To arrive in Diu we needed to get an overnight train from Jamnagar to Veraval. Then a bus at 5am to Diu, arriving at approx 7am. Now let me just tell you this, Jamnagar was a shit-hole. We could not wait to leave the dirty, smelly, mosquito infested city. Diu HAD to be heaven to redeem a fairly pants couple of days.
On the bus to Diu, as we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises of the whole trip, we could tell Diu would live up to our expectations. Our hostel Golden Paying Guesthouse was clean, had a bathroom that didn’t smell like drainpipes and even had English movie channels. It’s the small things. Especially on an island where siestas are absolutely acknowledged, watching The Incredibles is just what you need.
The island was colonised by the Portuguese back in the 1500’s and they’ve left their mark behind. Shoreline walkways with mosaic styled tiles and houses splashed with colour. Walking along the coastal path you really do feel like you’ve wandered onto the streets of Lagos. The salty breeze, smell of fishermen bringing in their catch for the morning and the seriously cheap beer combine to create the holiday feeling we’ve been looking for!
Since the island is at the most southern point of Gujurat (not part of Gujurat itself hence why alcohol is legal here) not many white tourists visit. However, it is a very popular spot for Indians. Beer at 10am? For Indian men apparently the answer is ‘why not?’. Most Indian tourists were congregated on the Western end of the island with the luxury resorts. We stayed in Diu town which is on the Eastern side of the island. There’s barely any traffic/noise, even in the town, so you can actually let yourself unwind a little.
As soon as we sat down for breakfast on the first morning and took a deep breath, we were instantly content.
Walking along the breezy shore front will take you towards Diu Fort, which is exactly what we did on our first afternoon. We took our time stopping at various lookouts along the way to take in the sea view. One lookout is named ‘Diu Fort viewpoint’ and as we were stood contemplating litter on beaches, we noticed some bobbling heads surfacing to the water and then diving away again. Green sea turtles were feeding just off the shoreline – so close to the island! Once we’d seen one we couldn’t stop noticing them. At least the empty beer bottles doesn’t put them off!
A wander around the old Portuguese built fort allows some glorious views of the Gujarati coastline and out towards the Arabian Sea. Oh, and the fort is completely free to walk around! By the time we’d finished our stroll it was around 2pm and the breeze wasn’t enough to stop the 38 degree heat from getting to us. Siesta time it is! Well, after a quick beer…
As an island destination Diu has numerous beaches, mostly all located on its southern coast. The best way to visit all of them is to rent a scooter/moped. There are plenty of shops with ‘bikes to rent’ labelled on their shop door. A scooter will put you back around 400 rupees for one day. Whilst I was still a nervous wreck on the back of our scooter, the roads on Diu are probably the safest in India. There is barely any traffic at all, even on Sundays (the time Indians come for their holiday). We just needed to remember some rules we’ve picked up through observations along our trip:
1. Beep. Even if no one is there, beep. 10 points for every person you cause to go deaf from beeping.
2. Indicate, but don’t bother using your indicators, no one is looking at them. Just use your hands.
3. No need to do a proper U-turn, driving on the wrong side of the road is normal.
4. If any people are crossing the road, don’t slow down they will probably move.
5. Don’t kill any cows. This one is deadly serious though. You’ll probably get stabbed for hitting a cow. (We were told a man got stabbed for trying to move a cow off the road so he could get past on his motorbike).
We stopped off at several beaches along the way including Gomtimata Beach which is located on the most Western point of the island (empty but quite littered). Nagoa beach is the busiest beach on the island, all the luxury resorts residents go to this beach – we didn’t stop for that reason. Jalandhar beach is OK, you might see a few drunk Indian men stumbling along the sand. By far the best beach on the island, in our opinion, was Chakratirth beach. This beach was empty every single time we visited, it had almost no litter and it’s safe to swim in due to a reef forming a natural sea break. It also happens to be a brilliant spot to watch the sunset from, get there early to secure a good spot!
This was my first opportunity to sunbathe in a bikini, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. Whether I’d feel a bit too uncomfortable or not. But because the beach was so empty of people I felt absolutely fine. I kept some running shorts on but was lying on the sand in my bikini with no problems. I just made sure to put my top back on before we left!
Fishing is probably the biggest employment on the island. The fishing boats are fantastic, small and super colourful. They remind me of the Indian trucks the way they’re painted so extravagantly. From what we could see there is plenty of fish around the waters of the island. So we were excited to see what would be at their local fish market.
We crossed the bridge into Ghoghola for the 6:30pm market before heading out to dinner (still on our scooter). The market is only small, which is a good thing. I left feeling concerned and upset about what I’d actually seen.
Forgetting that none of the fish was kept on ice (a whole other problem). The actual fish that was being caught was all wrong. Most fish were small, probably they hadn’t reach adulthood yet and so would not have a chance to breed. They were also catching fish that should be put back in the water, such as rays and baby sharks. To rub salt in the wound we were then offered baby shark at the restaurant we went to afterwards. A baby?? Why have you taken a baby shark out of the water? As if they don’t suffer enough persecution.
It’s hard because these are only local fishermen, there weren’t any large fishing boats around. Plus we had seen plenty of fish in the waters, but then why at the markets were the majority of fish yet to reach adulthood? There were barely any full sized fish there! I don’t know enough about how this all works but like I said before, it concerned me.
Being back by the ocean, with the salty air and the sand in our toes, felt so good. We really didn’t want to have to leave after only 2 days. I could easily have watched another couple of sunsets from Chakratirth beach or explored the middle of the island some more. Diu has been a paradise for us and a much needed ‘break’ from our travels.
I guess all I have left to say is I do like to be beside the seaside, oh I do like to be beside the sea.