Cruising down the Maharashtrian coastline

Cruising down the Maharashtrian coastline

Expanding over 720km of the western shores of the Indian peninsula, is the majestic Maharashtrian coastline. Its centuries old liaison with the Arabian Sea, gives the country some of its most popular beaches and tourist destinations. The coastline can be broadly divided into 5 districts namely Thane, Raigad, Greater Bombay, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, each housing spell-bindingly beautiful and surprisingly fun beaches.

From a peace seeker's haven to a foodie's paradise, Maharashtra's seaboards cater to everyone’s beach-side holiday requirements! But to make planning for your next holiday, easier, here's our list of the 10 best beach towns in Maharashtra:

1. Alibaug

You've probably heard a lot about Bollywood’s favourite weekend getaway, but here’s why its earned the much-deserved title. Alibaug is a short drive or ferry away from Mumbai. With numerous old forts and churches, the town has a lot to offer tourists out to explore. Housing numerous resorts and rentable farmhouses, lodging in Alibaug is rather easy to find. The cherry on top is its perennially pleasant weather that makes this destination a must visit when in Mumbai.

2. Ganapatipule Beach

Bejewelled with the 400-year-old Swayambhu Temple, Ganapatipule is a popular tourist destination amongst religious tourists who visit this quaint beach town to offer prayers to the deity against the backdrop of beautiful scenic views. The town is also home to the Jaigad Fort and offers an array of water sports for tourist recreation. The pride of the Konkan coast, this Ganpatipule also boasts of a large variety of restaurants that offer the most finger licking local Konkan cuisine (We can vouch for the deliciousness of the Ambapoli and Phanspoli pancakes there). You can reach here via road - a 7hour drive from Mumbai or a 6hours drive from Pune. The nearest train station is Ratnagiri which is about 45 minute drive away.

3. Malvan

With divine drumsticks curry to the absolutely delectable mutton and chicken sagoti, Malvan, the birth place of Malvani cuisine, is the promised land for foodies. Offering pristine beaches like the Tarkali and Vengurla Beach, the small township of Malvan is a Maharashtrian gem! The 17th century sea forts Sindhudurg Fort and Padmagarh Fort are a must see attraction there. Malvan can be reached by road - 10 hours from Mumbai and 8 hours from Pune. The nearest train station is Kudal.

4. Dhanu and Bordi

The two townships in the Thane district are about 19km apart and are the hidden treasure of the western coastline. Famous for Chikoo orchards, the tranquil scenery at Dhanu is a feast for the eyes and the mind and a great place to unwind. The Bahrot caves, the only Zoroastrian temple in India, near Dhanu, are a national treasure. About thirty minutes away is Bordi, a town known for its beautiful flora and peaceful beaches. For the thrill seekers the nearby Mahalaxmi, Asherigad, and Kaho hills offer fabulous hiking experiences. Dhanu has its own train station making the two towns very accessible.

5. Shriwardhan and Harihareshwar

A prominent name in Maharashtra’s history, this “Town of Peshwas” is the birth place of Balaji Vishwanath and today houses the Peshwa Smarak. Its beautiful beaches are covered in blackish sand and are seldom crowded. Water sports like paragliding and surfing are quite popular among tourists. The town is short 3 to 4-hour drive away from Mumbai city. About 30km away from Shriwardhan is the serene town of Harihareshwar, that is known for its breathtakingly beautiful beaches and famous temples. The two towns are also known for the restaurants that serve fresh and delicious Konkan style food and seafood.

6. Kashid

Further south on the Arabian shore is the coastal town of Kashid. Due to its proximity to Alibaug, it does get quite a high foot fall on weekends; the weekdays however are relatively quieter. Covered with groves of casuarina trees, the town has a relaxing vibe. The Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary and the Murud- Janjira Fort are the main tourist attractions here.

7. Madh Island

North of Mumbai and a quick boat ride from Versova, is a group of several small fishing villages and farmlands, together they’re known as Madh Island. The area is highly protected by the Koli community who have successfully prevented attempts at improving accessibility. But being the protectors of the land, the community has also ensured that the beaches and flora there are cared for, aiding to the sustenance of its natural beauty. Madh Island is home to a number of artists who seek the quiet life to dispense their creative genius.

8. Vengurla

With the Shri Devi Sateri Temple and Rameshwar Mandir, this township in the Sindhudurg district is no stranger to tourism. This erstwhile trading town was actually burned down twice, and thus earned the name “Burnt island”. Vengurla also houses two forts - the Sindhudurg and Padmagad forts. The hills surrounding the town make for excellent hiking trails for adventurous travellers. A 10 hour drive away from Mumbai, this little town is well worth the effort and the visit.

9. Velneshwar Beach

A six-hour drive away from Mumbai, this township is home to an ancient Shiva temple that beckons many a religious traveler during the auspicious festival of Mahashivratri. Yet, if quiet time is what you’re seeking, this is the place for you! Its old world charm allows you to disconnect from the humdrum of everyday life and just take a break to rejuvenate.

10. Bassein Beach

A popular tourist destination thanks to its crystal clear waters and uncrowded beaches, this erstwhile Portuguese settlement is a mere 77km away from Mumbai. The Buddhist remains at Nalasopara, only 10 km away from Bassein receives many curious travelers. Bassein is also home to many temples and houses the remains of an old Portuguese fort, but what tourists love the most are the Akloli hot springs.

All these coastal beach destinations are a short drive away from one another making planning that weekend road trip easy and fun!

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