Top 15 places to visit in Diu
Diu, part of 'Daman and Diu' - an Indian union territory is geographically located in the state of Gujarat. Strategically very important port in yesteryears, Diu today is better known for its golden white beaches and makes for a lovely laid back holiday destination. Diu is one of the few places left in India where Portuguese influence is still evident, it offers a variety of attractions for travelers and is certainly an underrated gem. Supported by modern infrastructure and a casual vibe, Diu has become a major tourist destination for people of Gujarat and is slowly garnering interest from other parts of India as well. In case Diu is on your radar or you plan on visiting Gujarat, here is a list of top 15 places you must visit in Diu.
Unlike general belief of those who have never visited western India, Diu is an island located near the southern tip of the state of Gujarat. Embroiled in wars for few hundred years, Diu has been strategically critical due to its location and commercial success. Various empires such as Ottoman turks (Turkish Empire), Venetians (Republic of Venice), Mamluks (Sultanate of Egypt), Ragusians (Current Croatia), Kingdom of Calicut (India), Sultan of Gujarat, Mughals and of course Portuguese have battled for Diu. Probably years of war prevented Diu from flourishing and it lost its importance to speedily growing Bombay (Current Mumbai).
Without getting too much into history, another relatively unknown fact about Diu is that Diu along with Daman and Goa was in Portuguese possession even after Indian Independence, for 14 years. After all negotiations failed, Indian troops had to invade these territories and Portugal had to surrender in 1961. At that time, union territory named 'Goa, Daman & Diu' was formed consisting of all 3 territories. 26 years later, in 1987 Goa was granted statehood and it separated leaving current union territory of Daman & Diu behind. This explains Portuguese influence in these territories even today, something similar to French influence in Pondicherry.
There are 2 ways of reaching Diu - Air and Road. There is no railway station in Diu with closest broad gauge being 90 kms away in Veraval, Gujarat. There are very few flights that come to Diu through the week and they too tend to be costly. Hence the best way to reach Diu is by road. 350 kms from Ahmedabad, Diu is an overnight journey from major cities in Gujarat such as Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat. You can get an overnight bus or hire self drive vehicles from these cities to reach Diu.
Within Diu, you can hire autos and taxis for sightseeing. But the best option we would suggest is hiring a 2 wheeler. You can get any type of 2 wheelers from number of places right from the bus stand to move around in Diu Island. The cost can range from Rs.150-300 per day depending on type of vehicle and season. This is what we did and we found it the most convenient way to go around Diu. Note that you must wear helmets while driving. Helmets will be provided along with the rented vehicle.
Without further ado let us see top 15 places you must visit in Diu in no particular order -
1. Vanakbara beach
Located towards the west of Diu town, the Vanakbara road runs exactly parallel to the Vanakbara beach. The roads are in excellent condition throughout Diu. You can park your two wheeler on the road itself, cross the small brick fence and voila you are right there on the beach. It is secluded and seems unfrequented. The sand is very fine, smooth and white in color. The waves frequently crash on the shores and form white colored lathery foam bubbles with a bizarre sound. We got fully drenched here playing in the water, holding hands and running away from big tides, making sand castles and posing for a lot of photographs. This beach is super clean and felt like our private place to sit and relax. If you are looking for a good private beach in Diu, this is the place to be. Note that this beach is not safe for swimming in sea as the water is a bit turbulent.
2. Naida Caves
This is a hidden gem in Diu as not many people visit Naida caves. For well maintained clean natural caves, there is no entrance fee here which surprised us. The entrance is vast and takes you to the naturally ventilated chambers. Unlike other caves which are dark and suffocating, Naida caves are properly ventilated and have lots of space for natural sunlight to pass through, keeping the caves well lit. The sun rays play their magic here with light and dark shadows everywhere. The rock formations and the patterns are incredible and the curvy trees or plants that grow on the rocks offer a beautiful display of extreme persistence. A few rock patterns look like sea waves. Many caves are interconnected here in different arrangements. The interiors are clean and well maintained. The direction sign boards are properly placed to guide the tourists. Without the signs, you can get lost as it is no less than a maze. The location is extremely photogenic and we clicked a lot of photographs here. As we strolled from one cave to the other, our minds commanded us to just sit, relax, enjoy the moment and marvel on nature’s capability to create such wonderful architecture.
3. The Hidden Cliff
Okay! So we gave this name to the cliff. This was our serendipitous discovery. In search of a quiet place to spend some time, we took a right turn while returning from Vanakbara beach, where we saw colorful houses at a distance. We followed a small road leading to the houses and soon started driving towards a cliff. Passing the colorful houses which were actually small Portuguese huts or shrines, uninhabited since long, the road turned narrower and into a rocky track. After a few meters, we went off the road and all we saw ahead of us was a barren land with strange rocky formations. To our surprise we were right at the end of a cliff. The view from the edge was breathtaking. The waves at the bottom crashed on the rocks and rose in our direction as high as 25-30 feet. The endless sea in front of us made us feel on the top of the world. We clicked innumerable pictures here. Despite failed attempts to try to locate this place in the map, we named it the 'Hidden Cliff'. The location is between Nagoa beach and Vanakbara beach and that’s all that we know. What might help you to reach this place is the sign board on the main road which says 'Saudwadi Village Panchayat welcomes you'.
4. INS Khukhri Memorial
INS Khukri was a Type 14 anti-submarine warfare frigate of the Indian Navy, which played an active role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. She was sunk by PNS Hangor - a French Daphne Class submarine of the Pakistan Navy - on 09 December 1971 at 40 nautical miles off the coast of Diu, Gujarat. This was the first warship sunk in action by a submarine since World War II. It remains the post-Independence Indian navy's only warship to be lost in war to date. A memorial was built at Diu for the officers & sailors of INS Khukri who lost their lives on that ill-fated day. The memorial consists of a beautiful scale model, encased in a glass case. The memorial is excellently maintained with clean surroundings. The whole setup is at an elevated level from where you can see the endless Arabian sea and Chakratirth beach. An amphitheater is constructed at the memorial that offers picturesque view of the sea. Shell structured seating areas add to the beauty of the place. All in all, it makes up for a perfect sunset point.
5. Ghoghla Beach and Jogging track
Ghoghla beach, though being in Diu does not form a part of Diu Island. It is located at the easternmost part of Diu. It is considered as one of the most frequented and crowded beaches in Diu. We visited it very early in the morning to view the sunrise; hence we did not confront any crowd. Except for a few joggers and stray animals the long beach was secluded. We just strolled from one end to the other for a morning walk and sat down at the shore to have a quiet and peaceful time. The soft cold wind blowing from the sea was caressing. The beach is clean in some areas and littered by people in some. It has fine sand and in parts is muddy. Ghoghla beach is surrounded by few resorts, the landscape is flat and water is pristine. A few water sports dock were seen towards the end which are offered by the resorts. It is safe to swim on this beach. The Diu fort and Pani Kotha are visible from the beach at one far end making a beautiful skyline. All in all, it was nice to visit the calm and peaceful Ghoghla beach.
Another gem we found very close to Ghoghla beach on the way back to Diu Island is a kilometre long jogging track which is nicely maintained by the government. Right adjacent to the beach is a modern stylized dome like structure which is a joggers track. It is very well maintained, has good seating areas and offered beautiful view of the Ghoghla beach.
6. Rukhda Tree
This again was a serendipitous discovery. While driving to Gomtimata beach, just 500 meters after Nagoa beach, we saw a sign board towards the left side that said – Rukhda tree. We headed off in that direction curiously and saw a gigantic tree hidden amidst a thick canopy of coconut trees. This tree, we learnt, is generations old and is held sacred. We could also see some flowers and garland on the tree trunk. It still bears fruits and flowers in its season. It is supposed to be a Baobab tree of Madagascar origin. The tree has an enormous girth around which on can play ‘Ringa-Ringa’. We tried making a garland of arms around it and it took seven of us to succeed. Around the Rukhda tree were vast fields of cultivation and coconut trees. Being a peaceful and calm place, you can relax or just stroll around nature in this area. We roamed about for quite some time around Rukhda Tree and clicked ample photographs.
7. Diu Fort
The most popular and crowded place in Diu, especially on weekends, is Diu Fort. This fort was built by the Portuguese during their colonial rule of the Diu Island. It is a large and impressive structure on the coast of the Diu Island and commands a magnificent view of the sea. It skirts the sea on three sides. The outer wall of the fort is built along the coast line. The inner wall had bastions on which guns are mounted. A double moat between the outer and inner walls provides security to the fort. There are several cannons still seen at the top of the Diu fort. Even now the ruins of the walls, gateways, arches, ramps, bastions of the fort provide an impressive view of the extent of military defenses that the fort provided in the past. The fortress of Panikota is clearly visible from here. The fortress is accessible only by motor boat or canoe. By the look of it, it was beautifully constructed structure on the coast. Note that fortress of Panikota acted as Diu jail built by the Portuguese and became famous after Bollywood movie starring Ajay Devgn - Qayamat was shot here. Tourists are not allowed inside but one can take a boat to go around it. A large lighthouse is also located at one end of the fort. We sat at the lighthouse for quite some time enjoying the cool breeze and topmost views.
8. Gomtimata beach
This beach lies at the westernmost part of Diu Island. It is a secluded beach, quite far from the hustle-bustle of the Diu town; hence quiet and peaceful. It is not frequented by many visitors mainly because it is devoid of any water sports or beach side stalls. This is what makes it so beautiful, clean, and serene and close to nature where seagulls hop and water splashes each time to eliminate the eerie silence. At one end of the beach one can spot a small lighthouse and lots of fishing boats with colorful flags. We enjoyed the wide sea view, vast stretch of white sand and the pleasant climate while getting drenched in the water.
9. Dinosaur Park
This is located towards the left on the way towards Nagoa beach. There is not much here for adults to do. It is more like a children’s park with two huge statues of dinosaurs. The park is equipped with dinosaur themed slides and a few more rides. The major plus is that the park is located right adjacent to the sea. The coast is rocky and kept clean. The tides here are really high and dangerous and it is not recommended to get in the water here. It was relaxing to sit back on the fence and watch the tides rising and ebbing away as children played on beach.
10. Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple
This temple is located right on the edge of sea. The main temple is a few steps beneath the ground level. It adorns five Shivlings which are believed to be established by the Pandavas from Hindu mythology - Mahabharata during their hideout. This is an example of one man-made wonder. The Shivlings are differently sized in ascending order – the largest one believed to be of Bhima. The Shivlings are built in such a manner that during high tide the waves wash each of them and retreats. The best part is that there are not priests here, hence the tourists can go near the idols, touch them and worship to their heart’s content. The whole idea is fascinating and divine. What we also enjoyed a lot were the cliffs near the temple which had some benches facing the sea where we could just sit and appreciate the views.
11. St. Paul Church
It is definitely not one of the attractive churches we have been to, but it is nicely maintained, clean and welcoming. It has an impressive architecture with an exquisite white-washed façade outside and beautiful wooden carvings inside. The church houses a host of old paintings pertinent to the life of Jesus Christ and the apostles. A quick visit offered us a feeling of sheer divinity and peace of mind. Photography is prohibited inside.
12. Sea Shell Museum
According to retired Captain Devjibhai Vira Fulbaria, the man behind this humble treasure, the museum houses the largest collection of sea shells in Asia; which we felt is either a thing of past now or a marketing gimmick. We have visited the ‘Indian Seashell Museum’ in Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, India and it is clearly more well maintained, professional and boasts much larger collection of seashells. What was nice in Diu's sea shell museum was that the Captain was very friendly and enthusiastic, always accompanying and explaining the shells and story behind each one of them.
13. Diu Museum
This is more of a church than a museum and lies right next to the St. Paul’s church. There are statues of Jesus and His disciples and a few other saints. It is small, clean and well maintained and hardly takes 10 minutes to complete visiting. It felt more like an attempt to preserve an old church structure without creating an actual church. We believe it was called St. Thomas church earlier. One can also visit gardens opposite the Diu museum which the kids might like.
14. Chakratirth beach
Chakratirth beach, right adjacent to the INS Khukhri memorial is a clean and beautiful beach. The shallow water here looks very inviting but jelly fishes are backstabbers. It is advisable not to go too further into the water; one of us got stung by a jellyfish and all of us had to rush to the hospital. But we would recommend this for sunset and enjoying a beautiful evening.
Apart from the above mentioned attractions, there is Nagoa beach which is one of the more popular beaches in Diu and also has many water sports for the adventure seeker. However, just one sight of the crowd from a distance made us take a U-turn. In our attempt to escape city life, we were in no mood of walking right into noise and chaos. If you do not mind crowds, you can visit it.
If you have even more time, few other okayish sightseeing places in Diu include Fudam Bird Sanctuary, a few other beaches such as Jallandhar beach, churches and lighthouses and Nagar Sheth Haveli constructed in Portuguese style. Hoka trees are also famous here but not really a tourist attraction. You might come across these trees without realizing. They are natively grown in Arabian peninsula and Africa. A type of palm tree, Hoka trees and found only in Diu and surriounding areas in India.
As you must have realized, Diu has a very good and varied coastline. Government has setup and maintained various hubs at multiple places listed above. These spots allow for a good walk or have benches where you could sit and enjoy the sea. Roads are very good and you might be surprised how good the infrastructure around some of these places is maintained. The whole aura of Diu is very laid back and slow. No one is ever in a hurry and there is not much traffic unless you wander into old town areas which have narrow lanes. If you compare it with regular popular beaches of Goa, you might feel disappointed. But we felt Diu was very similar to villages of coastal Goa with much more modern amenities.
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What are your thoughts about our list of must visit places in Diu? Did we miss out any place? Have you visited Diu before? Do let us know in the comment section below.