Things To Do In Varkala – Complete Travel Guide

Welcome to the ultimate Varkala Travel Guide, where we talk in-depth about all the things to do in Varkala. Our aim is simple: to empower travellers with comprehensive insights, ensuring every moment spent in Varkala becomes unforgettable.

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of pristine beaches, intrigued by the town’s rich cultural heritage, seeking spiritual solace at ancient shrines, or simply craving a retreat amidst nature’s embrace, Varkala holds something magical for everyone.

Join us as we unravel the treasures of Varkala—revealing its hidden gems and guiding you through its vibrant tapestry of attractions, activities, accommodations, and more. Embark on a virtual exploration that will pave the way for an enriching and fulfilling vacation in this coastal paradise.

Allow us to be your trusted companion on this expedition, ensuring your visit to Varkala is extraordinary. Welcome to a journey where the rhythmic waves meet the soulful echoes of tranquillity—a voyage through Varkala awaits.

How To Reach Varkala
North Cliff, Varkala | Photo by Vatsal Nandu

Via Train:

Varkala boasts excellent connectivity via the rail network, making it easily accessible from various parts of India. The Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station, situated close to the town centre, is a convenient entry point. Trains from major cities like Trivandrum, Kochi, and other parts of Kerala make regular stops here, providing travellers with a comfortable and scenic journey to this coastal paradise.

Via Flight:

For those who prefer air travel, the closest airport to Varkala is the Trivandrum International Airport, which is approximately an hour’s drive away. This airport offers domestic and international flights, connecting Varkala to major cities across India and several international destinations. Travellers can easily hire taxis or use pre-arranged transportation services to reach Varkala from the airport.

Via Road and Buses:

Varkala is well-connected by road, offering a picturesque drive through Kerala’s lush landscapes. National highways and well-maintained roads link Varkala to nearby cities like Trivandrum and Kochi. Private taxis and rental cars are readily available for those preferring a personalized journey.

Moreover, state-run and private buses ply regularly between Varkala and various cities in Kerala. These buses provide an affordable and convenient mode of transport for travellers, offering a chance to enjoy the scenic beauty en route to this coastal haven.

Whichever mode of transportation suits your preferences and travel plans, Varkala ensures that reaching this charming destination is a seamless and enjoyable experience, setting the stage for an unforgettable journey amidst the beauty of Kerala’s coastline.

Best Time to Visit Varkala

Sunset from Varkala North Cliff
Sunset from Varkala Beach | Photo by Vatsal Nandu

Summer (March to May):

The summer months in Varkala, from March to May, offer warm weather with temperatures ranging from 30°C to 35°C. While it can get quite hot and humid, it’s still a favoured period for beach enthusiasts and surfers. The clear skies and the inviting sea provide an ideal backdrop for sunbathing and water sports. However, it’s advisable to stay hydrated and seek shade during the peak hours of the day.

South-West Monsoon (June to September):

Varkala experiences the southwest monsoon from June to September, characterized by occasional heavy rainfall and cooler temperatures. The landscape turns lush green, painting a stunning picture against the cliffs and beaches. While the rain may limit beach activities, this season presents a unique opportunity to witness the region’s natural beauty in its full glory. Travellers can enjoy the serene ambience with fewer crowds and discounted accommodations.

North-East Monsoon (October to December):

Over the past 2-3 years, there has been a notable shift in weather patterns during the October to December period in Varkala, resulting in increased rainfall compared to previous years. Consequently, streets occasionally experience flooding during this timeframe.  In addition, it’s not uncommon to experience days of prolonged rainfall lasting between 10 to 12 hours during this period.

Winter (December to February):

Winter is the most popular time to visit Varkala, from December to February. The weather remains delightful, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C, perfect for sightseeing, beach activities, and town exploration. The cool sea breeze and sunny days attract a significant influx of tourists during this peak season. This period offers a perfect balance of pleasant weather and a vibrant atmosphere, making it an ideal time to experience the best of Varkala.

Where to Stay in Varkala

Trip is Life in Varkala South Cliff
Trip is Life in Varkala South Cliff | Photo by DARKROOMLABS on Unsplash

Premium Stays (INR 3000 and upwards)

  1. InDa Hotel:
    • Overview: InDa Hotel offers a luxurious stay with its modern amenities and stylish decor. Located near the cliff area, it provides easy access to the beach and nearby attractions. The rooms are spacious and well-furnished.
    • Facilities: Restaurant serving diverse cuisines, spa services, and attentive staff contributing to a comfortable stay.
  1. Trip Is Life:
    • Overview: Known for its tranquil ambience and eco-friendly approach, Trip Is Life is nestled amidst lush greenery, offering a serene escape. The rooms, designed with sustainability in mind, provide a cosy yet sophisticated retreat. Private access to the beach adds to its allure.
    • Facilities: Organic restaurant, yoga sessions, beachfront access, and personalized services promoting relaxation.
  1. Boho’s Hotel:
    • Overview: Boho Hotel stands out for its bohemian vibe and artistic interiors. It’s a haven for artistic souls located close to the main attractions. The rooms are creatively designed with vibrant colours and unique decor, exuding a laid-back yet stylish atmosphere.
    • Facilities: Rooftop terrace, artsy common areas, a cafe serving healthy meals, and an overall eclectic ambience.
  1. B’Canti Boutique Beach Resort:
    • Overview: B’Canti Boutique Beach Resort is a luxurious beachfront property offering a lavish experience. The rooms are elegantly designed with modern amenities and private balconies overlooking the Arabian Sea. The resort’s ambience emphasizes luxury and comfort.
    • Facilities: Beachfront restaurant, spa services, water sports facilities, and attentive staff catering to guests’ needs.

Budget Stays: Dorms and Budget Single Rooms

  1. Soul by The Lost Hostel:
    • Overview: Soul by The Lost Hostel is a cozy, budget-friendly accommodation. Located in a convenient area, it offers dormitories and private rooms. The hostel fosters a friendly atmosphere, ideal for solo travellers and backpackers.
    • Facilities: Common areas for socializing, communal kitchen, bike rentals, and helpful staff providing local insights.
  1. Zostel Varkala (Hostel):
    • Overview: Zostel Varkala is a popular backpacker’s hostel known for its lively ambience and community feel. It offers dormitory beds and private rooms at affordable rates. The hostel organizes various activities and events for guests to socialize.
    • Facilities: Common room, outdoor seating, cultural events, travel assistance, and a vibrant atmosphere.
  1. Hostel Exp:
    • Overview: Hostel Exp provides budget-friendly accommodation with a focus on comfort. It offers dormitories and single rooms with basic amenities. The hostel’s location allows easy access to the beach and nearby attractions.
    • Facilities: Cozy common areas, kitchen facilities, travel desk, and a relaxed atmosphere.
  1. Cliff & Coral (Hostel):
    • Overview: Cliff & Coral offers affordable stays in a casual and friendly environment. With dormitory-style accommodations and single rooms, it caters to budget-conscious travellers seeking a comfortable place to stay.
    • Facilities: Common lounge, terrace, helpful staff, and a laid-back vibe conducive to meeting fellow travellers.

Each of these accommodations in Varkala caters to different preferences and budgets, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay for visitors to this beautiful coastal town.

Discovering Varkala's Coastal Beauty

Kappil Beach | Photo by Vatsal Nandu

Varkala’s coastline is a canvas of natural beauty, offering a mesmerizing blend of golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and dramatic cliff vistas.

  1. Papanasam Beach is the heart of this coastal charm, known for its picturesque allure and spiritual significance. Visitors flock here to immerse themselves in the therapeutic waters, believed to wash away sins according to local beliefs.
  2. The serene Odayam Beach nestled a little further away, invites travellers seeking a quieter retreat. Its tranquil ambience and scenic surroundings make it an ideal spot for peaceful strolls and unwinding amidst nature’s embrace.
  3. True to its name, Black Sand Beach presents a unique sight with its dark sands against the azure sea. This lesser-known gem captivates visitors with its secluded beauty, offering a serene escape from bustling crowds.
  4. Meanwhile, Kappil Beach charms visitors with its tranquil backwaters merging seamlessly with the Arabian Sea. The breathtaking views and the peaceful atmosphere make it a must-visit for those seeking a serene coastal experience.

Each of these beaches unfolds its own story, weaving together a tale of Varkala’s coastal allure—inviting travellers to bask in the beauty of the sun, sand, and sea while embracing the tranquillity and serenity that defines this coastal haven.

Things To Do in Varkala

Kayaking in Paravoor Mangroove Forest, One of the things to do in Varkala
Kayaking in Paravoor Mangrove Forest | Photo by Vatsal Nandu

While Varkala’s beaches and cliffs steal the spotlight, the town boasts a treasure trove of experiences beyond the expected. Dive deeper into its allure with these unmissable attractions:

  1. Yoga by the Sea: Embrace the serene mornings with yoga sessions overlooking the Arabian Sea. Numerous yoga centres and retreats offer classes catering to all levels, inviting visitors to find inner peace amidst the coastal tranquillity.
  2. Local Markets and Shopping: Wander through the vibrant local markets, brimming with colourful fabrics, handicrafts, and unique souvenirs. Dive into the town’s culture by indulging in authentic shopping and interacting with local artisans.
  3. Ayurvedic Wellness: Discover the healing touch of Ayurveda with rejuvenating spa treatments and massages. Varkala offers numerous Ayurvedic centres where visitors can experience holistic wellness practices.
  4. Water Adventures: Beyond sunbathing, indulge in water sports such as surfing, parasailing, and jet skiing, adding a thrilling dimension to your beach escapades.
  5. Cultural Immersion: Immerse yourself in local culture by attending traditional performances or festivals that often showcase Kerala’s vibrant dance forms and music.
  6. Culinary Exploration: Savor the flavours of Kerala with its delectable cuisine. From fresh seafood to spicy curries, the local eateries and restaurants offer a delightful gastronomic experience.
  7. Boat Rides and Backwaters: Take a scenic boat ride through the backwaters of Kappil or explore the nearby backwater stretches for a serene glimpse into Kerala’s rustic charm.
  8. Surfing in Varkala: Riding the Waves: Varkala’s Papanasam Beach offers an ideal setting for surfing enthusiasts. Though not overly aggressive, the waves here provide an excellent platform for beginners and intermediate surfers to hone their skills. Surf schools like Soul & Surf and Surfing Life India offer lessons catering to various skill levels, providing boards and instructors for a memorable surfing experience.
    • The cost of surfing lessons in Varkala typically ranges from ₹1,500 to ₹3,000 per session, inclusive of equipment rental and guidance. The instructors ensure safety protocols are followed, making surfing a safe and enjoyable activity.
  9. Kayaking in Paravoor Mangrove Forest: Paravoor, near Varkala, hosts an enchanting mangrove forest, perfect for kayaking adventures. Kayaking tours offered by organizations like Kerala Kayaking take participants through the serene backwaters, offering a glimpse into Kerala’s rich biodiversity.
    • Kayaking in Paravoor is suitable for beginners, as the calm waters and the guidance provided by experienced instructors ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. The cost varies based on the duration and type of tour, usually ranging from ₹1,000 to ₹2,500 per person for a few hours.
    • These experiences, weaving together culture, adventure, and rejuvenation, promise to add depth and richness to your journey through Varkala. Embrace these lesser-explored facets to create unforgettable memories beyond the quintessential beach escapades.
  10. Sunset Spectacles: North and South Cliff Views in Varkala: Watching the sun paint the sky in hues of gold and crimson is a mesmerizing experience from both the North and South cliffs of Varkala. Whether you sink your toes into the warm sand along the beach or indulge in the comfort of a cosy café perched atop the cliffs, the sunset casts a spellbinding spectacle.
    • From the bustling energy of the cafes to the serene tranquillity of the shoreline, each vantage point offers a unique perspective, making it a must-do ritual for every visitor to Varkala.
  11. Café hopping: Café hopping in Varkala unveils a delightful journey through flavours and ambience. From quaint seaside shacks to chic cliff-top bistros, each café boasts its own character and menu, offering a compelling blend of local delicacies and international cuisines. Embrace the laid-back vibes as you sip on freshly brewed coffee or indulge in aromatic teas while savouring delectable treats. Whether seeking a peaceful spot to read a book or a vibrant hub to soak in the lively atmosphere, café hopping is essential to Varkala’s charm, inviting you to explore, relax, and relish each moment.
  12. Visit the Jatayu Earth Centre: The Jatayu Earth Centre is a testament to mythology and nature’s grandeur, located approximately 35 kilometres from Varkala. Accessible by road, it’s a scenic drive that takes around an hour. To reach this iconic spot, taxis or private cabs are readily available, ensuring a comfortable journey. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by the monumental statue of Jatayu, the mythical bird from the Indian epic Ramayana.
    • The entry charges vary based on the choice of activities and experiences, with options for adventure activities like rappelling and paintball alongside admission to the sculpture park and the grand statue itself. The centre offers a glimpse into ancient tales. It showcases breathtaking vistas of Kerala’s landscape, making it a memorable and enriching excursion from Varkala.
  13. Witness bioluminescence at Varkala: Varkala unveils a mesmerizing spectacle as night falls—a natural wonder that enchants visitors: bioluminescence.
    • Best witnessed during the darker phases of the moon, particularly from November to February, this radiant phenomenon illuminates the coastal waters with glowing blue hues caused by bioluminescent plankton.
    • To experience this enchanting display, venture to the quieter sections of the beach on moonless nights, away from artificial lights, and witness the shoreline aglow with ethereal, shimmering lights as the waves break against the shore.
    • The bioluminescence offers an otherworldly experience, creating an unforgettable and magical sight that evokes wonder and fascination in those fortunate enough to witness nature’s dazzling light show in Varkala.

The Best Cafes in Varkala

Darjeeling Cafe, North Cliff, Varkala | Photo by Vatsal Nandu
  1. Darjeeling Cafe: Nestled along the cliffs, Darjeeling Cafe offers a delightful blend of delectable cuisine, scenic views, and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s renowned for its fusion menu, seamlessly blending local flavours with international dishes. The panoramic vistas of the ocean from this spot add an extra layer of charm to your dining experience. With reasonable pricing and the option of alcohol, it’s a must-visit for both food and ambience enthusiasts.
  2. InDa Cafe: Step into InDa Cafe and enter a bohemian paradise. This cafe boasts a laid-back vibe, adorned with colourful decor and an eclectic ambience. The menu is dominated by continental cuisine, and their breakfast platter is a standout, featuring a delectable assortment of dishes that kickstart your day in Varkala.
  3. Cafe del Mar: Cafe del Mar exudes its own unique aura. The ambience here is an experience in itself, inviting patrons to immerse themselves in an atmosphere that’s a blend of tranquillity and vibrancy. The cafe’s charm lies in its individuality, allowing visitors to create their own narrative in this cosy setting.
  4. Caffe Italiano: While Caffe Italiano may not top the list for food, it’s the ambience that draws visitors in. The vibe is magnetic, with an atmosphere encouraging relaxation and good times. Although other cafes mentioned might offer superior culinary experiences, Caffe Italiano remains a popular spot for its ambience.
  5. Trip is Life Cafe (South Cliff): Tucked away in the serene South Cliff area, Trip is Life Cafe offers an idyllic retreat. What sets this cafe apart is its tranquil setting with private access to the beach. It’s an ideal spot to unwind, sip on refreshing beverages, and relish some downtime away from the bustling crowds.
  6. Honourable Mentions: Cafe Little Tibet, God’s Own Country Kitchen, Jairam Cafe, Clafouti Restaurant, ABBA Restaurant.

Expect a meal for two between ₹700 to ₹1100 rupees; Caffe Italiano tends to be on the higher end.

Each cafe in Varkala has its unique charm, catering to different preferences and atmospheres, ensuring there’s something for everyone seeking a memorable dining experience by the cliffs.

5-day itinerary for things to do in Varkala

Chasing Sunset, One of things to do in Varkala
Sunset from Black Sand Beach, North Cliff, Varkala | Photo by Vatsal Nandu

Day 1: Arrival and Beach Sunset

  • Good morning. Arrive in Varkala and check into your accommodation.
  • Afternoon: Relax and settle in at your hotel/hostel.
  • Evening: Head to one of the beaches for a leisurely stroll and soak in the stunning sunset views from a nearby café.

Day 2: Surfing and Jatayu Earth Centre

  • Early Morning: Join a surfing lesson to catch the waves.
  • Daytime: Visit the Jatayu Earth Centre, explore the colossal statue, and enjoy the panoramic views.
  • Evening: Return to Varkala and unwind, perhaps with a quiet dinner or a relaxing evening by the beach.

Day 3: Surfing and Munroe Island

  • Morning: Engage in another surfing session or simply relax on the beach.
  • Day Trip: Head to Munroe Island for a scenic day trip. Enjoy a sunset canoeing ride and immerse yourself in the tranquil backwaters.
  • Evening: Return from Munroe Island and enjoy a serene evening in Varkala.

Day 4: Cafe Hopping and Sunset Activities

  • Flexible Morning: Wake up leisurely and indulge in some cafe hopping across Varkala.
  • Option 1: Participate in sunset kayaking at Paravoor Mangrove Forest.
  • Option 2: Relax and enjoy a laid-back day at your own pace, taking a beach stroll and witnessing the sunset.

Day 5: Kappil Beach and Departure

  • Early Morning: Visit Kappil Beach for some serene moments.
  • Mid-Morning: Return from Kappil Beach and check out from your accommodation.
  • Departure: Head to the airport or railway station as per your flight or train schedule.

This itinerary aims to blend relaxation, adventure, and exploration, allowing you to experience Varkala’s scenic beauty, adventure sports, cultural sites, and serene beachfront within five days. Adjustments can be made based on individual preferences or unforeseen circumstances.

Conclusion of Things To Do in Varkala

In conclusion, Varkala presents an enchanting blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and laid-back charm, offering many things to do in Varkala. From basking in the sunset glory on the cliffs to surfing along the captivating coastline, this Varkala Travel Guide aims to be your compass through this coastal gem.

Embrace the serenity of the beaches, delve into adventurous activities, savour diverse cuisines at local cafes, and immerse yourself in this destination’s unique experiences. Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, Varkala promises an unforgettable journey, inviting travellers to explore its captivating vistas and create cherished memories in this coastal haven.

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Varkala is renowned for its stunning cliffside views, pristine beaches, and spiritual ambience. The dramatic cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea and vibrant beachside cafes create a unique and picturesque setting. The town is known for its ancient Janardanaswamy Temple and the therapeutic mineral springs.

While two days can provide a glimpse of Varkala’s beauty, extending the stay allows for a more immersive experience. Within two days, visitors can explore the cliff areas, relax on the beaches, indulge in local cuisine, and visit key attractions. However, to fully absorb the town’s charm, consider extending your stay to explore its diverse offerings.

Absolutely! Varkala offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and a laid-back atmosphere. Whether seeking relaxation by the sea, exploring spiritual sites, enjoying water sports, or delving into local flavours, Varkala caters to various interests and is definitely worth a visit for those seeking a serene coastal getaway.

The ideal duration for a Varkala trip largely depends on individual preferences. To cover the main highlights and get a taste of the town’s essence, a stay of 3 to 4 days is recommended. This timeframe allows for leisurely exploration, beach relaxation, trying out local activities, and immersing oneself in the tranquil ambience that defines Varkala. However, longer stays offer a more relaxed and immersive experience, allowing travellers to delve deeper into the town’s offerings.

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