Coco beach lies at the mouth of the Nerul River on the Mandovi Estuary, directly opposite Panaji. It is on the northern bank of the Mandovi River across the narrow Sinquerim rivulet from the famous Aguada Fort. Getting there is really half the fun. Drive approximately 5 km from Calangute towards the sleepy village of Nerul and take a diversion at the imposing Nerul Church. You then drive onto a pencil slim road, at the end of which lies the beach. The road will only accommodate one car going in one direction at any given time!
A hair’s breadth left or right and your car can go off-road into the surrounding fields! If you come across a cow sitting across the road or a car headed your way, stop and ask the Goan gods for help – this is a traffic snarl of the worst kind.
But, if you’re holding your breath by this point, continue holding it. Once you’ve reached the end of the road the view makes the ‘narrowing’ experience totally worth it. Laid-back, idyllic, peaceful – Coco beach is all these and more. Although it is has always been one of Goa’s smaller beaches, over fishing and erosion have denuded it further, over time. It is this sense of approaching expansive views of the ocean through a narrow road and a small stretch of sand that lends Coco beach its air of intimate retreat. The picturesque stretch is awash with lovely private residences, fishing boats and charter yachts bobbing in the water.
While the waters aren’t ideal for swimming due to some degree of pollution from fuel, Coco beach makes for a pretty day out. The sands are covered with tiny shells, there are no shacks, vendors or hawkers to speak of and the general air is one of a beach that commercial Goa has forgotten about.
Besides gaze at the water, you can pack a picnic to enjoy in hidden spots around the beach. Walking around is great not only to feel the sand in your toes or to add to your shell collection, but to come across some lovely nooks and corners where you might find a private home, a tiny typical Goan guesthouse or even baskets full of sea salt drying in the sun. Apparently, the dry salt is used to repel pests around coconut trees.
Aside from sleeping, lazing, eating and drinking, you can wander down to the beach for a swim or a dose of dolphin watching. There are only a couple of restaurants at Coco beach. The Moonbay Resort offers the Waterfront restaurant and the Dolphin View Fast Food counter. Choose from Tandoori specialties, Indian thalis, hearty breakfast options or healthier sandwiches and salads. The food is tasty, clean and very reasonable. And the best part is that you’re eating your fresh catch of the day right by the water.
There are a few tour operators who offer dolphin trips, simple boat rides or even fishing trips. The best time to go dolphin spotting would be early morning. One can even take a boat out to catch some water sports or scuba diving.
For more exclusive water babies, the private boat charter company, Scaramanga has its office here. Offering a host of cruises from celebratory to romantic to adventurous fishing trips, the company’s fleet of luxury boats offers an elegant way to explore the vast open seas. Charter a boat and cut loose with these private, fully crewed charters that can be custom tailored to suit individual requests.
Some sight seeing can also be done in the area. There is the impressive Reis Magos Church and Reis Magos Fort. Formerly a prison, the Portuguese Fort is currently undergoing massive restoration and is closed to the public. Further down the estuary from Coco beach, the small beach of Quedevelim is also worth a visit. For history buffs, Nerul Church is a nice way to spend an afternoon.Image Credits: Coco Beach, by Karunakanth Bathula.