We started our adventures in Kerala “Gods own country” in the laid back beach town of Varkala.

A long-time favourite with backpackers, it’s become increasingly popular with families and holidaymakers, who stay on the colourful but busy North Cliff. We spent ten days at the friendly and comfortable Savasana House in a tranquil area just a short walk from the dramatic Papanasham beach.

We had a leisurely time unwinding in this spectacular beach but must confess it wasn’t our favourite spot in India. I guess Goa had captured our hearts and wherever we landed next was going to be tough shoes to fill. The weather was also unseasonally bad with late monsoons treating us to some incredible storms and rainy days.

Perched atop a dramatic red cliff it’s certainly a unique beach resort in an incredible setting. Quaint sea-facing restaurants, colourful clothes stalls and delightful shops line the cliff-top path. Exploring with a couple of energetic, excitable kids can be a nerve-wracking experience. In parts, the dizzyingly high narrow path teeters perilously close to the cliff edge and a sheer drop into the ocean below. Perhaps it’s a good job Varkala is also *mostly* booze-free so there were no Kingfisher related lapses in our responsible parenting.

The hubbub centres around the North cliff - after the buzz of Palolem we expected it to be lively and chaotic but it was unusually quiet when we visited in December. Our ten days here were peaceful and leisurely, here’s a few of our favourite bits:

Once you’ve navigated your way down the cliff path quiet you’ll find an isolated sandy expanse where you can have a relaxing day without the crowds and bustle of some of the busier beaches. The landscape in Varkala is unique, with it’s high rocky cliff towering over a strip of golden sand stretching down to the sea. The contrast between the cliffs, sand and sea makes Varkala Beach a striking and memorable sight. The currents are strong here so stay close to the lifeguards and close to shore.

You can’t move in Varkala for Ayurveda spas and a mind-boggling choice of treatments for your mind, body & soul. After a hearty recommendation, I opted for the blissful 'Shirodhara' treatment where you lie and have warm oil dripped on your forehead for an hour. One of the most popular treatments in Ayurveda the steady flow of oil stimulates your pituitary gland, or "third-eye” to and apparently awakens your intuition and inner wisdom. Once I got past the slightly freaked out claustrophobic feeling, it’s incredibly relaxing and the head massage at the end of the treatment was spine-tinglingly good. I certainly felt calm and refreshed afterwards and had the best sleep in years that night - I’d have this lavish treatment again in a shot.

We discovered the best breakfast in Varkala at Coffee Temple. With delicious, fresh and healthy food, strong coffee and a colourful juice menu, it’s a perfect place to start the day. Jessica kicked off her birthday celebrations here with pancakes and sunshine smoothies.

After being spoilt rotten with Goan delicacies we weren’t blown away with a the food choices on offer in Varkala, luckily we then discovered Clafouti. With it’s stunning view from the top deck and mouth-watering menu to choose from it quickly became our family favourite place to dine along the cliff. Jessica chose Clafouti as the venue for her Birthday dinner and we were touched by the extra efforts the staff made to make our festivities special. Blowing out the candles on her apple crumble as the tacky firework flower decoration opened its petals and bleeped out “Happy Birthday” is a precious memory.

So we were all prepared for our tee-total time in Kerala and then we discovered with a nod & a wink you can buy alcohol “under the table” in most cafes along the cliff. Due to restrictions bottles arrive wrapped in newspaper and your beer is served up in a fizzing teacup; all very “speakeasy” and the feeling of secrecy adds a bit of a thrill to your usual sunset beer.

Without doubt, Varkala is a very special spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon. Whether you’re down on the sand or settled on the cliff, you’d be hard pushed to find a more beautiful spot to watch the sunset. The views across the beach are utterly stunning and the colours are incredible. The whole sea glows orange-red and the clouds are magnificent. We captured some of our favourite pictures of the girls perching on the rocks at sunset bathed in the warm glow of light - just beautiful.

Like magpies we’re always on the lookout for treasures to collect along the way, things that we can bring home and will make us smile every time we look at them. We loved finding this traditional piece of Hindu art and the story it tells; of sunrises, new beginnings, the evolution of life and growing roots resonated with us at this time in our trip. A reminder of a special place and this incredible adventure that can become part of our daily life in our new home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.