For most the thought of going to an island sounds very exciting, for we have lived in the cities surrounded by buildings, roads and pollution and nothing else. A place with water all sides sounds very dreamy. St. Mary’s Island situated at Malpe town next to Udupi city will make your dream come alive with coconut trees, beautiful and clear beach and water of all sides. The legend says that when Vasco Da Gama arrived in India in 1948, he himself named this Island after St. Mary.
A little about St. Mary’s Island
St. Mary’s Island also known as Coconut Island and Thonsepar are set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe. It is known for its distinctive geological formation of columnar basaltic lava. Scientific studies indicate that the basalt of the St. Mary’s Islands was formed by sub-aerial subvolcanic activity, because at that time Madagascar was attached to India. The rifting of Madagascar took place around 88 million years ago.
The columnar basaltic lava rocks form regular five, six or seven-sided pillar, called ‘laminar lava’, and are found in varying heights in all the islands; the tallest of the columns is 6 m (20 ft). Considering the importance and rarity of such an occurrence, these islands were classified as National Geological Monument in 2001 by the Geological Survey of India. Scientific studies indicate that islands comprise fully of igneous rocks having acid composition. The island forms one of the four geological monuments in Karnataka state, one of the 26 geological monuments of India. The monument is considered to be an important site of ‘Geo tourism’.
How to reach St. Mary’s Island
You will have to first reach Malpe beach which is just 5-7 kms from Udupi and there are various transport options such as bus, rickshaw, cab for you to reach there. You can even drive your vehicle with enough parking space available for everyone. After reaching Malpe beach there are two spots from where you can take a ferry to St. Mary’s Island; one is from the center of the beach activity and the other is from the fish port near the sea walk. They charge you Rs. 300 for the govt run boats from near the port and Rs. 400 for the private operators for the return journey which take around 15-25 minutes one side. There are multiple ferries which keeps on coming to the island; so, you can stay at the Island as long as you feel and just hop into the ferry which takes you to your starting place which can be from the beach or near the fish port next to the sea walk. If you take the wrong ferry you might have to walk back quite a distance if you have brought your vehicle.
Things to do at St. Mary’s Island
St. Mary’s Island is very beautiful full of coconut trees, nice breeze, and pristine beaches. You can just bask into the beauty and the breeze sitting at various sheds prepared for public use. You enjoy watching the waves hit the rocks, take pictures there and play on the beach with crystal clear water. There are also water sports available there. You might even get a chance to see dolphins in the water jumping up and down. There are refreshments and snacks available on the Island. There are also some stalls from where you can purchase some souvenir. The island in totality doesn’t offer a lot of things, however, you will not like to leave the little things this place offers.
When to visit St. Mary’s Island
The island is closed during monsoon i.e. from June to September because the waves get really rough. On other days, the Island opens at 9 am and closes at 5 pm in the evening. Once you purchase the ticket, they will wait till there are enough passengers for the journey to begin. When you are planning your trip, you can schedule your visit accordingly. There is a nominal entry fee of Rs. 50 to enter the Island which is used to maintain this place well. If you bring a camera with you, they will charge you Rs. 200 for it. Also note that food and plastic bottles are not allowed.
Final verdict of St. Mary’s Island
St. Mary’s Island is a must visit place for all those who are visiting Udupi and adjoining places. It feels amazing when you reach the Island when you are surrounded by water on all sides, the coconut trees around you and the beauty of the place. The islands experience which you might have seen in movies all along can be seen first-hand here; don’t one should not miss if you can. The serenity and calmness of the place will win our heart.