Ask the Experts: Coast ‘n’ Calcutta

This week, Emma from London challenges our experts to come up with a solution for her forthcoming trip to India.

If you would like to pose a question to our expert panellists, email social [at] statravel [dot] co [dot] uk, and they could pick your question for a future Ask the Experts.

Thanks to Emma for this week’s question, it’s over to the experts!

Me and my boyfriend would love to visit India, especially Calcutta, as we have friends there. But… we’d also like to fit in a beach break as well. How can we combine them? Emma in London

Kim @ STA Travel Dundee proposes…

For a stunning Indian Ocean beach, fly from Calcutta down to Goa for a peaceful few days. Book your beach break as a package to ensure best value for money. We have excellent 4-day packages that include transfers and brekkie to take all the stress out your holiday.

I would then book your international flight to depart from either Goa or Mumbai rather than trek all the way back to Calcutta. An alternative option would be to choose an indirect flight option that allows a free stopover. Like Emirates for example giving you a fabulous Middle Eastern beach break in Dubai, and no extra flights involved!

If the budget allows I totally recommend the Marine & Water Park at Atlantis the Palm, for a luxurious stay in Jumeirah Beach. You can swim with dolphins, learn to dive, or sip cocktails on a sparkling stretch of white sandy coastline.


| Image by Sol O

Mark @ STA Travel Belfast advises…

Hi Emma, cheers for the question! I have two suggestions for you: my first would be to fly to Calcutta with Emirates Airlines from either Heathrow or Gatwick, and make use of the free stopover in Dubai.

It’s a wicked city and with a lot to do, and contrary to opinion you don’t have to stay in a six star hotel. We have plenty of budget-friendly accommodation in Dubai, and you can spend the savings on some duty-free shopping, or splurge on a sand dune safari.

If you want to experience a classic beach destination while in India, I would suggest travelling across to Goa. It has some stunning beaches and resorts and, although it’s touristy, it would tick most boxes of what you would be looking for from a beach break. Alternatively, laid-back Varkala is located beside some stunning cliffs, in Kerala in India’s south-west. However, it is quite a journey from Calcutta, so either build it into a bigger, longer trip on the subcontinent, or fly to Mumbai and take the train to Kochi to start the Beaches & Backwaters tour, which includes a visit to the Periya Tiger Reserve.

Ps. If you see it spelled Kolkata don’t panic, it isnt a different place, and is in fact the correct name for the city.

Heather @ STA Travel Nottingham reckons…

How about heading down to the beaches of Kerala, with its diverse beach towns and cities? Kochi’s colonial history offers an interesting alternative with a great blend of architecture, including English mansions, churches, synagogues and mosques. Or head over to Allepey, which is like little Venice with its network of canals and windy paths.

Further south, visit Varkala, which is set above huge cliffs overlooking the more isolated beaches, this is a great choice if you are looking to avoid the crowds. For something a little different, I’d definitely recommend visiting the town of Munner, one of the many superb tea estates in Southern India.

Finally if you get tired of the beach, there’s the tiger reserve that Mark mentioned, which offers the opportunity to get up close with some of India’s native animals. If it’s your first time to India, and you’re a little nervous about exploring alone or want the opportunity to meet lots of people, you could consider visiting the area as part of our Beaches & Backwaters tour. Have a great trip, and make sure you come back and tell us how it went.

Remember, if you have a question for our panel of experts? Send it through them at social [at] statravel [dot] co [dot] uk and see if they can give your travel the edge!

How did they do this week? Do you have anything to add to their advice?