Boat ride to St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The Great Arabian Sea Drive Day 21

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Rocky formations formed as a result of subvolcanic activity
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Rocky formations formed as a result of sub-volcanic activity

After a long day, I finally reached Udupi on the coast – only to spend a few more hours looking for a well ventilated clean not-too-inexpensive hotel. Settled for one on Malpe beach.

The following morning I was up and about early to look for a boat to take me to St. Mary’s Islands. Fishermen on the beach told me no boats are going today – some kind of a Government order. Great!

Plan B? After a lot of queries, I reached a ship building yard with boats seating 30 going. But they would leave only close to 11 a.m. Heck, why would one want to go when the sun is high and bright?

There is another rider to the boat making the trip: they would leave only if sell all 30 seats. Unless I chose to pay for all 30. Went back to my hotel, came back and phew! There were enough people. We finally left at 10:45 a.m. – with 29 on board.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The boat to take me to the islands; in the background are yards for ship building and reparing
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The boat to take me to the islands; in the background are yards for ship building and repairing
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Booking office
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Booking office
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Co-passengers on the boat
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Co-passengers on the boat

The guide was a friendly sorts – he said on a lucky day, we can see Dolphins playing in the backwaters where we started from. None on that day though.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The backwaters where the boats start on Malpe beach; on your lucky day, you can spot Dolphins playing here
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The backwaters where the boats start on Malpe beach; on your lucky day, you can spot Dolphins playing here

He added that the water should be so clear one could see 20 feet below the surface. Now it happens only for two weeks in a year – and there is no schedule when that might happen.

Our boat was being followed by another smaller leaving me wondering. I got to know soon: the big boat could not go close to the beach, and we had to hop on to the smaller one to get there.

Even at the beach, the boat could not fully dock on dry land – we had to try jump on the sand when the waves receded. Everyone including me got their shoes and socks wet. The one-way journey took 25 minutes.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Getting on to a smaller boat to get closer to the islands
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Getting on to a smaller boat to get closer to the islands
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The bigger boat takes you from Malpe to the islands and back the smaller boat is used to get passengers get to the beach on the islands
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The bigger boat takes you from Malpe to the islands and back the smaller boat is used to get passengers get to the beach on the islands

St. Mary’s Islands are a group of four islands, known for their distinctive geological formations of columnar basaltic lava created by sub-aerial sub-volcanic activity. Don’t ask me for a lay person explanation of what it means – to me it meant interesting rock formations as seen in pictures here.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Rocky outcrops around the main island
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Rocky outcrops around the main island
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Rocky outcrops around the main island
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Rocky outcrops around the main island

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The main island
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The main island

It is said Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama stopped at these islands on the way to Calicut in Kerala, placed a cross of Mother Mary here and thus christening these islands.

The main island is one of those rare instances where one beach is all sand and the other full of shells – I had fun collecting all that I could stuff into my pockets and rucksack.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The beach on the main island strewn with shells
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The beach on the main island strewn with shells
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The beach on the main island strewn with shells
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The beach on the main island strewn with shells
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The beach on the main island strewn with shells
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The beach on the main island strewn with shells

But these islands are not for getting into the water – the tides are too strong and the rocks very sharp. Bravery means foolish here.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Pay heed to this sign
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Pay heed to this sign

Just when my shoes looked like drying up, another strong wave would reach even further into the beach and wet them. Eventually I gave up trying to keep them dry.

The island is dotted with coconut trees, and some huts to picnic under. But make sure you carry your water and food – you will get nothing here. I returned in an hour, but would have stayed longer had I made it when it was not so hot yet.

St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: A picnic hut
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: A picnic hut

The boat waits an hour – unless you book a later one for your return.

Need to call the guide Ravi on these boats? Call +91.9986448575.

Care for a game of cricket on Malpe beach, Udupi, Karnataka?
Care for a game of cricket on Malpe beach, Udupi, Karnataka?
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Call them if you are looking for a place to stay. I did not go there though.
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: Call them if you are looking for a place to stay. I did not go there though.
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The sandy beach
St. Mary’s Islands, Udupi, Karnataka: The sandy beach
Fishing boats in Malpe, Udupi, Karnataka
Fishing boats in Malpe, Udupi, Karnataka

Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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5 COMMENTS

  1. You missed a great place called Maravante beach, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maravanthe), between Baindoor and Kundapur. It is a unique place in India. I think you have not done the home work properly. Also, summer is not the right time to visit South India. Oct-Dec is the best time. But then it all depends on one’s time schedules. Better luck next time.

  2. Very detailed and all the info given, including some phone numbers. very helpful for others who are interested in visiting

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