Diu is a former Portuguese possession that was taken over by India in 1961 and is now governed by the Delhi government. It is a small island – only 42 sq km (18 sq mi) – lying off the southern coast of Gujarat’s Kathiawar Penisula and it’s joined to the mainland by two bridges.
Diu has preserved a distinctive Portuguese atmosphere and within the old Town are narrow streets and many public and private buildings in Lusitanian style. Of the churches only one, St Paul’s is still used for daily mass, whilst that of St Francis is now a hospital and St Thomas doubles as a museum and guest house.
The Muslim, Hindu and Christian populations manage to co-exist with few problems, but as cheap alcohol is readily available and Gujarat is a dry state. Diu has something of a reputation for being a rather lively destination for Indian tourists.
The north and south coasts are very different with the former mainly comprising marshland and saltpans (flamingos and other water birds may be seen here in early spring) whilst the latter has limestone cliffs, inlets ad sandy beaches. The most popular beach is at Nagao, which is a favourite venue for Indian day-trippers and those interested in water sports, whilst further west lies the more western-orientated resort of Sunset Point, For those interested in the more traditional aspects of Indian life the small fishing village of Vanakbori at the western end of the island has much to offer.
In general, Diu is a laid-back and leisurely kind of spot and consequently walking, cycling and swimming tend to be the most popular activities for the tourist.
When to visit
November to February
How to reach
Flights from Mumbai to Diu airport or via road and rail links on the mainland.
- The shell Museum near Nagoa beach – with over 2,500 shells collected by Captain Fulbaria over a period of 41 years.
- The Portuguese fort – mostly dating from 1546-1650, this is now derelict but there is a good collection of cannons, cannonballs and parrots.
- Fortim-do-Mar – a former jail just off the island. It’s off-limits to tourists, but you can circumnavigate it y hiring a fishing boat.
The spiky palm-like trees around Nagao beach are Hoka trees imported from Africa 400 years ago; they don’t exist anywhere else in India.