Where is Soul & Surf India?

We are located on the coast of Kerala in south west India. The hotel is 1km south of Varkala North Cliff and about an hour north of Trivandrum international airport. See our location page for more details.

What's included in my stay?
  • Accommodation
  • All local and international taxes
  • A huge delicious nutritious breakfast
  • Daily surf guides to the best spot for those who are already competent surfers
  • Unlimited mineral water
  • Use of yoga mats
  • Wifi
  • A load of great people on hand to make sure you have a good time

Stuff you can add before you come

We offer some significant discounts if you pre-book any extra activity packages to go with your accomodation:

  • Surf Lessons: Introduction – three beginner 1.5hr lessons with an ISA instructor — £72**
  • Surf Lessons: Week – six beginner 1.5hr lessons with an ISA instructor —£138**
  • Board Hire: Week – Board of your choice for the whole week – seven days, 24hrs a day — £65
  • Yoga Week Six yoga sessions (morning or evening) at Soul & Surf — £32.50
  • Surf Lessons & Yoga Week – six beginner 1.5hr lessons with an ISA instructor plus six evening Yoga sessions — £165**
  • Soul Week: Six yoga sessions, four Pranayama or Meditation classes, One 1hr 15m treatment, One One-to-One 1hr Yoga Session — £115

* Pay us when you make your booking, or any time before you arrive via Paypal, Credit Card or bank transfer.
** Surf lessons include board hire for the duration of the lesson.

Stuff you can arrange when you arrive

These are

  • ISA Surf Lesson 1h 30m incl. soft board — INR 2,300 (roughly £27)
  • Surf Board rental 3hrs — INR 850 (roughly £10) / All Day — INR 1,600 (roughly £19)
  • Yoga Class, 1h 15m — INR 550 (roughly £6.5)
  • One-to-One 1hr Yoga Session — INR 4,000 (roughly £46)
  • Pranayama or Meditation Class — INR 450 (roughly £5.5)
  • Massage, Therapies & Treatments — from INR 3,400 – 4,250 (roughly £40 – £50)
  • BBQ Nights / Movie Nights / Special events — tba on arrival
  • Soul Food Cafe — drinks / snacks / meals available for lunch and dinner.
  • Trivandrum Airport pick-up; we will arrange, you pay the driver — INR 1,500 (roughly £17)

* we accept INR, Visa or Mastercard.

What voltage and plugs do you use?

India is on 230 volts with two-pin plugs, but sometimes they are three pin. There are regular and serious power fluctuations so be careful with your equipment. We supply Surge-protected 4-ways which take a multitude of plug formats in all of our rooms but we cannot be held responsible for Kerala’s power problems.

What surf equipment should I bring? Do you rent surf equipment?

We have a full stock of boards for hire  throughout your stay so if you want to travel light you can leave your board at home. We’ve got everything from 6ft short boards through fun boards, mini-mals to long-boards  so that whatever your level and however you progress we’ve got the right board for you and the conditions. Contact us here if you have a particular board request and we’ll see how well we can match it.

We’ve got all the other stuff you need from leashes, to wax so there is pretty much nothing to bring except for surf/swim wear, rash-vest for sun protection, shorts for girls when surfing in rural areas and water-proof sunscreen.

Unless of course you have a favourite board that you just cannot live without (we’re with you on that one).

What is the surf? The water? The weather like?

Kerala has an equatorial climate and is therefore hot and humid all year long. June through to September is the SW monsoon with torrential rain, strong onshore winds and stifling humidity. The peak tourist season in the area, and the dryest months, of December & January coincide with the small swell season yet even then the surf is still at least knee to shoulder high.
The two months pre and post monsoon (monsoon is June til September) is when the swell is consistently larger and more challenging with waves averaging about 3-4ft. Otherwise the waves are mainly in the waist to shoulder high range. Check Magicseaweed.com which has a Varkala page for current and historical detail. (Note: A 3.5ft swell at 12+ seconds usually produces chest to head-high waves on the coast here). The waves are bigger, better and there’s more regular either side of the monsoon in Oct/Nov and Mar/Apr/May but there’s more chance of storms in these months.
Daytime air temperature ranges from 28º-34º dropping to around 23º-27º overnight. Water temperatures are pretty consistent at 27º-29º so you can surf in board shorts the whole season long. Bring a rash vest for sun-protection and for modesty in rural areas.

What is the currency? Can I get cash locally?

The Indian currency is the Rupee. Exchange rates at last time of checking were around 100Rs / £1 and about 90Rs / €. Rupees can only be obtained within India. There are exchange facilities and ATMs at the airport, but the rates are awful. There are plenty of ATMs near to us in Varkala town. If you choose to bring cash there are plenty of Money Changers on Varkala Cliff, all major currencies accepted.

What is it like to drive in India?


You can rent a scooter locally, and we can point you in the direction of motorbike or car’s-with-drivers. Please bring your valid driving licence and an International Driving licence.

The local roads are in pretty good condition but potholes are common, even on main roads. Driving can be pretty chaotic, particularly in towns and cities, and the traffic rules seem to be pretty random at best! If choosing to drive we advise you avoid major town and city centres, drive slowly and pay extra attention to the other road users sometimes erratic behaviour.

What food can I expect?

Breakfast is included at Soul & Surf India including fruits, breads, eggs, cereals, home-made muesli, yoghurt & local honey interspersed on some days with local south Indian breakfasts like Iddli & Ulli curry and sambar. We’ll throw a barbecue party each week and we use our wood-fired pizza oven a couple of times week on our film nights. There are an abundance of restaurants and cafes on Varkala cliff top including Keralan curries and tandooris, fantastic seafood, european classics such as pizza and pasta. Plus local spots in town offering delicious thali lunches, delicious spicy dhosas, parathas and biryanis mostly at under £1 a meal. Vegetarian food is plentiful in both local and tourist restaurants. Check your room booklet for our local recommendations.

What else is there to do?

The surrounding area is rich in culture and perfect for exploring on a hired scooter. Visit nearby temples, check out the local fishermen’s catch as they bring in their nets or stroll along empty golden sand beaches and take a swim in the tropically warm Arabian Sea. In the tourist destination of Varkala Cliff you can shop, while away the hours in cafes or sunbathe on it’s stunning cliff-backed beach. Kerala is the home of Ayurveda and we recommend a massage after a surf or consult one of the experts for a week long treatment. We’ve found an amazingly charismatic local lady, the finest south Indian cook we’ve come across, who will give cooking classes in the afternoon making numerous vegetarian curries, dhals and raitas before devouring them in the evening.

Further afield…
Travel one hour north to Kollam and take a houseboat through breath taking scenery of the backwaters. Stay over night on the boat to see the magic of dusk and dawn across the water.

To experience the full gamut of surf in India we recommend talking to the guys at the Surf Ashram 12 hours up the coast in Karnataka. The Surfing Swamis inspired us to open our doors and almost single-handedly put surfing India on the map. The environment they create makes for a unique, easy-going surfing and spiritual experience. Visit their website and tell them we sent you! SurfingIndia.net

Visit the Sivananda Ashram for their yoga vacation program up in the hills and escape from it all in their lush grounds. www.sivananda.org/neyyardam (minimum 3 days).
Fort Cochin, an important global trading post ruled in turn by the Arabians, Portuguese, Dutch, British and ultimately India, is a wonderfully atmospheric town full of great restaurants, luxurious hotels, quirky cafes and hundreds of antique shops. This port-town is where India collides with old colonial Europe in a memorable fusion of east and west, modernity and antiquity.
Cool down in the mountains near Munnar, a few hours North east of Varkala in the Western Ghats. Waterfalls, mountain lakes, lush forests, sleepy villages and colonial hill-stations provide an awesome backdrop for this alternative south Indian experience.
The southern most tip of India, Kanya Kumari is home to some of the most important temples in the country. This sacred place sees visitors from all over India on pilgrimages and across the world to see the monument for Swami Vivekananda and the giant statue of Thiruvalluvar on their own islands across the sea. Watch sunrise and sunset from this special place.

What do I need to bring?

You really can travel light but here is a quick reminder list of some basics to bring.

  • Warm water surf wear, shorts, bikini, etc.
  • Swimwear
  • If we’re surfing away from the main tourist beach you will need to wear a rash vest and shorts.
  • Beach Towel
  • Waterproof sunblock and Zinc
  • Sun Hat
  • Yoga gear
  • Light clothing, it’s hot!
  • Some long sleeved and leg-covering clothes to protect from the sun and to protect from mosses in the evening.
  • Ladies, bring something to cover your shoulders and to cover down to your knees if venturing away from the main tourist area.
  • Bring something waterproof because in this tropical climate it can rain at any time – and it’s torrential!
  • A personal first aid kit containing disinfectants, band aids, perhaps some antibiotics.
  • A decent deet based mosquito repellent
  • Bring plenty of Vitamin C against infections. You might also take some general vitamin supplements plus calcium and magnesium to keep your immune system boosted.
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance including watersports.
  • Stuff for your kids. You can get the basics here, but it’s worth bringing your usual items and preferred brands.


What amenities do you have?

Some air conditioned rooms, some with ceiling fans, WIFI in communal areas, an amazing cliff-top sea-view garden, 2 indoor lounges and 2 covered outdoor lounge/sitting areas, a massage & treatment room, a roof-top sea-view yoga shala.

What about evenings?

Three nights a week we have events at the hotel, a barbeque or a film night in our cliff top cinema. The rest of the time it’s really up to you. You can dine along Varkala cliff top, get comfy amongst the cushions at the hotel or checkout the scene in town and have a kebab. There’s not much in the way of night life here, but there are a few bars open until 1am and it gets lively around Christmas and New Year.

What about booze?

Alcohol can be bought from Varkala town and is served in most of  the restaurants on Varkala cliff top. We can point you in the direction of the booze shop in Varkala which you can bring back to the house, but you must keep the receipt, keep it in your room and prove it’s your personal alcohol. We can get in serious trouble if the authorities think we’re supplying alcohol without a licence!


Outside of the tourist spots of Varkala & Kovalam the Christian, Hindu and Muslim population are quite conservative. To respect our host country’s way of life we ask that guests don’t bare too much flesh outside of our grounds or away from Varkala and Kovalam. When surfing secluded beaches we ask female guests to surf in shorts and rash vest to avoid causing offence or attracting too much attention from the fishermen!

You can, of course, sunbathe and wear what you want on our grounds.

Medical Information?

There’s a very low risk of Malaria in the Keralan state, but please check with your doctor or local travel clinic for advice on vaccinations and the current Malaria situation.

Also check this website for up to date advice www.travelhealth.co.uk.

You absolutely must have travel/health insurance to stay with us, including cover for surfing. If you don’t we can’t let you stay with us. If you do need to see a doctor, there’s a great clinic in Varkala town, 10 minutes away. The local health service is of a high standard and is extremely cheap.

Is my booking protected against insolvency?

Soul & Surf is a company committed to customer satisfaction and consumer financial protection. We are therefore pleased to announce that, at no extra cost to you, all guests booking with Soul & Surf are fully insured for all monies paid as detailed in your booking confirmation form in the unlikely event of insolvency. This also includes repatriation if required. 

Policy exclusions: This policy will not cover any monies paid for Travel Insurance or any claim relating to Air Flights. Please ensure the Company you have booked with has the appropriate CAA / ATOL Bonds in place.

For full details, see <here>.

How do I get there?

It’s most convenient to fly to Trivandrum airport (TRV) in Kerala which is served by flights from the UK, Singapore, KL and most major European airports. From Trivandrum airport it’s a 1 hour drive. We will arrange a driver to collect you from the airport so contact us at least a week before your stay with flight details. The cost will be around INR 1500 – roughly £15, just pay the driver. Another option is to fly to Cochin International airport (COK) which is about 5 hours north of us. If you fly to Cochin you can easily get a taxi from the airport. Expect to pay around £60 for the 5+ hour drive.

Flights from the UK to Trivandrum typically range from under £400 return to about £550 if you book ahead and avoid the Christmas fortnight!

Check out our favourite travel sites to help you find the right flight:

www.kayak.com  / www.skyscanner.net

How do I book?

Use our booking form on this page to check the rates for the dates you want and the rooms we have available and to make your booking. We’ll need a 25% deposit to make the booking and require your balance 30 days before you arrive to confirm the booking. Everything else will be arranged and paid for when you are with us.

Your booking contract is made with Soul & Surf Ltd. our UK company. See our terms & conditions, your booking contract details and our cancellation policy here.

If you need some more questions answered before you’re ready to book check these FAQ pages first, we may have already thought of it. If not, email or call and leave a message on +44 (0) 1273 931 282 and we’ll do our best to help.

Do you supply towels?

Bath and hand towels are supplied in your room but please not they are not beach towels, bring your own beach kit.

Do you cater for special diets?

We understand that some people have special requirements. Let us know in advance, and we’ll do our best to make sure we have what you need but also be realistic and bring anything really specialist. We’re in rural India so the stuff you can get in your western world city delis isn’t going to be available here. Almond Milk? No chance. Soya Milk? Sometimes… Gluten Free Bread? Not on your nelly.

Do I need a visa?

Yes. But how difficult it is to get one depends on where you are from and how long you intend to stay.

India has introduced e-Tourist Visas for citizens of certain countries arriving in certain airports (Trivandrum-TRV & Cochin-COK included). Check it out here to see if it covers your country:


Submit your online application for an e-Tourist visa no more than 30 days and no less than 4 days before your arrival date in India. e-Tourist visas are limited to two 30 day entries per year, and can not be extended on arrival.

NB Print the confirmation of your online application or your airline will not permit you to board the flight.

But for the rest (and visitors on longer stays), you will still have to go through the laborious and expensive tourist visa application process. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get your visa, we have had customers miss their holiday due to their visa not coming back on time and we’d hate that to happen to you.

Check with the Indian Embassy in your country if your country is not listed on the VOA link above.

Can I use my phone?

Nearly all European/International networks work in India but will be expensive. Buying a SIM is a good cheap option and International call charges are relatively cheap. We recommend Airtel network for international calls. There are some International (ISD) phones in the surrounding area and call charges are pretty cheap.

Can I bring my children?

We very much welcome families coming to stay with us and do what we can to make it affordable and workable with the kids. But we have to be realistic too, we’ve got a limited number of rooms so we need to get income from them when they’re being used. So if we can add extra beds or a cot to your room we can keep things very reasonable, if the kids need their own room we have to charge the normal rate. We have a handful of rooms which are perfect for families who would like to add an extra single bed or a cot.  Contact us here  before you book to enquire.

We’re not allowed to recommend or offer baby-sitting or childcare as a service because our UK insurers advise us not to as the local lady we know isn’t qualified, registered or insured. But we can introduce you to some local ladies that have looked after Ed & Sofie’s baby and our friends kids and if you feel comfortable you can arrange child-care, whilst you surf or practice yoga, directly with them at very reasonable rates.

We love the kids to join in with whatever we can reasonably allow them to do. Surfing is an inherently dangerous activity so we have to have some limitations, check them out on our What’s Included page. Talk to the yoga teacher when you arrive if you’d like your kids to try yoga. It has the be at the yoga teachers discretion and not to the detriment of our other yogis experience. There’s plenty of other stuff we can fully allow the kids to get involved with. See our here for what else is available.

Can I access the internet?

There is free wifi available at the hotel in the main buildings. It’s as quick as we can get, but to be honest the speed is variable. We also have power-cuts relatively regularly so the internet goes down then too. There are also loads of broadband internet cafés in nearby Varkala Cliff and Varkala Town.

Arrival & Departure details?

You can arrive at any time and many flights land in the middle of the night – 3am and 4am landings are common. If you want to come straight to us from the airport in the night please make sure you have booked the room for that night too! If you don’t want to book a room for your early morning arrival you can come to our place from around 8am,  we’ll take care of your bags and give you some advice on where to go or you can hang out in our gardens until your room is ready.

We’ll have your room ready by 3pm and if at all possible we’ll make it earlier but please be aware the previous guest will not be checking our until 11am.

Check out is at 11am, but if you would like a later check out, let us know and as long as your room isn’t booked for the following evening we’ll help you out.

Are there surf shops in Varkala?

There’s a little surf shop in Kovalam now run by the guys from SISP, a charity we support. It has a great range of kit. If you’re bringing your own stuff, a good kit would include warm water wax, spare leash, rash vest, sun protection, ding repair kit. If you’re travelling in India for a while there’s two other good sources of eqpt we know of: SAE in Karnataka and the Temple Adventures crew in Tamil Nadu. Both will deliver but it can take a long time!

Guest Reviews

Thanks for a great stay at Soul & Surf…truly amazing trip and so nice to take time out! Truly inspiring and lovely people and actually our stay was just great and have a lovely moleskin full of notes and now working my way through the ‘to do’ list!

Helen, Cornwall