Sun, surf and sand. Those are the world’s most cited reasons for beachside vacations. That’s why people go to the French Riviera. That’s why people go to the Maldives and Malaysia. Closer home, that’s why people go to Goa. Once there, they laze on the beach, go for a swim or just chill and sip their favourite brew. Chilled of course. Between long pulls of draught or pilsner or lager or whatever have you, they may sometimes venture out for a bit of adventure. A bit of parasailing perhaps? Or maybe a ride on the breakers on a water scooter? With the weather being beautiful this month, I could no longer resist the pull of the ocean and gave in. We however never do things the way others do. So, a visit to the beach too had to be different from how others visit the seaside. But how do you do a beachside holiday differently?
By being ready to discover of course. First, to find a secluded beach that we wouldn’t have to share with the usual touristy riff raff. No kiosks selling cheap souvenirs, no hawkers selling cotton candy for us. We weren’t just willing to talk about a virgin beach and then settle for a mainstream one. We were willing to work at it and actually find one.
Finding a secluded beach however is easier said than done.
Most of the commercially inhabited beaches, in spite of their individualities, seem to uncannily resemble the beaches of Goa with thousands of beachside shacks and souvenir shops. Each one professing to be number one at their trade. Given how old fashioned maps and tourist guide books are, well, old fashioned, we tried to look for one in an ocean of information – the internet. The internet however turns out to be more of a pond where information about secluded beaches are concerned. Without much online success, we went offline and decided to do things the old school way. So we asked around among friends who mostly venture off the beaten paths.
Suddenly from no information, our world was abuzz with details of places and how to get there. Frankly, we were confused, until one of them decided to be a good Samaritan and not just share info but also tag along to make sure we got to the right place. Shrivardhan is a quaint little town on the Konkan coast, just over 160km from Pune, with narrow alleys and twists and turns that make the diagram of an intestine look fairly straightforward. Yet, negotiating these narrow lanes and bylanes is a breeze in the Land Rover Discovery Sport thanks to its compact dimensions and light steering. Despite the slightly damp 31 degrees outside at noon, we were comfortably ensconced in a cool 24 degrees in the Discovery Sport’s spacious cabin. Our friend guides us through the serpentine lanes to a track that looks like a dead end. Confident of the Land Rover’s ability to manoeuvre through tough situations, we decided to trust him and find out what lay at the end of the track.
Ten minutes later we were staring at a ramp, and beyond the concrete ramp lay pristine white sand of a Konkani beach and further beyond that the shimmering blue-green of the Arabian Sea. We got out and explored on foot a bit. Besides us, there was absolutely no one on the beach! We had found what we were looking for. Now, on to the next phase of operations.
Now, you’ve all probably read about our exploits with the Land Rover Discovery Sport on extreme off road tracks in Chandigarh and Kolkata. In fact, that’s what defines the core of the Land Rover DNA that we love to talk about. The Discovery Sport’s ability to go anywhere and everywhere. But getting off that concrete ramp and on to the beach is when one realises that this is why you really need that DNA. You don’t have to park your vehicle some half a kilometre away at some random parking lot and then leg it to the beach, with the Discovery Sport you can drive on to it. Right up to the water’s edge. Just push that little button on the centre console, stick the thing into sand mode and watch her turn into a happy puppy on sand. All too willing to keep up with your antics.
Driving along the water’s edge, spraying a cloud of sea there is a sense of exhilaration that’s hard to replicate really. It isn’t something that you can enjoy everyday. It’s an adventure all of your own. One that brings immense satisfaction. The satisfaction of having done things differently, of not having tread where everyone else goes. Of having discovered a new joy that feels fresh. Sun, sand and surf. That’s why everyone goes to the beach. But in the Land Rover Discovery Sport, that phrase gets an all new meaning.