Marina Beach is an urban beach in the city of Chennai, India, along the Bay of Bengal, part of the Indian Ocean. The beach runs from near Fort St. George in the north to Besant Nagar in the south, a distance of 13 km (8.1 mi), making it the longest natural urban beach in the country and the world’s second longest. The Marina is primarily sandy, unlike the short, rocky formations that make up the Juhu Beach in Mumbai. The average width of the beach is 300 m (980 ft), and the width at the widest stretch is 437 m (1,434 ft). Bathing and swimming at the Marina Beach are legally prohibited because of the dangers, as the undercurrent is very turbulent. It is the most crowded beach in the country and attracts about 30,000 visitors a day during weekdays and 50,000 visitors a day during the weekends and on holidays. During summer months, about 15,000 to 20,000 people visit the beach daily.
Marina beach is a major tourist attraction of the city. People visiting Chennai make a point to visit the beach. It is also the main place for the local people to escape from the summer heat. The beach is popular for its shops and food stalls run by about 500 shops run by about 1,212 vendors. The memorials and statues, morning walk, joggers’ track, lovers’ spot, aquarium, and the like make it a hangout for people of all ages. Kite flying and beach cricket are common sports at the beach, and there are also facilities for pony rides. Beach cricket at the Marina dates back several decades. However, Chennai City Police has banned it at different points due to its interference with traffic and beach walkers. The sea is generally rough and waves are strong. There are fishermen colonies present at both ends of the beach. There are also joyrides, merry-go-rounds and mini giant wheels along the stretch, although they are installed without permission from any government agency.
Kamarajar Salai, a six-lane road and one of the arterial roads of Chennai City, runs alongside the beach providing a sea view starting from the Victoria War Memorial near the Cooum River delta till the lighthouse to the south. The road extends further south beyond the lighthouse where it is known as the ‘Santhome High Road’, running away from the sea but parallel to the beach tillSanthome. The Metropolitan Transport Corporation has a terminus called the ‘Anna Square’ terminus at the northern end of the beach, Triplicane Terminus near Kannagi statue/Pycrofts Road, Vivekananda House (Ice House) Terminus and Foreshore Estate terminus. Railway stations alongside the beach include the Chepauk, the Tiruvallikeni and the Lighthouse MRTS railway stations.
There was a plan to build a 9.7-km elevated road along the beach connecting the lighthouse with the East Coast Road in the south at a cost of 10,000 million. However, the plan was dropped due to opposition from the public such as the ‘Save Chennai Beaches’ campaign.