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Review: Grand Island Trip and Other Popular Islands in Goa

Goa is a renowned global destination and certainly a land of beaches in its own right. Boat-ride into the Arabian Sea or the backwaters of River Mandovi, you will come across islands that will lure you with their sheer beauty and ecstasy.  Nature’s gift to Goa, it will be correct to say that without a trip to Goa’s islands, the vacation in this tiny state shall remain incomplete. Therefore it is highly advisable that island visit is a must if you are touring Goa.

Grand Island

Tour operators or travel companies in Goa offer a host of packages and a list of to-do activities; and schedule sight-seeing options as well. But island tours are as exciting as any other travel activity in Goa.

There are various island locations in Goa but a trip to Grand Island also known as Ilha Grande or Grande Island off the Vasco coast tops the charts. Bat Island is also listed on the travel planner while Divar, Chorao, St Jacinto, Conco and Butterfly are also some popular islands in the Goan waters.

However, the bat island and Grande Island are quite popular for their trips from the Sinquerim jetty in the north where tourists make a beeline to experience Suba Diving and Snorkeling activities in the Arabian Sea. While others love to spot Dolphins, most enjoy their ride with a beer or two as they keep munching on the spicy and delightful barbeques lined up for afternoon buffets on the nearby  Monkey Beach.

Navy control at Grande Island?

snorkeling-in-grand-island-goa

In the recent past, naval authorities in Goa have proposed to the State Government to acquire the Grande Island and land at Bimbel beach citing threat to aviation from terrorists. But the government had quashed such plans.  However, reports had surfaced that the villagers of Chicolna-Bogmalo were denied access to Grande Island by the Navy, to have their annual litany at the Cross located on the island as this location is also being used by traditional fishermen to rest, during their fishing trips into the sea. During rough weather, fishermen take shelter here to protect themselves. However, the government in the past has accepted the fact that naval base is occupying one part of Island with an area of 1.36 lakh sq-mtr of village Sao Jorge Island, where the Cross is located. However, confusion prevails whether tour operators prefer the Bat Island or the Grande Island while prioritizing their tour schedule.

A trip to Grande Island (Ilha Grande)

There are different nomenclatures linked to this island. Some call it Ilha Grande while others call it the Grand Island or Grande Island as it happens to be the largest marine island far out into the Arabian Sea. The best way of exploring this destination is to book a day-long trip from a verified tour operator who will arrange a boat ride. The trip to this island begins from Coco beach/ Sinquerim jetty and the rates on offer are in the range of Rs 1299 to Rs 1400 for adults and Rs 1200 for children. However, there may be rates that go as high as Rs 1400-1600 in peak season.

Ideal for bachelors & Group

The trip to Grand Island is ideal for bachelors or male groups as it allows them total freedom to enjoy the journey without any inhibitions. The package includes snorkeling, fishing and a scrumptious lunch with an unlimited supply of beer or rum – just what the doctor ordered for bachelors.

Snorkeling, Goan buffet Lunch and loads of beer

Snorkeling-at-grand-island-in-Goa

A trip to Grand Island will provide you with a chance to snorkel and explore the water world off the Monkey beach. As you can also enjoy swimming and fishing activities all along, mouth-watering barbeques and popular Goan dishes await you at the buffet lunch that is laced with lavish spreads of veg and non-veg preparations. Beer and rum served unlimited takes the cake as this is ideal for those who love to sip their favourite drink and enjoy some fun on the beach.

Dolphin Sighting

The day journey on a boat begins from Coco beach up north and as you sail through you get the glimpse of the Aguada fort in the distance, the lighthouse, merchant’s bungalow, central jail and a few other beaches from mid-sea before you touch down at Grande Island.

Video: Dolphin Spotting in Goa Via Boat

Even the trip to Bat Island can be as enriching as you can indulge in water activities and spot some humped dolphins frolicking and somersaulting if you are lucky enough.

Package in a nutshell (9 am to 4 pm)

  • Pick and Drop from Hotel in A/C Shared Vehicle
  • Life Jackets & Bottom Fishing
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Mineral Water/Beer/Rum
  • Boat Trip with sightseeing of famous location
  • Dolphin spotting
  • Snacks and Fruits
  • Buffet Lunch with BBQ (Fish/Chicken/Veg)
  • Does not include: Breakfast, Swimsuits, Towels, Photos and Videos
  • Adults Rs 1400-1600pp/children 1200
  • Availability – October to May

For More Information Visit Grand Island Website

Other islands in Goan waters

Divar Island 

located 10km from Panjim this place can be reached via ferry from Old Goa or Ribandar. Once a flourishing island of the Hindus the island is popular for its festivities namely the Bonderam Festival and the Potekar ala On the hilltop is a church which gives a grand view of the island and the Mandovi River.

Chorao Island

Another island located in the backwaters of River Mandovi, it can be reached by ferry or canoe from Ribandar. The prime attraction is the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, spread in the midst of mangroves, which is home to around 400 migratory Indian birds.

Sao Jacinto Island

sao-jacinto-Island-Goa

This beautiful island is connected by a bridge on the Panjim-Vasco highway and is 7km from Bogmalo and 22km from Panjim. It can also be reached on a ferry. Nature’s fine creation, this island – known after St Jacinto’s church – is dotted with many Portuguese houses and the view from the beach is also attractive.

Conco Island (Monkey Island)

located in the southern taluka of Canacona, this island can be reached by boat from Palolem beach. Also known as Monkey Island mainly because of the presence of a large number of monkeys this location is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Dolphins can be spotted off this island’s shores.

Butterfly Island 

This Island is shaped like a butterfly ready to take off and hence the name. A boat trip from Agonda or Palolem beach near Canacona can take you to this island. Rock climbing, canoeing and sunbathing are some of the popular activities.

Anjediva Island

Anjediva-Island-Goa-karnataka

Famous for Anjediva Fort, this beautiful island should be on your travel planner for more than one reason. You can take a stroll through its historical monuments and explore the rich history of the island while lazing on the uncrowded sandy beaches and enjoying the colourful horizon over the Arabian Sea. This place is a traveller’s delight. Not many know that this island is a part of Goa and comes under the radar of the Goan Naval Base. It’s actually a hidden beauty of Goa and there is a popular misconception that this gorgeous island is a part of Karnataka despite its proximity to the Karwar Naval Base. It’s certainly not the case. This island also has a church named Church of Our Lady of Springs.

Reviews on Grand Island trip –

The experiences shared by tourists on a trip to the Grand Island could at best be described as being “mixed” in reactions. While some sections have reviewed that their island trip was “disappointing” due to various delays, some have labelled the food served as being “below average”. There have been complaints from people that they did not spot dolphins while there were complaints of complete lack of privacy for couples. It is pertinent to note here that some tour operators in Goa vouch on money back policy on Dolphins: “No see no pay” goes their honest policy. Similarly, other tour operators have been praised for the excellent service from their staff and for setting high standards of customer service. So it boils down to a bit of luck and your sense of judgment when it comes down to choosing the right operator for a satisfying island trip. In the end, it will be only apt to say that there are ‘good’ operators who outnumber the ‘bad’ ones. Hence, pick and choose with some prudence.

My Opinion 

A trip to Grand Island can be enjoyed at economical pricing. The trip could be satisfying, to say the least as it is definitely worth your money as it also allows you to spend quality time with friends and family. A perfect getaway destination for fun-loving tourists who want to rejoice with water activities (scuba/snorkeling) and also want to keep sipping drinks and feast on lavish buffets offered during these day-long trips.

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