Bombay to Goa – Whatte a Drive!

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Unlike a train or flight route, the Mumbai-Goa self-drive is so picturesque and fun!
It was a God-sent opportunity, literally!

Holi fell on Tuesday, March 10th. With Monday off, we could string together a straight four-day weekend getaway! Not having slid behind the wheels of my SUV for almost a quarter of a year meant that this was an opportunity of a lifetime, not to be missed!

To add sugar to the deal, my favourite hotel in Goa, Ocean Palms Goa in Calangute was making a fabulous offer – straight 25% off on web booking. I instantly grabbed the deal, threw in a few T-shirts and my Goa Burmudas into a duffle bag and was all set for a drive off to Goa!

I decided to start off in the early hours of Friday to avoid the morning traffic. Fortunately, my wife happens to be an avid driver, so I happily let her assume the driver’s seat. With an SUV at our disposal, I knew that this trip was soon going to be super spin!

At 6 am on Friday, I flipped out Google Maps on my iPhone. It flashed 540 km ride for both Ratnagiri and Pune routes. But, we chose Ratnagiri as we had heard that it’s more picturesque than the other.
We also knew that this route was undergoing repairs and widening, and may throw up a few road blocks and diversions, but with the allure of the Western Ghats on one side, and the azure sea on the other looking ahead, the temptation was hard to ignore.
We drove out at 6 am dot. The very first stop was the HPCL petrol bunker near our home. With my car’s tummy full, we blindly followed the Google Map and in just under, we wound our way out of Navi Mumbai’s city limits.
It was close to two hours, we decided to take the first halt for breakfast, and have a change of driver (Me) just after Karnala Bird Sanctuary crossing. With hot Masala Dosa and Filter Coffee, our stomach read “Full” and we pressed ahead.

The next stop for lunch was near Chiplun, where we decided to slip into a more relaxed, steady speed. On the way, we encountered massive construction activity for widening the 2-land Mumbai-Goa Highway into a 4-lane one. A small blip, as the work appeared to be nearing completion – hurray!
Otherwise, for the most part of our journey, we were able to drive smoothly without any stoppages. Mesmerised by the beauty around us, we rolled down the windshields to feel the wind in our hair. Mighty Western Ghats stood tall on one side, while the Arabian Sea sprawled on the other!
As planned, the lunch was at a small hillside resort in Chiplun. Sitting pretty on the gliding slope of a green mountain, this place offered picturesque views of the Vashishti river and the steep fall of the valley below.
Chiplun marked approximately 2/3 of our journey. We were inching closer to our destination.
The next stop was Sawantwadi, at the entry point of Goa state. The Hills here appeared to have gotten smaller in size, while the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea appeared close at hand. Though not tired, we were definitely yearning to quickly check into Ocean Palms Goa and chill.
As soon as we entered Goa, the landscape totally changed. Rows and rows of coconut and palms-lined streets greeted us like a long lost friend. The architecture was distinctively Portuguese, quaint and charming! We had begun to spot a smattering of smart tourists around.
Finally, after eight hours of travel time, delayed only because of occasional diversions, we hit home - Ocean Palms Goa.
We had a good three days chilled out stay in Goa with the Sun and sand for company. One thing is for sure - there is no destination in India better than Goa, and no better way to go there than take the Mumbai-Goa Highway, for sure!

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