Varkala Or Marari? Compare & Find Out Your Ideal Escapade In Kerala18 min read
While planning a trip to Kerala, travellers often find themselves stuck in one endless debate over whether to pick Varkala or Marari for their vacation. Boasting clean and beautiful shorelines, Varkala Beach and Marari Beach are considered to be two of the best beaches in Kerala. While they’re both equally charming and beautiful, there are several features that set them apart from each other. Both of these gems of Kerala’s coastline have distinct personalities that attract beach bums and water babies from around the country, leaving them head over heels over the beauty of these beaches. Thus, to help you plan your Kerala trip itinerary, we have put together a detailed Varkala or Marari Beach comparison. Find out which of these shores are most ideal for you and your loved ones to explore!
ALSO SEE – 25 Best Beaches in Kerala to visit this year
Varkala Or Marari Beach: Which One To Visit?
Should you be heading to Varkala Beach or Marari Beach on your vacation? How do both these beach regions compare in terms of factors like location, how to get there, places to see around, and things to do there? What do both these places offer to families and what do they have in store for couples? You’ll find answers to all your questions as you scroll down. And once you have seen the comparison, you’ll be easily able to decide where you should be holidaying based on your preferences and trip type.
1. Varkala Or Marari- Highlights
Let’s first talk about what actually sets these two marvellous shorelines apart.
Varkala Beach Highlights
For starters, Varkala happens to be the only cliff beach in Kerala. Also called Papanasam Beach, this scenic shoreline is divided into two parts – the brown sand beach at the bottom, and the high green cliff at the top, giving the whole area a picturesque vibe. This beautiful coast takes pride in being on the list of the Top Ten Seasonal Beaches In The World, courtesy Discovery Channel! Despite this phenomenal recognition, Varkala enjoys utmost seclusion and tranquillity unlike other commercial beaches of Kerala.
Its stunning landscapes, unique brown sand, and gorgeous sunset views from atop the cliff make it a perfect place for families, couples, and friends to have a laid back holiday away from urban noise. Varkala beach is also famous for water sports and beach activities such as swimming, parasailing, Ayurvedic spa, and sunbathing. In addition to all this, Varkala’s shores have natural mineral springs with medicinal properties that are believed to wash away all sins.
Marari Beach Highlights
The name ‘Marari’ is short for Mararikulam, which is a small and sleepy village fishing village located on the coast pretty close to Alleppey, the backwater destination of Kerala. Tucked away in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, the magnificent Marari Beach is still far from commercialisation, and is thus still enveloped in peace, tranquillity, and untouched natural beauty. The softly swaying coconut palms and secluded golden sands of this beach are perfect companions for your ‘me-time’ far away from the hustle and bustle of urbanisation.
While you’re here, you’d also get to take a peek into the slow-paced local life of the fishing village located close by, and that would certainly be among the most unusual and calming experiences of your trip. One of the prime contributing factors to this hamlet’s undiscovered splendour is that it is located around 16 km away from the nearest (and somewhat commercialised) city of Alleppey, and it takes about 24 minutes to get here by bus or taxi.
2. Varkala Or Marari- Which is the best location
The next thing to learn in this Varkala vs Marari comparison is the location of these two coastlines. Whichever of these two you choose to visit, you’ll need to have a clear idea on where exactly they are located and how to reach them.
Varkala Beach: It is situated in southern Kerala about 42 km away from the north-end border of Trivandrum district. It takes roughly an hour to reach this beach via NH 66 if you’re driving from Trivandrum.
Marari Beach: It is located 16 km north of the city of Alleppey and about 60 km south of Kochi. It normally takes about 24 minutes to get to Marari Beach by road.
3. Places To Visit in Varkala and Marari
Whether you’re visiting Varkala or Marari, there’s no doubt that you’ll end up having loads of fun! After all, both Varkala Beach and Marari Beach are splendid attractions in themselves! However, they are not the only attractions in the region they are located. There are plenty of other attractions nearby that you and your loved ones would be happy to explore once you’ve had your fill of the beauty and excitement that these two shorelines have to offer. We’ve listed some of the best ones here:
Places To Visit Near Varkala Beach
The vicinity of the Varkala Beach is blessed with plenty of attractions that you can explore when you’re here.
i) Kappil Lake
This serene and picturesque lake invites travellers with coconut groves and calm waters that you can’t resist. It’s just 6 km away from Varkala, making it pretty easy to reach with public (taxi) as well as private transport. When you’re here, you can rent a boat and explore the beautiful waterway to your heart’s content. If you don’t want to go boating, you can simply take a walk over the bridge across the lake under the canopy of swaying palm trees.
ii) Anchuthengu & Anjengo Fort
Built way back in the 17th century, the Anjengo Fort was a gift from the Queen of Attingal to the East India Company. Locals believe that it was named Anjengo by the British as they were never able to correctly pronounce Anchuthengu. Today, it’s collectively called Anchuthengu and Anjengo Fort and it is one of the most popular places in Varkala for a short excursion. You’ll find a blend of colonial history and Kerala’s culture etched in its century-old convent as well as tombs of soldiers.
iii) Janardana Swami Temple
Often called the Varanasi of the South, this 2,000-year old Vishnu temple is the perfect example of Keralan architecture that has stood the test of time. It is tucked on a hilly road leading to Varkala Beach with a huge banyan tree out front making it pretty easy for travellers to locate it. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the shrine, but they are welcome to explore its magnificence from outside. Try visiting it at the time of the 10-day Arattu festival (held from March to April) to witness colourful decorations and night-long traditional dances here.
Places To Visit Near Marari Beach
Check out some of the many amazing places near Marari Beach that are worth a visit.
i) Mararikulam Shiva Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Mararikulam Shiva Temple near Marari is pretty famous for its matchless architectural grandeur. In fact, it’s more famous for its architecture than its peaceful aura and history. Also located near the temple is the beautiful Thumpoly Beach that serves as a natural habitat for several species of birds and is a haven for birdwatchers and photographers.
ii) St. Thomas Church
Marari’s St Thomas Church was built a long time ago by the Christian community living in Kerala. It is dedicated to the holy virgin Mary and is, without a doubt, among the most famous pilgrim centres ever established in Kerala. Another brilliant attraction around the Marari Beach is the Kokkamangalam Apostle St. Thomas Pilgrim Centre that you must check out after you’ve given the church a visit.
iii) The Dutch Palace
The grand Dutch Palace of Marari was established by the Portuguese way back in 1555. Located in Mattancherry, this beautiful palace is well-known for its stunning decoration, well preserved artefacts of that period, as well as its wooden ceilings. All the elaborate paintings on display here highlight different episodes from the Hindu epic Ramayana.
ALSO SEE – Best Luxury Beach Resorts in Kerala
1. Varkala Or Marari- Highlights
Well, you can’t have a Varkala vs Marari comparison without mentioning all the exciting things you can do here that will be etched in your memories forever! You’ll be surprised by the amount of thrilling experiences these two beaches have in store for you and your travel companions! So, let us tell you what fun awaits you on your holiday so that you can easily decide where you want to go, Varkala or Marari.
Things To Do At Varkala Beach
Whether you are into exploring nature or want to try exciting water activities, you’ll end up finding a treasure trove of experiences here to make you wish you could stay here forever. There are plenty of things on the sands of Varkala to keep you and your loved ones occupied and entertained. Find some of them here.
i) Water Sports
With a huge number of water activities available, Varkala is a haven for adrenaline junkies as well as kids. So, whether you’re here with your friends or simply enjoying a family vacay, no one would leave disappointed! On the beach, you can try things like jet skiing, speed boating, banana boating, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, parasailing, and even snorkelling since the water is quite clear in these parts. If you’re not feeling very adventurous, you can simply take a leisurely swim in these waters.
When you’re hanging around the cliff area, you can go paragliding. Make sure you rent good quality equipment and check it thoroughly before embarking on any of these adventures. The timings of water sports here is between 10 AM to 6 PM, and the prices normally start from INR 300 depending on the activity.
ii) Leisure Activities
The mention of water sports might make this beach sound noisy and super-energetic. But that’s not the case. This enormous stretch of coastline (in addition to the cliff) offers a vast range of activities apart from watersports. You can play volleyball, take a dip in the natural springs, shop for coir products and marine articles, attend creative coir-making workshops, indulge in an Ayurvedic massage, or enrol in fun yoga and meditation sessions at any of the centres near the beach. For simple relaxation and peace, you can also just laze around and enjoy the serenity of this coast in the company of your loved ones.
iii) Dine On A Cliff
The Varkala Cliff is the favourited spot of foodies who visit the town. There are several shops where you can buy everything from Kashmiri, Rajasthani, Tibetan, to South Indian articles and handicrafts. But what actually sets it apart is the delectable food! It has several cafes, restaurants, and street food carts where you’ll find a delicious variety of South Indian food, especially Keralan dishes and seafood, that will leave your taste buds asking for more! Varkala Cliff is also famous for its captivating views of the beach and the Arabian Sea. Flanked by swaying palm trees, this place is the perfect setting for a fun picnic and a memorable evening walk accompanied by a mesmerizing sunset in the backdrop!
Things To Do At Marari Beach
It’s true that Marari Beach is far from commercialisation. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t much to do here. You’ll find quite a number of refreshing experiences to take that much-needed break from everyday routine.
i) Ayurvedic Massage And Spa
Though Marari Beach doesn’t have a lot of touristy facilities since it isn’t a commercialised attraction yet, there are some things it does better than any other beach in Kerala. Travelers normally visit this beach to relax and engage in some of its traditional Ayurvedic massages and spa therapies that can be availed here at nominal rates. After all, Kerala is famous the world over for its Ayurvedic remedies and treatments!
ii) A Tour Of The Local Village Life
You can check out the slow-paced local Marari village life that is bound to make you feel like you’ve gone back in time! Simply cycle around the village and interact with the local people to know how life is in these parts. Watch fishermen bring in fresh catch from the sea and buy fish directly from them for a delicious dinner. You’ll get to learn a lot about the local Keralite culture this way.
iii) Deep Sea Fishing
You can either just stay on the beach and observe fishermen cast nets in the water, or you can go ahead and actually join them in the act! That’s true. If you are friendly enough, the local fishermen may give you a ride on their boats provided they find it safe. You won’t find a better cultural experience for yourself than riding out to sea, hauling long nets into the water, and catching fish.
Note: If you visit Marari in August, you may be able to witness a Snake Boat Race!
5. Varkala or Marari- Which has best Places To Stay?
We’ve talked about what you can do and what you can see at these two places, now it’s time to talk about where you can stay. Whether you pick Varkala or Marari, you’ll end up getting plenty of comfortable accommodation options like hotels, beach resorts, homestays, and guest houses in both these places. We’ve mentioned one budget and one luxury option for each of these cities to help you choose as per your budget and location preferences and sort your Varkala vs Marari dilemma.
Places To Stay Near Varkala Beach
You can pick from these two amazing stay options near Varkala Beach.
i) Clafouti Beach Resort
The first thing you’ll love about this place is the beautiful amalgamation of modern and traditional cultures you’ll see in its architecture. You can choose to stay in traditional wooden cottages or lounge in its tile-thatched bedrooms, both of which have been tastefully designed keeping the authentic Kerala style in mind. Apart from offering comfortable rooms and high-end facilities, this resort also gives travelers stunning panoramic views of the Varkala Beach from each window.
Location: North Cliff, Varkala, Kerala 695141
ii) Kiaora Hometel
Located 300 meters from Varkala Beach, this beautiful and homely accommodation gives you the very essence of Varkala’s brown shores just a few steps away, quite literally! Some of its best known services include a restaurant, 24-hour front desk, bicycle/car rental service, and a welcoming staff that works hard to make their guest’s stay as comfortable as possible. The Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is just 44 km away from this place and a paid airport shuttle service is provided to guests.
Location: Varkala kurakkanni road near Varkala cliff, 695141 Varkala, India
Places To Stay Near Marari Beach
Find below two of the finest options near Marari Beach in Kerala and take your pick.
i) Marari Beach Resort
This fabulous luxury resort is nestled on the Marari coast itself and is the first choice of every traveler that visits Marari. It is among the best beach resorts in Kerala and its magnificence is amplified by the presence of a local fishing village nearby that simply magnifies its scenic and cultural touch. The highlight of this resort, apart from its location on one of the most serene and untouched coastlines of Kerala, is its Ayurveda therapies and yoga sessions. This sprawling luxury property embellished with coconut groves and lotus ponds truly captivates the very heart and soul of Marari!
Location: Marari Beach P.O, S.L.Puram, Mararikulam, Kerala 688549
ii) Marari Nest Beach Homestay
This cozy homestay is situated only a few steps away from the Marari beach. Submerged in lush greenery, this attractive family-owned property offers guests a rare chance to experience some warm hospitality and home-cooked cuisine of Kerala. This elegant abode has three independent and clean rooms with an attached bathroom as well as a small terrace to give you sweeping vistas of the beach and surrounding greenery. It’ll be a cherishable experience for you and your loved ones to have candlelit meals under swaying palm trees!
Location: Alappuzha District, Mararikulam, Kerala 688523
Varkala or Marari- Which is easier to reach ?
How to get to these two cities with gorgeous beaches? Which one is more accessible, Varkala Beach or Marari Beach? Fret not. We’ll help you figure that out too. Check out what different modes of transport will get you to either of these cities and figure out which of these will be a more economical choice for you.
How To Reach Varkala Beach
By Air: Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest airport to Varkala, located just 51 km away from it. You’ll find frequent flights to Trivandrum from all major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore, as well as many major cities abroad. From the airport, you can hail a taxi to get to your hotel or the beach straightaway.
By Rail: Varkala Railway Station located just 3 km from Varkala is the nearest railhead to the city. It is connected to all major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore, as well as many regional railheads in Kerala.
By Road: Varkala is a mere 47 km away from NH 47. You can easily take a taxi to Varkala or hire a vehicle to Varkala yourself from anywhere in South India. If you wish to save money on transport, you can take a bus from Trivandrum or Kochi to Varkala. KSRTC runs regular AC buses all over Kerala at nominal rates and it will be super easy to find a seat. No matter what more you choose, you’ll be met with enthralling natural views on the way and your journey will be absolutely refreshing by road!
How To Reach Marari Beach
By Air: Kochi Airport is the nearest airport to Marari. You can take a flight to Kochi from any major city in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore. From the airport, you can take a taxi to get to your hotel or the beach itself.
By Rail: Alleppey, Kottayam, and Kochi have the nearest railway stations to Marari, with Alleppey being the nearest one located just 16 km away from Marari main town. These stations are connected to all major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore. Once you arrive, you can take a taxi to your hotel or the beach.
By Road: You can drive to Marari from anywhere in South India, and not just Kerala, thanks to the smooth and well-maintained road network here. If you want to drive yourself, you can hire a car from Kochi airport and drive to Marari. Marari can be reached via NH 47 which is just a kilometre away from Marari village.
Varkala or Marari – Best Time To Visit
The weather mostly stays consistent in the coastal regions of Kerala, so you can’t really compare that of Varkala and Marari since they’re both beach destinations. The best time to visit Kerala is during the winter season, which falls between October and March. Out of this, the most suitable time to visit the beaches of Kerala is between the months of December and late February. The weather during this time is very pleasant and ideal for hanging out on the beach, trying water activities, and sightseeing. The average temperature in Kerala during the winter season ranges from 24°C to 36°C and is accompanied by dry winds.
Did this Varkala vs Marari comparison help you figure out where to holiday this winter season? Before you pick either of the two destinations, just know that these are two very different yet equally beautiful and vibrant beach locations of Kerala. So, we would suggest you make your itinerary more flexible and include both of them in your travel plan. That’s right! Be it Varkala or Marari, both promise endless excitement and a treasure trove of memories for you and your loved ones. Happy Tripping!
Frequently Asked Questions About Marari Beach Vs Alleppey Beach
Q. How can I go to Marari Beach from Bangalore?
A. The quickest and most convenient way of getting to Marari from Bangalore is by taking a flight from Bangalore to Kochi airport followed by a taxi or bus from the airport to Marari. You can also opt to travel from Bangalore to Marari (or to Alleppey, which is near Marari) in a private tourist bus, which is a more economical option as compared to traveling by flight or train.
Q. Are Kerala beaches clean?
A. Yes, you’ll find that the beaches in Kerala are exceptionally clean and well-maintained. However, making sure that tourist attractions stay spic and span isn’t just the duty of the state government, it’s yours too! Be a responsible traveler and make sure that you do not litter or damage your surroundings in any way wherever you go.
Q. Do all the beaches in Varkala have good swimming conditions?
A. No, it is not recommended to swim near the beaches of Varkala. There are powered rollers and undertows near the beaches of Varkala, making it dangerous to tread in the waters here.
Q. Is alcohol allowed in Varkala?
A. No, you won’t find many options for acquiring alcohol on the beaches of Varkala since it’s a holy city. You may just find a handful of beach shacks selling or serving select brands of alcohol. You’ll only find alcohol at the top restaurants and resorts in Varkala.
Q. Is it safe to swim at Marari Beach?
A. No, it’s not considered safe to swim in the waters of Marari Beach owing to the rough waves and unpredictable tides in the sea here. Treading into these waters has, thus, been discouraged by the local authorities of Marari.