St Marys Islands Home > Karnataka > Attractions > Beaches > St Marys Islands

St Marys Islands

St. Mary's Islands consists of a small group of islands in the Arabian Sea that lies close to the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka. Vasco da Gama, the famous discoverer who discovered India landed here in 1498 on one of these islands which he named as ‘EI Padron de Santa Maria’. The hexagonal columns of rock on the islands are quite similar to those on the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland provide evidence to historic formation of land masses on the Earth’s surface and thus are of immense geographical value.
St. Mary's Islands are also known as Coconut Island and Thonsepar, since there are coconut gardens which make it the shadiest of all the islands and give it a true South Sea color. The island is renowned for its famous basalt rocks. The rocks are hexagonal in shape, columnar in form and made of basalt. This is the only spot in India where basaltic rocks have shown up such peculiar formation. It is a really geological monument and tourist’s heaven. The best time to visit these islands is December-January. St. Mary's Islands are appropriate for a weekend vacation or a day long visit as a part one’s Mangalore or Udipi visit.


St. Mary's Island is situated at a distance of 6 km from Udupi and 65 km north of Mangalore. St. Mary's Island is a collection of small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi district. As per the folk legend, Vasco da Gama landed at St. Mary's Islands in 1498 on his journey from Portugal. As a symbol of his visit, he fixed a cross on this island and gave the name of O Padrão de Santa Maria to one of these islands, as a devotion to Mother Mary, prior to heading on his journey for Kozhikode in Kerala. It is from this name that the islands got their current name. Aligned parallel to the coastline, these islands provide clues about the phenomenon of upliftment of the India’s west coast. Out of the four islands, the northernmost island has a basaltic rock formation in a hexagonal form, the only one of its type in India. The island covers an area which is about 500 m. There are several coconut trees here, a prominent feature of this place and there cover reflects an azure color to the sea and thus, this island is named as Coconut Island. This island is devoid of any habitation. The north-south aligned islands are in the form of a non-continuous chain. The four largest islands are Coconut Island, North Island, Daryabahadurgarh Island and South Island.


Natural Beauty

Owing to its silvery powdered sand, maple beach is one of the most unique beaches in India. Its splendid and colorful sunsets make it a highly popular tourist spots. A large variety of seashells are found along the rocks. There are several benches installed along the shoreline to aid tourists. Bird watching is a popular activity on the islands. Commonly spotted birds include White and Grey egrets, Brahminy kite Seagulls and Sandpipers. Tourists have also reported the existence of colonies of beautifully colored butterflies on the island.

Vadabhandeshwara Temple

The Vadabhandeshwara temple dedicated to Balarama was consecrated by Saint Madhwacharya. This spot attracts many pilgrims.

Daria Bahadurgarh Fort

The ruins of the Daria Bahadurgarh fort can be seen on the islands. It is believed Basavappa Naik, Bidanur’s chieftain has built this fort.

Reaching St. Mary's Islands

The only way of getting to the islands is by boat. Regular ferry service ply the 6 km distance from the Malpe fishing harbor (which has a ship building yard also) to the islands.


The nearest airport to the St. Mary's Islands is the Mangalore international airport which is well connected to various other domestic airports across India and to other international airports. One needs to get to Udupi from Mangalore which is well connected by roads.


The nearest railway station is Udupi which is well connected to Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, and Mangalore.


Malpe is 58 km North of Mangalore and is well connected to Mangalore by road and is 4 km away from Udupi The region is well connected by roads to various parts of Mangalore and can be easily reached by various bus services from Mangalore. There are city buses as well as the Mangalore-Udupi Express buses.

Accommodation Options

There are no accommodation facilities available on St Mary’s Islands. There are several resorts at Malpe and Udupi. Udupi can be used as a base for a day excursion to St Mary’s islands. There are numerous accommodation facilities available in the luxurious hotels present in the adjacent areas of Udupi. There are a number of mid-range hotels as well. The most popular ones include the Fortune Inn Valley View, Paradise Isle Beach Resort and many more.

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