Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Cape of Castaway Islands

 

Some destinations are just meant to be the ones that define Holidays to a completely different level. Most of the holidays that I plan are for the uniqueness of the destination and what the place has to offer me in perspective to the experience that I usually get. Many a times a vacation is usually to take your time off, unwind and relax to cool your heels off. And then there are others that are clubbed with getting the feel of the local sights and unpack little mysteries and treasures hidden in such a place.

Recently, while I was browsing some such interesting discovered, I came across something on FirstChoice and found it certainly one of the most fascinating locations. The Cape of Castaway Islands, as I’d like to call it,  it’s the Island country Cape Verde!

Interesting find and most certainly a promising destination for it gives you the feel of a vacation destination and also makes for the best cultural and local experiences off the coasts of Western Africa. Interestingly, it is one of the most diverse Island countries you would see considering there are so many things to do out here…

Officially known as The Republic of Cabo Verde it spans across an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean.  Interestingly and not surprisingly, in the 15th Century, Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the uninhabited islands thus being, the first European settlement in the tropics. Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous and often attracted privateers and pirates, among them Sir Francis Drake in the 1580s.

Some very interesting places in this country are one of the most romanticized, yet unknown. Thanks to the 10 tiny islands in the Atlantic being below the radar. And since it’s just off the west coast of Africa, which means sunshine’s a given pretty much year-round. I’d recommend these few destinations to ease off, unwind and soak in the sunshine while you’re here.

Boa Vista

Aptly called Boa Vista, which means ‘Beautiful View,’ this destination is the most easterly island and it’s a strong contender for the best of the bunch. The reason? This 55-kilometre coastline that has everything from small, rocky bays to huge sandy stretches  and you certainly  could have been airlifted from the Caribbean. Out on the water, conditions are perfect for kite and windsurfing. And below the glassy surface, there’s a rainbow of marine life to get to know.

boavista

Beach Life at Boa Vista

If you’re tired of Boa Vista, then there’s also the Santa Monica Beach that is popular with everyone. It’s in Curralinho, to the south of the island, which means the water here is really sheltered. And the name? The locals reckon Santa Monica’s 18-kilometre stretch looks a lot like the Californian version. While you’re here, pay a visit to the island’s capital, Sal Rei. Pastel-painted houses, cobbled streets and rickety old shops are the staple ingredients here. Other than that you also have the option to Sail over to the deserted island of Sal Rei,Hop on a boat and go whale-watching, Sip the local wine in Sao Filipe on Fogo Island.

Sal

This place is still early doors for this necklace of rocks in the Atlantic. To give you an idea, they’re 2 hours south of the Canaries, just off the west coast of Africa. Thanks to their history and location, you’ll find an exotic mix of African and Portuguese cultures on each island. And wherever you head, you’re guaranteed untouched beaches – there aren’t many people around here to share them with.

sal

The island of Sal – Cape Verde’s most cosmopolitan – is dotted with little towns like Santa Maria, where the cobbled streets are dotted with surf shops, market stalls and rainbow-painted restaurants. There’s also a square packed with al fresco cafés. The white-sand beach is the big star, though. It stretches for 8 kilometres and ticks off beach bars and sand dunes along the way. There are plenty of things that you could do other than these when you’re here in Sal, especially if you want to enjoy something off beat – Learning to fish, Going on a trip to watch sea turtles in a catamaran, enjoying a great lobster dinner or better yet, go Big Game Fishing.

Underwater Worlds

Underwater worlds

If you’re a beach person and love water then Life below the surface is always exciting to see. Here you can do that with a glass-bottomed boat without needing to pull on a snorkel and flippers. Cape Verde has rich, fertile waters off its shores, so as you glide over the waves you’ll get to see schools of fishes, turtles and stingrays, and even a creaking shipwreck.

Viana Desert

Viana Desert

If you’re tired of the beach, then exploring through Viana Desert should be a must do on your list. Deserto de Viana, as it’s popularly called covers about 30 per cent of Boa Vista and is almost entirely uninhabited. Made up of wind-sculptured dunes and red rocks, it’s a playground for quad biking and 4×4 safaris. For the best bounce going, head south – the dunes here reach heights of 50 metres.

Santiago Islands

santiago

Cape Verde’s biggest island can count Captain Cook and Sir Francis Drake among its visitors. Nowadays, though, it’s mainly day-trippers heading for the old capital, Cidade Velha. Along with its volcanic beach, you can head for its atmospheric market, National Maritime Museum and church that dates back to 1495.

Islands of Fogo

Fogo

If you love the beaches, but mountains even better, then this is the destination to head to! The name of this sun-shaped island means ‘fire’ in Portuguese, which gives you a good indication of its volcanic status. Its crowning glory is the 160-metre cone of Pico de Fogo, which last burst into life in 1995. Head to the coast to get the best view of it. And while you’re on the island, stop off at the colonial town of Sao Filipe for a taste of Fogo’s wine.

All in all this place is a must visit if your perfect idea for a vacation is much more than regular lazying across the beaches, shopping, or just tasting the local cuisine. Wonderfully diverse, with a bunch of amazing places, this place is a retreat for all travelers who enjoy fascinating places, experiences and destinations across the world!

Picture Courtesy: www.firstchoice.co.uk

Golven – White Sands of Vengurla

One of the best things about traveling to a beach, even though I’m not so much a beach person is to absolve myself of all worldly existence and let the waves reach out to my ears and see the horizon across the ocean to drive a beautiful point home.

Sunset at Vengurla

Other than that of course is the Sand, Solitude and most importantly the Serenity! That is something I must say was a plentiful when we had an opportunity last weekend, a long one I must say to head out to the pristine, clean and virgin beach of Vengurla! Usually, beaches for people in Mumbai mixed with a long weekend always amounts to a trip to Goa and back. Having been there umpteen number of times, this time around we decided to take a short detour, though not that far away from Goa, yet seculded enough to give us our very own version of a ‘Private Beach’ destination at Golven Beach Resort.

Golven Resort

Beautiful AC Cottages, with great design at Golven Resort

Golven – Solituded De Strand  is aptly named, with all the solitude you can get especially if you are the kind who likes the view of the beach more than actually passing out on the beach, the sound of the waves more than the whiplash of the stirring ocean. Golven in French means ‘White Sand’, White Sand indeed and How! The sand is truly grained, white and a blessing for your feet when you lay your feet down and sink in the surreal view and the magnificence of the simplicity this place offers you.

White Sand Footsteps

White Sands of Vengurla

One of the best things about this place, besides the quiet and serene nature of the surrounding has to be it’s comfortable and cozy cottages laid meticulously across the landscape so as to provide each and every one of them a really good view to the beach. Other than that of course is what one needs the most. The comfort of a nice bed, clean and minimal interiors and a great balcony to sit, ponder, think and get back to your soul, especially when time is aplenty.

Beach View

A great blend of good architecture, by an architect from Pondicherry, as I’m told by Mrs. Pandit, the caretaker and owner’s mother shows a contemporary belief in minimal, modern and blend of both good rustic cottage like ambience, coupled with great glass and steel decor with lamp shades, AC and a remote controlled Fan. I must say we were quite impressed especially when we went in first. Not to mention the local ‘Kokam Sharbat’ for a welcome drink. Yep, Konkan has it’s specialties and Golven Resort too. First impressions, were most suitably the best impressions.

Mrs. Pandit, Golven Resort Owner's Mother

Mrs. Pandit, Golven Resort Owner’s Mother

Interior

Kokam

Besides the beautiful ambience, the nicely cleared pathways, a garden with beautiful flowers and of course hammocks and bean bags staring into the ocean, you realize that you’ve come home to your vacation. Post freshening up, we decided to head to lunch. And might I add, no Konkan lunch is complete, unless you have the most infamous Kokam Kadi.

Malvani Food

Kokam Kadi is to die for…

If you are the romantic type and want to have a dinner date in the evening, the ambiance picks up really well and gets you in the mood for the perfect dinner!

Ambient Lighting after Sunset at the Restaurant

Ambient Lighting after Sunset at the Restaurant

Other than lazying around and vacationing in style, there are a few things you can do to feel relaxed especially when the sun is down. Taking scooty ride across to a nearby village and find some still water to Kayak towards the ocean was a beautiful experience. The ride to this place was full of greenery and it also rained a bit, something that added to the magic of the weekend trip.

Greenery

Beautiful Lush greenery surrounded with tall trees!

Boat

View en route the Lake to go Kayaking!

And of course another interesting thing to do, especially if you want to take a hike is to go to the Lighthouse nearby. Walking about 300 steps amidst a few Mimosa Pudica (Touch Me Not) leaves and some really beautiful plantations to come across to a magical view of the expansive ocean, the Vengurla beach and the breezy feel of nothing but some really encapsulating touch to the whole experience.

Trek to Lighthouse

View from Lighthouse

Special Note: Our trip to Vengurla was possible thanks to the invitation and hospitality extended byGolven Beach Resort.  Situated bang in the center of Bagayati or Vengurla beach, Golven Beach Resorts offer 10 self-contained AC cottages with an open-deck restaurant open air conference hall and provision for beach camping since December 2013. Owing its roots to the French, the resort is named as  a tribute to the white sand beaches in the area. Our accommodation and  food was sponsored by them on this trip. A special mention of their lovely staff for extending their warm hospitality to us. 

The Golven Team

The Golven Team