There is something about the sea, that is calming and soothing to the nerves and there is something very romantic about being on an island. I think its the feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the world that really feels special.
A boat ride away from Mangalore's Malpe Port is St. Mary's Island. It is idyllic, with swaying palms, fine white sand ( unlike the coarser sand of Mangalore beaches) and black polished rocks that frame its coast.
What I liked
There arent too many people, so you can explore the place on your own. There are no buildings, shops or fences any where, and the tourists pretty much can wander as they please.
The rocks are quite stunning with strange hexagonal formations. Easy to climb too and a great view from the top.
The beach it self is quite clean, there are no domestic animals on the island. 90 minutes is sufficient to cover the entire island.
Malpe Port is a great place to photogragh kites. A huge number of them can be seen circling above the fishing boats, particularly Brahmini Kites. Also seen at a small distance are White Egrets and Grey egrets ( breeding plumage). Groups of Large Green BeeEaters can be seen perched on the trees near by and on the electricity wires.
There are volcanic rock formations that rise out of the sea, at the island and while on the ferry, several more can be seen off shore. Colonies of birds settle on these, mostly gulls and terns. At the Island itself, I saw only gulls and sand pipers and a few crows. The sand pipers were quite shy and didnt pose for snaps.
On the ride to the island, (takes around 30 min) was quite surprised to see butterflies quite far out into the sea.
What I didnt like
The Island suffers from lack of maintainence. Large numbers of coloured plastic bags can be seen along the coast. Tourist activity is not regulated, and on holidays, people decend on the island by the boat loads.
There are no dust bins on the island. (probably because there is no one to collect the trash)
We took a rick from Udupi Bus Stand costs Rs60-70 based on your ability to speak Tulu/Konkani/Kannada. We took the rick into the port, and had to pay an additional 5 Rs to enter (parking charges).
The ferry from Malpe port costs Rs.70 per adult passenger. Tickets can be purchased behind the Nandini Booth ( its not exactly well advertised )
A minimum of 30 passengers are required for the ferry to start. So, go with friends or go on a sunday ( as we did). Be warned, going after 10:30 am on a Sunday will result in large crowds.
Ferrys typically start after 8:30am and the last trip back is 5:30 pm.
The Island is closed to visitors during the monsoon season due to rough seas.
Best time to visit:
We visited in Jan.
Hot! Very hot. Carry bottled water and sunscreen.
The island has a covered pavilion with 3 park benches right on the shore. And a few more further inland. I saw people selling freshly fried fish ( didnt look very hygenic to me, but smelt great!) There are no toilets (the toilets dont have doors, which amounts to the same thing) and no drinking water is available. Tender coconut and soft drinks are sold out of dirty looking bottles.
Avoid wearing sneakers, getting to the island requires wading through 1 & 1/2 feet of water.
AirTel connectivity is quite strong on the island. Most of the ferry crew carry mobile phones, so can be reached in case of an emergency.