Experience untamed Goa on Cola's offbeat paths

The Cola beach in South Goa has it all – a cliff, a sandy shore, rocky outcrops, and a village that is still unmarred by tourism
UNSTAINED: Cola beach in South Goa is still unsmeared by tourism.
UNSTAINED: Cola beach in South Goa is still unsmeared by tourism.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Water gushes through a spring by the road and the freshness of the rain can be felt as it splashes on one’s body. As the vehicle moves forward, after this fleeting indulgence, a few kilometres away a road sign reads: Cola Beach 1 Km.

The way to Cola Beach is treacherous – safe for two-wheeler riders and four-wheel-drive vehicles – but in the end, it is the more adventurous who make it to the place closest a vehicle can get.

GUSH OF LIFE: A spring welcomes visitors to Cola village during the monsoon.
GUSH OF LIFE: A spring welcomes visitors to Cola village during the monsoon.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Cola, in Canacona, is a village carved in a hill that drops into the sea, and the drop is deep. To get to the beach, one has to climb down steps carved in the hill and it takes a long time to reach the bottom but, when one does, one is in a Goa hardly experienced.

From atop, the view is spectacular, and down on the sand the feeling is exhilarating because Cola beach is that one place where the integration of sight and sound is total – waves splashing on rocks, the breeze rustling through the mountainous landscape, receding waters kissing the hum of rustling leaves perched on the mountain slope.

TOUGH ROAD: Road to Cola Beach can be treacherous during the rain and so caution must be exercised.
TOUGH ROAD: Road to Cola Beach can be treacherous during the rain and so caution must be exercised. Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Tourism has not yet trampled upon Cola village. The innocence of locals remains intact, people still live in humble dwellings and that explains the infective innocence that captures the minds of the few tourists who brave the weather to experience Cola beach.

Adjacent to the mountain that dives into the sea is a barren stretch filled with canoes and kayaks that are used by the locals to fish and to rent out to tourists who wish to experience the thrills of kayaking into the estuarine that breaks into the village.

MONSOON BREAK: Kalidas Pagi, who runs a kayak rental business in Cola, relishes the break during the rains.
MONSOON BREAK: Kalidas Pagi, who runs a kayak rental business in Cola, relishes the break during the rains. Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“The water has started receding now. It had come up due to the rains but the situation has improved now. There is going to be no activity till September,” says Kalidas Pagi, who has two kayaks that he lets out to tourists during the season.

A kilometre-long drive to Cola beach is to many an endurance drive because, in the rain, it is difficult to fathom how low it is below the water. “This is crazy man. I thought I could drive the car through easily. But, it has been worth the effort,” muses a man as his family breaks into selfie mode.

RUSTIC BEAUTY: The raw and virginal appeal of Cola will charm you.
RUSTIC BEAUTY: The raw and virginal appeal of Cola will charm you.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“The situation is not bad at all during the season. There are stalls here and it is safe to climb down to the beach. The steps are slippery now and it is best for first timers (read tourists) to avoid going down now,” explains Pagi.

Despite the weather, local anglers perch themselves on rocks hoping for a good catch. “You get good rockfish here. We normally catch gobro (grouper) and red snapper and sometimes even tamoshi (mullet),” explains Francis, as one of his friends senses a fish has fallen for his bait and starts drawing in the line.

The situation is not bad at all during the season. There are stalls here and it is safe to climb down to the beach.

Kalidas Pagi, who rents out kayaks to tourists.

“This is the time of the year everyone call off-season but for us it is the best time for ourselves. Here we meet, chat, share our emotions as we wait for a bite. With no tourist around, it is quiet,” reflects Jose.

As the locals discuss how the season has been and explain plans for the coming season, a rain cloud bursts. Below, the salt water rubs past the feet and above fresh water drenches the hair. Cola Beach is a great experience if it can be handled responsibly during the monsoon.

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