Wednesday, March 28, 2012

St. Mary's Island, Udupi.

St. Mary's Island is a small piece of real estate that seemed to have just slipped away from Malpe beach in Udupi and drifted a few kilometers away into the sea. After drifting some 6kms, it finally decided to set shop there. The four islands of St. Mary's are as much a tourist's paradise as it is for the Geologists and the Historians.
As it turns out, St. Mary's island was a part of Madagascar, which in turn was part of India albeit 88 Million years ago, before Madagascar decided to part ways with India and join Africa. Looking back at the map, it looks like Madagascar chose a long and distant separation from India.

The distinctive geological rock formations formed by basaltic lava make these islands a Geologists paradise. But not even the ardent Geologist can miss the beauty of the island. The shell-littered sands, the coconut trees, the all encompassing sea and the beautiful sunset can take your mind off all the geological wonders of the island. The unique rock formations of St. Mary's Island are a result of sub-volcanic activity many million years ago. There's an abundant display of hexagonal shaped columns of rocks placed next to each other.

It is also believed that Vasco Da Gama first landed on St. Mary's Island on his arrival to India. He even placed a cross here and christened the islands as O PadrĂ£o de Santa Maria (which later got corrupted to St. Mary's Island). Having found no habitation here or Malpe beach due to the thick vegetation cover, he moved further and finally dropped anchor at Kozhikode, Kerala.

It’s a 6km boat ride from Malpe to St. Mary's - the only one of the 4 islands on which one can actually land. It has a very tiny sand beach where tourists can have a swim. The rest of the island is strewn with rock formations and coconut trees. Not surprisingly the water and sand here is pristine but island strewn with tourist waste (water bottles, disposable plates et al). It’s a place crying for attention from the administrators, who unfortunately are more worried about making money and completely disregard the importance of maintaining the sanctity of the place. The to and fro boat ride costs Rs 85 on a Government-run boat and Rs 120 on a Private run-boat.

Getting-there: From Udupi Bus stand there are enough buses to Malpe beach. It’s a short journey of 5-6 kms. To reach St. Mary's Island, get into the fishing harbour and ask for directions to the Government run boat rides. Pay Rs 85 for a to and fro ride. Last boat returns from St. Mary's leave at 6PM. Overnight stay in the beach is not allowed.

Must-Do: Marvel at the rock formations and the beauty of the islands. Collect shells and pebbles.
Must-Don't: Swim outside of the designated swimming area. They are strewn with huge rocks underwater. Littering this mini-paradise.

My Rating: 8/10


  1. Whenever i watched St mary's Island in the movies song dream used to take such dream with a wing brought me here with six soul mates...

    The geographical history gives nice peep through.

    Yes the beach, sand, and the sunset just sets the fire of imagination..a great place to end the weekend..

    Nice write up buddy..

  2. Thanks Sri. All I can say is watch more movies and get more inspired and plan more trips :-D

  3. I believe the right time to visit St Mary's Isle is during winter months, summer can be scorching. But photography can be a bonus during summer

  4. The Sun isn't that bad during the evening. Or maybe we just didn't notice :-P

  5. The contents are really good…