St. Mary's Island

Posted on 

St. Mary’s Island, also known as Coconut Island is pinpointed to the edge of the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka, India. They are well known for the distinctive geological formation of columnar rhyolitic lava. According to scientific records, rock formations found on St.Mary’s Island resemble the rock formations at Madagascar in Africa and it also suggests that Madagascar was attached to India around 88 million years ago. Later, it got separated because of sub-aerial subvolcanic activity and thus indicating the existence of similar rock formations and geological features in both these places.
The land where the geological importance is immense and its beauty is spectacular, is St.Mary’s Island, Karnataka. The basalt rock formations protruding out in different shapes were declared a National Geological Monument by the Geological Survey of India in 1979 and this monument is considered an important site for “Geo Tourism“.

"St. Mary's Island is a geological treasure and hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is a group of four individual islands, namely Coconut Island, North Island, South Island and Daryabahadurgarh Island. One can find a crystalline rock shoreline created during the separation of Madagascar Island from India."

History of St. Mary's Island

St. Mary's IslandSt. Mary’s Island is the place where Vasco De Gama set his first foot in the year 1498 on his journey from Portugal, fixed across the island and named one of these islands, O Padrão de Santa Maria, as a dedication to Mother Mary, before proceeding to Kozhikode in Kerala. It is from this name that the islands got their current name “St. Mary’s Island“. Out of the four islands, the northernmost island has a Basaltic Rock Formation in a hexagonal form, the only one of its type which is seen in India is St. Mary’s Island, Malpe. It has prominent coconut trees, which cover reflects an azure south sea color, and hence the island is also called Coconut Island. There is no habitation on these islands.

St.Mary’s Island is also called Coconut Island and Thonsepar Islands. The Columnar Basaltic (Volcanic) Rock formations in a hexagonal shape are the prominent attractions in St.Mary’s Islands and these structures are unique in India. Hence, St.Mary’s Islands is listed as one of the Geological Monuments of Karnataka and India. The hexagonal columns of rock on the Islands are similar to those on the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and give clues to the historic formation of landmasses on the Earth’s surface.
Seashells of various shapes, sizes, and textures can be found on the Island. Unlike other beaches, there is no sand beach to swim in and have only rocks where one can pose for some mind-blowing photographs. The best time to visit St. Mary’s Island is from October to February when the temperature is low and the weather is mostly pleasant.

Places To Visit In & Around St. Mary's Island

Daryabahadurgarh Fort, Vadabhandeshwara Temple, and Malpe Beach are major tourist attractions in and around the area.

Best Time To Visit St. Mary's Island

The best time to visit St. Mary’s Island is from October till March as the weather remains pleasant. During this time, the weather will be pleased with the pleasant temperatures making outings to the beach comfortable and enjoyable. The beauty of the island is accentuated under the warm winter sun with pleasant temperatures.

Where To Stay


You cannot stay on the Island. From Malpe beach you have to travel by ferry and come back. If you want to stay at the beachside, there are a few resorts and hotels in Malpe which offer budget accommodations. Another option is staying at Udupi.

How To Reach


Malpe is well connected by road to Mangalore and Udupi. There are lots of public and private buses that connect Malpe to Mangalore and Udupi. Udupi town is about 55 Km from Mangalore and 110 Km from Murudeshwar.


The nearest Railway station to reach St. Mary's Island is Udupi Railway Station, which is about 15 km.


The nearest airport is Mangalore Airport, which is about 58 km from Malpe. One can easily get a cab or a bus to Malpe from the airport.


The only way of getting in and out to the Islands is by Ferry Boat Service and the boarding point of ferries for St. Mary's Island is at Malpe Beach.
Ferries are available from 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM and the ride takes about 30 minutes. The ferry ride will cost you approximately ₹ 300 per person. The distance from Malpe fishing harbor to the islands is about 8 Km and a regular ferry service runs every half an hour.
Ferry Boat Services is closed during the rainy season from June to September.

Thank you for visiting my blog and stay tuned for more updates related to ancient history on my website: Ancientterminus