Your Goa holiday will remain incomplete if you don’t visit the Grand Island. Also called the Grande Island, Ilha Grao, and the Ilha Grande, this is the best place in Goa for scuba diving and snorkeling. You can also try your luck at fishing and there are plenty of water sport activities to choose from as well. Plus, there are some awesome beaches here where you can sit back and relax, and enjoy the beauty. A visit to the Grand will surely be a spectacle you will remember for long.
The Eastern part of the island is often tagged on the map as the Mortar Island. There is also an old Cross on the top of the island. Sometimes, the Grand Island serves as a training base for the Indian Marine Forces. But tourism is usually not hampered by this. There are two more islands near the Grand – San Jose and Penjueno. However, it is very difficult to get to these two islands.
Where is Grand Island?
Grand Island is on the Arabian Sea. It is very close to Vasco da Gama, just off the coast. It is west of Vasco da Gama in the Mormugao peninsula. The only way to reach the island is by a boat because of its mid-water location.
There are boat services from several places in Goa, such as Calangute, Baga, Candolim, Sinquerim, and Dona Paula Beach. The boat trip takes anything between 45 minutes to 1 and half hours depending on your place of departure.
7 Top Reasons For Visiting Grand Island
- Scuba diving
- Water sport
- Dolphin Watching
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Grand Island
Grand Island is one of the best places in Goa for snorkeling, and perhaps the best place for deep sea diving in India. Armed with a snorkel, face mask and fins, you skim the surface of the sea for a chance to see some exotic marine life. Your body will be half submerged in the water. Visibility is good, so you can see clearly. Snorkel a bit below the sea and you will see many colorful corals too.
The snorkeling kit is available on rent at the island. You can also rent the stuff from your boat operator in the mainland.
Scuba diving is even more fun here. There are some great dive spots to choose from. There are sites suitable for both experienced and beginner divers. The depth in the near shore waters is about 7-20 meters, so this island is a perfect destination for both, professional divers and beginners. Start your dive after some basic training and instructions. You can see dolphins, many species of fish, skates, sea turtles, shellfish, and of course, some beautiful and colorful corals.
Most Famous Dive Spots In Grand Island
- Suzy (4-15m) – This is a sunken British 135-meter vessel. It went down in the 1930s when the ship hit some rocks in a strong sea storm. Fortunately, only 1 crew member died. The ship was carrying railway sleepers. To this day, you can find parts of the cargo in a dive. The ship rests on the sandy bottom of a small bay, and is covered with mussels and small corals. You will find a lot of fish and crustaceans here.
- Davy Jones Locker (15m) – Another sunken ship close to the Grand Island.
- Sailing Rock (20m) – An interesting and challenging dive spot where you can see a lot of aquatic life and corals. The sea current is strong here, and also at the Davy Jones Locker, so these two spots can be tough for beginners. They are best for experienced and professional divers.
- Umma Gumma Reef (15m) – This is the best spot for beginners, and it’s one of the best places too. You have the chance to see reef sharks, lobsters, sea cucumbers, needlefish, turtles, and many more species.
There are other diving spots too, like Turbo Tunnel (7m), Surge City (9m), and Bounty Bay (9m). You will find many remains of wrecked ships that went down here during the Second World War or before. There are other interesting places too.
You can swim in the waters of the Arabian Sea as well, and also enjoy water sports here, apart from snorkeling and scuba diving.
There are many places in Goa where you can see dolphins. But here in the Grand Island, if you are lucky, you can spot an entire pod of dolphins. Just be alert when you are approaching the island on the boat trip. You can miss the playful dolphins as they twirl very fast. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.
Once you are close to the island, your boat will stop for a while. You will be handed a fishing rod and bait attached to it. You can then try your hand at fishing, sitting at the boat. You can carry anything you catch, and it will then be prepared wonderfully for a barbeque lunch at the island. Light snack and soft beverages are also served on the boat as you cruise towards the island. On the trip, you will also see many Goa landmarks, like the Millionaire Palace, Goa Jail, and Fort Aguada from the boat.
You land at the Monkey Beach on the Grand Island. Here you can relax, get a tan, swim in the sea, play beach volleyball and football, enjoy a picnic, lunch with barbecue and chicken or vegetarian, and try the many water sport activities. There’s a chance to see dolphins right from the beach as well. You will find tents here where you can sit back and relax. Mats are available on rent. There is beer and soft drinks too with the lunch served at the Monkey Beach. Walk back to the boat after spending time here for the return journey.
Best Time To Visit The Grand Island
Private tour and boat operators take tourists to the island between October and May every year. The monsoon hits Goa in early June. There is a lot of rain and the sea is choppy too, so it is very risky from June to September. There are no boat trips this time of the year. The summer is hot. The sun will beat down, making it uncomfortable. So the best time to visit the Grand Island is from October to February, when the weather is pleasant, and there is very little chance of rain.
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