The waters can be dangerous though, there is a strong rip tide at the edges of the bay, which one day trapped 3 adult men, one after the other. There are lifeguards on the beach but they are volunteers and ill equipped. They try their best just to keep bathers away from the rip tide, and this is slightly more effective than their rescue skills, which involve forming a human chain from shore to trapped swimmer and attempting to drag them back to safety.
We stuck to quick dips close to the shore and managed to avoid harm, jumping the waves and holding onto your bikini is actually quite good fun. One day instead of watching lifeguard rescues the bay was visited by a dolphin who frolicked about, much to our delight. We had paid to do a dolphin trip in Goa, which was nowhere near as fruitful as watching the Varkala horizon.
Apart from the allure of the clean beach I believe it is the Ayurveda treatments that attracts the large number of female travellers to Varkala.
Ayurveda has its roots in sanskrit and is said to have been around for at least 2000 years. It aims to restore internal balance, mainly through internal purification and herbal massage. Clinics and spas offering both types of treatments litter the clifftop. In search of an Indian head massage I accidentally entered one of these clinics. I was ushered into a waiting room seat by a smiling assistant and handed an ayurvedic menu. The other women in the waiting room, all Western, looked almost nervous but smiled at me reassuringly. I scanned the page, not taking anything in as I tried to focus on treatments with the word head in them. Rather oddly, I thought, there was nothing. I began to read the intro text properly and soon discovered I was in a fertility clinic. It was quite awkward as I tried to make my excuses and leave.
The head massage, when I did find one, was glorious.
As I have said before, India is not a beach destination. If you are looking for a powder white sand and crystal clear waters cliche you are in the wrong country. But what Varkala does offer is a beachside location from which to enjoy traditional Indian treatments, tantalising food and a clifftop saunter like none other.