Alibaug, beach playground for India's rich and famous, is a refreshing Mumbai getaway. It's possible to enjoy Alibaug in a day. However, if you can, take the extra time to relax and unwind there, and go beach hopping.
Getting to Alibaug
Alibaug is located 110 kilometers (68 miles) south of Mumbai. It takes about an hour to reach Mandawa Jetty by ferry, or 15 minutes by speedboat, from the Gateway of India in south Mumbai's Colaba neighborhood..
From there, the beach is another 30-45 minutes south, by bus or auto rickshaw. The bus is included in the ferry price.
Ferries operate from morning until evening (around 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) throughout the year, except during the monsoon season from June to September. Services usually resume again in late August, but it depends on weather conditions. A timetable can be found here.
In addition, lesser-known ferries that carry motorcycles depart from Ferry Wharf at the dockyards near Mazgaon The ferries go to Revas jetty and take around 1.5 hours to get there.
If you're driving, Alibaug can be reached by road via the Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH-17). The journey takes approximately three hours from Mumbai.
When to Go
Visit Alibaug from November to February, when the weather is the coolest and dry. From March onwards, the temperature starts rising before the monsoon sets in in June. Due to its close proximity to Mumbai and Pune, Alibaug has become a popular weekend destination.
It often gets crowded then, as well as during summer school holidays in April and May, and the festival season over Diwali. Weekdays are the most peaceful.
Keep an eye out for the super cool Nariyal Paani (Coconut Water) music festival that happens by the sea in late January.
What to Do
Alibaug isn't just a well-known beach destination.
It's also got quite a bit of history behind it. Established in the 17th century, there are numerous old forts, churches, synagogues, and temples all waiting to be explored. Kolaba Fort is the main attraction. Most of the time, it's surrounded by ocean. However, you can walk out to it during low tide, or go in a horse pulled cart. Otherwise, take a boat. Kanakeshwar Temple, on a hill near Alibaug, is also worth visiting. Those who can climb the 700 steps to the top are rewarded with the sight of colorful conclaves of smaller temples and miniature god statues.
Eating and Drinking
Shopping and Relaxing
Also at Mandawa Port, Beach Box consists of recycled shipping containers that have been transformed into a cluster of hip boutiques.
Bohemyan Blue is grooviest clothes store and garden cafe in the area. It's located on the Alibaug-Revas Rd at Agarsure, between Kihim and Zirad. The beer is cheap too! Perfect for a chilled out afternoon. There's also rustic luxury tented accommodations behind the premises, for those who want to stay there.
Mumbai's 18 year old contemporary art gallery, The Guild, relocated to Alibaug in 2015. Visit it on Mandawa Alibaug Road at Ranjanpada. Also located on Mandawa Alibaug Road at Rajmala is Lavish Clocks, which sells 150 types of clocks modeled on antique timepieces.
Dashrath Patel Museum, at Bamansure near Chondhi Bridge, showcases the works of this groundbreaking Indian artist. It includes painting, ceramics, photography and design.
Nostalgia Lifestyle is another trendy Mumbai business that's moved to Alibaug at, Zirad. They stock a gorgeous range of indoor and outdoor furniture, water features, paintings, home decor, and swimwear.
Beaches Near Alibaug
Apart from the main beach at Alibaug, which actually isn't very appealing, there are a number of other beaches in the area. These include:
- Varsoli, 2 kilometers north of Alibaug (it's on the outskirts of the Alibaug city center).
- Kihim, 10 kilometers north of Alibaug.
- Awas, adjoining Kihim beach to the north, it's lesser frequented and quieter.
- Akshi, 7 kilometers south of Alibaug.
- Nagaon, 10 kilometers south of Alibaug. It's sometimes referred to as "mini Goa" during peak season.
Most of the beaches have become touristy and polluted in recent years. If you're looking for entertainment, then you'll appreciate the water sports and other activities such as camel cart and horse rides (they don't operate during the monsoon season though). These days, water sports have proliferated at Varsoli, Nagaon, and Kihim beaches. Nagaon beach also offers boat access to Khanderi and Undheri forts.
Akshi is the best bet if you're after a secluded beach, especially during weekdays. It's popular with nature lovers and bird watchers. Kihim is also known for birds and butterflies.
Where to Stay
There are a range of accommodations around Alibaug, from luxury resorts to basic cottages by the beach. The cottages are popular with groups, as the whole property can be fully booked for privacy.
- Near Alibaug: the Radisson Blu Resort comes fully equipped with a health spa, perfect for pampering. Rooms cost upwards of 5,000 rupees for a double.
- Near Varsoli: If you're looking for a reasonably priced place right on the beach, you can't go past Sanman Beach Resort. The Goan food there is superb. Rates are around 4,000 rupees a night for a hut.
- Near Kihim: Outpost @Alibaug is a boutique resort, slightly inland, that was previously called the Windmill Resort. The beautiful Mango Beach House at Kihim is a short walk from the beach and has a swimming pool. Rates start from 9,500 rupees per night, including all meals. If you're after a budget cottage close to the beach, Sanidhya is popular. Aarhaah Holiday Home is also a decent budget place near the beach. Those who appreciate nature and delicious food will delight in the rustic homestay Mauli Village. It's inland from Kihim Beach.
- Near Awas: Jokalekar Cottage is popular for families. There's also Ghanvatkar Bungalow at Zirad, which is inland from Awas beach. It's an excellent place for a budget stay and has a swimming pool. Mango Beach House & Spa at Awas has four luxurious cottages (eight rooms) with pool on a coconut plantation near Zirad, priced at 8,500 rupees per night with all meals included.
- Near Nagaon: Sidz has comfortable cottages inland from Nagaon Beach, ideal for groups or families. For something different try Karpe's Wadi agro-tel farmstay. There are numerous other budget homestays and cottages set back from the beach as well.
- Other Locations: If you're after a boutique private villa close to Mandawa Jetty, Ccaza Ccomodore is the place! Gandhar Eco Lodge offers a peaceful experiential village experience in Thal.
For more private bungalows and villas, take a look at the listings on Air BnB.
Dangers and Annoyances
Alibaug becomes dangerous during the monsoon, when tides are strong and the ocean rough. There have been instances of people getting swept away from Kolaba Fort, and drowning. Therefore, it's best to avoid the water at this time of year.