Jet ski or flying fish? All-new ways to beat the heat at Mumbai’s beaches
The water splashing on your face, the boat bumping on the sea waves, the crowds a speck on one horizon, the sky meeting the sea on the other. For the most part, you’d have to leave the coastal city to actually enjoy the coast.
But last month, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) granted licenses to conduct water sports at some of Mumbai’s beaches and there are plans for more.
“No one thought much of Mumbai’s beaches until two years ago,” says a port superintendent of the Board, who did not wish to be named. “Over the last two years, there is focus on cleaning them. Organisers and the public are realising that you can conduct activities here.”
For city folks, this is a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to spend an evening. “My friend and I took our children to try the watersports on Juhu beach right after work, something we could not have done earlier,” says 38-year-old Arham Shah, a businessman from Charni Road. “They sat on the jet-ski and enjoyed themselves.”
Hop, skip and jump
In the last two years, beaches and water bodies in and around Mumbai have been getting upgrades to attract tourism. “A lot of people come to Alibaug, but its water sports are not publicised much,” says Prafulla Pendurkar, owner of Alibaug Water Sports, which has been conducting sporting activities at Kihim, Mandwa and Alibaug for a decade.
In 2017, they added a sofa ride (an inflatable couch that is pulled along by a jet-ski) and this year, they introduced the flying fish, in which you’re strapped into an inflatable boat, and are pulled by a jet ski.
“My family and I go to Mandwa at least twice a year, and we make it a point to enjoy the watersports there,” says Mumbai housewife Kavita Bokaria, 40. “It’s super fun and close by. All of us, including my son and daughter, enjoy the banana boat ride and the flying fish.”
At Vaitarna lake, a two-hour drive from downtown Mumbai, new operators are offering day-long packages that let you enjoy the water. Activities include kayaking, lake rafting, tubing and cliff-jumping – or you could dive off a cliff eight feet high.
“I first got to know of the water sports here in December,” says Suchi Dahibavkar, a 27-year-old travel organiser from the city. She visits roughly once a month with friends. “The waters are calm, and I enjoy the kayaking. The cliff jump is something I am looking forward to do. The best part is that it’s just a couple of hours away.”
Within the city, at Juhu beach, Sailing Bay Water Sports lets you try the jet skis, the banana boat and flying fish, while the speed boating is handled by groups from Juhu Koliwada. “For us, during this season there is not much fishing and the license is helping us with a little extra income,” says Rajesh Mangela, co-owner of the group SB Sai Ganesh.
The only downside? City waters are not the cleanest. Don’t gulp any water down as you let the waves splash you. And if you are going in the afternoon, keep your cap or hat on and sunscreen at hand. Do make a call and enquire before you go.