This South Asian Village Is A Unique Destination For One Unforgettable Valentine's Day

When it comes to celebrating love, February 14 always calls for something special. If you're looking for a romantic budget-friendly Valentine's Day getaway beyond the clichéd destinations, Kumarakom in South India offers an enchanting experience. Verdant green jungles, houseboat eco-lodges, and backwater tourism are just a few of the many things you and your partner can enjoy here. Nestled on the banks of Vembanad Lake in the state of Kerala, Kumarakom is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.

Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands that are part of the Kerala backwaters. The backdrop of lush greenery, waters laden with colorful lilies, and vibrant birdlife create a setting that is both calming and exhilarating. Pathiramanal Island on Vembanad Lake is one of the best places to experience some of this unspoiled natural beauty. 

A standout draw of Kumarakom for Valentine's Day is this laid-back, waterborne lifestyle. Houseboats, known as "kettuvallam," are large, slow-moving boats constructed in traditional methods since 3,000 B.C.E. by tying together wooden planks without using a single nail. Kettuvallams vary in size and amenities but commonly feature one or more bedrooms, a bathroom, a dining area, and balconies. Couples can enjoy kettuvallam boat tours on the backwaters and experience enchanting sunsets, onboard hospitality, and daily life along the rivers and lakes of Kerala.

Nature, Ayurveda, and backwater romance in Kumarakom

For lovebirds (pun intended), the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is one of the best birdwatching destinations in India. Spread across 14 hectares, it's a haven for thousands of migratory birds like the Siberian crane, wood beetle, lark, and teal, as well as for native species like the Indian Darter, egret, and kingfisher. A quiet walk through the sanctuary, spotting these beautiful birds, can be a serene bonding experience for couples. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The state of Kerala is known for its Ayurvedic treatments, and Kumarakom is no exception. Ayurveda, which in Sanskrit means "life science," is an Indian medical system that is around 5,000 years old. Many treatment centers in Kumarakom have special Ayurvedic wellness packages, perfect for couples looking to relax and rejuvenate. Amritha Ayurveda and Ayur Sukham are highly-rated spas offering every imaginable therapy, from Abhyangam massage to Podikizhi. Prices for most one-hour treatments are between $25 and $50. 

Kumarakom retains its rustic charm and offers authentic insights into the way of life in Kerala. Couples can take a walk through the village, interact with locals, and make unforgettable connections. Fishing, toddy tapping, watching boat races, and visiting unique antique shops or the Bay Island Driftwood Museum can be fun and enriching couples experiences. Traditional Keralan art performances like Kathakali — a dance-drama with traditional costumes depicting ancient tales of Hindu deities and battles — can often be experienced in cultural centers around Kumarakom.

Valentine's Day travel tips for Kumarakom

Kerala's provincial cuisine is as diverse as its landscapes, and Kumarakom is the perfect place to indulge. Being close to the water, the region is famous for fresh fish and shellfish dishes flavored with Indian spices and coconut milk. Karimeen pollichathu (marinated pearl fish in banana leaf), appam (rice bread), and avial (veggies in coconut curry) are must-tries, and a refreshing glass of Kerala toddy (coconut beverage) is the local drink of choice. Ettukettu, Kilikkoodu Toddy Shop, and Vembanad are some of the best-rated restaurants in the area.

Because of the unique geography and culture of Kumarakom, there is a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious resorts (Rhythm) to houseboat stays (Amritham Holidays). Many establishments, such as Kumarakom Lake Resort, offer special Valentine's Day packages that include candlelit dinners, spa treatments, and suites with private pools. Staying in one of these resorts allows couples to experience Kerala's renowned hospitality while enjoying each other's company.

Kumarakom is well-connected to other parts of Kerala. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport (COK), about 50 miles away. Once you land, you can hire a cab. Train is another option — the nearest railway station is Kottayam, 10 miles away from Kumarakom. If you have a rental car or a tour bus booking, the village is accessible by road from major cities. In February, Kumarakom gets fantastic weather — highs of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, lows of 70, and no rain — ideal for an unforgettable Valentine's Day in South Asia.