Thursday, 10 November 2011

5 best beaches between Mumbai and Goa

Most people love beaches. And most Mumbaikars will agree that there’s nothing like a trip to Goa to experience the state’s wonderful beaches.

But the 550-kilometer stretch of coastline that separates Mumbai and Goa isn’t exactly barren.

It has a few choice pickings of its own, depending on the style of beach you’re looking for and keeping in mind these are coastal beaches, not island idylls.
The best time to visit these beaches is from September, when the monsoon begins to end, to March, the beginning of summer.
1. Kihim: Last-minute-decision beach
Kihim
Come here to get away from the crowded beaches of Alibaug. Kihim is close to Mumbai, closer than Alibaug in fact. 

The quickest way to get here would be to take a ferry from Colaba’s Gateway to Mandwa jetty, and then an Alibaug-bound bus, getting off at Chondi Naka along the way.

The beach is a short walk away.

You will have the beach pretty much to yourself in the mornings and evenings, when the few people who come to Kihim leave. And the few guesthouses here are all about a minute’s walk from the beach.

The food is good, and you might even get a chance to go parasailing along the beach, pulled by a vehicle, accident insurance not included.

Kihim’s proximity to Alibaug means you’re never short of supplies and alcohol, and it’s proximity to Mumbai means you’re never too far from home.

2. Korlai: A little seclusion and a great view

Korlai
Korlai is about 20 kilometers south of Alibaug, and easy to miss.

A little after Revdanda town, as the main road approaches the coast, look for a hill jutting out into the sea on what looks like an island. Take a right turn here, and follow the village road round the hill to get to the beach.

State Transport (ST) buses from Alibaug drop you on the main road, which isn’t so close to the beach, so it’s best to have your own transport.

The beach itself is small and serene with rocky outcrops and white sands, and provides some privacy; it doesn’t get many visitors.

The lighthouse and Korlai fort on the hill overlooking the beach are not to be missed.

You can get a guided tour of the lighthouse for Rs 10, and the view of the surrounding sea from the top is extremely memorable.

The 15th-century Portuguese fort, now in ruins, has excellent views too.

The nearest restaurants and accommodation are at Kashid to the south, and Nagaon to the north, at least 10 kilometers in both directions, so stock up on essentials if you plan to camp at Korlai.

3. Murud: For the island sea fort and food

Janjira fort
Murud beach is about 165 kilometers fromMumbai and 50 kilometers south of Alibaug, from where you can easily find a bus or rickshaw to take you here.

Murud is clean, relatively less crowded than nearby Kashid beach, and unlike nearby rocky Nandgaon beach, has available accommodation, of both the low-end guesthouse and high-end resort type.

You should spend a day and a night here for two main reasons. It’s the closest beach to the massive Janjira fort nearby, and the food is excellent.

Be sure to travel to Rajpuri village nearby, where you can get a shared boat to the Janjira sea fort, and spend a few hours exploring.

The fort, built on an island, was ruled by the erstwhile Siddi rulers of the area, and has a reputation for having never been conquered by the Marathas, despite numerous tries.

And while at Murud, don’t miss out on a meal at Patil’s Khanaval Lunch Home, facing the beach.

Patil's make the best fish and mutton thalis ever, if you enjoy authentic spicy Konkan food.

Murud beach road, Murud, Raigad District. It’s the third building from the Hanuman Mandir on the beach road.

4. Diveagar: To feel alone in an empty world

Diveagar
Come here when you want to feel alone.

Head down the Mumbai-Goa highway (NH17) for about 130 kilometers and take a left turn at Mangaon.

About 30 kilometers farther and you’ve reached Diveagar, after taking a right turn at Mhasla.

The most peaceful beach of them all; it’s beautiful, with a vast expanse of gorgeous sand and surf (about six kilometers long), and a few birds for company.

This is where you come to relax. The nearest town or main road is a world away. All you have is the beach, and, a short walk away, a few homestays and guesthouses surrounded by acres of coconut and betel plantations.

You can travel about 35 kilometers south to visit Harihareshwar beach if you’re more religiously or socially inclined, and Shrivardhan beach in between is also a good visit.

The paucity of public transport here means you must have your own car or bike.

Stay at Vrindavan Cottage (+91 97020 37865, 99606 27965). Call beforehand to arrange meals.

5. Devbaug: The full sightseeing package 

Tarkarli
Devbaug beach is close to Tarkarli, near Malvan, about 500 kilometers from Mumbai, close to the border with Goa. The closest railway station is Kudal.

I recommend staying at nearby Malvan for a night, before heading to Devbaug.

At the Malvan pier, you can arrange boat rides to go diving, snorkeling, dolphin watching and to go explore Sindhudurg, another enormous island sea fort.

Devbaug itself is a narrow strip of clean beach, less visited than its popular neighbor Tarkarli to the north.

However, the Karli river running along Devbaug’s inner coast gives the place a very backwater type feel, excellent for boating.

You can also use Devbaug as a base from where you can hire a boat to travel to Nivati, a cut-off beach with a hill to explore, and the so-called Tsunami Island, a sand bank that they say rose out of the sea after the 2004 tsunami.
Daniel D'Mello currently lives and works in Mumbai, where he enjoys reading, writing, planning trips, taking photos, attending gigs, catching up on films and TV and taking a keen interest in animal behavior.
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