Varkala Vibes: Food, Drinks, and Beach fun
Nothing relaxes me more than lazing by the endless and calm sea. And that is why I love beach holidays. And if such holidays are combined with seasonal festivities, it becomes more fun. A couple of years ago, I was in Kochi to attend a family wedding. After a couple of days in town, some cousins and I wanted to explore Varkala. We had heard quite a lot about the beach locale being a popular tourist spot for this season.
For our intra-city travel, shopping, etc. we had rented a car in Kochi from a reputed service provider. The service was excellent and we decided to use the same cab for our trip to Varkala. It is nearly 160 Km to Varkala from Kochi and it took us almost 5 hours (including breaks) via NH 66.
It was nearing New Year and being a major tourist destination in the south, Varkala was buzzing with tourists, backpackers, and travelers of all kinds.
We settled ourselves at a beach-side boutique resort and headed out to explore the quaint coastal town.
Although most people consider Varkala to be Kerala’s Temple Town, Varkala has an entirely different side to it, tucked in its coconut groves and rocky beaches, which only the footloose can discover.
Exploring the town and its beaches
Sitting on the edges of Trivandrum, Varkala with the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea, lined with golden beaches, and the gentle, yet bright sunshine, just puts you in the relaxed state that you want and need after an exhaustive year of work and chores.
Varkala’s expansive beaches, like any other beach locale, offer all kinds of water sports like swimming, parasailing, windsurfing and more. Only that, the crowd here is not the typical touristy or noisy crowd. You will find more international tourists and hippies from different parts of the world, coming here in search of the tropical sun. We joined a group of sunbathers, basking in the afternoon sun. Besides Goa, Varkala looked like the only place where we could see women tourists comfortably and boldly sporting bikinis. Call it the holiday vibes or simply the culture of the place. Around sunset, the beachside shacks started opening up, each with their interesting offerings of cocktails, seafood, and local fares.
After a good chow down and uncountable servings of fancy concoctions of local liquor, we called it a night.
The next morning, we headed to the Thiruvambadi Beach for snorkeling. There were also a host of ‘Ayurvedic Healing’ centers along the beach, which would be a good option for those seeking natural remedies.
After a rejuvenating spa session at our resort, we headed to the Varkala Cliff- the happening part of the town. There were a host of cafes, restaurants and quaint resorts, perched on a cliff, overlooking the bay and the beach below. This is where you will find the hippies souls, creative geniuses, and backpackers finding their calling or seeking solace.
The Bohemian Masala Café was a quirky little place with graffiti, punk music, and bamboo fittings. For dinner and late-night drinking sessions, we hit the Café Del Mar, the perfect place for a good fusion meal by the beach and lots of interesting cocktails. The last evening reminded me of Goa or Manali. But again, despite its similarities to all the hipster places around the country, Varkala stood out at a unique destination to unwind. The uber-cool crowd, the colorful culture, exquisite scenery, and the delectable food made our entire weekend in Varkala truly worthwhile!
My recommendations for those traveling to Varkala this winter:
- Starting this year, the state government has banned alcohol at all shacks and restaurants. So, watch out for your best options.
- Rent a car from Kochi to Varkala from a car rental service which has trained drivers as well as 24/7 support in case anything goes wrong.
- Some of the art cafes are not always open during winter holidays. You might want to check online before you go.
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A story Teller. An adventurer. An explorer. This and much more.
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