A hot season retreat for Margao’s moneyed middle classes since long before Independence, Colva is the oldest and largest of South Goa’s resorts. Its leafy outlying ‘Vaddos’, or wards are pleasant enough, dotted with colonial style villas and ramshackle fishing huts. The beachfront is a collection of concrete hotels, souvenir stalls and fly blown snack bars strewn around a central roundabout.
Each afternoon, busloads of visitors from out of state mill around here after a paddle on the crowded foreshore, pestered by postcard wallahs and the little urchins whose families camp on the outskirts. If, however, one wants to steer clear of this central market area, and stick to the cleaner, greener outskirts, Colva can be a pleasant and convenient place to stay for a while. Swimming is relatively safe while the sand, at least away from the beachfront, is spotless and scattered with beautiful shells.
When the season is in full swing, Colva’s beachfront sprouts a row of large seafood restaurants on stilts, some of them very ritzy indeed, with tablecloths, candles and smooth music. The prices in these places are top whack, but the portions are correspondingly vast, and standards generally high. Budget travellers’ are equally well catered for, with a sprinkling of Shack Cafés at the less frequented ends of the beach, and along the Vasco Road.
Although never an established rave venue, Colva’s nightlife is livelier than anywhere else in south Goa, thanks to its ever-growing contingent of young package tourists. The two most happening nightspots are down in the dunes south of the beachfront area: splash boasts a big MTV satellite screen and music to match, and a late bar and disco that liven up around 10.00 pm.
A sandy plod just south of here, posier Ziggy’s boast Goa’s only air conditioned dance floor, a thumping Indian Ragga and Techno sound system, and a sociable terrace littered with wicker easy chairs. If one prefers to get plastered somewhere affordable and less pretentious, try Johnny Cool’s midway between the beach and Colva crossroads. Men Mar, on the Vasco Road, also serves beers, snacks and Lassis until around 10.30 pm.
WHERE TO STAY
Mirroring the village’s rapid rise as a package tour resort, Colva’s plentiful accommodation ranges from swish campuses of chalets and swimming pools to a fair selection of good value guesthouses in between. Most of the mid and top of the range places are strung out along the Main Beach Road or just behind it. Budget rooms lie amid the more peaceful palm groves and paddy fields north of here: the quarter known as Ward 4, which is accessible via the path that winds north from Johnny Cool’s Restaurant, or from the other side via a lane leading west off the Main Colva-Vasco Road.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Rent A Bike: To rent a motorcycle, ask around the taxi rank, or in front of Vincy’s Hotel, where 100cc Yamahas are on offer at the usual rates. Fuel is sold by the Bisleri bottle from a little house behind the Menino Jesus College, just east of William’s Resort. This is the only fuel stop in Colva.
Exchange: Meeting point travel between William’s Resort and the crossroads, exchanges Travellers’ Cheques and cash at a little under bank rates.
Post Office: The post office opposite the church in the village has a small but reliable Poste Restante Box.
Books: Damodar Book store, on the beachfront, stocks a good selection of reasonably priced second hand paperbacks in English. They also do part exchange, and have the best range of postcards in Colva.