St. Mary's Islands, also known as Coconut Island and Thonsepar, are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka, India. They are known for their distinctive geological formation of columnar basaltic lava (pictured).
Scientific studies indicate that the basalt of the St. Mary's Islands was formed by sub-aerial subvolcanic activity, because at that time Madagascar was attached to India. The rifting of Madagascar took place around 88 million years ago.
The islands form one of the four geological monuments in Karnataka state, one of the 26 Geological Monuments of India declared by the Geological Survey of India in 2001. The monument is considered an important site for "Geo Tourism".
Access to the 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. However, the frequency of these boats may vary depending on the number of tourists visiting. It is 58 km (36.0 mi) to the North of Mangalore, the coastal city of Karnataka, which is also the nearest airport. The famous religious town Udupi, is about 60 km (37.3 mi) West North West of Mangalore. Mumbai, Kochi, Kazhakoottam, Kanjiramattom, Muthalamada-I and Thrippunithura are linked to Malpe, by the West Coast Railway. The Konkan Railway (map pictured) passes close to the Islands, starting from Mangalore passing through Udupi, Kundapura, Goa, Ratnagiri and Roha near Mumbai. Malpe is 4 km (2.5 mi) from Udupi town.