BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
As the sun begins to set in Junas in Mandrem, Goa, Margarida and her husband stop and ask, “Is there a possibility of hiring a surf boat?”
“We are from Portugal and the winds there are strong too, and my friend would like to surf. Is there any place around which would hire out their surf and sails?” she queries again.
On realising it is not possible, the couple change into their swimming trunks and go towards the beach for a swim.
Junas is a ward in Mandrem after Ashvem, and both are hugged by the sea that cuts through the seashore, taking the water closer to habitation.
“I have never seen such a coastline anywhere else – sand, water, shoreline and sea. It is beautiful and peaceful,” says Margarida as they have tea in a shop in the village.
“When we came to Goa, we were under the impression that a lot of people will be speaking Portuguese here. People seem to understand, but you are the first person we are conversing with in Portuguese,” claims Reuben.
The coastline that starts in Morjim traverses through Ashvem, Junas and Arambol and ends at Keri.
It takes approximately twenty minutes to walk the distance. Arambol was the first choice of hippies in the 70s with the inhabitants of Ashvem and Junas unwilling to accept tourists early on.
Despite the summer heat, Junas, which is now dotted with resorts on the shore, has a sizeable number of foreigners visiting the beach.
“I have been staying in a hotel for the last three months and will be leaving soon as my visa is expiring, but I expect to return next year,” admits Marco, who is from Scotland.
“I have been to other parts of Goa, but this place is tranquil. I think this is the cleanest, longest and safest beach in Goa. My children swim safely where the water cuts from the sea, and I am out on the beach. There are not many Indians here and that is nice,” reflects Marco.
Many of the hotels in Junas are made of bamboo, thatched with coconut fronds, and rooms are normally rented out for around Rs 3,500 with complimentary breakfast these days.
“The rates are high when the season starts. There are few foreign tourists now, but Indians have started coming, and they clamour for cheap rooms. Our prices vary as per demand,” says a local boy managing one of the hotels.
“Morjim and Junas are two of the best coastlines in Goa to learn and practice surfing and sailing. The expanse is so vast that one can feel the freedom of being able to surf here,” shares Matt, who teaches kitesurfing on this coastline.
“I have a lot of foreigners who come to hire equipment and a lot of Indians coming to learn. Goans used to come before, but I am not seeing them since the pandemic,” says Matt.
“The beauty of this beach is that no one can drive their vehicles on the sand. This is motor free except for the safety jeep that patrols the beach. Unlike other places, there are no parties with loud music. The village is serene, unlike neighbouring Ashvem,” claims Sylvia from the United Kingdom.
Sylvia, United Kingdom
“We normally get visitors from different countries of the world. This beach is not specific to any country. Most visitors are middle-aged who come to relax,” says another local who works in a hotel. “The hotels here employ a lot of us,” he admits on the condition of confidentiality.
On one side of Junas is Ashvem and on the other is Arambol – both at walking distance from the shoreline, and it is the proximity to the two action places that maintains the tranquillity for visitors to the village.