Best Kerala Houseboat Tours

Imagine traversing through backwaters bordered by lush greenery, the sun casting a golden hue on tranquil waters as you gently sail by. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Welcome to Kerala, India’s enchanting paradise, where houseboat tours are the crown jewel. If you’re searching for the “Best Kerala houseboat tours,” this blog is here to guide you through a myriad of delightful experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip to this tropical haven, read on for everything you need to know.

The Magic of Kerala’s Backwaters

A Glimpse into Kerala’s Geography

Kerala, often dubbed as “God’s Own Country,” is famous for its intricate network of backwaters—a labyrinth of lakes, canals, and rivers, interspersed with lush palms and traditional villages. The backwaters stretch across the state, but the most famous regions include Alleppey, Kumarakom, and Kollam. A tour on a Kerala houseboat gives you intimate access to these serene waterways, making for a unique travel experience.

The History Behind Houseboats

Kerala’s houseboats, or “kettuvalloms,” have a fascinating history. Originally, they were used to transport rice and spices to the port towns. What sets these boats apart is their intricate construction; not a single nail was used, just coir ropes and wooden planks. Over the years, these utilitarian vessels have transformed into luxurious floating homes, ensuring comfort and a slice of traditional culture.

Choosing the Perfect Kerala Houseboat Tour

Types of Houseboats

When it comes to choosing the best Kerala houseboat tour, it’s crucial to understand the different types of houseboats available. They generally fall into three categories:

  1. Standard Houseboats: Ideal for budget travelers, these houseboats offer basic amenities without the frills.
  2. Deluxe Houseboats: A step up from standard, these come with air-conditioning, better interiors, and more comfortable furnishings.
  3. Luxury Houseboats: Think opulence on water! Equipped with multiple bedrooms, modern amenities, and even private chefs, these houseboats cater to those who want a lavish experience.

Destinations to Consider

Deciding where to start your houseboat journey is another important consideration. Here are a few top destinations to consider:

Alleppey (Alappuzha)

Known as the “Venice of the East,” Alleppey is often the first choice for many travelers. Its extensive network of waterways offers a mesmerizing backdrop for your journey. The city itself is a blend of colonial and traditional architecture, adding to the charm.


Located near Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom is perfect for those looking to avoid heavy tourist traffic. The area is renowned for its bird sanctuary, where birdwatching enthusiasts can spot a variety of migratory birds.


For those seeking a longer journey, Kollam offers an opportunity to explore the lesser-known Ashtamudi Lake. The region is less commercialized and provides a more authentic experience, complete with local fishing villages and ancient temples.

What to Expect on a Kerala Houseboat Tour

Onboard Amenities

The kind of amenities you can expect depend largely on the type of houseboat you choose. Almost all houseboats come equipped with basic amenities like comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and dining areas. More luxurious versions will also offer:

  • Air-conditioning, often essential during humid months
  • Private chefs who will cook traditional Kerala cuisine
  • Entertainment options like WiFi and TV
  • Multiple bedrooms and living areas

Culinary Delights

One of the charms of a Kerala houseboat tour is the sumptuous local cuisine prepared on board. Expect meals to include a variety of freshly caught fish, prawn curry, and other local delicacies like appam (rice pancakes), idiyappam (string hoppers), and traditional sadhya (vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf). The flavors are a beautiful amalgamation of coconut, spices, and love.

Activities to Enjoy

While the primary allure is the scenic journey itself, there’s plenty to see and do:

  • Village Tours: Most houseboat packages include a stop at traditional villages where you can interact with locals, visit coir factories, and understand rural Kerala life.
  • Fishing: Often, the houseboat crew will throw in a fishing rod and bait, giving you a chance to catch your meal!
  • Birdwatching: Especially in regions like Kumarakom, keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds.
  • Photography: With lush landscapes, quaint villages, and stunning sunsets, your camera is sure to get a workout.

Practical Tips for Your Kerala Houseboat Adventure

Best Time to Visit

Kerala’s tropical climate means it’s warm most of the year, but the ideal time for a houseboat tour is between October and March. During these months, the weather is pleasant and less humid. The monsoon season (June to September) offers its own unique scenery, but navigation can be tricky due to heavy rains.

Booking Tips

To ensure you get the best experience, consider these booking tips:

  • Book in Advance: Houseboats can get fully booked during peak season, so it’s advisable to book at least a couple of months in advance.
  • Check Reviews: Websites like TripAdvisor or Google Reviews can offer authentic feedback from previous travelers.
  • Negotiate Price: If you’re booking through local operators, a bit of haggling can sometimes get you a better deal.
  • Inclusions and Exclusions: Before finalizing the booking, make sure to clarify what is included in the cost—meals, sightseeing, and additional activities.

Packing Essentials

Packing light is the way to go, but don’t forget these essentials:

  • Lightweight clothing: Given the tropical environment, cotton clothes are the most comfortable.
  • Sunscreen and Hats: Protect yourself from the sun, especially during the day.
  • Bug Spray: While houseboats are generally clean, it’s good to be prepared for mosquitoes in the evenings.
  • Cameras: Trust us, the scenery is so beautiful that you’ll want to capture every moment.

Stories from the Backwaters: Memorable Experiences

A Family Adventure

Meet the Rajan family, who embarked on a deluxe houseboat tour in Alleppey. For them, the highlight was the extraordinary hospitality. “We celebrated our son’s birthday on board, and the crew went out of their way to make it special, complete with a cake and Kerala-style decorations,” recalls Mrs. Rajan. They enjoyed fishing, visiting the local market to buy spices, and were awed by the vibrant sunset.

A Romantic Getaway

For newlyweds Priya and Anil, a luxury houseboat in Kumarakom was the ultimate romantic getaway. “With a private deck and candle-lit dinners, it felt like we were in a movie,” says Priya. Perhaps the most memorable moment was an impromptu visit to a local temple, where they were blessed by the village priest—an unforgettable touch to their romantic journey.

Sustainability and Responsible Tourism

Eco-friendly Houseboats

As the demand for Kerala houseboat tours rises, there’s also a growing emphasis on sustainability. Many operators are now offering eco-friendly houseboats that use solar power, reduce plastic waste, and offer organic meals prepared with locally-sourced ingredients. By opting for these green alternatives, you can enjoy the backwaters while minimizing your ecological footprint.

Supporting Local Communities

When you choose responsible tourism, you’re also supporting the local communities. Whether it’s buying handmade souvenirs from village markets or dining at locally-owned restaurants during your shore excursions, every small effort contributes to the region’s economy.

“Responsible tourism allows us to continue showcasing the beauty of Kerala’s backwaters to future generations while preserving our environment and way of life.”—A Kerala Houseboat Operator

Conclusion: Setting Sail on Your Dream Journey

Kerala houseboat tours offer more than just a holiday; they provide an immersive experience into the cultural and natural beauty of God’s Own Country. From the type of houseboat to choose, to the myriad destinations and activities, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re traveling with family, seeking a romantic retreat, or simply wish to explore the enchanting backwaters, a Kerala houseboat tour promises memories that will last a lifetime.

So, are you ready to weave through the tranquil waters of Kerala? With practical tips, unforgettable anecdotes, and a touch of romance, your journey awaits. Happy cruising!

Feel free to share your own experiences or questions about Kerala houseboat tours in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Troper Tours