Spent a very short vacation at the Deshadan Cliff and Beach resort in Varkala. The Varkala beach itself is by far the best beach near Trivandrum, better than Kovalam or Shankumugham beaches. Varkala beach seems to be more frequented by foreigners rather than locals, at least by the folks that we ran into while we were there. There are a large number of resorts in Varkala, suiting wide variety of budgets, all the way from five star hotels to mom and pop establishments.
I chose Deshadan based on their TripAdvisor ratings and reviewer comments and for their swimming pool and found it to be an excellent choice. The only negative was the time taken for preparing food, order well in advance to have lunch or dinner on time (breakfast is a buffet).
Deshadan is around 1/2 mile walk from the beach, there are other places right next to the beach if you prefer that. Deshadan has a very nice pool, and a Dhathri ayurvedic spa within the resort. Both the resort as well as the spa is very reasonably priced and the service is also really good.
All photographs taken with a Canon EOS 400D and the Canon EF 70-200 F/4 L IS USM lens.