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June 21, 2024

Goa’s backwaters are a true nature-seeker’s thrill

Arushi Sakhuja  
Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna and Morjim – the popular beaches fill up most itineraries every time a trip to Goa is planned. However, Goa’s backwaters remain unexplored.
Goa is known as the party capital of India, and while North Goa is the hub of tourism in the city, some other parts remain fairly untouched. There is another side to this beautiful corner of India, one that’s far removed from the parties and coco-huts of Goa’s ever-popular beaches. Just a few steps from Goa’s beaches, the state’s network of rivers, creeks, mangroves and backwaters begins. Goa’s back­waters are stunning and still completely unchanged. Like much of Goa, they are at their most breath-taking during the monsoon. There are five major rivers in Goa: The Chapora, Mandovi, Zuari, Sal and Talpona.  
Away from the beaches and party spaces take a backwater ride in Chapora river as you spot distinct birds and fishes along with the breathtaking sunset and sunrise or book a stay at Olaulim Goa’s stunning backwaters in the Mandovi backwaters. 
Goa backwaters
Photo Courtesy: Pexels
Mandovi Backwaters 
Mandovi Backwaters 
Photo Courtesy: Mandovi Backwaters
It is regarded as the lifeline of the State of Goa as its watershed covers about 42% of the total area of the State, resulting in an extensive use of its water for drinking and agriculture purposes. One of the most beautiful sunsets can be spotted here and visitors can choose to take a cruise, houseboat or kayak on the river. The sight of abundant greenery, huge fishing nets, dolphins, glistening water, thick mangroves and even crocodiles sunning at the bay awaits you. 
The Goan backwaters formed on interlined rivers is almost a secret. The Backwater Cruise takes you along the mangrove-lined banks of the Mandovi River. Not famous for its backwaters, Goa has much more to offer you on its Mandovi river than just houseboats and cruise sunsets. The backwaters of Mandovi river where it meets the Arabian sea make a brackish water estuary which is rich in both flora and fauna. The Backwater Cruise takes you along the mangrove-lined banks of the Mandovi River, between the Chorao and Divar islands 
Chapora river Backwaters  
Chapora river Backwaters  
Photo Courtesy: Rediscover Cruises
chapora-river
Photo Courtesy: Rediscover Cruises
Experience Goa differently, away from the beaches and party spaces while taking a backwater ride in Chapora river. This ride may make you meet distinct birds and fishes along with the breathtaking sunset and sunrise. The most sought-after is the experience of the houseboats on the Chapora river backwaters. You will get witness scenes of the rustic side of Goa think quaint villages, beautiful churches, farmland, and verdant palm trees along emerald banks as you cruise into the sunset. Chapora River is located in North Goa and flows westward to the Arabian Sea.
Sal River 
Sal River 
Photo Courtesy: Sal River
Kayaking in the backwaters of the Sal River offers you the chance to experience Goa with an off-beat and enriching perspective. This popular and celebrated excursion takes you on a winding journey through narrow waterways deep in the mangroves, sighting different birds, fish, otters and exotic local plants like cashew, bamboo and mango, on the waters. Red and white lotus and loads of migratory birds. Surrounded by layers and layers of natural delights, the Sal River opens up from Margao and twists across small fishing villages with Portuguese houses before draining into the Arabian Sea. The marshy grasslands, dense jungles of bamboo and thick mangroves make the river a great kayaking attraction.  
Cumbarjua backwater canal 
Cumbarjua backwater canal 
Photo Courtesy: Pexels
Another ideal place for adventure seekers and nature lovers in Goa is the Cumbarjua canal. One can take a Backwater Cruise ride through this canal’s thick mangrove trees and marshes and spot crocodiles sunbathing lazily on the banks. This narrow creek and the lively village of Cumbarjua are some of the most enriching of Goa’s secret places that one should definitely visit on their trip to Goa. The Cumbarjua Canal located in North Goa is still one of those pristine areas untouched by commercialisation. Even though many operators offer boating tours, this marshy backwater area is for those who are looking to do something adventurous on their trip. The 15 km-long canal connects two major rivers of Goa, Zuari and Mandovi; and is home to mangroves, birds, flying fish and the Indian Mugger crocodiles. There are quite a few boating tour operators that offer a ride through the canal so that you can see these glorious creatures lolling around on the banks and soaking in the sun. 
Palolem Backwaters  
Palolem Backwaters  
Photo Courtesy: TripAdvisor
One of the most picturesque beaches and Goa’s backwaters, Palolem is both peaceful and brimming with adventure. Palolem’s backwaters and birdwatching Behind Palolem beach is also a small network of waterways and canals heading inland. The backwaters are some of the best things to do in Palolem for nature lovers. Palolem’s backwaters are the perfect spot for birdwatching, especially in the evening right before sunset.
Cola Beach  
Goa backwaters
Photo Courtesy: Goa Tourism
Located in South Goa, Cola beach is one of the best-hidden places in Goa for those looking for a quiet place away from the crowded and noisy suburbs of the town. Being of the prettiest Goa backwaters the beach has lovely coconut palm groves, fancy beach huts, Rajasthani-style tents, tranquil surroundings, and a pretty lagoon. Hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches of Goa, Cola Beach is a tranquil paradise hidden from the prying eyes of tourists. Surrounded by the ocean, coconut palms and forested cliffs, Cola Beach is also home to an emerald-green lagoon. 
You may also like:  
Five rare beaches in South Goa 
From architecture to beaches: A guide to North Goa 
 

Arushi Sakhuja

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