A hidden Goa – on a luxury cruise
There is the Goa you know – a Goa of beaches, Tito's, King's beer in shacks and meeting everyone you already know from Mumbai on the back of a rented scooter – and then there's the Goa you don't know. This is a Goa of calm water broken by the leap of a fish, of brilliant white egrets swooping out of the sunset, of paddy fields and little churches, a Goa where the beach is a golden line on the horizon, with a carpet of shimmering blue sea in between. A Goa where you strain your neck trying to figure out whether to look at the moonlight on the water, or the warmly-lit church behind you.
You don't get this Goa on a scooter, or in a noisy nightclub, or even in a well-insulated hotel room. You only see this Goa if you choose to, aboard a luxury yacht on the rivers and seas of this famous but amazingly unexplored state. And, astonishingly, in many ways the state is as little explored and understood as it was over 20 years ago, when Hans Tuinman and Sucheta Potnis brought the Solita to Goa. A graceful, snow-white yacht, the luxurious Solita is designed to take up to 27 guests on her breezy decks, the perfect perch to take in this jaw-dropping other side of Goa. The Solita, meant to take on the oceans, has a beautifully-appointed interior in teak, including a saloon-pantry and two cabins, but guests find themselves topside more often than not, gazing at the tiny villages, fishing poles and churches along the banks of Goan rivers. The Solita has to make way for grumbling ferries, still connecting villages in a slower, older way, and stay clear of the mangroves, which are home to dozens of species of birds, turtles, and sometimes even otters and crocodiles. The traffic out on the sea is different: schools of dolphins, who prefer the Solita's quiet engines to noisy “dolphin cruise” motors, and even, on the very luckiest of occasions, whales. And while swimming off the beach is lovely, leaping off a luxury yacht into the cool sea, seeing the beach from the other side, is a completely different experience, and ends with lunch and a beer as you sun yourself on board afterwards.
Over 20 years on, the Solita still brings you a very different Goa – and one that’s likely to leave you with a lingering smile, not a hangover.
How to do it
The Solita is available for private charter, where you can bring up to 26 of your guests (besides yourself, obviously!) for a choice of experiences. Mornings are sunny and breezy and meant for a swim off the yacht in the cool, briny water, followed by a beer and lazy lunch on deck, while evenings are all elegance and romance, with a bottle of wine, birds silhouetted against the sunset and dinner in the moonlight. The Solita is also available for a romantic night on the water for two guests, where the world is yours. The Solita is available to guests at Summertime Villa at an exclusive rate, and can be booked simply through the villa itself. If you'd like to see the Solita in greater detail, please visit www.solita.co.in