Our first brush with Goan beaches was at Arambol back in 2012, which was a typical Goa holiday of beaches, beer, and buzzing party atmosphere. This year we returned to the sunshine state in search of a different experience - a quieter one - which we found at the beautiful Loja by the Water.
The Loja is an intimate cabin just right for a couple or a single traveler. Slanting red tiled roof, a wall painting on one corner, and cool red-peroxide floor as you step in - I loved the earthy feel. The cabin is divided into a living area and a kitchenette with a dining table. The bathroom is spacious and convenient. There are two foldable beds to make good use of space, and a lovely view from the large windows. Even the walls are adorned with watercolor paintings of the property.
There is everything one might need to cook simple meals - an induction stove, essential utensils, oil and spices, and pretty crockery - all quite high-end and in good condition. I felt I was staying with family and not at a commercial property - which is exactly what one looks for in Airbnb stays.
The house faces a shallow lake fed by the Mapusa River, a tributary of the Mandovi River. Your very own swimming pool! A sluice gate controls the flow of water into the lake. When the gates stay open, there is a soothing gurgling sound. It adds to the symphony of birdsong in the morning and cicadas' buzz after sundown.
Our only neighbors were a fisherman and his son, who stayed in a cottage nearby. I'd often see them fishing during the day.
Buy a fresh catch of prawns from the father and son team who fish in the lake. ~Art by Seema Misra (Lonely Canopy)
A Slice of Goan history
Rita, the owner of the property, mentions a short history about the place on the Airbnb profile:
The Loja (shop/store in Portuguese) on the water's edge was an early trading post. Canoas (boats) exchanged salt and tiles for farm produce bound for village fairs. Restored, it's now a self-contained space in the same rural waterfront setting, tranquil yet only 20 minutes from Panjim.
The whole stay is seamlessly managed. Rita and the property manager Vincent both ensure that all the practical aspects are taken care of. Vincent knows everyone in the community. We would chat with him about our plans and found him a storehouse of information. He helped us with transport, directions, and getting supplies so that our stay was comfortable.
My morning walk took me through scenic roads flanked by centuries-old Portuguese houses, each one trying to tell a story. Some are abandoned and taken over by nature, some have interesting statues on the rooftop, others boast intricate grill patterns on windows, and several have spooky toys tied to trees to ward off evil (or people who love good toys!). ~Art by Seema Misra (Lonely Canopy)
During the walk, I bumped into locals taking their pets for a walk, met school children waiting for their bus, discovered chapels and old churches in street corners, and encountered the fisherman selling his catch of the day in an ice-box strapped to his bike. No chain stores and high rises to spoil the view here. ~Art by Seema Misra (Lonely Canopy)
Reaching the Loja in Goa
The house is about 11 kms from Panjim, the capital of Goa and 8kms from Mapusa, famous for its Friday Market. You can book the property here.
Things to do at the Loja by The Water
The Loja is a place to enjoy the rustic pleasures of village life:
Walking around the village early in the morning. House gazing - every road is flanked by the most captivating houses. Birdwatching. Sampling aromatic freshly-baked Goan bread with spicy fish curries. Exploring the chapels and churches at every corner. Reading a book on a quiet afternoon. Swimming in the lake.
Sunset View from the Loja
Divar Island and Old Goa
We also explored some islands in the Mandovi river and headed out for a late evening on the Calangute beach (all within drivable distance). What I loved most were the ferries to unexplored islands with no tourist in sight (except the two of us!). And the beautiful homes.