Our final stop in Kerala was a beautiful coastal area called Varkala. With a seafront lined with soft sandy beaches and restaurants selling fresh fish, it reminded us a little of Goa. The difference being that Varkala is much smaller and the beaches sit at the bottom of the cliffs!
Varkala is divided into 2 main areas, North Cliff and South Cliff. On North Cliff you will find the vast majority of the resorts. The whole cliff-front is lined with restaurants and shops. It has the atmosphere you look for when going out to eat or wandering around in the day time. Once you pass the headland to South Cliff you will find no shops, no restaurants and no people. You have the quiet and privacy of a private beach to read and sunbathe. So really, Varkala gives you the best of both worlds! Best of all, both areas are a short 20 minute walk along the beach (at low tide) away from each other.
During our time here we stayed in the picturesque accommodation of Blooming Bay Resort. Situated in the South Cliff area it is perfectly away from the hustle and bustle. It sits pretty right on the edge of the cliff-face and gives spectacular views across the beach and Arabian Sea.
They have a great little garden area with roofed seating areas overlooking the beach. Was a perfect spot to chill out late afternoon. The updraft from the cliffs creates easy conditions for the kites to glide. So, you can lay back and watch the birds soar eye level, with the waves in the back drop – bliss!
A short walk down the pathway (less than 5 minutes) takes you to the beach directly below the resort. This beach is huge! I mean ‘goes on for as far as the eye can see’ huge. And because we are away from the main tourist area, the beach is practically empty! For those who like privacy this place is a dream.
Every evening when you look out to sea you can see 100’s of lights bobbling about, these belong to local fisherman. In the morning, around 7am, you can walk a little way down the beach and watch the fisherman unravel their nets to see what the nights catch gave them. Mostly I saw crab, some very small fish and oddly a couple of rays (including a medium sized stingray!).
Unfortunately, Varkala doesn’t seem to have adopted the same beach responsibilities as Goa or Gokarna. Both of these areas have a community agreement to take care of the beaches. In Goa we would watch women walk down the beach early in the morning and collect any litter. In Gokarna, the same thing happened with the cafe owners just taking care of their section of beach in a mutual agreement that it will benefit them all to care for the area. However, in Varkala whilst the beaches are not filthy, there is still a reasonable amount of plastics and other litter washed up. A lot of the litter I’m inclined to blame on the fishermen, since it got considerably worse around their boats. It is very sad.
Fishermen's Morning Catch
A series of photos that I took whilst observing the fishermen one morning
When I visit a beach it’s my natural behaviour to pack up my rubbish and take it back with me. There are no bins on the beach, but for that reason I don’t feel having no bins is an excuse. I even found a rather brutal looking fishing hook, down by the water, so easy to be stood on!
Another peculiar thing I noticed washed up alongside the plastic, were many small, dead fish. After I visited the fishermen that morning it made sense. The fishermen told me they were fishing for crab. But I saw these small fish in their nets, just as by-catch. Instead of adopting a sustainable fishing technique and returning unwanted fish to the sea, they are discarded. Food only for the crows.
Though, don’t let that put you off this destination! The beach is still lovely. The undercurrent is a little strong, the waves a little big, but the sea was safe for a swim. Brad even hired a surfboard (the weather screwed him over but it was still fun). We definitely were happy to be staying at Blooming Bay. Whilst we like a bit of atmosphere, the privacy and calm of this cute little resort couldn’t be beaten!
Since this area is only a 100 rupee tuk tuk ride or 20 minute walk away from us, we did visit almost everyday. Even if it was just for dinner!
Walking along the cliff and having a look at all the tat in the shops is a good way to work off your food baby! There are so many nice restaurants lined up along this cliff you could never visit them all. But our 2 favourites were Gods Own Country Kitchen (the mahimahi was insane) and Tibetan Restaurant ((never had a soup taste so good before) apart from Heinz Tomato, of course)).
Varkala beach didn’t exactly inspire us much. We preferred the beach directly below our resort. HOWEVER, there is a lovely little beach just a bit further on called Black Beach. Named after it’s black sand (duh) for some weird reason this beach was way quieter. It also had smaller waves (easier to play in) and way less litter. Doesn’t make much sense to us, but then nothing does in India. We stayed here for a few hours happily playing bat and ball or being wiped out by the waves. The black sand is actually formed of numerous substances that have been washed down the rivers from inland. Because the particles are heavier than the white sand they’re typically deposited in layers. Hence, probably due to the direction of the waves and the protected location of this beach, a lot of it has washed up there!
With less than 2 weeks left in India, a beachy few days is welcome! Varkala is such a great little spot for some me time. With a little TLC I have no reason to think it won’t become the next Goa!
Those who know me well, know I LOVE the beach. So my standards are pretty high. With that in mind I give Varkala a 7/10. SO MUCH POTENTIAL and so peaceful, but a little love needs to go back into the area first. Then it will be perfect!