Yes I might be a lil biased when I say Varkala is a stunner, certainly so, when looking down on the beach from the red cliff path! But the real beauty of Varkala is its laid back atmosphere. There’s no beeping horns, smoke-belching exhausts or lunatic driving. Indians don’t really holiday in this part of Varkala and you generally only see ‘foreign’ faces – mostly backpackers.
A strip of restaurants, souvenir shops and hotels stretches along the cliffs for about a mile and apart from the halfhearted attempts from the vendors to attract you into their shops for a look (‘looking is free’, apparently) it’s a lovely walk to do. While some roads run perpendicular to the cliffs (and a few directly to the sea), the main artery is a brick pathway that runs for about 2km along the edge of the cliffs; there are no vehicles allowed here, although the rare motorcycle does slowly putter by.
Along with restaurants, hotels and guest houses facing the sea together with shop after shop selling jewelry, clothes, wall hangings, etc. which is just the first row, further back among the coconut palm trees you can find many more rows of hotels of every price range (there is road and vehicle access back there) and occasionally more shops too.
Each restaurant had more or less the same menu, with a huge selection of Italian, Thai, and Chinese and of course Indian dishes. None were stunners, after having experimented the varied many eating places the first few days; we settled into a pattern with a handful good ones. There are plenty of restaurants, all with amazing views; mellow music and a few even offering free Wi-Fi.
After an early morning swim we’d ascend the cliff to park ourselves for breakfast at the Cafe Del Mar or Abba for an English or American breakfast. Food was always fresh, delicious and mostly organic. Varkala is a sea-food lover’s paradise. Many restaurants display in front seafood caught by the local fishermen. Select your food, get it prepared and savour it watching the sunset. The ubiquitous Kerala food is not easy to find on the cliff unfortunately. Coffee Temple was our temple for good coffee especially given the need for good quality caffeine. Frozen yogurts is a lovely place to visit for its ambience and cheery mood, simply makes you happy. Blue Marine restaurant and Ginger café were also frequented by us for dinner/snacks when the urge was to have Indian food.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say our best meal was the last meal in Varkala - at the hotel, when the cook, especially prepared for us, soft idlis, dosas and crisp crunchy vadas with piping hot sambar and chutney. That said, the beauty about a place like Varkala is- it is nice to be able to sit in a restaurant and actually take as much time as you wish over your drink/meal. No one will hurry you up, fire you a cup of tea swiftly followed by the bill, and get you out the door as soon as possible to make way for the next customer
Varkala is beyond anything that we had envisioned—in a good way. Or perhaps then, we had very little expectations. One never tired of the view from on top of the cliffs, one soaked in the laid back energies. Everyone in Varkala is very friendly. I often find that in a really chilled out place like Varkala where there is little to do but relax and watch the world go by that I find myself contemplating my life, my plans for the future and the ‘what’s life all about’ conundrum :)