Named after Donna Paula de Menezes, the lady in waiting of the Portuguese Governor General’s wife, the destination is surrounded with mystery and legends. Dona Paula is a popular Goan city located at the headland which divides the Mandovi and Zuari Rivers. Due to the splendid view of Mormugao harbor and the gorgeous sunset view, the place often included in the travel itinerary of tourists coming to this small Indian state.
The charming hamlet also possesses one of the most happening beaches of Goa, making it a perfect place for a fun-filled beach holiday. Surrounded by coconut palms, at the seashore, you might find people enjoying various beach activities like swimming or kite surfing, or just relaxing.
Keynotes on Dona Paula
Famous for: Golden beaches and gorgeous sunset
Visit Duration: a day or two
Ideal for: day or weekend trips
Ideal time to visit: October to March
Best Visited with Solo, Group, Couple, or Family
Accommodation: budget and luxury hotels available
Languages spoken: Konnani, Hindi, and Marathi is widely spoken – English and Hindi is understood by most
Sightseeing around Dona Paula
Here is the list of popular places to go for sightseeing in this beautiful beach town of Goa:
Popular for: swimming, watersports, and relaxing
Also, referred to as the most happening beach of South Goa, the place is a deal for beach activities. One of the biggest attractions of the area is watersports and swimming, mostly due to mild and breakable waves. Activities like para-sailing, bumper ride, Jet Ski, speed boat ride, and banana ride are available here. You can rent the sporting gears like Jet Ski, water-scooter or snorkeling goggles from the local sporting club.
Popular for: exotic flora and fauna, and easy hiking trails
Just 9 km (5.6 miles) off Dona Paula, this estuarine mangrove habitat is a popular bird sanctuary. Accessible through ferry services, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located along the banks of the Mandovi River. Some of the popular habitats of the sanctuary include Jack Snipe, Black Bittern, and Red Knot. Mount the three-tiered watchtower to observe wildlife in their natural habitat.
3. Ruins of the Cabo de Rama Fort
Popular for: panoramic view of the ocean and sunset
Built in the 16th century, the fort is currently in a dilapidated condition. However, the fort was once the home of the local Soonda rulers and later went under the control of the Portuguese after they took over Goa. The fortress has an old cemetery and other interesting architectural features. The panoramic view of the ocean and a gorgeous sunset view are the main reason why visitors come here.
4. Reis Magos Church
Popular for: gorgeous edifice and beautiful carvings
The Reis Magos Church or the Church of the Three Magi is dedicated to the three Wise men mentioned in the Bible who visited Jesus after his birth. A beautiful church on the banks of river Mandovi, the place is one of the popular landmarks of the city.
5. Dona Paula View Point
Popular for: scenic view
Surrounded by casuarinas and coconut palms, the View Point is one of the biggest attractions of the town. If you are planning to catch the glimpse of the sunset from the point, then make sure to reach the venue early. The viewing point has a place for only fifty people.
Things to Do at Dona Paula
Being an interesting beach holiday spot, close to Panaji, Dona Paula is often visited by tourists during the peak tourist season. But the rest of the year, the small town usually does not receives much tourists. So, if you are a solitary traveler looking for some peace, then come here during the off-seasons.
You can indulge in several water sports, swimming and other beach activities. The sporting gears could hire from the nearby shacks or water sporting clubs on the beach.
At Dona Paula, you will find small street vendors selling Indian spices, straw hats, sarongs, and several other handmade products at a very cheap rate. Besides Feni and Port Wine – two of Goa’s specialty drinks – is widely available. For trinkets and souvenir shopping, head to the government-run co-operatives and shops.
P.S: Usually, government-run shops have a fixed price policy, but there is no harm in haggling. You might get a good deal on the item.
Legends associated with Dona Paula
Historically, Donna Paula de Menezes was a charitable lady who worked for good causes. After her death, Lady Paula was laid to rest at the chapel at Raj Bhawan. However, legends have emerged in the popular culture about love, passion, and death encircling Donna Paula de Menezes.
According to a legend, Donna was the lady-in-waiting of the Governor-General's wife. The Donna and General were madly in love with each other but tried very hard to keep it a secret from the General’s wife. Unfortunately, the secret leaked out and the wife ordered Donna’s murder. One night, this General’s lover was rolled over the cliff into the sea, which killed her instantly.
Interestingly, locals have claimed to see Donna’s spirit moving around the cliff in the bid to reunite with her lover.
P.S: Legend of Donna has several reinterpretations and has been used as a plot for several Hindi and regional movies.
How to reach Dona Paula?
Nearest railway station: Vasco-Da-Gama (VSG)
Distance: 29.1 km/ 18.08 miles
Buses from Vasco-Da-Gama to Dona Paula:
• Start from bus on the Vasco - Panaji via Cortalim route and drop at Panaji. From there, take a bus on Panaji - Raj Bhavan via Miramer route and get down at Dona Paula.
Nearest airport: Dabolim Airport
Distance: 28 km/ 17.39 miles
From the airport, visitors can take a cab from the taxi bay to reach their resort or homestay at Dona Paula. The cab fares are subjected to change.