THE BEACHES OF GOA ARE LOVELY… But how safe are they? By Charmaine M De Souza

CAUTION: Beware of rip currents under the surface of the water which can suck you into deeper waters to a watery grave. Stick to the safe zones marked out by Drishti!

How safe are the beaches of Goa? It’s often been observed that the beaches of Goa are beautiful but dangerous too…something most tourists domestic and foreign who flock to Goa may not be aware of. A beach afficianado and professional Drishti lifeguard who knows her beaches of Goa, tells us how to enjoy the beaches of Goa and offers tips on how to stay out of trouble…in other words don’t take beaches for granted! By Charmaine M DeSouza

THE beaches of Goa are among the most beautiful in the world. But they can be a death trap because there are rip tides which can suck you under the water and drag away into dangerous places. Which is why Drishti has marked out safe zones on the popular beaches where it is safe to swim. The beauty of Goa’s beaches is often marred or destroyed by domestic tourists who think the beaches are a place to imbibe alcohol and behave badly, they need to be told that beaches are not open bars.
Since time immemorial Goa has been known for its beautiful beaches and sussegad lifestyle. The moment you set foot in Goa it feels as if life itself slips into slo-mo! It’s tough not to be laid back and relax when the weather is beautiful. Hot and humid during the summer, cold and damp during the monsoons, and back to hot and humid for the rest of the year until the next summer. Winters are barely cold.
Our beaches are the pride of everyone who has chosen to make Goa their home. We speak about white sands and magical sunsets which you need to see for yourself in person and not just on Facebook postings. Goa has 52 and our longest stretch of beach is 21 kilometres long. Watching the sun set or a storm approaching from the horizon is one of the most magical of moments. There’s so much beauty around in Goa. Chances are most tourists say goodbye to Goa reluctantly and go home with happy memories. That is what we wish for everyone who comes for a holiday to Goa.
This article is about the most dangerous beaches in Goa but the truth is almost every beach comes with its own set of hazards. Unfortunately, most of our beaches have become dangerous places — mostly thanks to people who chose to drink by the waterfront and fling their bottles into the sea. There are shards of broken glass scattered in our beach sands and waters now.
Other than that it may also be noted that all our beaches are dangerous from the last week of May to mid-October. There’s a huge probability of getting swept off your feet and into the sea. Everyone is advised to stay away from the water.
However, in fair weather most beaches are safe and even the unsafe ones are kept safe with dangerous points marked with red flags. Pay heed to the warning flags. Every single beach you go to you will find a few red flags for one simple reason: every beach comes with its own set of hazards.

THE ocean bed is not uniform across Goa. The sea bed is uneven in Sinquerim and Candolim up in north Goa and Colva down south Goa. In simple terms, there are sudden dips. The unexpected drops can make non-swimmers and even swimmers nervous. There are signboards up warning of various dangers. Take time off to read them carefully and take the warnings seriously.
Of course I agree that coming to Goa and not frolicking in the sea water would be very disappointing, but your safety should be your responsibility. One carefree decision and all may not end well. If you enter a beach and all you see are red flags, approach the lifeguards appointed by Drishti Lifesaving Pvt Ltd – you can recognise them by their red shorts and blue T-shirts with “Lifesaver” blazed on them and ask them which are the safe swimming areas. If not the beach you are on, then where can you go to enjoy the sea safely? They will advise you.

HERE are a simple list of do’s and don’ts to help you have a beautiful and memorable holiday:
•Proper swimwear – please avoid entering the water clad in jeans and T-shirt or sari or trousers and shirt. This kind of clothing will weigh you down and hinder movement. Best is a pair of swim shorts and swim shirt, swim pants and a swim shirt, or a bodysuit which will also keep you from being weighed down.
•Avoid wearing high-heeled footwear to the beach. Flip-flops, floaters, sandals and swim shoes are the best options.
•If you choose to be barefoot in the water, move cautiously to prevent getting cut on any shards of glass. Slide your feet as you move forward.
•Avoid entering the water if you have been consuming alcohol. Even that one beer or that quarter peg will slow down your reflexes.
•Pay attention to the red flags and signs on the beaches. They’re placed across beaches to keep you safe from harm’s way.
•Meet and greet the lifeguards. Ask them about the swimming zones (almost every beach has safe areas).
•Avoid swimming when the tide is changing from high to low. The currents are strong then.
•Wear your sunblock to avoid getting burnt. If you do not plan on entering the water, make sure you have a cap or sunhat to stay protected from the heat.
•Stay hydrated. Goa’s humidity can be horrible.
•Avoid littering the beaches you visit. There are dustbins placed for your convenience. If there are no dustbins, carry your trash with you, and dispose of it at the nearest dustbin.
•Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol on the beach. If caught by the Tourist Police, you can be fined. This will also avoid littering the beach.
•Avoid entering the sea during the monsoons. None of our beaches is safe.
•Avoid being on the beach in stormy weather.

HERE’S a list of my favourite beaches in no particular order:

• Vagator Beach
• Morjim Beach
• Mandrem Beach
• Arambol Beach
• Querim Beach
• Bambolim Beach
• Baga Beach

• Majorda Beach
• Sernabatim Beach
• Benaulim Beach
• Betalbatim Beach
• Baina Beach
• Betul Beach
• Cavelossim Beach
• Mobor Beach
• Betul Beach
• Arrosim Beach
NONE of our beaches are a hundred per cent safe although we do have lifeguards striving to keep the beaches safe all year round. As a Drishti lifesaver I can safely say that all we want to do is watch you make happy memories while staying safe on the beaches of beautiful Goa!

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