Varkala is a small beach town in Kerala. We came across Varkala when we were searching online for Kovalam-like places to visit. Varkala is now our go-to place whenever we want to take a laid back vacation for short duration. 😊
In October 2016, we went on our first trip to Varkala. Our trip to Varkala started with an early morning flight to Trivandrum. We hired a taxi at Trivandrum Airport and reached Varkala in 1.5 hours. We stayed at Varkala Marine Palace, in Varkala.
Varkala Marine Palace is located on the Papanasam Beach. One can easily walk to the main Varkala Beach from the hotel. The happening place of Varkala, the Promenade, is about 10 minutes walk from the hotel. This could be a little bit of inconvenience due to street dogs if you are returning by walk late at night. But the hotel is well maintained. The heritage room on the first floor that we stayed in has wooden interiors. We even had a hammock in the balcony of our room.
Varkala has many beaches. Papanasam Beach, also often interchangeably called Varkala Beach, lies on the southern end. Then there is the main Varkala Beach along the cliff to the north of Papanasam Beach. Further north of Varkala Beach, there is Black Beach.
Some parts of Papanasam Beach are used by locals for religious activities. We avoided that part of the beach. The rest of Varkala Beach is open for swimming, surfing, or lazing around.
Depending on the time of the year of your visit, some of the beaches may disappear. When we visited Varkala in October, Papanasam Beach and Varkala Beach were accessible but Black Beach was not because it was submerged. The sea waves at Black Beach were hitting the walls of the promenade, so we could not step into the beach.
The Promenade along the North Cliff is full of restaurants, shops and hotels. Varkala Beach is accessible via stairs that run down the cliff. There is a helipad at the cliff. Near this helipad, one can take part in paragliding off the cliff.
Unlike Goa, and just like Kovalam, Varkala has a laid back lifestyle. Most foreigners stay here for months together and they can be seen relaxing at the beach or at restaurants reading books or working on their computers.
The cliff comes alive in the evening and looks at its best just before the sunset. The restaurants get prepped up for dinner. Some of these places stealthily serve chilled beer in porcelain mugs. 😊 I find the cliff both lively and calm at the same time.
The food in Varkala is appetizing. Fresh seafood is displayed in front of many restaurants. One can get the food cooked as per one's liking or rely on the chef's forte. Abba Restaurant and Everest German Bakery, Varkala Marine Bay, Little Tibet, and Cafe del Mar are some of the restaurants we visited multiple times during our stay in Varkala. While we savoured a lot of food, we also managed to click many food pictures for memories. Here are some of them.
We had never been to a place where the cliff is so close to a sea and also popular among tourists. We later learnt that Varkala Cliff is of geological importance. It exposes sedimentary rocks belonging to the Cenozoic age. There is also natural spring at the bottom of the cliff near the beach.
We spent only four days in this lovely beach town. Reluctantly, we left to Bangalore wishing to come back again. In fact, we visited Varkala again in April 2017, exactly six months after the first visit. This time we stayed at Clafouti Beach Resort, on the cliff. As I end writing this post, I am thinking of being in Varkala again!