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Set Sail on a Sunday

Fishing canoe used for the trip to a private island

Spice Up Your Weekend With a Boat Trip to a  Gorgeous Tropical Island

Did I mention there are dolphins?

Admit it. Even if you are a compulsive organiser, sometimes it’s nice to let others take over and surprise you, particularly when you want to relax.

Think about a lilting ride across an expanse of the blue ocean, an impromptu display of acrobatics by wild dolphins and lunch on a private island. Sounds fairly dreamy. And pricey! But it doesn’t have to be. If you’re prepared to make a few adjustments here and there, it’s a fun way to spend a random Sunday while the weather is lovely and before the tight party schedule begins.

It’s best to choose a well-known tour operator to avoid rude shocks. The one we chose was well organised, with friendly, helpful staff. While it’s true that most tours cater to the tourists – think statements such as “to your left is Goa’s Mormugao Port” – you can still come away with interesting anecdotes and stories.

Each boat has a fairly large capacity so there will be groups of other tourists sharing the ride. But since this is wedding and holiday season, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a group of 20-30 close friends and family who’d like to go along. This way you’d have a whole boat to yourself!

The tour left from Vainguinim beach near Cidade de Goa in Dona Paula. If you’re one of those who enjoy sprightly activity first thing in the morning, it’s the perfect place to head to at 7am for an early swim before catching the boat out.

Everyone’s handed a life vest for safety and the minute you leave shore, a light sandwich and soft beverages are served. It’s an hour and a half ride over fairly calm seas to Bat Island and the crew is always on the look-out for dolphins.

We were enjoying a chilled beer about half-way through the ride when a shout went up at the prow. A pod of wild bottlenose dolphins had been spotted in the distance. As we approached, tailfins broke the surface of the sea and blowholes could be heard opening and shutting in loud ‘whooshes’.

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Tourists unwinding in the clear water around the private island

There were a dozen or more dolphins swimming only a few hundred metres from the boat. With the engine cut, the clicking cameras and intermediate ‘oohs’ and ‘wows’ were the only man-made sounds that tore through the silence.

As if on cue, the dolphins were doing somersaults, leaping through the air and slapping their tails. They showed off every acrobatic skill they could, constantly teasing spectators with their moves or by edging closer to the boat.

When they moved on, we continued towards Bat Island. At a depth of about five metres off shore, the fishing tackle and bait appears. The crew readily helps with skewering tiny pieces of squid onto hooks before lines are cast off in the hope of catching something.
All too often the line is hooked onto a piece of drift or even a rock, but many are lucky to catch small black-spotted groupers. Since they’re too tiny to find themselves on the top of a grill seasoned with salt and lime, they are let loose in the sea before they die.

When you’re done with hooking old boots or giving the fish a free snack, hop overboard and enjoy the cool water. Snorkelling gear is provided and if the water’s clear enough, there are myriad aquatic creatures in every hue to be seen.

When the sun gets too hot, the boat travels on to an island that can only be reached over the water. Part of the territory belonging to the Indian Navy, Hansa is cosy beach sheltered by the rocks. You can go swimming if you’re brave enough to venture into the sea in the heat of the afternoon.

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Tourists embracing the boat trip

The tour operators organise a number of activities, from football and volleyball to Frisbee. There’s even a darts board. The fun and games are often interrupted by the thunderous roar of aircraft taking off from the Goa International Airport at Dabolim just over the cliff, the white underbellies of huge planes seemingly an outstretched arm away.

To close, there is a hearty lunch on the soft sands, a blend of vegetarian and non-vegetarian with fresh fish the star of the spread. After a short kip to digest the meal, it’s back to the shore you left off from.

It might not be a luxury getaway, but an island boat trip offers a great change to lazy Sundays in bed.

There are many operators that organise tours to Bat Island, some even customisable.

• Sunset Getaways Goa

• Water Splash Cruises
Contact: 91 8888864347/ +91 9158452188


Exotic Goa Holidays

If you’d like to add a touch of luxury, visit the island on a private yacht.