Ironically, this story began on a beach five years ago. Friends from the hinterlands had just had their first glimpse of Juhu Beach. While two rejoiced in the waves that lapped gently against their feet, the third said, "Doesn't it stink? It feels like I am walking in sewage." Thus began a mission to find pristine beaches around Mumbai. Here are five that made the cut:
For a day: Uran Beach
Getting there: An hour's ride from Ferry Wharf
Expect: A clear glimpse of Mumbai's skyline. "The sea is alive here. The waves are huge and this is a great place to just chill," says Regan Rodricks of Blue Bulb that organises one-day treks to places around Mumbai.
Don't miss: Try the fresh seafood on offer caught by the local Kohli community.
Getting there: Ferry from Gateway of India
Expect: A few kilometres from Alibaug lie the beaches of Murud, Kashid, Nandgaon, and Kihim. Once there, visit the beautiful sea fort of Janjira or head to Khanderi, Underi, Korlai, Revdanda and Kasa forts. Sushant Karnik, an adrenaline junkie, adds, "These spots offer home-stay options. And for those into adventure sports, Mandawa is 20 minutes away."
Don't miss: The 150-year-old geomagnetic observatory in Alibaug.
Weekends: Shrivardhan - Harihareshwar
Getting there: Mumbai to Harihareshwar is 190 kms via Panvel-Mangaon on the Mumbai-Goa Highway
Expect: Sun-kissed beaches far from the hustle and bustle of city life. "It is known for its seafood. The adventurous can take a boat to the north side of the bay and explore the land where the Peshwas or prime ministers of the Maratha kingdom, originally resided," says Vidhi Kamath, a local resident. MTDC has a good resort at Harihareshwar with Konkani houses to stay in.
Don't miss: Shrivardhan for its tranquil and picturesque beach.
Long weekend: Tarkarli
Getting there: Mumbai-Tarkarli is 546 kms. Get off at Kudal on Konkan Railways.
Expect: With its blue waters, white sands, coral reefs and marine life, this beach is one of the state's best-kept secrets. Snorkelling and scuba diving allows divers to interact with the exotic marine life. "It is famous for its corals," says Prateek Deo of Life Away From Life, that is organising a trip to the region on April 5. Those interested can log on to lifeaway fromlife.com Don't miss: Water sport options, the historic Sindhudurg fort and the coral reef formations.
Getting there: Mumbai to Diveagar is 200 kms, and is accessible from the Mumbai-Goa highway (Panvel-Mangaon).
Expect: Over 4.5 kms of white sand beach and clear waters. The area is relatively unexplored and you can spend hours here without seeing a soul. At one end is a fishing settlement while on the other end there is a sanctuary for migratory seagulls who feast in the creek waters. Don't miss: An ideal weekend getaway spot, this secluded beach is apt for anyone looking to laze and soak some sun.