Weekend road trip in India from Ahmedabad to Diu
When the idea for a weekend road trip in India from Ahmedabad to Diu came up in conversation, I had enough reasons to want to embark on this adventure for three days and two nights.
Having learned about Diu in school always made me curious about this former Portuguese colony. When traveling, I like to see the other side of what the History books tell you. Unsurprisingly, the perspective of the colonist is never the same as that of the colonized.
Best way to reach Diu from Ahmedabad
We could have traveled from Ahmedabad to Diu by bus or by plane (via Mumbai). Instead, we chose to rent a car with a driver. Ahmedabad is about 217 miles from Diu.
Although it was a 9-hour ride (including plenty of stops along the way for us and the driver to eat and stretch our legs), it paid itself off on comfort.
A bus ride would’ve taken 10 to (maybe) 20 hours. Of course, a plane trip would be quicker, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of my first road trip in India.
Places to visit in Diu
So here it was—my chance to see the traces of the over 400 years of heritage the Portuguese left behind. But, there are almost none. Apart from the fort, some churches that still stand, and some local establishments with Portuguese names, Diu is a beach resort tourist destination by the Arabian Sea.
If you’re looking for a place where you can find the oh-so-very-typical (whatever you think that might be) India, Diu isn’t it.
It’s a destination to enjoy the beach, the sea, the food, the beer, the company of friends, chill-out and do a little sightseeing in between. A weekend might seem too short to include it all, so it’s best if you plan for at least the highlights.
I’m all for preserving history, even if it doesn’t always bring you the best of memories. All cultures have a background and a story to tell, so respect and conservation of their heritage should be top of mind for everyone. The care is the first thing I see, and in Diu, the fort (and the nearby churches) were in bad condition.
The fort, built-in 1535 by the Portuguese, could use a little restoration work or some maintenance. The original stone floors and walls were covered with cement to prevent them from decaying any further, I assume. Some of the walls were vandalized with graffiti. It still had some signs of Portuguese presence on stone inscriptions and some natural decorative elements (like grapes and grapevines) around the arches above entrances and doorways.
Address: Near Collectorate Office, Diu, 362520
Opening hours: 9am-6pm Mon-Sun
Admission fees: free
St. Paul Church
Within 10 minutes walking distance from the Diu Fort, you’ll find the still fully-functional early 17th century St. Paul Church with its distinctive Baroque façade that is unique and unusual in India.
Although not at its best shape, there were still some unique decor elements inside the church. The elaborately carved woodwork, St. Mary’s statues and other saints at the altar, the decorations in white stucco on the ceiling and walls.
Address: Fortside, Diu, 362520
Opening hours: no information
Admission fees: free
Just next to St. Paul Church is the St. Thomas Church that now serves as the Diu Museum. Built in 1598 in Gothic style, this church’s façade and inside walls needed some serious maintenance, with most of its white coating peeling off.
Inside, several wooden statues of saints and various crucifixes were displayed, along with (I think) some archeological findings (mostly stone inscriptions in Portuguese that seemed to be tombstones).
Again it was a visit that left a lot to our imagination, guessing details about the pieces. Either you have some (even if minimal) background in Portuguese (Art) History, or you don’t know what you’re looking at.
Address: St. Thomas Church building, Diu 362520
Opening hours: no information
Admission fees: free
I wouldn’t say that spending time at the beach was one reason for me to see Diu. In fact, I’m not much of a beach person, although I enjoy the soothing of the waves, the sunset, the smell of the sea. But in the back of my head, when I hear the word “beach,” usually that’s not the first image that pops up. I immediately think of a crowd of oiled-up sunbathers and not an inch of free sand to be seen.
That is why Jalandhar Beach was a surprise. Unlike Diu’s most famous beach among tourists, Nagoa, this one was isolated, quiet, and peaceful. The perks of a beach that isn’t near any resorts, restaurants, bars, shops.
Where to stay in Diu
We stayed at the Magico do Mar resort by the Arabian Sea, where you can choose between Gujarati-style cottages or single rooms. Its restaurant serves three delicious cuisines (Gujarati, Goan, and North Indian) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
From our duplex cottage doorstep to the sand of Ghoghla beach, it took us about thirty seconds. Yes, really. The beach was deserted most of the time, maybe because it was for guests only or because it was Monsoon season.
Address: Diu Checkpost, Ahmedpur Mandvi, Junagadh, Gujarat, 362510
Phone: +91 2875 252567
Where to eat (and drink legally) in Diu
Diu is a Union Territory and the only place other than Daman in Gujarat state where drinking and buying alcohol is legally allowed.
A pro, it’s good to know, especially when you’re coming from a dry state (and you may miss the occasional beer or glass of wine). A con, it also turns Diu into a booze travel destination. I didn’t see any signs of people going nuts over alcohol, but it probably happens.
When your local cuisine’s knowledge is limited (or, well, influenced by what you think is typical), make no mistakes and go with what the locals recommend you.
I was traveling with a group of people who knew the place very well, who had been on the island a few times, and who narrowed the options down to two great places to eat without blowing up your budget.
Cat's Eye View
The Hoka’s Cat’s Eye View is the Hoka Island Villa resort’s laid-back bar and restaurant. It’s more of a snacks-and-beer place than an actual restaurant, so it’s the right spot for a casual dinner.
Address: Nagoa Beach, Diu-362520
Phone: +91 2875 275301
The Prato Delicioso is the Sugati Beach Resort restaurant and had a more “restaurant-y” feel to it, crisp-white cloth napkins, and the likes, so it was a little more expensive. We had lunch there the day we arrived because it was within walking distance from our resort Magico do Mar.
They have a more extensive range of cuisine options, from North Indian to Chinese.
Address: Opposite Check Post Ghoghla, Diu, 362520
Phone: +91 2875 252212
Weekend road trip to Diu budget breakdown (2014 prices)
Car rental from Ahmedabad (including fuel and driver’s expenses such as food and accommodation): 11,860 INR / USD 185
Accommodation 3 days/2 nights (total spent for one cottage for 7 people, plus breakfast): 12,900 INR / USD 201
Meals (average per person per day): 495 INR / USD 7.73
Admission fees for sights: FREE