St. Mary's island, Udupi - full aerial view

St. Mary’s Island, Udupi: A Sightseeing Guide

St. Mary’s Island in Udupi is one of the geo-heritage sites in India and is located 4 miles off the coast of Malpe beach. It is known for its basaltic rock formations, which are one of a kind in the country. The shores here are also unique owing to their white shelly sand and coconut trees spanning 1640 feet in length and 328 feet in height.

If you plan to visit this place or have already landed but do not know what to do, this blog is for you. Consider this a guide with all the necessary details on how to reach the place, its history, the things to do, open hours, timings, and more. Let’s get right to it.

Guide To St. Mary’s Island

St. Mary’s Island History

Aerial view of the St. Mary's island

In 1984, the famous explorer Vasco Da Gama stumbled upon a small landmass on the South Western coast of India during his renowned expedition to Calicut, Kerala. He named it after the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ. Thus today, it’s known as St. Mary’s Island.

The isle is one of the four little islands near Udupi, but the other three islands, including Daria Bahadurgad, are closed to the public. Interestingly, the landmass is said to have separated from Madagascar, Africa, due to a volcanic eruption 88 million years ago. The columnar basaltic lava likely formed because of this phenomenon. 

St. Mary’s Island Ticket Cost

The ferry ride from Malpe Beach to St. Mary’s Island costs Rs. 400 per person. At least 12 people must be on board for the ferry to operate. Cloak services would cost you an additional Rs. 20, and you’ll have to pay more if you carry professional cameras, drones, and other photography equipment. People here accept cash, card, and UPI payments.

Note: You must carry the ticket until you reach Malpe Beach because you will be asked to show it on your return ferry.

Best Time To Visit

Best time to visit St. Mary's island, Udupi

St. Mary’s Island is closed to visitors during the monsoon months (from the middle of May to September end) every year due to heavy rains. The best time to visit St. Mary’s island is during the post-monsoon months between October and January. Although the place is open during Summer, it is quite hot and humid.

Twin’s tip: Take the first ferry ride or go around the golden hours for the best views and the least crowd.

Ferry Timings

The ferry service from Malpe Beach starts at 9 AM and ends at 5 PM. The last ferry from St. Mary’s Island departs at 6:30 PM.


The ferry ride from Malpe Beach to St. Mary’s Island takes about 15 minutes (one way). You will be given a time of 60 minutes (excluding the duration of the boat ride) to explore the island post, which you’ll have to board the same boat for your return journey. If you miss the boat, you can hop on to the next. So, if you want to click more pictures or further explore the place, try leaving early. Thus, you can spend more time on the island and catch one of the subsequent boats for the return trip.

How To Reach?

Boat services to St. Mary's island from Malpe beach

St. Mary’s Island is accessible only by boat services from Malpe Beach, Udupi. So, let’s discuss how to reach Malpe beach.

By Air

The Mangalore International Airport (Airport code: IXM, 60 Km) is Udupi’s nearest airport. After reaching Updupi, use auto or public transport to reach Malpe Beach. 

By Train

Udupi (Station code: UD, 10 Km) is the nearest railway station. It is well connected to other main cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, Pune, Madgaon (Goa), Mumbai, Coimbatore, etc. 

Although it is far from the main city, prepaid auto services (standard rates) are available outside. You can also walk to the highway and catch a bus to reach the main bus stand, from where you’ll have frequent buses to Malpe Beach. There are no direct buses from the railway station to Malpe Beach.

By Road

Udupi has good road connectivity to the nearby states and cities. You can take an overnight bus from the nearby places and reach Udupi in the morning. Frequent buses leave from the main city bus stand to Malpe Beach. You can also go there by tuk-tuk.

Where To Eat?

Eatables are not allowed inside St. Mary’s Island. Only one vendor sells juices, snacks, or quick bites near the entrance. So ensure you have enough food before starting your journey.

Where To Stay?

There are no accommodations available on St. Mary’s Island. Several good options are available in Udupi, from economical hotels to beach-view resorts near Malpe Beach. Choose your place of stay based on your budget.


Languages Spoken

Kannada is the official language spoken by the people in this region. Being a tourist destination, the ticket counter officials speak English and Hindi. If you know the basics of Kannada, you’ll easily communicate wherever needed, but if you don’t, you can manage with English and Hindi in most commercial places.

Network Availability

Prominent internet service providers, Airtel and Jio, serve 4G on the island.

Things To Do On St. Mary’s Island

Explore the different corners of the island. Although swimming is not allowed, you can sit by the shore and dip your legs in the water. Take pretty pictures in the selfie spots and in front of the unique rocks. There is also a wooden viewpoint where you can climb the stairs (about 10 feet in height) to get distant aerial views (not the entire island). The island offers no other water activities except for a boat ride.

Important Points To Remember

  • Food, alcohol, and plastics are not allowed inside the island.
  • Restrooms are available on the island.
  • Sitouts are available to provide shade for visitors.
  • Access to specific areas on the island is restricted for safety and other reasons.
  • Guards are always watching the tourists at different places around the island.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people live on St. Mary’s Island?

Nobody lives or is allowed to stay on St. Mary’s Island. Even the locals take day trips to the island.

Is St. Mary’s Island worth visiting?

With turquoise blue waters, sea shell sands, and one-of-a-kind ballistic rock settlements in India, St. Mary’s island is worth visiting.

Do we have access to nearby islands?

The 3 other islands are closed to visitors. Hence, Daria Bahadurgad Fort and Malpe Island Fort are not accessible to visitors.

Tell us in the comments below if you’d like us to explore other such places or unique islands. We’d love to hear from you. For more detailed travel guides, itineraries, tips, and much more, subscribe to the newsletter and follow us on social media – Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube.

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