28 Nov What to Do in Chorão in Your Spare Time
Chorão is an island of many wonders. A short six kilometres from Panjim in North Goa, Chorão boasts of beautiful old Portuguese houses and architecture, a plethora of flora and fauna, and rich historical identity. Known as Chodan or Chodna by locals, this island was once home to Portuguese noblemen. It is the largest island in Goa and one of the few places that still maintains its rural charms. Today, it is also home to The Yoga Institute Goa, which is in the Madel part of the island.
To get to this island, you will need to catch a ferry at the Ribandar Jetty, on the way to Old Goa. The ferry starts as early as 6:30 am and is free for passengers on foot or traveling with a two-wheeler vehicle. The picturesque journey across the Mandovi river takes around 15-20 minutes and is quite enjoyable especially in the early hours of the morning as the sun begins to rise. Often overlooked by travelers visiting North Goa, there is much to do and see in this quaint island village in your spare time.
Crocodile & Birdwatching at Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
The main attraction in Chorão is the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, which is one of the best-known bird sanctuaries in India. Spanning most of the western part of the island, this reserved area is covered with mangrove swamps and is home to a variety of local birds like the Brahminy Kite, Sea Hawks, Whimbrels, Kingfishers and Cattle Egrets, and migratory birds like Coots and Pintails which can be spotted during winter. The sanctuary is also home to a couple of jackals, flying foxes, and muggers which are the Goan crocodiles. These have wandered to the island from the nearby Cumbarjua Canal. These crocs are unique to Goa being the only species of its kind to be able to adapt to the salty mangrove ecosystem.
For bird, nature and adventure enthusiasts, visiting the Salim Ali Sanctuary is a must-do on your trip to Goa. Located at a walking distance from the Chorão Jetty, it is recommended to visit the sanctuary early in the morning for the best sighting. Most of the sanctuary is accessible on foot by following a paved pathway. The entry fee is around 10 rupees for an Indian tourist and 100 rupees for foreign visitors with additional charges for cameras and boat rides.
Boat Tour Around the Island
For those who do not enjoy walking, you can experience the beauty of Chorão via an early morning boat ride around the island. As the boat expertly maneuvers through the narrow passages of the mangroves, you can spot crocodiles lazing on the banks of the backwaters while different species of birds dive for fish. The sights and sounds you will experience is simply therapeutic as you slowly travel down the river, basking in the morning sun.
You can hire an entire small boat from the Sanctuary Department for around 900 rupees or join a larger group for just 80 rupees per person. Additionally, you could also hire a boat from a local, though this is a more expensive option. They will double up as a guide, sharing knowledge about the history and life on the island, as well as plant and bird sightings. These boat trips usually last for a little over an hour and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can try hiring a canoe!
Sightseeing Cycling Tour
A cycling tour of Chorão is the best way to soak in the heritage and natural spots of the island. Cycling gives you a unique perspective of your surroundings that you don’t get exploring the area on a bike or in a car. As you peddle your way through narrow village roads you are greeted by mud and thatch houses, large Portuguese villas, old colonial buildings, and friendly locals. The mesmerizing beauty of the island and birdlife gives you a sense of peace and connectedness with nature. It is also a great stage for photography enthusiasts.
There are a couple of tour options to choose from ranging from a 10 km to a 30 km tour of Chorão. You can also choose a 25km, 4-hour tour of Chorão and nearby Divar Island. These guided tours are priced at roughly Rs. 1,500 per person and includes breakfast, entry fees into the bird sanctuary and an e-bike option as well for those who find it difficult to cycle for a long time. You can contact Lokaso and Cycling Zens for more information and bookings.
Kayaking in the Backwaters
For travelers wanting to disconnect for a few hours, kayaking in the peaceful backwaters of Chorão is a one-of-a-kind experience. Explore the calm waters surrounding the island as you paddle along the narrow winding channels with brilliant views of the Mandovi river and mangrove-lined shores. With the help of your guide, you’ll see all kinds of birds, fish, and animals that make the mangroves their home.
Kayaking is a peaceful alternative to a shared boat ride and creates a sense of stillness within and with your surroundings. You can paddle at your leisure and drift with the flow of the river. Definitely try and beat the heat for an early morning session. If you are part of a large group, you can rent out a kayak for around Rs. 2,000 for 2-3 hours but if you are solo the price goes up to Rs. 5,000. You can book your kayak experience via Thrillophilia or Adventure Breaks.
The beautiful island of Chorão is worth experiencing. With lush greenery, plenty of birds and quiet village life, Chorão is a place of deep contemplation and exploration. It is a side of Goa that is not talked much about but embraces the true essence of the state.