If you’re looking for an alternative to Goa, then just a couple of hours up the coast from Thiruvananthapuram is Varkala, a small beach town with a big focus on yoga, Ayurvedic massage and juice bars. With its dramatic cliff-top setting and laidback vibe, Varkala is somewhere you could end up spending weeks without even realising.
Sure, it’s full of backpackers and stalls selling traveller trousers and tie-dye tops – but the cliff-top restaurants and amazing seafood are enough to hang around for. Kerala is officially a dry state and beer isn’t listed on any menus, but most of the restaurants will serve it if you ask – usually in a mug with the bottle kept out of sight under the table.
Where to stay
Most of the accommodation is set back from the cliff, with a network of small alleyways to reach the beach. Taking the path north along the cliff front brings you to black beach. Try out some of the lesser known restaurants and coffee shops along the way.
We really liked Varkala and could have easily lost ourselves there for a few weeks. It’s quite small and very quiet compared to the North of Goa, but we still have a soft spot for Agonda and Palolem in Goa’s South.
Have you been to Varkala? How did it compare to Goa?