Varkala is a sleepy town on the west coast in Kerala and is among not so popular beach destinations in India. After I returned from the trip and people saw the pictures I took, most of them asked me questions such as “where is it?” and “Tell me more about it?”.
Given that, I have traveled to most of the beaches in India and a lot of curious questions, I thought it makes sense to write about what makes Varkala different from other beach destinations in India.
The below are the reasons you should skip other beaches in India and travel to Varkala now.
1. The North Cliff
The red colored long stretching cliff is the main attraction in Varkala. There are innumerable cafes and restaurants on the top of the cliff. You can spend a long afternoon in any of them and enjoy a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea and the cold breezes. Most of the cafes are good. You can easily make out the best ones by the very vibe of it. If you still need a recommendation, I would recommend you The Juice Shack, The Coffee Temple, and Cafe del Bar. The Darjeeling Cafe is another highly rated cafe but I didn’t like it much.
The cliff has also got many shops selling clothes and trinkets. Once you have had enough of shopping, take a few staircases (not so well-maintained but ok) and you get to a sandy (and reasonably clean) beach and pristine waters.
Varkala is known for one of it’s best tides and is among the top 5 surfing destinations in India. If you want to learn to surf, contact the Soul & Surf. The Kappil Beach, roughly at a distance of 6 Kms from Varkala Cliff, is the preferred destination for surfers. Get there at sunrise and you will meet many surfers there. You will also get to see a lot of fisherman trading fishes at that beach.
3. Amazing drives
Less than a KM ahead of the Kappil Beach is a road with the sea on one side and the lake on the other side. If you have rented a vehicle, get there and also take a few intagrammable pictures.
4. Value for money
Varkala is a true value for money. The hotels are very reasonably priced, the food is cheap, an auto rickshaw comes for a flat rate of Rs. 100 from Railway Station to anywhere in the town and morning yoga sessions costs Rs. 100 for a day.
As I was traveling from Bangalore, I preferred a train as the nearest airport is more than 2 hours drive. I got down the train and took an auto for Rs. 100 without requiring any haggle. I had a booking in the Hotel Inda and the driver knew the place so reaching there was easy. In the hotel, I took a scooter for Rs. 300 per day and all I had to tank up during the trip when needed.
5. Dramatic Sunset
Varkala is known for one of it’s most dramatic sunset. I had an opportunity to meet a traveler who came from Scotland primarily to take photographs. Unfortunately, I was not lucky to get the best clips as it was cloudy during my stay.
In Varkala, Yoga is everywhere. Many hotels at the cliff offer daily yoga classes. You can enroll for a day or even join courses that are weeks long. I also saw a group of people taking training at the Black Beach which is the beach to choose if you are looking for seclusion.
7. Shivagiri Mutt
The Mutt is a pilgrimage center for the devotees of Narayana Guru who preached about one religion and one God.
8. Dakshin Kashi
Dakshin means North in Hindi and Varkala is known as Kashi of the North. A visit to the Janardana Swami Temple and bath in the holy water of the Papanasham Beach is known to wash away all the sins.
9. International Vibes
Goa has become more of a desi destination and is an over-crowded one. Varkala being not so popular within India is more cosmopolitan. I see many of the restaurants being owned by expats. Even the hotel in which I stayed was owned by an Ukranian family.
10. The Uber Connect
Bonus: Digital Nomad’s Paradise
For a digital nomad, a strong internet connectivity is more important than anything else and Varkala offers you that. Most of the cafes have wifi and they offer decent speed. I used to work from Cafe Del Mar during my stay and it offered a consistent download speed of 3 MBPS. If you need higher speed, get a Vodafone mobile connection. I got a speed as high as 20 MBPS.