A gentle sea breeze washes over the farmhouse. The morning is shrouded with a soft blanket of white mist.
I have been hearing the waves singing all night, so I decide to explore the beach that stays hidden behind a veil of coconut trees.
As I walk towards my sandy paradise, I see the path is covered with tiny flowers and dancing butterflies. Green coconuts are scattered around like sapphires and bougainvillea flowers carpet the floor like rubies.
And then as if the curtains have parted and the scene is presented before me…I see the sea.
The sand is soft and strangely black. A warm sea gushes to greet me, her waves lapping at my feet. A scattering of people are out for their walks or exercise.
From the east the sun is a ball of gold, its light peeking through the coconut trees. It silently puts on such a spectacular performance every day.
Arnala is a sleepy coastal village nestled in the bustling town of Virar. There are several spots along the coast where the beach is clean and the waters clear.
While most people prefer to visit Arnala for its water parks, I prefer the balmy ocean and the sugary sand any day.
A short ride away from Arnala, is another incredible hidden gem, a local hangout. I had planned to visit Rajodi beach the previous evening, after hearing so much about its cafe culture.
On my way to Rajodi beach, I crossed fields laden with banana plantations and papaya trees. The cool evening air sooths my soul. Villagers are returning home after a days work at the fields. The air is fragrant with jasmine and roses.
Near the beach I was greeted with rows of stalls selling local favorites -vada pav, bhajjiyas and what not. A paradise of fried snacks.
Chinese food seems to be popular in these parts and I encountered several shops and carts getting ready for Friday night.
And for the cafes, there are several upcoming and some established. They are present on the road that is parallel to the beach.
Most sea facing cafes in Mumbai are high end and overpriced, however chilling at Rajodi is a unique and pocket friendly experience. I have some soul uplifting masala chai while watching the sunset.
A coral glow radiates from the setting sun. Sea shells are being tossed around in the clear waters. Crazy patterns on the black sand seem to go on endlessly. Children are squealing in delight as the waves gently touch their little feet.
These sandy beaches and warm waters remind me of black sugar and coconut rum!!
Good experiences need not be expensive or high end. In times like these when travel to exotic destinations is difficult, explore your backyard and discover places and people which offer unique and beautiful memories.
Driving is an easy option, however the fastest way is to take the local train going to Virar
Get off at Virar station west
Hire an auto to take you to Arnala. It is a 20 min ride.
Auto charges approx. Rs 200 one way.
For your return go to the main Arnala beach to hire an auto.
Hire an auto from Arnala to Rajodi. It is a 20 mins ride cutting through fields and farms. Auto charges approx. Rs 200 one way.
Stay and Food
Rajodi beach – Any of the cafes / food stalls / Kshitij 5 Bros Cafe / Good Vibes Cafe. 5 stars for food and ambience.
Arnala beach – The main beach at Arnala has a few food stalls, however I found that good local food is difficult to get. Stays are at isolated locations which is great for these times of social distancing. However convenience of food and transport needs to be considered by the homestays.
Try at your risk
Arabian Seaview Cafe, Arnala – owner does not respond, shady management. The reviews are great, but not sure how those folks contacted the owner.
Samudra Farmhouse Mhatrewadi, Arnala – opposite the beach, but isolated. Female travelers or senior citizens will find it difficult to get food or venture out after 6pm as there are no autos easily available. Owner has no contacts for autos.
Farm View Restaurant, Arnala – Recommended by farmhouse owner. Outrageously expensive, food is 2 stars.
(Female) Solo Travel – can be done however exercise caution. It gets dark and lonely in these parts early evening. Stay at a reliable place where the owner is supportive to your needs.
Main Arnala Beach – avoid, avoid, avoid as it is dirty. The beach further down is clean.
What else can you do
Visit the Church of St Peters.
Buy some locally grown vegies at the local market or perhaps get the fresh catch of the day.
Chat with the locals, they will share some interesting trivia about the place.
I discovered an illegal sand mining mafia during my morning walk at Arnala beach.
A one night stay is comfortable to explore Arnala and Rajodi beaches, and maybe more 🙂