Budget: Rs. 4500/- per head including all expenses except tickets from your place to the destination.
Peak season to visit: November to January. The famous ‘Off-Beat Festival’ also takes place at the Black Beach during these months.
How to get there:
- By air– Catch a direct flight to Trivandrum, Kerala. The distance between Trivandrum and Varkala is 35 kms which can be covered by catching a local train/bus/auto rickshaw.
- By road– Either drive down directly to Varkala or, catch a bus from any of the cities till Attingal and take the local bus from there just for Rs. 20 per person till Varkala, the beach cliff is walking distance from the town. Autos are also available for Rs. 50 from the bus stand till the beach cliff.
- By rail– Catch a train to the Sivagiri Varkala railway station which is 5 km away from the Varkala beach cliff. Autos/local busses are available for the beach cliff from the railway station.
Where to stay:
There are a large variety of homestays, resorts and hotels to choose from which are located atop the beach cliff. The best ones are listed below.
- vedanta Wake up– Located at the North Helipad cliff, Varkala, this hotel offers breakfast services, and other basic amenities for Rs. 800 per night for a room for two people.
- Clafouti Beach Resort – Located at the North Cliff, Varkala, this is a luxury resort which offers a wide range of facilities including spa and Ayurveda treatments, etc. It offers three types of rooms; standard twin room with sea view (Rs.2500), deluxe villa (Rs. 4000), honeymoon villa with sea view (Rs. 8000).
- Mummy Bamboo house– This homestay, located at the North Cliff, Varkala, offers great food and a comfortable stay in a room for two people just for Rs. 400 per night. The rooms have been built in a traditional Keralan manner and the deal is the best value for money!
What to do:
- Beaches– Varkala is a coastal town full of beaches! The highlight of all is the main Varkala beach for its huge waves and super fine sand. Apart from the main beach, the Black beach which is a little away from the main beach gives you the wonderful feeling of being on a private beach.
- North Cliff– This is where the life of Varkala lies! It is lined by a number of shops which sell authentic stuff which would only be fun to buy if your bargaining game is strong! The presence of jolly locals everywhere lightens up the experience along with some amazing beach view restaurants.
- Sightseeing– The Varkala lighthouse is a place you must visit, besides the Anjengo Fort. The Janardhana Swami Temple which is over 2000 years old is also one of the main spiritual attractions of Varkala.
- Yoga and Ayurvedic Massages- Yoga classes are offered which can fit anyone’s fancy, whether they’re beginners or professionals. Ayurvedic centers are present in the North Cliff which offer a full body massage along with face pack for just Rs. 500 per hour!
- Adventure sports- The customary activity of swimming in the sea can be done only at the demarcated safe zones. Soul & Surf is one of the best places to sign up and learn surfing under trained professionals. Apart from that, I’ve also observed people playing volleyball by the beach during early mornings and practicing yoga or, getting their dogs for a fun day at the beach!
For the foodies:
From traditional Kerala seafood to German bakeries to Tibetan feasts, you have access to a number of cuisines in the restaurants situated at the North Cliff area of Varkala.
- Cafe del Mar, facing the sea, serves one of the best varieties of traditional Kerala seafood.
- The Big Apple cafe is a good place to go to if you desire a hippy vibe.
- The Darjeeling cafe has the best English breakfast you can ever ask for!
- And our hero is the Juice Shack which has absolutely hospitable service along with good food! The quantity is enough to keep your tummy full throughout the day.
- A lot of restaurants here have Karaoke nights and live music on certain days of the week, few selective ones also serve beer, wine and cocktails.
Tips for your trip:
1. Alcohol is prohibited in the restaurants of Varkala. However, beer, wine and cocktails are available in few places. If not, you can carry your own brand of alcohol and pregame in the hotel room if you’re that particular. Drinking on the beaches though, is a punishable offense here.
2. Bikes are available on rent if you’re planning to stay for more than just a weekend. However, the roads are quite confusing and one can easily get lost.
3. Surprisingly, there are a lot more foreigners than Indians in this place. You can make friends with them but always be careful in choosing who you interact with, some people might come off as creepy. (mind you, even the locals!)
All said and done, Varkala is a place not to be missed, whatever the price you have to pay. The vermillion-covered sky during sunset, the soft sands of the beach, the courteousness of the locals and the serene atmosphere of the place will make it a worthwhile experience altogether!