Varkala is a little known gem hidden in south Kerala. Auto rickshaws stop at a stand located centrally between the south cliff and the north cliff. The most happening spot is the north cliff where most resorts and hotels are majestically built along the right corner stretch of the cliff. Looking down from atop the cliff, you will see the blue waters. Staying in Varkala cliff for a weekend or a couple of days is different from the usual beach getaways; away from the crowd and noise of beach combers. Sometimes, even locals aren’t allowed to stay at the cliff.

Beach View from Varkala Cliff

Shopping 

The last time I was here, I ventured the entire one and a half kilometre stretch featuring multitudes of shops selling Kerala inspired souvenirs, artifacts and wood works.

Varkala Stretch/ Image via Flickr

Varkala Stretch/ Image via Flickr

One time a little girl stops and lures me towards her store showing all types of harem pants and colourful tops. I ask her about her daily chores and about her life back home. These women working at the stores are not locals but come to Kerala to get to work during the season time, when the area is brimming with tourists. They mark the prices high, but with a little bargain, you are sure to find some funky and casual apparel to quell the heat. Perhaps its their communication with plenty of tourists that these women speak excellent English, so language is never a hassle.

Restaurants

The quirky cafes and restaurants overlook the beach, so whether you choose to sit on the balcony or the ground floor, you will still be mesmerized by the views. At nights, the candles are lit on each tables that spill over the narrow alleyways; will make you want to stay in for days. Our routine is to order a couple of seafood platter, especially the grilled fish and fried calamari – complete with a bottle of beer. There is constant police checks in the area so some restaurants that do not have a license would ask you to keep your mugs down (which is ok).

Restaurant

Cafe Del Mar

When in Varkala, I look forward to my morning English breakfast which is mostly waffles, scrambled eggs and orange juice. All kind of breakfasts are served to cater to the preferences of International tourists. One of my favorite is Cafe Del Mar from where you get to see the vibrant waters.

Get a Room on Varkala Cliff

Since Varkala cliff is away from bustle of the city, all you will hear is just the sounds of the waves. So why not stay in for a few days at some of the classy rooms offered at surprising rates. While we explored the area previously, all I did this time was procrastinate sitting on the balcony and feel the breeze whoosh accompanied by the beach from afar, yet so close. 

Balcony of hotel Thanal

Balcony of hotel Thanal

One of the personal preference is Thanal because of its fine interiors, stylish bathroom, and private balcony with unobstructed views of the beach. They do not have on-site restaurant but is surrounded by plenty of them.

From the balcony

From the balcony

If you’re like me who prefers less tourist crowd, consider planning a trip to Varkala during the off season, either in April or May. In addition to the cheap hotel rates, you will enjoy the tranquillity.

Getting to Varkala 

Sunset from the cliff

Sunset from the cliff

The nearest airport to Varkala is Trivandrum, which is about a 50 km drive. There are air conditioned buses from Trivandrum that head to almost as close as Varkala and a 10 minute auto ride to the cliff. There is a small step of stairs on a hidden corner of the cliff, for those who would like to spend an evening to watch the sunset at the beach. So you really don’t need wheels to get around Varkala cliff.

Interesting Things to do

kathakali

Kathakali / Photo via Flickr

Many travellers head to the cliff not only for the sun, sand and beach but also to detox oneself with Ayurveda and yoga therapies. A visit to Kerala is incomplete without experiencing the traditional temple dance – Kathakali held at the Varkala Culture Centre.

Featured Image: Flickr 

Have you been to Kerala? What are the off-beat places you’ve been to?

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