Best Time To Visit: November-February
Approx Expense Per Person for 3 Nights: Rs.9000/- (INR)
Why you should go:
- Scuba Diving (Leisure Dive – Non-PADI Certified)
- Pristine beaches
- Coastal Cuisine (Malvani Food)
- If Goa seems too crowded and overdone.
Malvan is around 400 Km drive from Pune. We rented a self-driven Maruti Swift from Carz On Rent. It cost us approx. 1600/- per day. The drive from Pune-Malvan is pretty good, except for a 50 km stretch somewhere around Kolhapur. It is a nightmare to drive on that road, and would recommend anyone to not take the route if you have just recently purchased a car. Takes around 7-8 hours to reach Malvan. We reached Malvan around 7 pm.
We hadn’t done any pre-bookings for our accommodation and decided to figure it out after exploring the area. We found a couple of accommodation options by the beach. Nothing fancy, but it was exactly what we were looking for. Right on the beach, there was a village style home-stay accommodation called Babla Beach House. Very reasonably priced. Room wasn’t that great. Mosquito repellent is very essential. The food they served was quite good though. Traditional Malvani style thali.
THINGS TO DO
After dinner, we went for a stroll to the beach till quite late in the night. We woke up, had breakfast at the same place and left to explore Malvan. The beach-house owner got us in touch with the Scuba Diving folks. They took us to the Jetty, from where we took a boat near Sindhdurg Fort. We were provided with Scuba Diving suits and had the option to choose from Scuba Diving with Oxygen Cylinder or an Oxygen Pipe. One of us opted for the pipe and the rest of us took the cylinder. I would recommend the cylinder one as the weight helps us stay in the water and also makes it easier to breathe. In the water, each person is accompanied by two divers. They provide instructions on breathing through the cylinder as well as the signals for communicating under water. After that, they take us inside the water. The dive was around 20 feet deep. They take us around for a while. They even carry a camera along to shoot pictures and videos. I would have preferred spending time alone in the water, but they would obviously not allow that for first time divers. The photography kind of distracts you from enjoying the time under water. But it’s quite a surreal experience. Absolute silence, accompanied by the sights of some beautiful aquatic life.
TIP: You should not travel by flight at least 24 hours after you have taken the plunge in the water. I was told this by a professional Scuba Diver.
After Scuba Diving, we had lunch, again at a local Malvani Restaurant. We then headed to the Sindhdurg fort for which we had to take a 5 minute ferry. The Sindhdurg fort is quite incredible, surrounded from all sides by water. You can walk up to the end of the fort and on the back side there is a small area where you could sit by the water. The water is not ideal for swimming as the stones below the surface tend to prick a lot. But we did end up swimming there nonetheless.
We then left for Tarkarli in the evening. The Tarkarli beach is beautiful with white sand all around. But it is frequented by a lot of local people and is kind of commercialized with camel rides and food vendors. It kind of kills the experience of going to the beach. We found accommodation right opposite the beach. We took a room to keep our luggage, but ended up spending the night on the beach itself. Unlike, Goa and other places in India, the cops don’t bother if you are spending the night at the beach or consuming alcohol.
The next morning we left for Devbaug. This place is controlled by some association and they have various sight-seeing options for visitors. You pay an entry fee as per the number of sights you want to visit and they take you on a personal boat to those sights.
After reaching Devbaug and going around exploring the sea in the boat, we cursed ourselves for not having known about the place earlier. It is incredibly beautiful. There is a point where the river and the sea meet and you can actually see the difference in the colour of the water for both. The meeting point of these two is called Sangam. They also have a lot of Dolphins here, but they are generally spotted early morning. They tend to not show up during the day due to the noise of boats.
Then they took us to Tsunami Island where a lot of water sports activities are conducted. We opted for Para-Sailing. The boat navigator told us that the Scuba Diving experience in Devbaug is far better than Malvan. The water here is extremely clean and they also take us deeper. I could spend days at Devbaug and not get bored. You could even spend the night on the island or in the middle of the sea (on a boat). But for that you have to visit during non-monsoon season.
Overall, Devbaug has to be my favourite part of the trip. I would recommend this place to anyone who is looking for clean beaches and wants a calm but fun coastal trip.