Houseboating in Kerala: Best Houseboats in Alleppey & How Long to Stay On a Houseboat Trip (2021)
A trip to God’s Own Country, Kerala, will be incomplete without spending some leisurely time just relaxing on the beautiful backwaters of Kerala. Just sit back and relax as you take in the magnificent setting of paddy fields, coconut-fringed waters, and the many man-made islands. An experience on a houseboat lets you enjoy the best of both worlds as you not only enjoy the luxurious treatment of comfortable and traditional interiors of the houseboats but also get to taste some of the delicious local cuisines.
The houseboats of Kerala are typically known as Kettuvallam, and they are used to navigate around the state’s winding backwaters. They are one of the most relaxing ways to travel in Kerala. Even though the modern Kettuvallams has primarily become a tourist attraction, but these boats have a long history that is deeply connected to the economy of the state.
Even though Jammu and Kashmir in the north are also famous for the beautifully crafted houseboats, but the houseboats here are usually stationary, and they remain moored to the riverbanks. The difference in the houseboats found in Kerala is that these boats continue to travel through the backwaters, allowing you to explore the lush lagoons and backwaters up close. Houseboating in Kerala offers you a unique experience to tranquil journeys through many remote and historic locations.
What Is The History Of Houseboats In Kerala?
Houseboats were first built in South India around 3,000 BCE. At that time, they were majorly used for transporting merchandise like rice, spices, and sometimes even passengers. They used to have an average length of 100 feet, and the sheer scale of these boats made it possible for them to transport massive quantities of goods, over three times of that which could be married today by a cargo truck. For several centuries these boats continued to navigate these backwater canals. However, as time passed and technology of logistics advanced, traders slowly began to prefer speed and efficiency over the traditional charm of the Kettuvallams, and these houseboats were ultimately overtaken by motor vehicles, trains, and freight planes.
Tourism in Kerala And The Houseboat Industry
In recent years, the increasing amount of tourism in Kerala resulted in the use of these ancient style Kettuvallams as staying and resting places for tourists. There also emerged a new industry of more recent versions of these traditional houseboats to cater to all types of tourist requirements. While these more contemporary houseboats were also built in the same traditional techniques, they also included the latest technologies and amenities.
Today these houseboats in Kerala boast of the same comforts that you can get at a five-star hotel, including modern toilets, furnished bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and even a balcony to check out the sights along the way. Some part of the curved plaited palm leaves or wooden roof is usually left open to provide shade and also allow an uninterrupted view of the breathtaking backwaters and surroundings.
In fact, there is even air conditioning, TV sets, and Wi-Fi aboard the boats now. You can expect all your meals to be cooked by an onboard chef. If you are a non-vegetarian, you can also specify the way in which you would want the fresh catch of the day cooked.
Where Should I Start On My Houseboat Trip in Kerala?
The backwaters of Kerala are where the houseboats ply. The backwaters majorly extend from the port city of Kochi to coastal Kollam. These backwaters are there in the far north and south of Kerala as well. The main starting point for these houseboat backwater trip is from Alleppey, which is located around two hours south of Kochi.
Alleppey is famously known as the ‘City of Canals’ and the ‘Venice of the East.’ It is the center point of all backwater houseboat tourism. The nearby town of Kumarakom is also another popular place to catch a ride on a houseboat.
There are over 1200 houseboats in Kerala, out of which nearly 700 operate in the waterways of Alleppey and Kumarakom. Since Alleppey is the main destination for houseboat trips, let us take a look at some of the best houseboats in Alleppey that are worth every penny you pay for the tour.
Best Houseboats in Alleppey
Below are 3 Best Houseboats:
1. Angel Queen Houseboat
The Angel Queen Houseboat is one of the most famous houseboats in Alleppey. Equipped with individual rooms, cable, TV, fans, and bathrooms, you will need to book your trip on Angel Queen several months before you arrive as the houseboat is nearly always full. One of the main highlights of traveling aboard the Angel Queen Houseboat is the traditional experience of a carefully prepared authentic Keralan cuisine. The food is rich in spices, includes a lot of fresh seafood and barbeque. The upper deck of the houseboat is perfect for winding down after a day of sightseeing and to spend some quality time with your friends and family. Image Source
2. Holiday Cruise Alleppey
The Holiday Cruise houseboat tour is said to be one of the best in the market. The cruise is managed by professionals who curate one of the best luxury class houseboat experiences you can hope to get. Traveling on the Holiday Cruise houseboat will leave you with a once in a lifetime experience that you will forever cherish.
3. Nova Holidays Houseboat
The Nova Holidays houseboat tour is custom made to provide you with the best experience you can have on a houseboat. The tour is known for treating guests like family and ensuring that every need is taken care of. The houseboat is perfect for both long and short stays. Nova Holidays have specially designed packages to meet every customer’s needs while continuing to provide top-class services on the backwaters.
How Long Should I Stay On A Houseboat Trip?
If you want to fit in a houseboat stay in your itinerary, then a one-day or overnight stay in a houseboat is usually ideal. However, it is possible to book a houseboat for longer or shorter stays. For example, a three-night trip on a houseboat will take you through the top canals, the interior rural villages, and many remote waterways that cannot be explored without a boat. At the same time, if you go on a brief three-hour trip on a houseboat, you will not have that much time to explore the canals or get to experience rural life amongst the backwaters.
You can also combine your resort stay with a houseboat trip or merge it with a homestay on the backwaters. Many resorts and accommodations also have their own houseboats, which they offer for overnight stays and sunset cruises.
It is important to note that the houseboats need to be moored after sunset as fishing activity starts after sunset.