If you want to see Mumbai from a different perspective, one of the most memorable things you can do is go on a Mumbai boat trip. If you're on a budget, taking the ferry to the Elephanta Caves or Alibaug are options.
However, if you don't mind splurging, you can charter a luxury yacht and determine your own itinerary. Both day and overnight trips are possible, as well as sunset trips around the coast of Mumbai.
Fortunately for me, one of my friends decided to charter a boat for his birthday. It was an attractive and immaculately clean little yacht that had space for up to 10 people. Inside was room to sleep, a toilet and basin, and other facilities such as a stereo.
We were picked up from the Gateway of India late in the morning and headed to Alibaug for a picnic lunch at tucked away Awas Beach. We brought our own food and wine, and had a blissful day away from the hustle of the city. In the afternoon, we cruised around Mumbai Harbor as the sun set, and docked back at the Gateway of India in time to relax on the boat and watch the Gateway and the Taj Palace hotel become illuminated in the evening. It was one of the most magical experiences I've had in Mumbai.
Itinerary and Package Options
Boat hire companies generally offer a lot of flexibility in terms of packages and destinations. Other options, apart from Alibaug, include:
- Marine Drive and the Mumbai skyline (also beautiful at night, with the chain of lights glittering like their name "the Queen's necklace").
- Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
- Northern beaches such as Madh Island and Gorai.
- Fishing in the open waters towards the west.
- An evening cruise, dinner, and overnight in Mumbai Harbor.
- A day on board the yacht.
- A day of water sports at Mandwa beach near Alibaug.
- A weekend trip with beach hopping around Alibaug.
- Photography along the Konkan coastline.
Boat Sizes: What to Consider
The first thing you should decide on is the type of experience you wish to have -- are you looking for a boat that's built for speed (a motor boat) or leisure (a sail boat)? You'll need to take into account the sailing capabilities of yourself and your crew. It's harder to maneuver longer yachts, so the destination will also play a big role in the size of the yacht you hire. In addition, it's necessary to consider the number of people that will be aboard.
Most yachts are hired on an hourly bases. Prices start from about 7,000 rupees an hour, for groups of up to 10 people who want to sail around Mumbai. The rate is higher if food or alcohol is to be served. For bigger groups of up to 100 people, rates can go up to 200,000 rupees for four hours.
For a sailing holiday, expect to pay around 30,000 rupees per person for a two day trip from Mumbai to Murud.
When to Go
The season starts in October and ends in May. Boating operations are suspended during the monsoon, from June until the end of September.
Recommended Boat Companies
It's a good idea to contact a few companies and compare prices and offerings. Some reputed and recommended ones are Gateway Charters (they have a wide range of motor and sail boats, as well as party ferry boats), Blue Bay Marine, West Coast Marine, and Ocean Blue.