For me, this trip to Cola is very special for several reasons. First, this is my first solo trip. Second, this place is very beautiful and has been on my list since long. Third, I learnt few important lessons that will make my future solo trips easier and more memorable. Fourth, it is Goa!
Cola beach and Dwarka Beach Resort (my favorite resort on Cola beach) have been on my list since 2008. But due to lack of funds or unavailability of leaves, this trip did not happen till now. This year when I desperately wanted to take a break, Cola and Dwarka popped into my mind. I asked my friends if anyone could join me and as usual, they had office or personal commitments. I did not like the idea that my trip’s fate was actually dependent on someone else’s decision and not mine. So I decided to go solo.
Being a solo female traveler, I was a little apprehensive but Clemente, the owner of Dwarka beach resort, assured me. I asked for an elevated room with views of lagoon and sea. Clemete reserved one for me. There is no proper road to reach Cola. Hence, I asked Clemente to pick me up from the bus stop. Finally, I made all the reservations and the long-awaited Cola trip did happen!
Sandesh, the cab driver, picked me up from Ponda. After one and half an hour journey, with the last 15-20 minutes of kutcha road, he asked me to get down. We must walk the last couple of minutes to reach the resort and beach. I got down and noticed that there were steps down among shrubs and trees. The path itself was beautiful. Some unknown fragrant flowers from the trees fell down on the steps and their fragrance was awesome and subtle. It felt like a scene straight out of a movie.
Happy with entrance itself, I looked forward to the beach and my room. Then I saw the lagoon. It was very beautiful. We crossed the tiny bridge across lagoon and after a minute walk, I could see the beautiful sea. Siddesh of Dwarka resort, received me and asked me to wait for sometime in the restaurant. The sea views from restaurant were very gorgeous. The sea color was a combination of shades of blue, turquoise and green depending on the time of day. The beach was very pleasant and calm. The resort is very well placed; lagoon on the right and sea in the front.
The highlight was the views from my room. When the room was shown, I was totally blown away!
I could see the beautiful shimmering sea even from the bathroom. There is glass between bedroom and bathroom. The glass towards bedroom had a reflective coating and reflected the beautiful images of sea. The glass towards bathroom was not reflective and one can see the sea views through it. This ensured both privacy and views.
The bedroom and bathroom were done very thoughtfully and beautifully. The cupboards, lockers, hangers and literally everything was placed in the room after some serious thought. The mattress was very comfortable, firm enough and yet soft; the best I have slept upon. There were coconut trees between the rooms to ensure privacy when guests were sitting in the balcony. The views and room were so beautiful that I broke my rule of not clicking pictures till I have experienced the place entirely.
After lunch at Dwarka, I had a brief conversation with Siddesh and he told me about a path to a cliff from where the views were great. So by 6 PM, after having some coffee, I grabbed my camera and went to the cliff. The views were indeed incredible! Since it was mid March, the sun kept blazing away till 6:15 – 6:30 PM. The blinding light of sun was so intense that I could not even see the round outline of sun till 6:30 PM. For a brief period of few minutes before sunset, the receding waves reflecting the sunlight looked like liquid gold.
I managed to come down to the beach in time to capture this picture of twilight and a lone bright planet. Forgive the slight camera shake. I had very little time and before I could take another picture, the light was gone.
I visited Cola during full moon time. I had some plans to click pictures of full moon over sea if I managed to wake up very early by 3-4am. Luckily, even without setting up alarm, I woke up by 3:40am and the night was glorious! Right from the bed I could the see the shimmering sea reflecting the moon light. I stepped out into the balcony. It was cold and there was moisture on the floor. The sight of full moon on the sea, with no lights and no soul around, was simply breathtaking.
Forgive the lens flare in the pictures. I will fix them soon.
After taking shots for around 40 minutes, I just wanted to get back to the warm cozy bed. It was very cold unlike the super hot afternoons. Then I understood why thick blankets were provided. I switched off the bed light and room was filled with the moon light! I dozed off watching the moon and shimmering sea from bed.
The next day, I had late breakfast and walked around the beautiful rocky beach. In the evening, I saw glowing moon rising behind the green mountains during my walk. After watching beautiful sunsets from the cliff, I used to get down and see the moon rise. This became my daily routine there.
One night, the staff at Dwarka arranged for barbecue and placed tables and chairs on the beach. They placed chairs facing the sea. But I noticed that moon was shining brightly over Dwarka resort (behind me and opposite to sea) and I did not intend to miss either views of moon or sea. So I changed the position of chair and so that moon was on my left and sea was on my right. The gorgeous views coupled with the roaring waves, made my dinner very memorable. After dinner, I had a pleasant walk on the beach. The warm sea water, cool sand and cold dewy night was a perfect ending to a bright hot day.
The rest of the days were spent doing nothing except walking on the beach, getting into the sea, climbing the cliff and watching the lagoon. The sea water was warm during the cold nights and cool during the hot afternoons. When there was no one around, I chased crabs on the beach. The crabs on beach were camouflaged to match the sand color while those on the rocks matched the rock’s color. At one place on the beach, the sea foam was so strong that it sprayed droplets of sea water while I was walking. The bad cellphone coverage at Dwarka was a blessing. I had time to unwind and, connect with myself and the place.
I liked the blazing sun and reflections on the sea during the hot bright afternoons. But even with an ND filter on the lens, I could not take even one second long exposure shot. That’s how bright the afternoons were. This picture is the best I could take from the restaurant.
The lagoon had crystal clear water. I could see the bottom of the lagoon from the cliff during afternoons. One tourist yelled to his friend “Arey mere per dikhre” (Hey, I can see my feet) when he was neck deep in lagoon.
The lagoon is also home to some fish. Early morning, birds come to lagoon for a drink and maybe even a meal. During the later part of the day, humans take over the lagoon. I also spotted some colorful kingfishers while coming to the resort.
Now comes the sad part. Some tourists are spoiling this paradise. There were some plastic bottles thrown on the beach. I brought some of them back to the resort only to realize that there were many more. I hope the resorts there would provide refills and charge them instead of selling bottled water. At one corner place in the beach, I saw food and paper plates thrown away. The least they could do was to throw them in dustbin in a nearby resort/restaurant. Tourists also forget that the lagoon is home to several birds and fish, and use it recklessly. I hope something is done about these issues soon before this paradise is lost like other places in Goa.
A note to travelers:
- Do not throw plastic and do not litter.
- Cola is not a party destination. Go there for peace, serenity and your time. For parties, head to Calangute and Baga.
- Respect others’ space and contribute towards preserving the real Goan experience – live and let live.
I thought of visiting Cabo de Rama fort and going on short treks. But Cola was so beautiful that I dropped those ideas.
And I was so right about my choice of Dwarka. Dwarka resort and the staff, Siddesh, Madan and Sagar, made my trip more memorable. In fact in my memories, Cola and Dwarka are inseparable.
The only thing I missed in this trip was authentic Goan food. The food was very bland and flavorless to my taste. Being a south Indian, I love spicy and flavorful food. The staff did their best to make food spicier and more flavorful for my taste but that definitely was not the authentic Goan food.
The last day, I just could not leave this beautiful place. I am definitely going back to Dwarka coming winter with or without company.
Looking back, I absolutely loved my first solo travel experience. I did not miss not having friends with me and in fact, I felt more connected with the place. While going from Hyderabad to Goa, I packed food and had dinner in the bus as I was not sure if I can eat alone in a shabby dhaba. But while coming back, I was far more confident. I had dinner at the same shabby dhaba but peacefully and at my own pace, like I usually do. After dinner, I got myself a little cup of piping hot tea and had it outside dhaba enjoying the cool breeze and watching moon! The whole experience was extremely liberating. I need not wait for someone to join me. My trip’s fate will not be dependent on someone else’s decision. If I want to go, I go!