The Island Of Diu

Hugging the southern tip of Gujarat in Western India, is the tiny Island of Diu, 40 sq km with a length of 14 km and breadth of 5 km. A favourite watering hole for the otherwise liquor-dry state of Gujarat, Diu has moved beyond, to become a family-friendly place to holiday, as well as an interesting stopover for foreign travellers visiting Gujarat.

Unique to northern Africa and Diu, is the Hoka Tree, a palm with a hard sweet and sour fibrous fruit, rather difficult to eat.

The beaches of Diu are its biggest draw.  What makes the beaches of Diu so enticing, is the gradual gradient into the sea, which makes them rather safe, especially for children.  In fact at low tide, one can wade across from the mainland at Ghoghla, to the island, but don’t try it, unless you have an experienced local as your guide.

There are four main beaches.  Towards the southwest, touching the Airport is the crescent Nagoa.  Across in the city to the southeast, below the Circuit House, is the Jalandhar beach, whole a bit to its east, below the INS Khukri Memorial is the Chakratirath beach.  To the northeast, across the bridge to the mainland, of which a tiny portion comes under the Diu administration, is the beach of Ghoghla.  There is a fifth beach, Gomtimata, further west of Nagoa, but it is yet to pick up in popularity, and there are no restaurants here, unlike at Nagoa.

Obviously, the beaches are not to be, missed.  The most popular beaches are Ghoghla and Nagoa, around which a few hotels are clustered.  Chakratirath is more secluded, while the Jalandhar beach being in a government area, with no restaurants or conveniences for travellers, is visited, but not a popular hangout.  In fact, it is only the Nagoa Beach which has decent adjacent facilities for tourists; and while both Ghoghla and Nagoa have some basic and rather limited watersports like paragliding and water scooters, both Gomtimata and Chakratirath are basically surf and sand..

Other than Nagoa and Gomtimata beaches in the southwest, for the more daring and adventurous, is the fishing village of Vanakbara, with his scores of sea-faring fishing boats, where you can see how fresh fish is handled and packed in ice.

About a kilometre or so from Nagoa Beach on the way to Diu city, past the Aerodrome, is the Sea Shell Museum, most definitely worth a visit.  Further on across the road is the Dinosaur Park from where the crescent of Nagoa is spread across.

Further east, along the Airport Road, is the marshy Fudam Bird Sanctuary, where you can take a pre-arranged boat ride in the early morning or evening.  Contact the Range Forest Officer at +91 2875 252485 or visit The Collectors Office in town, on Fort Road.  On Fort Road too, is the Diu Tourism Office +91 2875 252653, where you can pick up a couple of brochures and a map of the island.

Arrangements to visit the Fort Prison can also be processed through the Tourist Office.

South of Fudam, is the seaside temple of Gangeshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva, where the lingas are washed by the sea.  West of the Chakratirath Beach is the Open Air Auditorium, facing the sea.  Further ahead is Sunset Point.  Northwest of Jalandhar beach are natural rock formations and a cave system know as the Naida Caves, definitely worth exploring.  Within the city is the Diu Fort, to the eastern edge of the island, together with the lighthouse and cliffs. Unlike intricate Indian forts, the fort of Diu is spartan.  Its big attraction is the sea view and its cannons. Most people do not go the Cliffs, so it is quiet.  Please do not go to the edge of the cliffs, as the soil may crumble and one can fall hard into the sea.  The Diu Museum, interesting, and since you are in Diu, an item worth ticking on your list of places to see.  The Chapel of Our Lady of Rosary and St Paul’s Church is open for visitors, and house some elegant Portuguese woodwork, and are most definitely worth your time.  If you are curious to see a Portuguese House, you can go to Nagarseth Haveli, however being a private residence, it can only be viewed from the outside.

October to March is the best time.  Summers are hot and humid.

Food available is Gujarati and India, with sprinklings of Portuguese flavour, as Diu was once a Portuguese settlement for some 400 years.  Most local restaurants I visited offered a similar menu. Prices were reasonable.

Around Diu, the Lord Shiva temple Somnath is an hour away. Less than an hour further is The Gir Lion Reserve, and about 3 hours from Diu is Junagadh with is Maqbara, Fort and Caves.  The Jain temples at Palitana are a 4 hour drive.

Diu has daily flights to Mumbai.  Other airports with a 4 to 5 hours drive are Rajkot and Bhavnagar.  Veraval, an hour away is the closest feasible rail junction.  There are bus services to Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Sasan, Somnath and nearby places.

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