Tourist’s guide to Varkala – Kerala’s most popular resort in India

Varkala, India is the most famous resort town in Kerala. People come here to relax from the noisy streets and night parties, swim in the clear sea and do Ayurvedic practices.

Sunset on Varkala Beach

Varkala is the most famous resort in Kerala. The city is 36 km from Thiruvananthapuram (the capital of the region), and covers an area of ​​15.4 km². The population is 42,200 people, which is quite a bit for a city in populous India.

Varkala was founded recently – in 1980, and there are much fewer Indians living here than in the neighboring villages of Kerala. Due to this, it is always quiet and there are no problems with rental housing. In the resort of Varkala, older Europeans or families with children prefer to relax.

Interestingly, people from Kerala are considered the most educated – 90% of the population living here are able to write. Moreover, the Indian authorities have calculated that here is the longest life expectancy in India (75 years – men and 78 – women).

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Varkala beaches

Black beach
Black beach

The black sand beach is the smallest and most unique not only in Varkala, but throughout Kerala. Unfortunately, the reviews of tourists about this place are not the most positive. So, many talk about a large amount of garbage, high waves and battered sun loungers.

The sand here is black, the entrance to the sea is gentle. There are stones. The waves are much higher than in the neighboring recreation areas, so beginner surfers can safely come here. At night, visit this part of the coast of the Arabian Sea does not work.

On the coastline there is no toilet, no shower, no cafe. But there are paid umbrellas (200 rupees) and sun loungers (200 rupees) – there are few of them here, and tourists say that they are not in the best condition.

Interestingly, the black sand of Kerala is considered radioactive, so you should not dig into it with your head and it is better not to spend all day on the beach.

Papanasam
Papanasam Beach

Papanasam is located near an easily recognizable cliff that can be seen for several km. To get into the recreation area, you have to go down one of the narrow stairs.

Varkala beach itself in the state of Kerala (India) is very small – you can get around it in 10-15 minutes. The sand here is soft and golden, the sea bottom is shallow. Sometimes algae and shell rock come up to the beach. There is little garbage.

It consists of two parts – South and North (huge boulders are used as a separator). The northern part is popular with tourists – it is always crowded here, but at the same time it is not noisy. There are sun loungers with umbrellas. At the top of the cliff there are a number of cafes and restaurants.

The southern part is much more peaceful and mysterious. Local people often come here to hold ceremonies or ceremonies, because thousands of years ago the sage Narada, known in Judaism as the son of Brahma, prayed on this shore. Here you can see the figures of deities.

Papanasam Beach Statue

Interestingly, the official name of the beach is “Papanasham Beach”, which translates as “atonement for sin”.

Also, in the southern part of the beach, Indians can get advice from a brahmin – sages sit under umbrellas and perform various rituals.

Papanasham is known primarily for its colorful sunsets, and as such there is no infrastructure here. Cafes and hotels are located on a cliff, there are no toilets and changing cabins, there are only a few deck chairs. Palm trees do not grow on the coastline, so the shadow can only be from the cliff itself.

It is interesting that in the evening there are a lot of people here – everyone wants to enjoy another bright sunset.

North beach
North beach

The northern beach of Varkala is very popular with tourists. Locals do not come here often, but there are a lot of Europeans and Americans. There is no entertainment here, and local, constantly inviting somewhere, you are unlikely to meet here.

The northern beach of Varkala is very small – you can get around it in less than 10 minutes. The sand in this place has a golden hue, and the sea is gray-blue. The entrance to the water is smooth, there are no stones (except for huge boulders) and garbage. There are no big waves.

There are several sun loungers on the beach. But you will not find cabanas for changing clothes and a cafe on the coastline. As for the shade, only the cliff itself gives it, at the bottom of which the beach is located.

Housing

Varkala Resort in Kerala has over 150 accommodation options. These are hotels, guesthouses and hostels. Prices and conditions are very different.

Hotel room Varkaly

So, a hotel room 3 * per night for two in the high season will cost 40-70 dollars. This price will include a small but comfortable room, quality service, free Wi-Fi and the ability to relax in the garden gazebos on site.

Prices for a night for two in a 4 * hotel start from $ 45. In addition to a large room with European renovation, the price includes breakfast, the ability to use the swimming pool on site and a subscription to the fitness room.

Bungalows and guesthouses in India are much cheaper. So, you can easily rent a room in a guesthouse for less than $ 20. The price will include free Wi-Fi, all the necessary household appliances in the room and free parking.

Bungalow in Varkala

Stay overnight in a bungalow can be for 10-15 dollars. In addition to the room, you will have a private terrace, a bathroom and free Wi-Fi.

An equally important task is to choose which area to live in. Since Varkala is a small town, there are only two options. The first is to stay on the first coastline, where it is beautiful, but quite noisy and somewhat more expensive.

The second option is more suitable for those who come to Kerala for a long time. Choose hotels or guesthouses behind the cliff – the main tourist area of ​​the settlement. Accommodation here is cheaper, but the rooms are no less comfortable.

Where to eat

Cafe in Varkala

In the city of Varkala, as well as in neighboring villages, many cafes and restaurants of various price categories are open. The most popular are: The Bait & Hook: Seaside Restaurant, Clafouti, Coffee Temple and Trattorias Restaurant.

Prices in most cafes and restaurants are as follows:

Dish, drinkCost (dollars)
Momo with cheese and vegetables2
Rice with vegetables2
Seafood rice3
Mashed potatoes1.30
Thai soup2
Porridge with fruit1.1
Fresh juice1.3
Bonafi Pie (dessert)1.6

The average bill for lunch or dinner in Kerala is 500-700 rupees (7-10 dollars).

Also pay attention to the shops where you can buy fast food. Food in such establishments costs even less, but it is no less tasty.

Fast Food in Varkala

If for some reason you do not want to have lunch in a cafe, you can go to the market and buy there:

ProductCost (dollars)
Milk 200 ml.0.3
Biscuit0.3-1
A pineappleone
Tomatoes (1 kg)0.7
Pomegranate (1 kg)2.50
Broccoli (1 kg)3.50
Apples (1 kg)1.10
Potato (1 kg)0.8

How to get from Trivandrum

There will be no problems how to get to Varkala from Trivandrum, because Kerala has well-developed transport links.

By train
Train in Varkala

You need to catch a train going southeast at Trivandrum Central Station. Exit at Varkala station. Travel time will be 40-50 minutes. Cost – 70-100 rupees (i.e. 1-1.5 dollars).

Trains run very often, but you need to buy a ticket in advance (at least one month in advance), as the locals buy them right after they appear at the box office. If you could not get a ticket, then try to drive without it. There are very few controllers on trains, and fare dodgers are rarely planted.

By bus

Those who do not like trains can get to Varkala by bus. It can be longer, but more comfortable (new air-conditioned buses run in this direction). Every day they leave the bus station at 6.00, 9.00, 10.30, 13.30, 15.00, 16.45, 17.30. Unfortunately, buses do not run early in the morning or at night, which makes them not very popular among tourists.

Bus in Varkala

Travel time is 50 minutes. Price – 100-120 rupees.

Tourists advise not to walk from the bus station, but to get to a hotel or guesthouse on a tuk-tuk – this will save you time and you will not get tired of a long walk in the heat. The price of such a trip is not more than 300 rupees.

Taxi

The easiest and most comfortable option in India is a taxi. The cost is 1000-1300 rupees. However, it is important to remember that there are no fixed prices for trips in India, and you can bargain.

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Useful Tips

  1. Do not stay on the beach during the day – at this time in India it is very hot, but in order to get back to the hotel you will need to climb a cliff, which is not so easy to do in the heat.
  2. Be sure to come to the sea in the evening – the sunsets here are of incredible beauty.
  3. Sunset on Varkala beach
  4. It’s cheaper to shop and rent housing behind Cliff – the main tourist street of the city.
  5. If you want to buy souvenirs or quality Indian clothes, go to Cliff – here you will find a large selection of goods from India.
  6. Pay attention to excursions in the state of Kerala, which can be purchased at any travel agency in the city.

Varkala, India is a suitable vacation spot for lovers of peace and quiet.

Aerial photography of beaches in Varkala and nearby attractions:



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