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An archipelago of four inter-connected islands, St. Mary’s Islands in Udupi, Karnataka, offer a great opportunity to unwind and relax

Words: Avika Kashyup

St. Mary’s Islands stand in the midst of the Arabian Sea like a beautiful lure that softly touch everyone’s hearts. Also known as the Coconut Island,
St. Mary’s main landscape is densely covered with coconut trees. The other name for this island is Thonsepar.
St. Mary’s is an archipelago of four inter-connected islands: the Coconut Island, the North Island, Daryabahadur Garh and the South Island. Each of them is unique in its own way.

What is known

It is believed that St. Mary’s was a pit stop for Portuguese sailor Vasco Da Gama. He docked on this island in 1498, before he took off for Calicut. He placed a cross here for Mother Mary and named it El Padron De Santa Maria, christening the island thereafter.

St. Mary’s is known for its distinctive geological formations of columnar basaltic lava. Theories and scientific studies indicate that the basalt rocks of the island match with those of Madagascar in Africa. Theories suggest that these basaltic rocks were formed by sub-aerial and sub-volcanic activities because Madagascar was attached to India some million years ago. The rocks make this island all the more attractive. The hexagonal, pillar-like basaltic rocks make for a beautiful view and are a unique attraction of the island. St. Mary’s is one of the four Geological Monuments in Karnataka and one of the 26 Geological Monuments of India, declared by the Geological Survey of India in 2001. This island is among one of the important sites for GEO Tourism in the country; a heaven for geologists and environmentalists.

The main island has a beautiful landscape and its beaches are immaculately clean and well-maintained. There are a couple of manmade shades for the visitors to relax under as well. One can find numerous conches and seashells at the island. The beaches on the western side of the island are fully covered in seashells; one can hardly see the sand and the water is crystal clear. The beach on the other side of the island, however, is deeper and has sand and pebbles. Unfortunately, swimming is banned on these beaches as the waters are not shallow here and the tides can sometimes get too strong.

Lots of Sunshine!

You will encounter wonders, one after the other, as you explore different parts of this island. However, the humidity here is quite high for most part of the year for its close proximity to the seashore. If one can bear the climate, this place is a true traveller’s delight. It is advisable to carry sunscreen, hats, plenty of drinking water and food as there are not many options available on the island. The island has couple of shacks though, which serve juice, snacks and tender coconuts. It is an eco-friendly island and use of plastic is banned here.

St. Mary’s is situated in the south-western part of India. The best way to reach it is via a boat or a ferry ride from Malpe Beach in Udupi, which takes around 30 minutes or so. The boat service from Malpe Beach to St. Mary’s Island starts at 9:30 am and the last return is at 5 pm. The nearest airport is Mangaluru, which is 58 km from Malpe.

The best time to visit St. Mary’s Islands is between November and February. During the boat or ferry ride from Malpe, one is stunned by the view. You can find flocks of birds on the rocky patches in the sea, some whizzing by in a formation and birds like Seagulls and Brahminy are a common sight here.

If you love solitude and love to gaze at nature sitting on the golden sands of a quiet beach, then this is the best place to be. Watching the sunset, standing on the crystalline rocks of this quiet island, is one of the most alluring experiences a traveller can have. So pack your bags, set sail and find yourself lost in the charming vistas of this mystical land floating in the sea.

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