerala that abandons in picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons.” You really need to change that to “abounds”!

    • Thank you so much Pete for pointing out the correction!! It is really valuable to get reader’s feedback

  4. […] scenic drive from Cochin to MunnarUnique backwaters of AlleppeyMust see places in Munnar, KeralaA walk through God’s own country KeralaGet us in your […]

  5. […] and we didn’t have many leaves to spare. After few months, we visited Munnar, Thekkady and Allepey in God’s own Country Kerala, […]

  6. The boat looks so funky! Getting fresh seafood prepared for you is pretty cool, just what I would expect to get to feel more local!

  7. I’m totally intrigued. It sounds like traveling via houseboat is the way to go.

  8. Would definitely love to explore Kerala by houseboat. Thx for the great post!

  9. It looks like such a slow and lazy way to travel, I love it! And the fact that you get fresh seafood prepared for you is a huge bonus. That picture of the locals carrying their harvest on the boats across the backwaters is really great. Looks like Alleppey’s equivalent of a traffic jam 🙂

    • Ha ha. Alleppey is one place in India where you can be rest assured you will not be caught in a traffic jam. It is a very relaxing experience on the houseboat for sure

  10. Kerala is so damn high on my priority list of places to visit in 2017. I would love to live in the houseboat and experience the quaintness of the place. Thanks for sharing a lovely blog. 🙂

  11. It certainly looks a beautiful spot.

    Obviously becoming popular as well, as there have been several posts on it within the group very recently.

    I thank you all for sharing this beautiful place with the world!

  12. This sounds like it would be such an awesome experience! The houseboat looks so intriguing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. It reminds me of a Hobbit hole on water. 😉

    • Thats an interesting outlook 🙂 Then I guess you will like the experience as well

  13. This houseboat looks like something you’d find in a fairytale! So charming. As someone who loves road trips because of the freedom it gives me, I’m sure I’d love to cruise along the canals and visit random places on the way, just as much! And the scenery is gorgeous. What a dreamy adventure!

  14. That house boat looks like it came straight from a fairy tale. What a lovely destination and tour you have had. It is very useful information for planning this trip.

  15. This is the cutest house boat I have ever seen. I would love to experience what you experienced. It sounds amazing! So when is low season for this sort of trip?

    • I guess except for the winter season, rest are low seasons. Monsoon would be good time to visit here

  16. The first photo looks so interesting! It looks like a relaxing experience to be able to travel on this type of boat. The village life looks so simple.

  17. We didn’t go on a houseboat but had chosen a smaller boat when we were in Alleppey and loved our experience! It was only for a few hours but was enough to get a feel of the local life and to take in the views.

    • Small boats have their own advantage.. they can take you through the narrow canal-lanes where the bigger ones can’t get

  18. Wow what a magical experience. My friends did a houseboat in Kerala and raved about it. Looks well worth it to me! Beautiful photos.

  19. What an awesome and unique trip to take. Those houseboats are really cute. But I still have no idea where Kerala is!

    • Kerala is one of the souther most states of India and it is called “God’s own country”. You can read about it on google and seeing the pictures, you will understand why it is called so. There are some most beautiful beaches, hill stations as well as these unique backwater canals in Kerala

  20. We went to Kumarakom instead of Alleppey for the backwater experience, and that was equally good. Life in this part of the world is so serene and refreshing, isn’t it?

    • It is .. and slow and steady as well. Free of all the hustle and bustle of big cities. And the advantage is .. no roads, no vehicles, no pollution 🙂

  21. Nice list of options available when on the house boats. My sister actually took one of the transport boats in the backwaters used by the locals and she said it was quite cheap and actually went deeper into the region. For a first timer this is great!

    • Got to agree. The smaller ones will be able to navigate the narrow canals that are like lanes when you compare them to the general town setup. At least one time must experience thing I would say

  22. […] one in a million to be surrounded by water all across When we were on our houseboat amidst the backwaters of Kerala, it rained. It looked beautiful. The drops of rain pouring on the calm backwater all around […]

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