Advantages An opportunity to see a very different type of 'beach life'
Disadvantages If you're looking to sunbathe topless or have a few games of beach volleyball, it's not the place.
I've never really been much of a beach-lover. Admittedly my long-held ambition to one day retire by the sea with a couple of dogs to walk on the beach could suggest otherwise, but that's not about loving beaches, it's about loving the sea. I love quiet places like Frinton on Sea where you can walk for miles but I can't abide all the fuss that goes with beach holidays - all that sand in your food, hair, clothes and baggage. And parading my gravity-battered flesh for the derision of strangers is no picnic either. So if someone says "Do you want to go to the beach?" they'll do well to get more than a grudging grunt from me.
First things first, here's what you won't find; thousands of screaming children, loud radios, yobs tanked up on too much beer at 10 am in the morning, lobster red freckled people with peeling skin, sewage floating in the sea and gentlemen of a certain age clad in inadvisably tight Speedos. I think you'll agree that's not a bad list of things you don't particularly want to encounter on the beach.
Chennai's Marina Beach would be world famous if it were……to put it bluntly….. almost anywhere else; specifically somewhere less modest and somewhere that tourists actually go to. At risk of upsetting local people, Chennai isn't a great city to visit. It's short on charm and attractions but one thing it's long on is beach. IMarina Beach is a spectacular stretch of sand, ranked as the second longest urban beach in the world beaten only by Brazil's Copacabana Beach. It also benefits from being really wide – a massive 437 m at the widest point apparently - and very gently sloping. There's plenty of space for people to do what Indian people do best – setting up small businesses and selling things and standing around looking at the sea.
On the day we visited it was a weekend, a Sunday if I recall correctly. Our bus dropped us at the promenade and we headed off across the beach to find all manner of unexpected delights. Stalls were set up selling drinks and snacks, toys and trinkets, balloons and balls. A tiny fairground carousel seating just a handful of kids was being turned manually by the owner. Scores of fishermen were sitting on their dug-out canoes, folding and mending their nets whilst just a few meters away their catch was on offer, barely a few minutes out of the water.
|Is it worth visiting?|
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