Holidays to Dona Paula take you to North Goa’s prettiest, most popular beach – which also happens to have top-class watersports as well.
A town steeped in romantic legend
Dona Paula is a former fishing village in South Goa. The name comes from a tragic heroine of legend, which explains why the place is still nicknamed Lovers’ Paradise. Now a town, it’s kept its tranquil vibe along with a movie-star beach that’s a real pull for watersports fans. And conveniently, it’s only 7 kilometres from the state capital, Panaji, with its winding streets and wedding-cake like churches.
A movie setting
Dona Paula’s white-sand beaches, fringed with coconut palms, have played a starring role in many a Bollywood movie. That level of fame brings with it plenty of visitors, who also come for the top-class watersports. Food shacks are dotted along the sands, and a stretch of the beach is lined with shops selling drinks, snacks and seashell trinkets.
A watersports hotspot
As lovely as Dona Paula Beach is to lie on, it’s impossible to stay still with such an impressive line-up of watersports. It goes without saying that favourites like kayaking and jet-skiing feature heavily, but it’s the more unusual skibob and water-scooters that really grab your attention.
Dona Paula is where the Zuari and Mandovi rivers meet the Arabian Sea. This makes it a prime spot for river-boat trips. Sail by night and you’ll catch a moonlit view of the Adil Shah Palace, where steps lead up to an ornate basalt gateway – the only remains of the home of former Portuguese governors. You’ll also see the 19th-century Mae de Deus Church of Saligao beautifully illuminated in orange and yellow.