1 HOUR 45 MINUTES
Across the harbour from the southern tip of Mumbai, Alibaug is one of a strip of settlements that are to Mumbai what the Hamptons are to New York. The best way to experience Alibaug is to be invited along by a well-off Mumbai family, many of which have over the past two decades colonised beachfronts and built palatial weekend homes in which to relax, mingle and strike deals. If no invitation is forthcoming, take the ferry to Mandwa jetty on the mainland. Stop off at Boardwalk by Flamboyante, a new restaurant and bar which tries, with some success, to create the atmosphere of a Mediterranean café. Once suitably refreshed, catch a bus or autorickshaw to Alibaug proper.
The Radisson Blu is an old favourite with Mumbaikars (rooms from 6,000 rupees; $90). What it lacks in beach frontage it makes up for with attentive staff and a vast swimming pool. Close by are the popular Varsoli beach, and the 17th-century Kolaba fort, set a mile out in the sea. For something lower key, try Bohemyan Blue Stay, a boutique resort near Kihim beach made up of luxurious tents and a cosy café. To get away from it all properly, Kashid, about 35km down the road, is a near-deserted beach with soft, fine sand. And if you find yourself tiring of the sea, the Karnala bird sanctuary, an hour’s drive inland, is home to some 200 species of bird and, inevitably, an ancient fort.