Travel Shot: St. Mary’s Island

Once upon a time, ok in November 1998, a friend and I decided to travel down the West coast of India. We started in Honnavar in Karnataka and travelled all the way down to Thiruvananthapuram, hopping in and out of trains and buses. It is a trip that makes me nostalgic even thinking about it. One the places we “discovered” was St. Mary’s Island, off Malpe Beach near Udipi.

St. Mary’s Island, also called Coconut Island by the locals, is an uninhabited island with a shelly beach and clear, cool waters. This is how the local operator who ran motor boat services to the island sold the beach to us. What he did not mention was that the island was made up of columnar basalts, and that it was a geological monument.

7 November 1998: St. Mary’s Island

7 November 1998: Columnar basalts around St. Mary’s Island

St. Mary’s Island is one of the 26 geological monuments of India, four of which are in Karnataka. The columnar basalts are quite an arresting sight and their flat tops offer the only place to sit and relax as the shelly beach is impossible to walk or relax on.

For the 3 hours that we spent at the island, we were the only ones there. The visit to St. Mary’s Island was the highlight of my trip that year, as I did not expect to visit this place. It has been nearly 13 years since I visited St.Mary’s Island and I wonder if it has received tourist attention since then, or remains relatively unknown.

Have you visited St.Mary’s Island recently?  If yes, I would love to know what it is like today. And if you haven’t visited it, what are you waiting for?

30 thoughts on “Travel Shot: St. Mary’s Island

  1. Your post was a blast from the past. I studied at Manipal from 94-99 and have visited St Mary’s Island during that time. Yes the place is phenomenal and I was planning to make a trip again this winter…


    1. You muct visit this place, Anu. The rock formations are beautiful and are worth a visit. Mumbai too has such formations in the Gilbert Hill area of Andheri, but they are not as acessible or clear cut.


  2. wow…u had been there, it is heavenly isnt it. This is 15 kms from my native manipal. we have been there number of times. but not recently.
    brought my memrories back.


  3. I am ashamed to say that I spent 4 years in a place barely 10km from Udupi and I haven’t visited this island even once 😦 😦 Now I regret it.


    1. Welcome to my blog, Nimish. I’m not sure about the reasons for the vivid blue of the water, the minerals from the basalts may be a contributing factor, not to mention that there are no pollutants there. The photographs do not show it, but the water is very very clear and clean.


  4. Take me here won’t you Sudha? Am I not a loyal follower of your blog? 😦 You might say there are so many of them. Oh well, maybe I will make it here some day. 😀 Seems like an absolutely intriguing place! Wow!


    1. Hello Hanumanth, wlecome here and thank you so much for stopping by. St. Mary’s Island is off the coast and motor boats can be hired from Malpe Beach, which is about 5 km from Udipi Town. Depending on the type of boat, the ride can take about 1-1.5 hours from Malpe. I hope that this information was useful.


  5. Hi, we planning to come there nearly 30 people may i know the cost for the boat? have to hire one boat? or per head wise?


    1. Welcome here, Saravanan. Glad to know that you are visiting this area. I wish I could help you out with your query, but the thing is I visited St. Mary’s Island in 1998 and the costs would definitely have gone up since then. We were two of us and we had hired a motor boat, though I don’t remember how much we had paid then !


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