Updated: Jan 22, 2022
What to do in Divar Island? By far one of the most scenic inhabited islands in Goa that I have come across. Your first impression might be that this is a secluded island in the middle of the ocean and it has pristine beaches that one could bask on. NO! This is a beauty by itself. Firstly, it is surrounded by the river "Mandovi" and the island spans across approximately 5sqKMs. Now when most people visit the island, other than the clicking pictures are the church or temples, it gets quite confusing what one can actually do on their visit.
Here are some of the points where you could stop by, click pictures and also learn a few fun facts while at it.
1. Mango Tree- You will find this spot about a kilometer from the Ribandar ferry point on the left. If the tree is facing your back, you will see some of the big Old Goa churches across the river. This was a spot where one scene from the Bollywood movie Finding Fanny was shot.
2. Piedade Church- In Goa, usually all churches (Except Old Goa) are shut for the general public unless if there's a mass that day. Then again you have got to be dressed appropriately to enter. The view from this church is magnificent overlooking the river and the nearby Island. Remember that this is a holy place so click pictures with appropriate clothing. The church was build without the use of Cement or Steel. Its the biggest in Divar and there is a legend where the church bell was exchanged with that of the Se Cathedral because the earlier bell was too loud and windows would crack when it rang. There is a church museum too. You can access it by taking permission from the parish priest who usually sits in the church office.
3. Ganesh Temple- This is a temple that is near the Piedade church built a few decades ago in memory of a temple that existed earlier somewhere around the area. It was destroyed and the exact location is unknown.
4. Ruins of the Temple Tank- The Saptakoteshwar Temple Tank also called as Ponne Tirth is a beautiful archaeological spot called Naroa. The niches are quite rustic to look at with the greenery surrounding it. It is believed that the niches were lit with Diyas which illuminated the tank beautifully. This was the holiest part of the temple where only the Brahmins were permitted to enter. The temple was popular during its days of glory for vedic and sanskrit learning. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, there was a Ling which was made out of 7 metals. When the Portuguese destroyed what was left of the temple, the Ling was hidden by the locals and later another temple was build in Bicholim (across the river). That area now began to be called Naroa.
5. Sao Mattias Church and Candelaria Chapel.- These are two more christian monuments on the island which are pretty to look and have a unique architecture. You will get some good pictures in front of them. Candelaria Chapel is dome shaped and is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. It is also interesting to know the difference between the two.
6. Hatakeshwar Temple- This spot is interesting because of the view and secondly it is the confluence of 3 rivers. Mhadai, Mandovi and Mhapusa river. It is a holy place and there are a few rock cut steps near the boom barrier which suggests this place would have had stairs like Banaras which lead to the river. Unfortunately that is the only piece of evidence we have.
7. Vanxim Island- The island is one of the smallest inhabited island in Goa. When you take the ferry to reach here, on the left are the Hindu settlement and on the right are the Catholic settlements. Along with their respective monuments of course. Its a quaint little location with picturesque views for pictures. Including the monuments.
8. Sluice Gates- There are several sluice gates which operate to utilize the change in tides for fishing. The catchment areas fill with water during high tide and they drain out during low tide. Nets are tied on the sluice gates to catch the fish that move with the flow. The most scenic one is beside the Devaaya Resort. It is a small muddy path which leads to the gate. Another one can be found on the way to Divar from the Old Goa Ferry point.
9. Clay Bath- Here is an interesting opportunity for you to meet an enthusiastic local by name Neves Quadros. Google for Moradia Dos Quadros and you will find the location to his homestay. He will welcome you to have a chat with him and also you can request him to take you to his Eco Dream Lake. It is a unique and exciting experience to walk through the fields looking at beautiful landscapes and the clay bath pool that comes right about the middle. Even the homestay is serene and peaceful. It is also a beautiful place to to stay on Divar. Spend a night there to experience the peace and nature in the middle of nowhere.
10. Festivals- There are 2 main interesting festivals on the island.
Bonderam- its a festival where flags are the main attraction. People parade holding them in the village center. There are floats, food, entertainment and lots of music during this event. It happens on the 4th Saturday of August.
Potekar- This festival takes place during the three days before Ash Wednesday. People dress up with scary looking costumes usually handmade and roam around the streets of the island. Their signature item is a cow bell or many bells tied along their waist. They chime as they walk house to house. People offer them sweets, snacks, beer at times and even lunch. The term Potekar is used to scare little kids when parents want to get the children to be more obedient.
Random Scenic spots- There are also several random scenic spots.
If you would like to have a guided Divar Island Tour exploring the best, you can check out Soul Travelling. They have an amazing 4.5 hour experience which will give you an excellent glimpse of the island. Click here
Things to Know:
How to go to Divar Island? 3 ferry points to get on to the island: Ribandar, Old Goa and Naroa. The fees are Rs 7-10 per 4 wheeler per trip but free for pedestrians and 2 wheelers.
The Islanders are very particular about who visit the island and what they do. Be respectful do not dirty the places you visit.
Ferry timings are from 6am to 1am. Its not advisable to visit the island after dark because there isn't much to actually do.
The infrastructure is quite basic. No fancy restaurants, malls, stores, fuel stations etc. However, You will find local food, alcohol, groceries and medication.