St. Mary’s Island was on my bucket list from a couple of years ( back when I visited Mangalore). Ever since it always evaded me from getting there. Tried planning with friends a couple of times, but nothing worked out. Even a couple of months back, we had to visit Malpe beach but couldn’t go due to time constraints. And here I’m today, finally after visiting St. Mary’s island felt like one quest completed.
Many people had told me to visit the place and even in many sites, this was ranked no.1 in must visit attractions near Udupi. Curiosity made me dig up the history of the island and I found this: In 1498, Vasco Da Gama landed on his journey from Portugal and named this island as a dedication to Mother Mary.
I visited Udupi twice within 3 months now, courtesy: my in-laws stay there. Luckily, the place where we stay is very near to Malpe beach. We all planned and decided to leave early and come back soon.
Malpe beach, famous for many reasons. The primary reason being ‘St. Mary’s Island’. The sole reason for many people to visit Malpe beach is to visit this island. And we were also one of them. We reached boating office around 10 AM while the ferry was getting prepared. The tickets cost us Rs. 250/- per person (which I felt pretty expensive). I guess, we were the second trip to the island, but had to wait for a modest half an hour for people to gather. Finally our boat set to sail when around 80 people boarded it. The ferry went past some very small islands formed of only rocks. We were moved to smaller boat near the island so that we reach the shoreline if the island. It takes around 30 minutes to reach island from the boating office.
The first impression of the island was clean and impressive. The island now provides various kinds of water sports. Before you enter into the island, bags are checked. One has to take tickets for camera (Rs. 200) and for luggage (Rs. 20 per luggage). The island is not vast in size and can be easily covered in an hour. I had decided not to let myself in the water whereas my wife and her cousins readily jumped into the water. We walked around the beach and settled somewhere near the end. My wife & her cousins got into the water yet again, playing within themselves. As time passed by, it was getting crowded. I took pictures of them and the beautiful scenic views presented to my eyes. It was such a bliss even in such scorching heat.
After playing for more than an hour, we decided to leave. Everyone quickly dried themselves and went to the only food court available. There weren’t many options available so we sticked to veg puffs & tea. We sat in the shade and talked for a while to get back the lost energy. As we walked back, we enquired about the cycle ride near gate, were shocked to know that it charges Rs. 150 for mere 30 mins ride. We nodded our heads and walked back to the same shore where were dropped, to catch the ferry. As we reached there, her cousins wanted to have a go with ‘Jet Ski’. The ticket for the ride for 2 mins ride was pretty expensive i.e. Rs. 300/- per person. Three of them (Herself and two cousins) experienced the feeling of Jet Ski. As they finished, the ferry was about the leave. We quickly boarded and were off the island.
It was different experience all together where I travelled in a ferry, moved to smaller boat in the sea, explored the island, water sports etc. One thing which pinched me a bit was the price. It was hiked up pretty much and people didn’t care about it much even if it would ticket cost them Rs. 500 or parking cost them Rs.100. At the end of the day, there was a good vibe about the island which makes you forget everything.
Tips for visiting St Mary’s Island:
- Best time to visit: Dec to March.
- Get here early, people pour in so fast that it becomes crowded soon.
- Take your time and checkout all the corners of the island.
- Take care of our body, carry sunscreen lotions, caps, umbrella’s and sunglasses.
- Outside food is not allowed inside the island (gate) but can be had outside the island gate.
- Last ferry from the island is at 6 PM, so make you get on that :P.
How to reach Malpe beach:
- By bus, it would take around 20-25 minutes and cost of the ticket would be Rs. 15.
- By car, it depends upon where you have made your stay.
Advice: Irrespective of mode of you travel, its best to book a hotel near the bus station as its centre to many places such as Manipal View point, Malpe Beach, Krishna temple, quickly connects to highway etc.