Think of gusts of wind beating against your face and adrenaline rushing through your body, even as you brave the waves - but yes, with the assurance of safety. That's the taste of adventure sports in Goa for you - especially water sports. And for those who simply refuse to remain on land, scuba diving is the best bet in the land of sun and fun. Largely perceived as a byproduct of the tourism industry, water sports now spells big business along the coast of Goa.
The price of these odysseys over the surface of water, ranging from, is a
justifiable figure for the kind of thrills it offers you.
Let's delve into the scene. About 80 operators pool together in Goa to offer you everything, from dolphin sightseeing to parasailing to water skiing to banana riding, all towed with speedboats racing at the rate of 40 to 200 BHP.
For those unfamiliar with parasailing, well... it simply turns you into a human kite suspended hundreds of feet above water. You are launched and recovered by a small powerboat circling the bay. The view is unparalleled, the air on top is blustery, breezy and a little cooler. Water banana boat rides require a minimum of three riders per ride. As for water skiing, it's like swo-o-o-o-o-oshing through the water, banging, bouncing, knocking, thumping and balancing with clenched fists. That's what it is!
Therefore, it seems only appropriate that when a bunch of adventure enthusiasts congregate at an aquatic environment, getting set to plough the choppy waters. And after experiencing these thrills, one would definitely feel wetter and better!
Did you ask about safety norms? Trust us, they are all in place, though just about. Back-up rescue boats, life jackets and other accessories are a compulsory part of water sports. More importantly, operators keep an eye on each other and let the authorities know in case of any foul play.
And what do the cool blue waters have in store for you? Unfortunately, the Goan waters have poor visibility due to strip mining that has contaminated the sea to a certain extent. But that doesn't spell doom for two reasons - first, because the Goan coast has excellent spots for water sports and second, because those who have done scuba diving love the neutral buoyancy and weightlessness underwater, despite the lack of a clearer view. And the biggest high is in being underwater, not looking out for anything but generally looking in. Fortunately, Goa has two diving clubs registered with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors): Goa Diving Private Limited at Vasco and Barracuda Diving India at the Goa Marriott Resort in Miramar. These clubs teach and certify aspiring divers.
The right age: Those above 10 years can take part, unless specified not to do so.
Legal disclaimer: Every participant has to sign a legal disclaimer, saying that he is aware of the risks involved in the sports, the procedures are abided by and operators are exempt from any responsibility.
the uninitiated, the diving equipment may seem pretty complicated.
Should you choose to enroll for a one-hour course in a pool, you'll find
it's not as difficult as it seems. You'll learn to clear your mask
underwater within a couple of minutes! This may sound as if it is only
meant for people who instinctively know what to do, but anybody can do
it! Your diving instructor will patiently practice with you, until you
feel comfortable and in control of your equipment.
You might have a niggling question: Great fun, but what about sharks?
Far from being vicious man-eaters as they are often portrayed in the
movies, sharks keep to themselves and chances of Being injured by them
are lesser than being struck by lightening! Sharks like cooler waters,
so they don't really float up for a brush with humans. Other dangerous
kinds of fish will leave you alone if you do likewise - rarely does one
get injured by marine animals. Accidents only happen if an animal feels
it has to defend itself, especially if divers provoke it in some way.
The golden rule for divers is to dive sensibly and responsibly.
Things One Should Take Cognizance Of:
• Check out for certification by NIWS (National Institute of Water Sports).
• Insist on a life jacket.
• Avoid alcohol before getting into adventure sports. You need to have your wits around you in times of emergency.
• Avoid venturing into the sea if it's rough. During monsoon, water sports is a strict no-no.
• Avoid taking children with you while on a water sports spree.
Where can you experience water adventure?
Suzy's Wreck, Davy Jones Locker, Shelter Cove, Umma Gumma Reef and Bounty Bay are some spots to watch out for, in Goa. The fact that after every dive, even experienced divers come out with new and interesting experiences speaks for itself!
Scuba Diving / Snorkelling:
Scuba diving is a great way to discover the sea and its innumerable marine creatures. A scuba diver has an apparatus to breathe while he swims underwater. It's crucial to initially undertake trial dives. Bogmalo is one of the few places in India where you can learn scuba diving from a PADI-approved diving school. Snorkelling is much simpler than scuba diving and the element of risk is considerably reduced. A breathing device, comprising a bent tube, is fitted into the mouth and extends above the water's surface. A person can see the amazing underwater world while,
simultaneously, breathing fresh air.
Some of the marine creatures one might encounter while scuba diving are: goat-fish, lion-fish, scorpion-fish, angel-fish, parrot-fish, damsel-fish, turtles, eels, lobsters and perhaps sharks. Also, there are hundreds of wrecks along the coastline and for many tourists diving to see them forms the highlight of their stay.
Safety measures: Listen to pre-diving briefings carefully. Make sure that the water does not have strong currents. Use a waterproof sunscreen lotion and find your way around coral reefs carefully. Be careful so that the mask does not get too foggy and handle the snorkel mouthpiece delicately. Take care not to swim under the hull.
Site for diving: The best sites are-. Grande Island, St. George Island, Devagh Island and Pigeon Island.
Season: The best season is November to April.
Operators: There are diving schools that teach
starters and rent equipment.
Goa Diving Private Limited
is the other scuba diving club located in Goa and operates from Vasco.
Water-Skiing: If you are not familiar with water-skiing, it's essential that you be trained for it. Some falls and tumbles during training are inevitable. If the trainers are not satisfied with your performance, they will not let you venture out. Stamina, sturdy legs and strong back muscles are a must for this sport.
Safety measures: You should not venture out in rough waters. An observer should accompany the operator in the boat. After a fall, it is important to signal to the operator that you are okay.
Site for water-skiing: Good sites for water-skiing are: Candolim, Calangute, Arossim, Utorda, Mobor and Rajbaga.
Season: For water-skiing, winter is the best season because at that time the waves are easy to manage.
Operators: There are instructors and guides to teach you and from whom you can hire equipment.
Though windsurfing is an exciting water sport, it is also one of the toughest. A windsurfer has to stand on a fibreglass board, attached to a rig that comprises a sail, mast, boom and mast base. He has to manoeuvre the craft while taking on the heady challenge of the wind and water. Proper training is a must before venturing out into the sea. More than physical strength, windsurfing requires practice, training and an understanding of the sea. The Board Sailing Association of India organizes the annual National Windsurfing Championship between August and November. A different venue is fixed for the championship every year.
Safety measures: Choose an operator who maintains safety standards. You should not set off in an offshore wind and should always double-check the gear before starting. Don't forget to learn the international distress signals.
Sites for windsurfing: The best place to learn windsurfing is Dona Paula Beach. Bogmalo, Miramar, Calangute, Arossim, Utorda, Benaulim, Vagator and Baga beaches are also popular with windsurfers.
Season: The best time is from January to March.
Operators: There are training schools that conduct short courses on windsurfing and provide the equipment required for it (find listed information at the end of this chapter).
For those who find speed exhilarating, jet-skiing is an ideal sport. The machine is simple to operate but an instructor should accompany you.
Safety measures: Be within the area where the operator can see you. You should riot become complacent by the seemingly simple machine. Site for jet-skiing: The best sites are: Colva, Candolim, Calangute, Miramar, Arossim, Utorda, Benaulim, Mobor and
Season: A good time is
during winter when the
waves are easy to
Operators: You will find
instructors and guides on
and around the beaches.
Parasailing is an exhilarating water sport as it lifts you high above the sea, and gives you an amazing view of the beach. There is winch-boat parasailing and beach parasailing. Winch-boat parasailing is usually done alone and after take off, you land on a winch boat. In beach parasailing, you take off directly from the ] beach.
Safety measures: Be sure to choose a well-trained operator because landing on the beach is tricky. You should also check the chord, harness and gear before you take off. Parasailing should be avoided when it's raining or the winds are strong.
SAILING IN GOA
Goa Yachting Association, a reputed organization, trains people in Optimist sailing and Lasers and Board Sailing and has two Bombay Harbour Seabird boats that are ideal for cruising. Its office is at 0 Pescador, Jetty Road, Dona Paula, Panaji and it allows temporary membership also.
Many resorts like The Taj at Sinquerim, Cidade de Goa at Dona Paula and Bogmalo Beach Resort offer a variety of water sports. One can get the number and names of small-time water sports operators from the Goa Tourism office. Also, a windsurfing school is run by Micky Martins at Hawaii Beach, Dona Paula.
Site for parasailing: Goa
looks stunningly beautiful when viewed while parasailing. From Miramar Beach, you can see Mandovi meeting the sea. If you parasail from Mobor Beach, you can see the Sal river meeting the Arabian sea. And from the 111 Sinquerim-Candolim-Calangute stretch, you get a wonderful view of Fort Aguada. Among other popular sites for the sport are Arossim-Cansaulim, Utorda, and Grande and Bait Islands.
Season: Parasailing is popular throughout the year except during the monsoon.
Operators: There ,are operators on an around the beaches who arrange parasailing for tourists.
KNEE & WAKE-BOARDING: Knee-boarding, a simpler form of water-skiing, has a slot on the board for your knees. In wake-boarding, the skier has one broad board instead of two narrow ones. Only those who know water-skiing should take up this sport.
Safety measures: In the boat, there should be one observer apart from the operator.
Site for knee-and wakeboarding: Some good sites for the sport are: Candolim, Mobor and Rajbaga.
Operators: There are instructors and guides to teach you and provide you with equipment.
SPEED BOAT RIDES:
If you love speed, this is the right sport for you. It's an exciting group sport, with the boat's capacity to take in three to six people. The duration of the ride can range from ten minutes to one hour, during which you can enjoy the coastline.
Safety measures: In the boat, there should be one observer apart from the operator.
Site for boat rides- Good sites are Candolim, Calangute, Arossim, Utorda, Colva and Mobor.
Operators: Approach recognized agents and organisations for speed boat rides.
Catamaran sailing, also known as Hobie cats, is popular among visitors. A catamaran has two hulls and a trampoline in between, and has seating space for four. Only a trained professional should sail the catamaran.
Safety measures: You should pay attention to the emergency procedures and signals that are explained to you.
Site for catamaran sailing: Good sites are Candolim, Calangute, Dona Paula, Benaulim, Arossim, Utorda, Colva and Mobor. Operators: For details of operators, see the end of this chapter.
DEEP SEA FISHING
Get into a boat, go into the sea and catch the fish either with bare hands, or by using baits and hooks, spears or nets - that's deep sea fishing for you. If you want to take it easy, go for beachcasting or shorefishing, which means standing on the beach and casting for fish. Be ready to heave heavy fish, heave-ho!
Safety measures: You should follow emergency procedures and signals explained to you by operators. Fishing permits are necessary and can be had from the tourism and fisheries departments in the state.
Site for fishing: The best places are Bait and Butterfly Islands. Some beach resorts may arrange of deep sea fishing for their guests.
Operators: There are many operators who arrange deep sea fishing trips.
DOLPHIN AND CROCODILE SPOTTING
Spotting dolphins and crocodiles is popular among tourists. Most visitors take boat rides to watch dolphins at the mouth of the Mandovi River and crocodiles lying on mud banks and sliding through the mangrove shallows of Chorao. Adil Shah of Bijapur is supposed to have first introduced crocodiles here "as a guard against surprise attacks and the escape of slaves".
Besides just dolphin and crocodile spotting, there are general and theme river cruises organized by GTDC that happen round the year, starring from Panaji.
Safety measures: You should follow all emergency procedures and signals explained by operators.
Season: The best time is from October to May.
Operators: GTDC offers the Dolphin Fantasy Cruise during season. For more details, contact the GTDC offices.
BANANA, BUMP AND RINGO RIDES
This is an enjoyable sport, where a speedboat tows away a six-seat banana-shaped contraption. Besides being popular among children, it is a safe sport as everybody on board wears a life jacket.
Safety measures: Apart from the operator, there . should be one observer. Site for banana, bump and lingo rides: Visitors can go to all major beaches for these rides.
Try an underwater excursion on the quiet Baina Beach — which is off Vasco and about 10 km away from Dabolim Airport. This new water sports option is offered by H2O Water Sports. This enterprise, run by Drishtii Adventure Sports Pvt Ltd, has introduced underwater walks for the first time in India. You would require specific sports gear for this, which is unlike a diving suit. Board a motorboat near the uninhabited Piccanye Island, receive detailed instructions, don the gear and descend about three feet under water to watch the shoals of fish pass through the clear water that looks bright blue in sunlight. Feed the fish too, if you want.