If volcanic rock formations, seashells and untouched beaches interest you, then experiencing a day trip to St. Mary’s Island will be thoroughly fulfilling. St. Mary’s Island has no inhabitants and no commercialisation whatsoever. So there’s no way you can spend a night on the island. But that’s also the reason why this fascinating group of four islands is an amazing break from all the commercialised beach destinations.
These 4 tiny islands are set parallel to the coast of Malpe, in Karnataka’s Udupi region. What makes them unmissable are the basaltic rock formations, the beach with nothing but seashells, the stretch of coconut trees and the naked beaches. The showstopper here definitely are the rock formations across the islands, which are so unique and intriguing. Let us tell you a little more about this place and the essential information to help you plan a visit.
History of St. Mary’s Island
The islands are considered a very important Geo Tourism site, thanks to the rare crystalised hexagonal basalt rock formations. There are many of these pillar shaped rocks throughout the island. So the interesting thing is that the rock formations are similar to the ones found in the African island of Madagascar. In fact, it is believed that millions of years ago, Madagascar was connected to India. In fact the island Seychelles, was also a part of India.
But then around 88 millions years ago, due to some volcanic activity, the rifting between Madagascar and India took place. Oh, there’s another interesting story. So it’s believed that when Vasco De Gama was travelling to Kerala from Portuguese, he made a pit stop in between. This happened back in 1498, when he made a pit stop at one of the 4 islands. He put a cross there and dedicated it to Mother Mary, by naming it “O Padrão de Santa Maria”.
There is no concrete evidence of this story but it is pretty cool in any case. Getting to the island is also not a huge task. It’s actually very easily accessible.
Getting to St. Mary’s Island
The little coastal town Malpe is the only place from which you can reach St. Mary’s Island. There are ferries running between 09:00 am and 06:00 pm, which you can get at Malpe’s port. The ferry ride takes around 20 minutes only. You can get a return ticket for upto 300 rupees.
By Air – The Mangalore International Airport is just around 62 kms away from Malpe’s port. You can easily get a cab, rickshaw or a bus to reach the town Malpe.
By Rail – You can get a train to Udupi Railway Station, which is situated just around 8 kms away from the port. From the station, it’s a very quick and short drive to Malpe.
By Road – Mangalore has pretty well connected roads so you can easily get a KSRTC bus (Karnataka State Transport). You could just as easily get a bus through many private players or simply drive yourself if you have a vehicle.
Best time to visit St. Mary’s Island
November to March is considered as the best time to visit because of the favourable weather. Although, October is when there will be relatively fewer people. What you should know is that St. Mary’s Island is only open from September to May. It is not accessible during the monsoon season because of high tide and the risks involved. But even in September or May, it could be closed if heavy rains or high tide is expected. So best not to plan your trip then.
Things to know about St. Mary’s Island
You get to spend a limited amount of time at St. Mary’s Island. Around an hour and a half only.
There are no stalls or shops at the island, so it’s best to carry sufficient bottles of water.
You are not allowed to go for a swim in certain parts of the islands as the rocks don’t make it safe to do so.
The island has rules regarding carrying plastic items. So it’s best to not carry any or if you need to, please carry an extra bag for your garbage and dispose of it appropriately.