Varkala

Varkala is a small town from the southern part of Kerala. It is famous for its beaches and is home to the only cliff beach in India.

Duration: 2-3 days

Tags:beachweekend_gateway

Varkala Cliff
View from the cliff

Are you a beach lover? Ever wished that you'd get to spend your entire day near the waves? And watch the sunset, then retreat to your cozy little room only to wake up to the view of the beach again? If so, then Varkala is the place for you.

When I got to know about this place and saw the pictures, I immediately added it to my list. After several attempts, I was finally able to make it on the February of 2020, with two other friends.

How did we reach here?

We took a train from Chennai to Varkala Sivagiri, which is the nearest railway station.

Auto-rickshaws are available right outside the railway station. If your hotel is along the Varkala cliff like we had, you'd have to get down near the Helipad and walk the remaining distance along the cliff, asking local shopkeepers the way, till you find the hotel.

However, if you happen to reach the station in the morning and love morning walks as I do, I highly recommend you skip the auto-rickshaw ride and take the 15-minute walk from the railway station to the cliff.

Varkala Helipad
Varkala Helipad

Where did we stay?

We found a small but cozy and budget-friendly place called Dolphin Bay. It is right next to Varkala Cliff, which is the most vibrant place in the town.

A view of the cliff and the path alongside.
A view of the cliff and the path alongside.

What makes Varkala Cliff such a happening place?

It's a narrow road along a long cliff, with the beach down below on one side of the road, shops and restaurants lined up on the other side. Walking is the only way to move about this narrow road. Among the closely packed shops along this road, most of them sell souvenirs, wooden artifacts, handicrafts, beach clothes and herbal products. You can find numerous restaurants studded in between, most of them open to the beachside.

The path is lively with people from all over the world. Live music, yoga sessions or just sitting on the beachside enjoying the calm, this place has something for all. It is very common to see yogis along the beach in the early morning hours.

How can one spend their time here?

Sunsets

Grab a quick cool drink, find a cozy spot on the beach to watch the sun go down. A must for a relaxing holiday.

PS: Try to reach the spot by about 5:30 pm, in summer it gets very hot and it becomes very difficult to find a spot with shade.

Shopping

Do you love collecting souvenirs or want to take something back for your folks at home? Did you forget to pack enough beach clothes? Don't worry, the shops by the cliff have got you covered.

Live Music and Open Mic Nights

You can find flyers announcing these events everywhere. If you find the beach view from the restaurant not captivating enough, you could easily find a place that offers live music to enjoy your supper. The cool evening breeze from the sea makes the vibes perfect.

Shops in the night street
Shops in the night street
Stars in the night sky
Stars in the night sky

Stargazing

For someone who loves stargazing, coming to a place like this far away from the light pollution of the city is an absolute treat. We were able to observe the stars pretty clear, although the lights along the cliff did add a little noise. This picture here hardly does justice to what we saw there.

Yoga sessions

If you're planning to extend your stay, you could sign up for the yoga classes available at the cliff. This is something we couldn't explore though.

What about the food?

Along the cliff, we could find mostly continental food, probably owing to the large number of foreign tourists who stay long term in the area.

Most restaurants flaunt the variety of fresh fish available near their entrances. You could select the fish and then get it cooked the way you like.

Even if you are not a fish lover, the variety of foods is amazing. The best part is, you get to enjoy a view like this while having your meal. Now, who wouldn't love that!

On a side note, the meals are not completely budget-friendly. Also, if you're looking for an authentic Kerala meal, we'd recommend going away from the cliff into the interior parts of the town.

A beach facing view from cafe.
A beach facing view from a cafe.

What else apart from the cliff?

Water sports and backwaters

A few minutes auto-rickshaw ride from the cliff, you could reach Kappil beach. This place is special: On one side of the road that runs along the coast, you could see the Arabian Sea. On the other side, a glimpse of the magnificent backwaters of Kerala. There are a variety of water sports available here, like kayaking and boating.

Backwaters on the right and sea on the left
Backwaters on the right and sea on the left

Is it all beaches?

Nope, not all. Although not exactly a part of Varkala, the Jatayu Earth Center is a must-visit. It offers a different experience altogether compared to the relaxing atmosphere of the beaches.

We took a 28km cab ride from the cliff to reach the place. This tourist attraction is situated on the top of a hill. To reach the top, you could either climb the steps, take a cable car ride, or even a helicopter ride. We took the cable car ride, and it was a rewarding experience. The place is well maintained and super clean. Prefer a cloudy day to come here though, otherwise, the heat might spoil the experience.

Jatayuparam Earth Center
Jatayupara Earth Center

Author - Annette Kurian