St. Mary’s islands comprise of four small islands in the Arabian sea, off Malpe beach in Udupi. Old tales say Vasco de Gama, the portuguese explorer landed at one of these islands after his expedition in 1498. He named this island “O Padrao de Santa Maria”, as a dedication to Mother Mary. The current name is believed to have derived from this name.
The northernmost is a small island covering an area of 500 m in length and 100 m in width. This island finds a dense population of coconut trees and hence is also called as the Coconut Island. Coconut Island, North Island, Darya Bahadurgarh Island and South Island. Darya Bahadurgarh island is also as popular for many scenic seascapes that it has to offer. There is also a fort for the travellers to explore. This fort was constructed by Basavappa Naik of Bidanur.
St. Mary’s islands are predominantly known for the columnar basalt rock formation and lava rocks, which are spread across the islands in abundance. These one of its kind islands are important geological sites and hence are names as National Geological Monument in 2001 by the Geological Survey of India.
A visit to these islands should not take more than three hours. There are boats available for a ferry ride to the islands. Pre-noon is the best time to visit since it won’t be very hot to explore the islands. Although the island is open for visit from 9 AM to 5 PM. St. Mary’s islands are heaven for photographers. There are ample places for a nice shot, be it with the sea in the background or the rock formations.
The island is deserted but for the rock formations and occasional seats near the shore. Visitors have to carry their own food and other necessary items. To preserve the island in its natural form, there are no shops or hotel available in the vicinity.