4.8 / 5

St Mary's Island

📍 St. Mary's Islands, IndiaView map ›

🗓 Best Time To Visit:October to February

⏰ Open Hours:24 hours, ferry service operates from 9 AM to 5:30 PM

🏖 Things To Do:Rock climbing, Beach walk, Bird watching, Photography, Shell collection

💵 Budget:Free entry, Ferry charges apply

🧳 Traveller Types:Family, Solo travellers, Nature enthusiasts, Photographers

🏞 Known For:Unique basalt rock formations, tranquil beaches, vibrant bird life

📍 Distances:Approximately 6.5 km from Udupi Railway Station, 58 km from Mangalore Airport, 2.5 km from Malpe town

🛥 Ferry Service:INR 200 per person for round trip

📸 Photography:Allowed, no additional charge

🍴 Nearby Eateries:Numerous options available in Malpe town

💡 Tips:Carry sunblock, hats and water bottles. No accommodation facilities on the island

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St. Mary’s Island: A Geologic Wonder and a Tropical Paradise

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit a mini version of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland or the Devil’s Postpile in California? Well, you don’t have to travel far to experience the same geologic phenomenon. Just head to St. Mary’s Island, a group of four small islands in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Udupi, Karnataka, India.

St. Mary’s Island is one of the few places in the world where you can see columnar basaltic lava formations, which are hexagonal in shape and vary in size and height. These formations are estimated to be 88 million years old and were formed when volcanic lava cooled and contracted into cracks.

But that’s not all. St. Mary’s Island is also a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches, clear blue water, and rich biodiversity. You can enjoy the scenic beauty of the island, snorkel in the crystal clear water, watch the sunset from the western side of the island, or spot some of the rare and endemic birds and animals that inhabit the island.

St. Mary’s Island also has a historical significance as it is believed to be the place where Vasco da Gama first landed in India in 1498. He named it El Padron de Santa Maria, which later became St. Mary’s Island.

If you are looking for a unique and memorable destination for your next vacation, St. Mary’s Island is the perfect choice for you. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to plan your trip to St. Mary’s Island and Udupi.

How to Reach St. Mary’s Island

St. Mary’s Island is located about 6 km from the mainland of Udupi, which is a popular pilgrimage and cultural center in Karnataka. Udupi is well connected by air, rail, and road from different parts of India.

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By air:

The nearest airport to Udupi is Mangalore International Airport, which is about 60 km away. You can take a taxi or a bus from the airport to Udupi.

By rail:

The nearest railway station to Udupi is Udupi Railway Station, which is about 4 km away. You can take an auto-rickshaw or a taxi from the station to Udupi.

By road:

Udupi is well connected by state and national highways from Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore, Goa, and other cities. You can take a bus or a car to reach Udupi.

Once you reach Udupi, you can take a ferry or a boat from Malpe Beach or Malpe Port to reach St. Mary’s Island. The ferry service operates from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and costs Rs. 300 per person for a round trip. The boat ride takes about 20 minutes and offers a stunning view of the island and the sea.

You may also like to check out: St. Mary's Island - A Geo Tourism Experience

Tips and suggestions for travelers

Here are some tips and suggestions for travelers who want to visit St. Mary’s Island:

- The best time to visit St. Mary’s Island is from October to January, when the weather is pleasant and the sea is calm.

- The island is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, and the entry fee is Rs. 300 per person.

- The island has no facilities or amenities, so visitors should carry their own food, water, sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas.

- The island is a protected site, so visitors should not litter, damage, or disturb the natural environment or wildlife.

What to See and Do on St. Mary’s Island

St. Mary’s Island is a geologic wonder and a tropical paradise that offers plenty of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages and interests.

The main attraction of the island is the columnar basaltic lava formations that cover most of the island’s surface. These formations are hexagonal in shape and vary in size and height. Some of them are as tall as 6 meters and as wide as 2 meters. They are arranged in clusters or rows that create an amazing pattern on the island.

Photo of St Mary's Island 2/3 by

The formations are believed to be formed when volcanic lava cooled and contracted into cracks about 88 million years ago. They are similar to those found in other parts of the world, such as Ireland, Scotland, California, Iceland, and Ethiopia. They are also considered to be one of the 26 geological monuments of India.

The best way to explore these formations is to walk around the island and admire their shapes, textures, and colors. You can also touch and feel them, but be careful as they can be sharp and slippery. You can also take some amazing photos and videos of these formations, especially during sunrise or sunset, when they glow in different hues.

Another attraction of the island is the pristine beaches that surround the island. The beaches are white and sandy, and contrast beautifully with the black rocks and the blue water. The beaches are ideal for relaxing, sunbathing, or picnicking. You can also enjoy the view of the coconut trees and the coral reefs that line the shore.

The water around the island is clear and blue, and is home to various fish and marine life. You can snorkel, swim, or boat in the water and see the colorful corals, starfish, sea urchins, crabs, and other creatures. You can also watch the dolphins that often visit the island and play in the water.

One of the best things to do on the island is to watch the sunset from the western side of the island. The sunset offers a spectacular view of the horizon and the sky, as well as the island and the sea. The sunset also creates a magical effect on the rock formations, as they change their colors from black to red to orange to yellow.

St. Mary’s Island is also a haven for wildlife, especially birds and animals. You can spot some of the rare and endemic species that inhabit the island, such as terns, gulls, sandpipers, egrets, herons, kingfishers, cormorants, pelicans, eagles, kites, owls, bats, monkeys, squirrels, mongoose, lizards, snakes, turtles, and more. You can also hear their sounds and calls that create a natural symphony on the island.

St. Mary’s Island is a place where you can experience nature at its best. It is a place where you can marvel at the wonders of geology, enjoy the beauty of the beach, explore the diversity of the sea, witness the glory of the sunset, and discover the richness of wildlife.

Other Places to Visit in Udupi

Udupi is not only famous for St. Mary’s Island but also for its other attractions that showcase its culture, heritage, and spirituality.

Udupi is one of the most popular pilgrimage and cultural centers in Karnataka, and has many temples, beaches, waterfalls, and resorts that attract tourists from all over India and abroad. Some of the other places to visit in Udupi that are close to St. Mary’s Island are:

Photo of St Mary's Island 3/3 by

Sri Krishna Temple:

A famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna that dates back to the 13th century and attracts millions of devotees every year. The temple is known for its unique idol of Krishna that is visible only through a window with nine holes. The temple is also known for its delicious prasadam (food offered to God) that is served to all visitors.

Malpe Beach:

A beautiful beach that offers various water sports and activities, such as parasailing, jet skiing, banana boat ride, fishing, and more. The beach is also known for its seafood stalls that serve fresh and tasty dishes.

Kaup Beach:

A serene beach that features a lighthouse that offers a panoramic view of the coastline and the sea. The beach is also known for its sunset view that creates a romantic atmosphere.

Kudlu Falls:

A scenic waterfall that is located in the Western Ghats and offers a refreshing escape from the heat and crowds. The waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and rocks that create a natural pool where you can swim or relax.

Also check out: St. Mary's Islands -A wonder by those Unseen Hands

St. Mary’s Island is a geologic wonder and a tropical paradise that will leave you spellbound with its unique beauty and history. It is a place where you can have an unforgettable vacation with your family or friends.

Don’t miss this opportunity to visit one of the most amazing places in India. Book your trip now and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful for planning your trip to St. Mary’s Island and Udupi. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to share them in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.

St Mary's Island Reviews

The approach to the island was absolutely wonderful. A slow moving barge towing a little boat took us across the channel. Within 20 minutes, we were in sight of the island. We were to get on the small boat that was being towed in order to be ferried to the island. The front of the island was a little dirty and covered with tourists. Since we had the whole day there, we informed the sailors to come back and look for us in the evening as we wanted to explore. They were more than willing so we ventured away from the crowd. We walked along the beach till we made it to the other side of the island which was untouched by man. The shore was covered in sea shells. The water was a shade of blue that's deeper than my imagination allowed me till that day. The palm tree fronds swayed with the clean air and city line was visible from afar. The sound of the waves were different hear - devoid of human chatter and filled with water crashing on sea shells as opposed to sand. The silence was again calming and we spent a day midst nature.
We took a bus to Malpe from Udupi City bus stand. Bus stopped near a turn. Beach was in left direction so we took a walk to beach for 5 minutes. From the beach, ferry service is available to St Mary Island. They take 200 per person on boat for taking to the island and coming back but allow only one hour to stay on island. You should ask for more time if they allow. We enjoyed for an hour and then came back from boat. At malpe, I got a nice tattoo. Boat Paragliding , banana ride, boat ride sea sports are available there.We went to a hotel and then took a bus from stand to udupi and again a bus from udupi to kapu beach. After getting down from bus, you need to go right for around one km. Road to kapu from highway is on right side when you get off the bus coming from udupi. Kapu has a light house. Crowd gathers around 3 pm as light house opens around 4-5 pm. These are some snaps at kapu. Third Day, Karnataka On Emergency Section 144
Some 88 million years ago, Madagascar was very much attached to India. Madagascar and India broke off from Africa as a single continent, and India started its collision course with Asia. It's the result of this, and the sub-aerial sub volcanic activity which resulted in geological formations of columnar basaltic lava which is found in St Mary's Island, off Malpe Beach near the Southern Coastal Town of Udipi in Karnataka. In fact, this is one of the group of four islands. The Geological Survey of India has declared these islands as the Geological Monuments of India. There is one more interesting fact about this Island. Curious to know? Vasco Da Gama, in the year 1498, on his journey from Portugal landed on this island. It was here, he fixed a cross and named it St Mary's Island. And from here, he proceeded to Kozhikode in Kerala. KSRTC - Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Buses are always world class. Be it, their Corona Sleeper Coaches, or Vovlo Airawat Multi Axle Diamond Class, Gold Class or Club Class.
1. St. Mary's Island, Karnataka You can experience a little bit of Iceland in this hidden and cozy island in the Arabian Sea. A short distance from the Malpe coast of Udupi, Karnataka, is the unique island called St. Mary's. The stunning phenomena of basaltic lava taking columnar formation is a sight to behold. Scientific studies indicate that the basalt of the St. Mary's Islands was formed by sub-aerial subvolcanic activity, because at that time Madagascar was attached to India. The rifting of Madagascar took place around 88 million years ago. The island gets more interesting. Historians believe that this is where Vasco de Gama landed for the first time, and named it after Mother Mary. St Mary's Island is also one of the26 geological monuments of India. How to reach:Ferry service from Malpe fishing harbor. Malpe is 60 km from Udupi.
The next day, we picked up the car and headed to St Mary's Island which is closer to Udupi than Mangalore. It was a nice drive with music as we headed to the port. The port is where one can book tickets to have ferry take you across the ocean to the islands. According to history, the islands got their name from Vasco da Gama when he stuck a cross on of the islands as a tribute to Mother Mary before heading to Kerala. It's a half an hour ferry ride to the islands. The beauty of this beach is that it's not sandy: it's literally covered in onlyshells. Shells of different colours, patterns, and designs. I love collecting shells at a beach and here I felt I wanted to carry the entire beach back with me!
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