Beaches or mountains This debate has been forever around. Let’s try both of these together. When you think of Kerala, what comes to your mind backwaters, houseboats, tea plantations, spices, etc. Although there is a 500 kilometers long coastline as well those hippy vibes, continental food, and laidback culture are only limited to Goa – Right? That means either you haven’t read or heard of Varkala or you haven’t been there yet. So in this blog, I’m going to tell you about Varkala and share the Varkala travel guide.
How to reach Varkala?
Varkala is situated 50 km north of Trivandrum and 150 km south of Cochin. It is close to India’s southern tip. Varkala is easily accessible through Trivandrum, Kochi, and Bangalore. Even though it has its own railway station but most of the trains don’t stop there. So, the nearest major railway station, as well as the airport, is in Trivandrum only. From there Varkala is around 1.5 hrs away and the taxi will charge around 1500 Rupees.
Varkala is easily one of the most unique places in Kerala. Or you can say the cheapest place to visit in Kerala. It is specialty being that it is the only cliff beach in Kerala. Just picture an extended rustic beach enclosed by red-rock cliffs over a relaxing blue ocean. Imagine standing on mountains with the sea all around.
History of Varkala
There are a lot of folklores around Vakala’s history. Some locals say that a king got a temple built here to wash away his sins. Somewhere I read that a saint sent a few of his followers here to atone for their sins. The 2000-year-old temple is called Janardhan Temple and the main Varkala beach is known as Papanasam (Papanasham). Now I’m not sure if the old sins can be forgiven but it is a request not to commit new sins by dirtying this place.
Varkala is divided into 3 parts – North Cliff, South Cliff, and the main town center. Most of the locals stay only in the town. The tourists prefer the north cliff. And there are ample accommodation options for every budget hostel, guest house, hotel, and resort. Starting from 500 to 10,000 Rupees per night. With full of options.
Miracle by the bay
Just by hearing its name, you can realize that this place is so meant to be. A small boutique property around 2 km from the North Cliff on the less frequented Odayam Beach. Tucked away in a serene location with the sea just outside the doors, this place was exactly what that you imagine.
In the case of Miracle by the bay, the best thing was that it was personally managed by the owner Sunil Sharma. An ex-navy officer who leaves no stone unturned to make your stay comfortable. If time permits, then do sit with him and listen to his inspiring story.
(Image Cr. Infotel)
The other 2 properties that I would recommend are Maadathil Cottages. Again, on Odayam beach and Pura Vida on the south cliff. Both of these are at tranquil locations with the sound of waves continuously accompanying you.
Cafes in North Cliff Varkala
Miracle by the bay to the north cliff just takes 10 mins by autorickshaw. Or you can even walk along the shore passing through. Basically, North Cliff is a km-long promenade that’s filled with vibrant cafes, hotels, souvenir shops, and Ayurveda centers all of which face the Arabian sea. In some parts of the cliff, you will feel like a foreigner when you will find westerners shopping for daily groceries, running their own cafes.
The place even though is quite popular with both tourists and locals, still had a relaxed vibe to it. You can try to visit multiple cafes to get different views of the sunset every evening. Also, you can try different delicacies every day.
If you are on the north cliff then you should go to the Coffee temple. That claims to serve the best coffee in town. Or you can go to the Cafe Del Mar for Pizza and seafood.
If you want to enjoy the same setting from a secluded little spot, then I will recommend Cliff Stories. This relatively new hotel built on top of the south cliff. It has a small outdoor café that serves not just one of the best, but the best pineapple pancakes. And sitting here under the shade of the trees, you get to enjoy such a spectacular view that you can just keep soaking it all in the entire day.
If you get bored having continental cuisine for 2 days, then you can try South Indian meals. You can try a Kerala typical style hotel Suprabhatam. Here you can have a fresh and cheap price but tasty food. It is an authentic local Kerala mess. Now it doesn’t make sense in coming to Kerala and not having Rice, Sambhar, Papad, and Pudding. A bit far from the Cliff but it is definitely worth a visit for fresh Kerala-style food and that too at cheap prices.
(Image Cr. Tripadvisor)
Things to do & Places to visit in Varkala
Varkala is more than ticking places off the list. It is a place to travel with the flow. Every day the sun rays filtered through the canopy of palm trees. The moment you step out of your cottage, it will be felt that the blue ocean was always ready to welcome you. This is such a beautiful experience you can have in Varkala.
You can start your day with a casual walk. Imagine walking on a cliff next to the sea, with the wind blowing against your face. Such walks are ideal to get a peek into the coastal life. If you feel that your life is tough, try spending a morning with a few fishermen. Their hard work and spirits might make you respect your life.
1 Sunset on Kappil Beach at the backwaters
Kappil Beach at the backwaters is a nice destination to catch a good sunset. You can enjoy the beach here in Varkala. Another thing is it’s a little farther away from the main North Cliffside of Varkala. It takes 10 minutes and is very away here. Mostly everything is just 10, 15 to 20 minutes away at max.
2 Road Trip
The entire pathway passes through small beaches, coastal homes. A couple of stunning white mosques and then finally leads you to Kappil beach. Now, this is no ordinary place. because it is not every day that we get to see the confluence of sea and backwaters.
The best way to explore this and nearby places is to hire a two-wheeler and ride on these picturesque roads. There are some places that you can rent a two-wheeler. They are easily available for around 500Rs per day. And even though auto-rickshaws are also available, but the comfort and freedom of a bike are unmatched.
If you like are water sports, then surfing is definitely a must-try. Especially south cliff is considered to be a surfer’s paradise. And here surfing is done 8 out of 12 months in a year. ‘Soul and Surf’ is considered to be the best surf school in Varkala. They have internationally trained instructors and comfortable accommodation for both individuals and groups.
4 Yoga & Ayurveda
Like any other tourist destination of Kerala Varkala is filled with Yoga and Ayurveda centers. You can try a relaxing body massage.
Varkala is the perfect blend of rustic tranquillity and material comforts. And as they say – “Toes in the sand, waves rolling in and feeling the breeze. smell the sea and be at ease”.
So this is my Varkala travel guide. I hope this guide helps you and gives you some idea before you planning a trip to Varkala.