VARKALA. Before I had experienced Varkala, my idea of travelling was to hike and reach a hilltop, absorb the view, head to the next waterfall, hike, see the other peak and also get back on time to visit the museum and shop at the flee market before they shut!
Varkala taught me how to STOP. Stop, relax and unwind. Just have no plans for the day. That's how a real holiday should be, right? There are numerous other destinations in India that offer you the sea and the shore. Then, why Varkala?
13 reasons why......
................. you should visit Varkala!
1. Super easy to reach: 40km from Trivandrum, 160 km from Kochi, 350km from Coimbatore! If you plan to visit the south, don't give this one a miss.
2. Highly underrated and hence less crowded. Given how beautiful this place is, it is surprising how the beaches are not overcrowded.
3. Mostly flocked by foreigners. This is one place where can easily you don your bikinis without worrying about how the "crowd" is!
4. Such CLEAN beaches. One interesting Trivia about Varkala is that during the weekends the beaches are flocked by localities... unfortunately leaving the beach a dirty sight on a Monday morning. But come Monday evening, and you will see extremely clean beaches again! The people behind this transformation are not the municipal authorities but the foreigners holidaying at Varkala! They treat the beach like their home, it's so endearing to see so many of them on a beach clean drive! Kudos to them..and a learning for all of us :)
5. Limited itinerary. Varkala doesn't have a lot of places to cover, and believe you me, that is the beauty of this place! There's no rush. It's just the sand, sea and you. Of the three beaches at Varkala, I'd rate the Black Sand Beach the best and Oddayam beach next.
6. Great vibe. Early in the morning you will see Foreigners taking a dive into the water, doing yoga or jogging by the sea, travellers taking surfing lessons or taking a boat for some dolphin watching. Sunbathe, read and swim into the waves!
7. The North Cliff! The North Cliff overlooks the three beautiful beaches of Varkala. Man made steps will take you from the beach to the North Cliff..a Haven for handicrafts, flea market, massage parlours, cafes and shacks.
8. Such pretty cafes and shacks! The cafes and shacks have their tables and chairs overlooking the beautiful sea. Most of them have live music going on in the evenings, offering a sumptuous variety in thai, Italian, European and indian cuisines. (Slurrrrrrp!..I was binging on thukpa here. You may try God's own Country Kitchen, Darjeeling Cafe, Cafe Del Mar and Little Tibet)
9. Spa,massages and Yoga. Any trip to Kerela is incomplete without getting a spa or an ayurvedic massage, so they say! Even though I'm not a very big fan of the massages, it's definitely worth a try. Bargain well before you zero in on a deal. Varkala also offers certificate courses in yoga ranging from a 5 day course to even longer courses! They also have hourly sessions at the beach.
10. Stays that spoil you! The best place to stay at Varkala is the North Cliff. There are many many places that you can choose from, some with pools, some offering breakfast and many budget hostels too. We recommend Thanal beach Resort because it's luxurious and right at the North Cliff and the other is Satta Beach Residency because it's affordable , very green , has a pool and offers breakfast in the package!
11. Easy on your pocket! Even though, you will find many sellers from the flea market and cafes quoting exorbitant rates (targetting the foreign crowd ofcourse!) , it's not true for all places. There are a host of cafes that are very affordable and as far as the flee market goes, BARGAIN!
12. The journey. The road trip from Kochi to Varkala was as good as Varkala! Beautiful clean beaches on one side and backwaters on the other..you have to see it to believe it!
13. No free flowing alcohol. Even though this could be the reason why one will not visit Varkala, I think this just makes you lesser dependent on alcohol to have fun! Don't worry folks, most cafes offer beer and cocktails even though they don't freely display it on their menu cards!
What you should watch out for?
* Prices on websites are on the higher side as compared to what the hotels offer you on call or right there.
* I'd suggest book a hotel online for a day and spend that day looking for your abode for the next 7-10 days!
* Yes, a minimum of 4 days is what I suggest. A truly relaxing holiday!
* Prices quoted to you will be slightly on the higher side, as this place is a foreigners abode. So bargain.
* Avoid the beach on weekends. It goes from being a serene clean beach to a juhu beach!
* Try staying at the North Cliff if your pocket allows.
I was always a mountain person, that's because I've lived by beaches all my life. But there's something about Varkala that will take me back there for sure, so go try it for yourself!
PS: A day wise itinerary to Varkala doesn't exist..it's just swim, relax and repeat!