I’ve had a lot of good times in Goa, trust me, but from a road-trip perspective if I had been to Murud or Kashid earlier during my stint in Pune I would have never pained myself with the long drive just for a few days of relaxation. Don’t get me wrong, Goa is great from a social point of view: awesome restaurants, boutique shopping, lounge chairs on the beach with food and drink service, 5-star hotels…but for just a few days of chilling with the fam or some friends, Air BnB-ing a bungalow in the Kashid/Murud area and cooking at home all weekend would have been a much better option in my opinion.
What this area doesn’t have is fussiness. You can really just get back to basics and have a relaxing time. If you’re looking for high quality cuisine and bumping nightlife around fellow cosmopolitan-ites, you won’t find that, unless its in your own rented accommodation J think beach shacks, local roadside eateries, and unpopulated beaches instead.
Here’s why I loved it, and what would make me return:
1. Proximity to Pune.
You can drive there in 4-6 hours. Yeah yeah yeah, Google Maps says 3.5, but give or take a break for the bathroom/snacks/chai, a random waterfall picture stop (or two or three), random traffic, or unexpected bad road conditions, you and I both know Google Maps is a rough guess (just like the one that says it’ll take you 8 hours to Goa, haha).
2. Kashid Beach
This is a lovely way to spend a day or at least a few hours. The beach has light colored sand, and is relatively clean. The water is refreshing and the waves aren’t too high. There are horses that you can ride and get pictures with for Rs. 100/- and also horse-drawn carts if you fancy a trip up and down the beach. There is ample parking, changing rooms, a public toilet (bring your own toilet paper and please spare 5 or 10 rupees for the family that tends to it), plenty of beach shacks serving snacks, drinks, and coconut water. They even had eggs when we showed up at 9am!
3. That GORGEOUS Drive.
Here's the route we took on the way back. It was a suggestion from a shopkeeper in Kashid. It wasn’t exactly direct, but it was far more enjoyable and actually ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. It also beat the way we arrived, through two hours of potholes from Kolad. The roads back were in excellent shape (except for the awful beginning of Tamhini Ghat Road) and passed through some beautiful scenery; waterfalls, cliffs, grasslands, jungle. It also had lots of fun, winding switchbacks. I suggest going during monsoon or shortly thereafter to get the full benefit of the greenery.
4. Janjira Fort
This fort is insane. Beautifully constructed on its own island, it is the only one of its kind. You take a little sailboat to reach the fort (warning, there is no boat motor and no life jackets!) and there are guides for hire, though if you read up about it before you go, you won’t need one. You can basically walk all over the fort on your own, it’s a lot of fun to explore. This is a good way to sink a half day and you can have lunch afterward at the Sea Rock Restaurant near the ferry departure point, or take my recommendation below, get some crazy good chicken biryani down the street and find a nice spot to sit and enjoy it.
5. The Biryani in Murud
Bear with me, these directions are a little vague. If you go to Janjira Fort, you’ll walk up a little road that takes you to the ferry and the ticket counter (on the right). Before that, on the same road, is a guy on the left who sells biryani in a huge steel pot. Bring your own fork if you don’t want to eat it with your hands. It is super super tasty; please do not be scared because it isn’t a proper-looking restaurant. This guy has serious biryani skills.
6. Cute Bungalows!
I did not have the foresight to go on Air BnB. This was a last minute trip so I just left town on a moment’s notice…a trend in my travel-planning, or lack thereof. I stayed in a Rs. 1000/- per night hotel, which shall remain nameless, that had a fantastic view of the sea and just about nothing else. Anyway when I got home and went online to do a bit more research, I checked out Air BnB and found a bunch of really adorable bungalows and rooms for rent. So if you go, do that! I know I would if I had the chance again.