July 24, 2014
Mumbai is a city that thrives despite itself. There has to be some method to that madness, you think, but if there is a formula, it’s a well-kept secret. Having survived the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, you may want to reward yourself with a trip to the beach (and we don’t mean one in the city). The beaches in the city itself aren’t particularly well groomed, but Gorai in the north is worth visiting for the golden Global Vipassana pagoda that has the world’s largest stone dome without any supporting pillars. The state though is blessed with an endlessly inviting coast.
If you’re expecting to party Ibiza-style at these beaches, think again. The city is great for heady, late nights out but at the seafront, you’re more likely to snooze in a hammock, take a refreshing dip in the ocean and perhaps watch turtles hatch. Most travellers stay in Colaba and the Gateway of India has many catamarans and ferries (plying October-May) that will take you to Mandwa jetty in Alibaug in 45 minutes.
Alibaug (100km south of Mumbai) is a popular getaway, and several celebrities and industrialists own weekend homes here. The main flat, black sand beach gets busy on weekends as people make the pilgrimage from city to sea. In Alibaug, you will find a mix of budget and high-end accommodation options – The Radisson Blu Resort and Spa is a good premium option for those looking to stay beachside.
Alibaug also has other lovely and less crowded beaches like Awas, Kihim, Kashid, Akshi, Murud, Nagaon and Varsoli. Kihim is conveniently close to the ferry wharf, while Nagaon is excellent for water sports. From Nagaon, walk to the secluded Akshi beach, popular for advert and film shoots. But 36 kms further on the Alibag-Murud highway is Kashid, with white sand and perfectly clear waters. Prakruti resort and Kashid beach resort are both popular accommodation options for those staying in this part of town.
Palm-fringed Kihim is where you go soul-searching, or if thinking is too much hard work, simply snooze in a hammock. Mango Alibaug offers a boutique hotel stay in Kihim, while Ccaza CComodore offers private villa accommodation in Mandwa village.
Travel 20km south of Alibaug to Korlai beach, which offers a lighthouse and the Korlai fort as part of the package deal. The nearest accommodation is in Kashid or Nagaon.
If you find the willpower to get some adrenaline pumping then take a rewarding 100km ride south to Velas beach, perfect for watching turtles hatch in February. There’s been a laudable conservation effort by the locals here to save the Olive Ridley turtle eggs that were being eaten by dogs and wild animals. The locals constructed a hatchery on the beach and the eggs are collected and incubated here. The annual Turtle Festival is held around February.
Further south still, you could plan a road trip from Mumbai to Goa and take in several gorgeous beaches on the coast like Bhatye beach in Ratnagiri (340km), pristine Tarkarli for scuba diving and snorkelling (546km) and Ganpatipule, richly endowed with mangroves (350km). The Konkani seafood borders on divine, the locals are friendly and you’ll finally be able to hear yourself think. What more could you ask for?
Header image © Palm Beach Manori
Have you visited the beaches of Mumbai? Which was your favourite? Le us know in the comments section below.
Written by Namrata Bhawnani