While you read this article, a tiny island in Kerala is sinking by the hour. It will submerge in water by 2050, according to experts.
If it happens, it’ll be devastating as I consider it one of Kerala’s jewels that can give any other tourist destination in ‘God’s Own Country’ a run for their money.
I’m talking about Munroe Island.
It is a highly underrated and unexplored tourist destination in Kerala, known for its backwaters like Alleppey but without the crowds. While Alleppey is famous as the Venice of India, Munroe Island is called the ‘Hidden Venice of India’.
I spent a weekend here relaxing to the views and sounds of nature as I explored this island on foot. In this guide, I want to share with you the 5 amazing things to do in Munroe Island that’ll make this place one of your best memories in Kerala.
- History of Munroe Island
- Where is Munroe Island?
- 5 amazing things to do in Munroe Island
- How to reach Munroe Island?
- Best places to stay in Munroe Island
- Best time to visit Munroe Island
- Frequently Asked Questions
History of Munroe Island
Munroe Island, also known as Mundrothuruthu, has a rich history associated with it. Back in the 1800s, when the British governed the State of Travancore (modern-day southern Kerala and southern Tamil Nadu), the East India Company appointed Colonel John Munroe as its administrative head.
He was responsible for many progressive reforms that included removing corruption, abolishing slavery and improving the state’s revenue. He set up the foundation for the high levels of literacy that you see in Kerala today.
Under his governance, the Munroe Island was formed by digging canals and joining several backwater regions. Due to his contributions to the State of Travancore, this archipelago of eight islands honoured him by attaching his name to it.
Where is Munroe Island?
Mundrothuruthu is a group of eight islets located at the meeting point of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River in Kollam. It has a total area of 13.4 km sq. It is so tiny that you can cover the entire island on foot or by bicycle.
The island is full of coconut trees with few houses spread across backwaters, lagoons and canals. At 25 km from Kollam, Munroe Island takes you back to the village life in Kerala.
You’ll find lots of coconut trees here, fewer crowds and most importantly, complete silence as there are very few vehicles passing through this village. As such, if you want to spend some peaceful time with nature and experience the village life, Munroe Island will not disappoint you.
5 amazing things to do in Munroe Island
While Munroe Island is small, it offers a variety of things for every traveller. Given below are the 5 amazing things to do in Munroe Island based on my personal experiences:
1. Experience a unique canal cruise through Munroe Island
The canal cruise on Munroe Island is one of the most popular things to do in Munroe Island. Even if you don’t plan to stay here, you must give it a try.
It is the USP of Munroe Island Tourism.
The canal cruise is a 2-hour ride on a canoe (a local country boat) with a boatsman who guides the canoe with his stick. You’ll be sailing through narrow canals that surround themselves with palm and coconut trees.
As the water is calm, you’ll see plenty of reflections of the surrounding nature. You’ll also go past houses as you see people in Mundrothuruthu indulging in their daily lives.
After passing through several canals, you’ll enter the Ashtamudi lake, which opens a different landscape. The lake is vast and you’ll occasionally encounter other boats, including the local passenger boats. The highlight of the canoe ride is the mangrove plantation you pass through on this lake.
Sit back and enjoy time passing by slowly on this 2-hour canoe ride while observing the sights and sounds of nature.
The best time to do the canoe tour is during sunrise or sunset when the weather is pleasant, and the colours are vibrant. However, you can preferably go in the morning to avoid other tourists who’ll be doing canoe tours in the evening.
You can book a canoe tour with your homestay/resort. Most of these places either have their canoe or tie-up with canoe owners.
2. Explore Munroe Island intimately on foot/bicycle
Now that you’ve explored the island through a boat, it’s time to explore on foot or by bicycle. It is one of the most unique things to do in Munroe Island as you’ll observe this island more intimately.
For example, I observed that a lot of households have their farms cultivating cinnamon, papaya, banana, passion fruit and fish farms among others. If you’re lucky, you may also find the locals making coir.
There is a lot of birdwatching on this island as well as you may encounter kingfishers, cranes and egrets.
While roaming around, have coconut water or lime soda from one of the local shops here. They’ll energize you like nothing else. You can also have the local shakes and juices here.
For renting a cycle, enquire with your homestay. Depending on the homestay, it is available for free or at a reasonable rate.
3. Enjoy traditional Kerala food and lip-smacking seafood
As Munroe Island surrounds itself with lakes, canals and backwater, you’ll get an assortment of lip-smacking seafood here. You’ll find prawns, crabs and a variety of fishes to satisfy your taste buds.
If you’re a vegetarian, you can enjoy the traditional Kerala food in Munroe Island. Idly-chutney, puttu-kadala and appam-stew are some popular breakfast items on this island that are given as complimentary along with your stay.
It is a great way to experience the local cuisine. As compared to other commercialised places in Kerala, the food in Mundrothuruthu is freshly prepared by all homestays/resorts as you won’t find any fancy restaurants here.
4. Visit an ancient Dutch church built in AD 1878
There is a Dutch church on Munroe Island that is one of the oldest churches in Kerala. Built-in AD 1878 by the Dutch, its architecture is a blend of Dutch-Kerala and made of red bricks.
It is a deserted church that doesn’t have any services. The location of the church adds to the eerieness and beauty of this church.
It’s located in a secluded area in Mundrothuruthu near the banks of Ashtamudi Lake making it an ideal place to spend your evenings. Near the church, you’ll find another establishment and an old shed where you can watch the sunset over the lake.
Reaching this church is also an adventure. You have to cross a railway line and pass through some fields to make your way here.
5. View a splendid sunset from S-curve viewpoint
As the name suggests, the S-curve viewpoint is an S-shaped path that separates the Ashtamudi lake from the backwaters. Hence, you’ll observe calm waters on one side and flowing water on the other side.
At this place, you’ll also find several boat services including the canoe tour. If you don’t plan to stay at Munro Island, you can hire a boat from this point.
If you want to relax and chill, there’s a small restaurant where you can have tea/coffee and have some snacks in the evening.
But most importantly, this spot is famous for its sunrises and sunsets. As such, don’t miss this place if you’re at Munroe Island.
You can reach the S-curve viewpoint on foot.
How to reach Munroe Island?
The distance from Kollam to Munroe Island is 25 km; hence it’s the nearest city. In most cases, you’ll be heading to Kollam before continuing to Munroe Island.
Trivandrum airport is the nearest airport to Kollam followed by the Kochi airport. The distance from Trivandrum to Kollam is 66 km whereas the distance from Kochi to Kollam is 140 km.
You’ll find plenty of trains inter-state and intra-state trains that stop at Kollam (or Quilon).
To take it a step further, you’ll also find passenger trains that halt at Munroturuttu railway station (Munroe Island). These passenger trains are well connected to places like Trivandrum, Kochi and Kottayam.
From the railway station, you can take an auto to your respective homestay/resort.
There are lots of KSRTC buses across the state that takes you to Kollam. You can also book your bus on the KSRTC app or website.
From Kollam, you have to interchange a couple of private buses to reach Munroe Island. To know which buses to board from Kollam, you can ask the locals or at the bus station.
Alternatively, you can take an auto/cab from Kollam but keep in mind that the prices will be high so you’ll need to bargain.
Best places to stay in Munroe Island
Being a sleepy village, you’ll find plenty of homestays in Munroe Island. There are a few resorts if that’s your game but homestays are always preferable as they give you the local experience.
Some homestays/resorts also offer pickup and drop service at an additional cost if you’re travelling to or from Kochi/Trivandrum airport. Contact your property to know if they offer this service.
Given below are some popular homestays and resorts in Munroe Island that’ll give you an amazing hospitality:
1. Munroe Island Backwaters Homestay
The Munroe Island Backwaters Homestay was one of the first homestays to prop up on this island. As Munroe Island started gaining tourist attraction, this homestay became popular and paved the way for other homestays that you see today on the island.
Run by Vijeesh, this homestay was started by his father 10-15 years back. At the time, it was the only homestay on this island.
If you’re looking for a local experience on the island, Vijeesh’ homestay should be your priority. He’s an experienced guide who can take you around the island and tell you things that you may not find anywhere. At his homestay, his family prepares home-cooked traditional South Indian food.
You can find his homestay on various apps like Agoda and Booking.com. If you have any doubts or want to make an enquiry, search for this homestay on Google and you’ll find his number.
2. Munroe Island Lake Resort
It is one of the most popular resorts in Munroe Island. They provide cottages of different kinds that you can choose according to your needs. All their cottages face the lake and provide complimentary breakfast.
The location of the Munroe Island Lake Resort is its USP. It’s covered with coconut trees and surrounds itself with backwaters and lakes. You can find different kinds of birds nearby and cover all the prominent places on the island on foot from here.
Apart from that, they organise canoe tours and houseboat tours at an additional cost. If you need a bicycle, they’ll provide you with the same.
You can expect freshly-prepared South Indian food here three times a day. Make sure to try their seafood as they prepare the same from their farm.
They have a full-fledged website in case you need more details about them. While this resort is ideal for everyone, it is one of the best value-for-money destinations on the island if you’re looking for a honeymoon.
3. Vini’s Farm
If you need a unique experience and have some money to spare, Vini’s Farm is an ideal resort for you. A bit on the expensive side, Vini’s farm is a private island where you’ll get complete privacy unlike the other accommodations on Munroe Island.
It is one of the most popular resorts not just in Munroe Island but also in Kerala as it has been featured in news and covered in various blogs.
They provide wooden cottages on their island and have different types of packages that you can book from their website. These packages may include a private chef and a romantic sunset cruise depending on your package.
They also provide kayaking, fishing, barbeque, candlelight dinner, yoga classes, ayurvedic massage and speed boat at an additional cost.
Vini’s Farm is perfect for couples and families.
Best time to visit Munroe Island
Being a tropical island, the weather remains hot and humid, especially during the day. Hence, if you want to beat the heat, October-February is an ideal time to visit Munroe Island.
The weather becomes hot starting from March end till May. And from June onwards, the monsoon season starts in Kerala and can last till September. Floods have also become increasingly common during the monsoon season in the last few years.
Hence, you should avoid visiting Munroe Island during monsoon season at all costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Munroe Island located?
Munroe Island is located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River in Kollam. It is a group of eight islets full of coconut trees neighbouring backwaters, canals, lakes and lagoons.
Kollam is the nearest major city and the distance from Kollam to Munroe Island is 25 km. If you’re coming from outside Kerala, you can take a flight to Trivandrum/Kochi before making your way to Munroe Island.
Note that the distance from Trivandrum to Kollam is 66 km whereas the distance from Kochi to Kollam is 140 km. So plan your arrival destination based on the other places you might want to fit in your itinerary.
How do you get to Munroe Island?
The cheapest way to reach Munroe Island is by taking a train from any part of Kerala to either Kollam or Munroturuttu railway station. Although the trains to Munroturuttu railway station are limited, you’ll find passenger trains from major cities like Trivandrum, Kochi and Alleppey.
If you’re arriving at Kollam, you need to interchange a couple of buses or a cab/auto to reach Munroe Island as it is 25 km away. Keep in mind that the rates for cab/auto will be higher so you may need to bargain.
Alternatively, you can arrange a cab from your homestay/resort at an additional cost. If you arrive at Munroturuttu, Munroe Island is only 2 km away. You can hire an auto or walk to reach your homestay/resort from here.
How can you travel from Trivandrum to Munroe Island?
The distance from Trivandrum to Munroe Island is 80 km. To reach Munroe Island from Trivandrum, you’ve two options:
1. Take the Trivandrum-Guruvayur Express(16342) from Trivandrum Central Railway Station. The train departs at 17:30 and reaches Munroturuttu railway station by 18:50 the same day.
The Trivandrum-Guruvayur Express(16342) also stops at Varkala station at 18:05. So you can cover Varkala (a major beach destination near Trivandrum) before coming down to Munroe Island.
You’ll reach Munroe Island within an hour as the distance from Varkala to Munroe Island is 48 km.
2. You can take any KSRTC bus from the Thampanoor bus stand (near Trivandrum Central railway station) that goes to Kollam. You’ll find frequent buses that go to Kollam. From Kollam, you can either take a cab/auto or take a couple more private buses to reach Munroe Island.
Again, you can also arrange a cab from your hotel/resort at an extra cost.
What are the Munroe Island boating charges?
The charges for canoe tours on Munroe Island vary for different homestays and resorts but the average cost is INR 800-1200 for 2-3 hours. You’ll not be charged per person rather it is based on the boat.
You can also hire boats at the S-curve if you’re not planning to stay on Munroe Island. You’ll find boatmen at this point offering different boat services.
The rates will keep varying every year/season so it’s always best to contact your homestay/resort to know the latest rates.
Is Munroe Island sinking?
According to researchers, the island is sinking and is expected to be underwater by 2050. There have been many reasons attributed to it including global warming and climate change.
The construction of the Thenmala dam in the Kallada river in the 1970s has stopped the flow of freshwater to Munroe Island. This freshwater contained clay-rich soil that used to get deposited near the island making its soil fertile.
The tsunami that occurred in 2004 and the floods that have been happening with great regularity in Kerala in recent years have further destroyed the mangroves present here causing further havoc.
Hence, you’ll find many properties here that are either made of wood or built on raised platforms. As such, Munroe Island Tourism will only continue to grow but responsible tourism is the need of the hour.
Munroe Island is an offbeat tourist destination in Kerala that you must cover in your itinerary. It is an ideal place to visit if you want to experience village life in Kerala and enjoy the backwaters with fewer crowds.
While you’re here, cover this island on your foot and explore different points. Try out the traditional food of Kerala especially the seafood that is worth dying for. Also, don’t forget to do the canoe tour which is one of the best things to do in Munroe Island.
Spending a weekend on Munroe Island should be enough but if you enjoy the slow pace of life here, you might want to extend. In any case, I’m sure the memories that you have at Munroe Island will stay with you for a long time.
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on the 5 amazing things to do in Munroe Island. If you’ve any questions or doubts, drop them in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.