Marriage is hard work even at its best. When you throw in a baby, postpartum hormones, and a great sense of confusion about ‘where to from here’ in the mix, the results can be disastrous. Having landed in exactly that kind of soup, our marriage was going through more than a rough patch, and being believers in the therapeutic powers of travel, we figured taking a holiday would be a great way to re-connect and rekindle the, if not lost, then dwindling spark.
Husband dearest had read of Ahmedabad-Diu as one of the must-do road trips in India somewhere on the internet. Being based out of Gandhinagar, Gujarat, (which is almost Ahmedabad) worked to your advantage. With the promise of a one-of-its-kind drive on a highway flanked by the mighty Arabian Sea, we set out for out getaway in the blistering heat of June. The prospect of dodging the tourist influx made the off-season appealing, the scorching heat notwithstanding.
On an Endless Journey
Our idea of a holiday almost always involves hitting the road, not matter the distance, and so, on several occasions in the past we had be royally deceived by the Google Maps navigation that has an uncanny knack of taking you off highways and into obscure villages with non-existent roads. This time, the man at the wheel was firm in his resolve to not deviate from the highway. Since the trip was all about trying to agree more than argue, I decided to play along, but in doing so, we ended up missing the turn for Bhavnagar and reached Rajkot, adding a good 127 km to our journey in the bargain. With a 10-month-old baby on the lap and a restless dog in the rear, even a 100 km can seem like an eternity. Realizing that we were lost, we NOW decided to follow the GPS navigation religiously because making a pit stop to ask the locals for directions is a concept alien to men. So, we were back to traversing through the muddy trails of dingy villages, only to get caught in what must be the heaviest downpour we have witnessed in our lifetime. It was, as if, someone up there was emptying tank loads of water, threatening to send our very sturdy Tata Safari sliding off the road. With visibility reduced to less than 50 metres, we were now moving at a snail’s pace of 20 kmph. And as is the case with kids always, our little one came down with high fever out of the nowhere. We weren’t even close to our destination and I was half-regretting my decision to hit the road with a baby in tow. That we were nowhere close to driving with the ocean to our side was certainly the least of our concerns right now.
Drizzly, Breezy Welcome
After nearly 13 hours on the road, we finally hit the ‘Welcome to Diu’ sign engraved on a colonial looking concrete arch. The now sleepy town was drenched in light drizzled and we instantly rolled down our windows, and were welcomed by the intoxicating breeze typical of a seaside. The current task at hand was to locate our hotel, which went pretty smoothly. Google Maps finally decided to have mercy! As you drive deeper into the town, the road rises up to form a bridge, and takes you over the ocean. Our dream of driving through the midst of the sea did come true, even if for a brief 2 minutes. For our exhausted bodies and minds, it was welcome rejuvenation.
The Hoka Island Resort
The Hoka Island Resort, they have since renamed the facility as The Hoka Island Villa, is a cosy little hotel right next to Nagoa Beach. They are also the only pet-friendly hotel in the area. They were not only happy to meet our four-legged baby but accommodating enough to allow him in our room. The staff was courteous and friendly, going the extra mile to make us feel at home even though it was well close to midnight by the time we arrived there. One of managers instantly whisked the little one off my arms, giving me some much needed respite and allowing us time to settle down in our room. They were also happy to fix a quick meal for us at that hour. The rooms were nothing swanky. In fact, a tad too small if you are looking to fit in four beings in it, but nothing that you cannot get used to. The colourful decor and happy vibe of the place instantly worked in its favour, and we didn’t even bother checking out the other facilities we had made inquires at.
A Morning at Nagoa
The next morning we set out after a hearty breakfast at The Hoka, and spent most of the morning guzzling down beers and lazying around at the Nagoa Beach. We drove to the top of what seemed like an abrupt cliff and parked there to taking in the expanse of the mighty Arabian. One of our descend we decided to drive around the beach a little before heading out to the town. As we took a rather wide U-turn at the fag end of the beach, our car came to a grinding halt, its tyres stuck in the wet send. The next two hours were spent trying to get the white beast moving, with a little help from a bunch of boys from nearby hutments, which cost us a dear 3 grand! Apparently adventure seeking tourists getting stuck on the beach sand was routine, and these boys had found a way to make a quick buck out of it. They dug the sand from underneath the tyres, then placed wooden planks to give the car some traction, and repeated the drill several times until we were good to go. They did their happy dance, we fell back to our hotel, famished and with sullen faces.
Washed Over by the Tide
In the evening, we were back at the beach. Beers, baby and pooch in tow. We were lazing about, helping ourselves to some seafood snacks from the nearby stalls, talking and staring at the sun go down. Late into the evening, long after most visitors had left, we were still there, soaking up the lazy holiday vibe to the T. The little one was playing in the sand, we sat with our feet dipped in ocean waters. A highway patrol guy passing by warned us to move back as it was a high tide. We adjusted our position a tad, not taking his caution too seriously. In a matter of minutes, a huge wave washed us over, knocking the kid sideways, and sending us scurrying after our belongings. Drenched and in splits, we lay there under the shining moon for a little while before calling it a night.
The Touristy Things
On our third day in Diu, we set out to do the typical touristy stuff. Spending the morning taking a tour of the might Diu Fort, which with its imposing walls, canon guns facing the ocean and intricate carving on the inner walls is a delight to behold. Like with any other fort, be prepared for a lot of walking and put on a pair of comfortable shoes. In my beach holiday spirit, I went in a pair of strappy sandals and regretted it immensely. Food is a big part of a holiday experience for me. And so, having built an appetite after the Fort tour, I searched for a fancy cafe, settled for one in the gated, old part of the city. However, the cafe remained elusive. After several rounds of the congested roads in this part of the town, we realised we just going in circles around the St Paul’s Church. Since it was right there, we decided to go in and explore the church and head out to eat at the next restaurant that came our way, which, sadly, happened to be some vegetarian bhojanalya kinda place. Grumpy from this experience, I decided we were having the rest of our meals at the Hoka. With a fairly elaborate menu, great seafood preparations and a variety of cuisines, there wasn’t much to complain about that choice.
Our fourth and final day was spent beach hopping. We went from Jallandhar Beach to Vanakbara Beach, Ghoghla Beach, the INS Khukri Memorial, back to Nagoa, and finally, to Chakratirth for a sunset sighting. We got there fairly early, and the beach was almost abandoned, save for a few dogs scavenging in the distance. The beach is studded with broken sea shells that shine brighter that jewels under the sunlight. The water is a mesmerising shade of blue, and the peace and quiet of the place makes you never want to go back. We spent close to three hours marvelling at the beauty of this unadulterated sight, and headed back after watching the sun go down in the blue water like a ball of amber being doused out.
It was wrap on a quick getaway that proved to be everything we had hoped for, and more. Diu is the kind of vacation you must take to enjoy the simple joys of life, minus the worldly humdrum.
On our way back, we took the route that we were meant to take originally, but the ocean by the highway remained an elusive still. When we were way past Bhavnagar, and there was no hope of any ocean showing up anymore, I finally Googled what route it was that we had planned this entire holiday on. Turns out, it was the Chennai-Pondicherry drive that husband dearest had mistaken for Ahmedabad-Diu. So close!