One imagines it would be futile to go to a Goan beach looking for peace and solitude, for it’s most likely that it’s overrun with tourists. And doesn’t everyone you know go there for a holiday? But just as it’s with all things Goan, there’s a pleasant surprise tucked away for the skeptical solitude seeker in Mandrem-Morjim in Pernem. Over here, your cell phone won’t work in many of the areas and whatever little tourism exists, it’s purely thanks to enterprising locals.
The beach here stretches across three hamlets that are divided by small creeks: Mandrem, Ashwem and the famous beach at Morjim. These are spectacular windswept stretches of sand, made even more beautiful by the fact that there’s no one around. There’s no trace of the crowd that throngs the beaches south of the Chapora River. Come here to enjoy a peaceful holiday far removed from the rave scene that Goa is famous for.
Of all the three, Mandrem offers the most accommodation and entertainment. Most of Mandrem’s beachside hotels are in Junas Vaddo. Access to the beach can be a bit of a problem as a creek that runs parallel to the waterline usually stands neck-deep at high tide. Most hoteliers get around this by building bamboo bridges across the creek during the season. For Morjim, turn left after the Chapora Bridge and then follow the signs.
Mandrem and Ashwem are considered reasonably safe places to swim, as long as you keep away from the mouth of the creek that separates the two. Morjim is also considered safe, but keep away from the mouth of the Chapora River. There’re no lifeguards on all three beaches, so don’t venture more than waist-deep into the sea.
The magnificent Chapora Fort atop a hill dominates Bardez Taluka’s northernmost beach, Vagator. To its south lies Anjuna Beach, famous for several reasons, including its flea market. Even first-time visitors to the beach will likely recognise the Chapora Fort from the movies, if Hindi cinema is their staple for entertainment, that is. For, the fort looms large across the screen in movies such as Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Khamoshi.
Vagator Beach is beautiful, with its dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and two freshwater springs within a stone’s throw of the sea. Standing on the fort’s ramparts, you can well imagine why the average Bollywood heroine or hero would choose this scenic setting to break into a song. The vistas it offers are stunning: the sea, a river winding its way across the inland, and the sweep of the Morjim Beach.
Location: Mandrem Beach is south of Arambol and just 8 km north of Morjim, in Pernem District. South of Morjim is Vagator Beach in Bardez District. The Chapora River separates Morjim and Vagator
Distances: 560 km S of Mumbai JOURNEY TIME By rail 10 hrs + 1/2 hr by road By air 1 hr + 1-11/2 hrs by road By road 11 hrs
Route: State road to Kalamboli; NH4 to Panvel; NH17 to Mapusa via Pen, Nagothane, Kolad, Mahad, Chiplun, Nandgaon and Sawantwadi; state roads to Mandrem Beach via Siolim.
When to go: Any time of the year but the best season of course is winter
Goa Tourism Development Corp Ltd
Dr Alvares Costa Road
STD code 0832
By Ashwin Tombat
About the author
Ashwin Tombat was a journalist (he was the Editor of Gomantak Times and Goa Today magazine, and the Assistant Editor of Gentleman magazine), a researcher (MacArthur Foundation population fellow) and a street theatre activist (with Aavhaan Natya Manch). He is now a part-time writer and media consultant, when he is not sailing, swimming or coaching Goa’s children in these sports.