Goa is the land of quintessential balmy beaches. And while the beaches in North Goa are all about the happening crowd and the sizzling nightlife, the beaches in South Goa will make you feel at peace with their serenity and rustic charm. The romantic Dona Paula Beach is one such lovely beach in South Goa. Located only 7 kilometers away from Panjim, the capital of Goa, this beach is nestled on a rocky cape where the rivers, Mandovi and Zuari, merge into the Arabian Sea. Brimming with palm and casuarina woods, the verdant beach offers a stunning view of the Mormugao Harbor and is a must-visit for a plethora of reasons.
The myth of Dona Paula
Centuries ago, the area surrounding the beach used to be a little fishing village. Goa was under Portuguese rule back then. Legend has it that Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior, the daughter of a Portuguese Viceroy, fell in love with a fisherman from this village. But her family opposed this match severely, and it led to her jumping off a cliff into the Arabian Sea. The beach was named the Dona Paula Beach after her. And even though this saga is decidedly tragic, it motivates hordes of couples to spend quality time here. This is why the beach is called the Lovers’ Paradise. Situated right next to the beach, the cliff from which Paula supposedly jumped off is famous as the Suicide Point. The cliff has a beautiful, white Greco-Roman style arched structure and two marble statues that are believed to be that of Paula and her lover. Whether this story is true or not, the Suicide Point is definitely an amazing place that offers a splendid panoramic view of the cape. Watching the sunset from the cliff with the cool sea breeze touching your face will be an experience to cherish.
The Dona Paula Beach
Dona Paula is one of the best beaches in Goa to relax and bask in the sun. However, if you are not the one to laze around, you’ll be happy to know that the Dona Paula Beach offers some of the most exciting water sports opportunities. Windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, parasailing, water scooter riding, and yachting are some of the popular activities that you can engage in here. The beach is also perfect for indulging in some retail therapy. Pick up the famous Goan cashews, quirky jewelry, breezy clothes, and the earthy local liqueur, Feni. Located only a kilometer away from the beach is the National Institute of Oceanography that deals in marine biology, and also in marine and coastal oceanography. The Marine Biology Museum and the Taxonomy Reference Center inside the institute are the two most exciting places that attract hundreds of people.
The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Another place near the beach that warrants a visit is the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, located on Chorao Island, about 10 kilometers away from the beach. The bird sanctuary is a mangrove forest frequented by people to catch a glimpse of myriad migratory birds in their natural habitat. You need to board a bus or cab from Panjim to the Ribandar ferry jetty, from where a ferry ride across the Mandovi River will take you to Chorao Island. The bird sanctuary is a few minutes away from the ferry jetty. You can visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary anytime between 6 AM and 6 PM.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, GoaDr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Chorao Island, Ilhas, Ribandar, Goa 403006, India
The Reis Magos Church
Goa is renowned for being home to some of the most gorgeous churches in India. The Reis Magos Church, one of the oldest churches in the city, is located 10 kilometers away from the Dona Paula Beach. Constructed in 1555, it was built even before the foundation stone of the Basilica of Bom Jesus was laid in old Goa! The church is said to be dedicated to Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, the three mages who went to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus Christ. The pristine white church stands tall inside the boundaries of the Cabo de Rama Fort, which is in ruins now. The Reis Magos Church has the Portuguese coat of arms imprinted on its white facade and vibrant stunning interiors. Look out for the colorful relief work carved in wood that shows the three mages carrying gifts for Baby Jesus, just behind the high altar. The church remains open on all days of the week from 6 AM to 11 PM. You can board a bus or a cab from Panjim to reach the church.
A tranquil day at the beach
The months of November-March are the busiest in Goa. During this period, the Dona Paula Beach can get somewhat crowded. The rest of the year, the beautiful beach is heavenly. With the myth of an immortal romance attached to it, there is a whiff of love coursing through its air. If you want to spend some time away from the din of the maddening crowd, now you know your way in and around Goa's Dona Paula Beach.
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