Done with Goa? Do the Diu
Just off the southern coast of Gujarat is a colorful little island called Diu. From Mumbai, it makes for an easy weekend trip -- a welcome alternative to Goa, with its own sandy, lazy atmosphere.
The former Portuguese colony has historic architecture, gracefully decaying churches and long beaches similar to those found in Goa, but without the heavy crowds or the beckoning calls of touts. It may not be as tropical or as trendy but the wide, well-paved roads, quiet streets, inexpensive drinks and bare beaches make up for a lot.
• Mopeds and motorcycles. Diu has safe, properly paved roads (which should be the envy of all of India) and minimal traffic.
• Beaches. Nagoa beach is the most popular with tourists. A few kilometers west is Gompitmata beach. The long sandy strip is often empty and has some of the biggest waves on the island.
• Get lost in Diu Town. Narrow streets with walls painted in bright pinks, blues and greens, decaying buildings in the old Portuguese style and smiling faces make a trip off the main drag and into the back roads of Diu Town a pleasant way to interact with locals.
• Cheap drinks. Beer, wine and liquor are inexpensive. An icy cold bottle of Indian Kingfisher goes for Rs 40 at most hotels and restaurants. A bottle of local port wine -- often served on ice -- will set you back Rs 130.
• Beach buffet. Although Diu is an island, the selection of seafood is often limited and most restaurants are a bit drab. Vegetarians will be stuck with oily Gujarati curries and bland continental whatever. One exception is the breakfast at La Dolce Vita, where the French toast is excellent.
• Nightlife. Finding things to do after dark is a challenge. The island's few hotel bars are usually empty in the evenings. Diu's single club, Footloose disco, was closed for repairs when we visited.
• Getting there. Jet Airways flies from Mumbai to Diu. The flight takes one hour. By bus, the trip from the hub at Una to Diu takes about five hours on a very bumpy road.
• Moped and scooter rental. Sounds strange, but the best place to score a scooter is at Tasty Fast Food, which rents mopeds for Rs 100 a day, scooters for Rs 150 and motorcycles for Rs 200. Located opposite the Jethibai Bust Stand in Diu Town. Call Manish Thakar at tel. +91 99132 16495.
• Sleep. Located about five kilometers from Diu Town in Fofrara Fudam, Sea Village Resort (tel. +91 0 2875 254345) has somewhat rundown shacks on Sunset Point. A room without air conditioning costs Rs 300 a day; Rs 500 with a/c. Azzaro resort (tel. +91 0 2875 255421; www.azzarodiu.com) has suites with flat screen televisions, cushy beds and views of a glimmering pool at Rs 4,000 per night.
• Internet. The fastest Internet connection can be found at A to Z (Vaniya Street near Pancharti Road). It costs Rs 40 an hour to surf. A to Z also handles travel reservations and can book bus and plane tickets out of Diu.