The Unexplored Adventure of St. Mary's Islands - Cliff Jumping

20th Jan 2018
Photo of The Unexplored Adventure of St. Mary's Islands - Cliff Jumping by Offbeat Voyagers

St. Mary's Islands, also known as Coconut Islands, are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka. They are known for their distinctive geological formation of columnar basaltic lava. There is no habitation on the islands.

Far in the sea she stood

Photo of Far in the sea she stood by Offbeat Voyagers

TRIVIA: According to folk legend, in the year 1498, Vasco da Gama landed at St. Mary's Islands on his journey from Portugal, fixed a cross on the island and named one of these islands, O Padrão de Santa Maria, as a dedication to Mother Mary, and that is how the islands got the name.

The highest elevation at Coconut Island, which has generated interest among tourists, is about 10 m (32.8 ft) above msl. This is the spot from where cliff jumping can be done.

Getting There

There are buses from Udupi bus stand to go to Malpe beach and charge around Rs. 15. We boarded the bus at Karavali and it costed us Rs. 10 per person to get to Malpe beach. It takes around 10 - 15 minutes to get to the bus stand at Malpe and then it is a 5 min walk to the beach.

On the bus ride to Malpe, there is a church called Stella Maris which I would recommend you to visit. The church is built in the shape of a boat and also has a bell tower in the shape of a lighthouse which looks unlike any other. It is the first church in the state with such an architecture. It looks even better at night with all the lights.

Stella Maris Church

Photo of Stella Maris Church by Offbeat Voyagers

The only way of getting to the islands is by boat. Regular ferry service ply the 6 km distance from the beach to the islands. However, the frequency of these boats may vary depending on the number of tourists visiting. The boats charge Rs. 300 for a return journey and allow you to stay there for an hour before you have to board a boat back to Malpe beach. Make sure to save the tickets as you need to produce them while boarding the ferry back.

The Island

Once you get to the island, start walking towards the right to get to the cliff. We chose to explore the island a little before getting there. There is a shell beach(no sand just SHELLS!!) on the other side of the island along with a designated swimming zone which is monitored by lifeguards. There are water sports like banana boat rides organised by operators at the island. There is a canteen near the shell beach if you fancy a bite.

The swimming zone

Photo of The swimming zone by Offbeat Voyagers

The Experience

Getting to the highlight of the trip, Cliff Jumping. Standing at the top of the cliff and staring into the Arabian sea alone is enough to send shivers down the spine. There is a ramp set up at the top so that people can easily identify the spot to jump from. We asked a lifeguard about cliff jumping and he said he'd charge Rs. 500 per person, so we decided to go out there on our own.

Directions to the jump spot

Photo of Directions to the jump spot by Offbeat Voyagers

The path to the jump

Photo of The path to the jump by Offbeat Voyagers

Facing the sea before taking a plunge into it

Photo of Facing the sea before taking a plunge into it by Offbeat Voyagers

NOTE: Make the jump only if you can swim properly as it is a good 5 minute swim from the landing spot back to the island and there is no lifeguard around.

The spot where it goes down

Photo of The spot where it goes down by Offbeat Voyagers

The ramp that gets the adrenaline rushing through the body

Photo of The ramp that gets the adrenaline rushing through the body by Offbeat Voyagers

The first jump into the open blue sea was like a leap of faith, but after the first one you just want to do it over and over again, so take your time but don't hesitate. You will have a story to tell.

After getting back to Malpe beach there is a public bath(adequate for the time) available which charges Rs. 10 per person.