The white sand between your toes, the summoning rhythm of rousing waves and an uninterrupted view of the coastline. That is the scenery at the major fishing harbour in Karnataka, India. That is Malpe. So what is it that makes this natural port so good-natured?
Beach and Adventure Sports
Malpe’s pristine beach is a portal for tireless water sports activities such as parasailing, kayaking and canoeing. If you feel adventurous, ride along with the waves on a water scooter or go surfing into the horizon. On a lazy afternoon, a banana boat ride will surely launch you out of your weariness (Pun intended!). I personally recommend this activity. It is as entertaining as it sounds.
Location and popularity
Malpe Beach is about 8 km from Udupi city. Many tourists make quick religious visits to Udupi and Kollur during the weekends, putting Malpe off the table. In preference to Malpe, Udupi beaches draw their attention and save their time. Which is why one can expect lesser crowds at this seashore.
(I took a detour from Mangalore, which is about 60km south of Malpe along the coast. In retrospect, I’m happy I made this choice.)
St. Mary’s Island
Apart from its beach, what makes Malpe wholesome is the trip to St. Mary’s Island. It is an interconnected set of four islands off the coast on the Arabian Sea. It’s got sky-high coconut trees dotted so far and wide on the island that one can spot them from afar. This explains its nickname, the Coconut Island.
Malpe is the entryway to St. Mary’s with frequent ferry rides from 9 AM to 5 PM at around 200 INR per head. The island is only half an hour away on the rocking blue waters from the shoreline.
I recommend a visit to the island for rock-solid reasons. By that, I actually mean rock solid reasons. The islands are imprinted with pillared black rocks that design a postcard-perfect landscape with stretched trees and unfurled seas.
A geode of geology
These photographic hexagonal rock formations match those at Madagascar. Geographic data suggests that this is a result of basaltic and subvolcanic activity before India split away from Africa 88 million years ago.
Today, these volcanic rocks are recognised as one of India’s Geological Monuments.
Birds, crabs and seashells
Pick up some seashells on the beach as souvenirs and try not get pinched by crabs. At dusk and dawn, you might chance upon flocks of seagulls and Brahminy Kites. Altogether, at Malpe you’re in for a liberating vacation.
A hint of history
History books claim that Vasco da Gama first entered Kozhikode(Calicut) in Kerala. However, legends believe that he stopped by St. Mary’s Islands, giving it its name before he continued his journey to Kozhikode.
1. The ideal time to visit Malpe is during October through January. Avoid summers and monsoon seasons as the weather gets harsh.
2. Carry food to St. Mary’s Island as there are no food stalls available. Although, you might find some coconut vendors at times.
3. Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t leave you in rolled up soggy pants during boarding and disembarking from the ferry. (Unlike me. Sigh!)
It is worth mentioning that Malpe has one of the cleanest coastlines I have been to compared to several others in the southern part of India. In 2016, it became the first beach in India to get access to free public wifi 24/7.
Malpe has virgin beaches, unexplored islands and intriguing volcanic formations that is shaping into a laid-back weekend vacation spot. I would love to dive into the Arabian Sea sometime in the future again.
Tell me which beach is your favourite. Let me know in the comments below.