Mumbai residents will happily tell you they live in the best city on Earth—but even the most die-hard urbanite needs a breath of fresh air now and again. Luckily, Mumbaikars have access to nearly 930 miles of coastline, and today I’m off to explore some of it in my Mini Cooper Convertible—a perfect vehicle for maneuvering through the city traffic on the way out to the Coastal Konkan Highway.
I start the day by snapping a few photos of the famed Gateway of India, a triumphal arch completed in 1924, before heading to Ferry Wharf, where I drive onto an M2M Ferries boat that carries me and the Mini across Mumbai Harbour. I enjoy views of the city skyline while sipping a Masala chai at the onboard Meemo’s Cafe, and less than an hour later I’m at Alibaug’s beloved Kiki’s Café and Deli, where I fuel up with a spicy Masala omelet.
Next, I point the Mini south, toward a trio of sights about an hour away. My first stop is Korlai Fort, a hilltop colonial outpost built by the Portuguese in 1521. Then I explore the Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to more than 200 species of bird. (I catch sight of Maharashtra’s state bird, the yellow-footed green pigeon, along with a few woodpeckers). Finally, I dip my toes in the water at Kashid Beach, a popular place for locals to ride everything from banana boats to parasail wings.
Continuing along the coast, I put the top down and slow my pace to soak in the breathtaking vistas of the Arabian Sea. There’s no shortage of roadside dhabas (food stalls), and when I get peckish I pull over for hot chai, misal pav (sprouts curry with bread), and homemade sabudana vada (fritters with chutney). Soon I reach the village of Murud, where I spend a few minutes wandering through the Murud Fish Market, watching fisherwomen clean, cut, and sell fish to haggling customers.
The real draw here, however, is Murud-Janjira Fort, a 22-acre, centuries-old island redoubt. At the town’s jetty I hail a guide, who takes me out to the historic site on a dinghy. On the way, he points out unique features of the fort, such as an east-facing doorway strategically hidden from view and three intact cannons. (I can see why this stronghold remained uncaptured through so much subcontinental and colonial conquest.)
Back on the Murud jetty at the end of the tour, I pick up freshly squeezed lemonade and tender coconut water still in its shell for the drive back. The beverages prove to be as refreshing as a day away from the relentless hum of the city.
2024 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Few cars are better suited for Indian roads than the Mini Cooper S. The compact, sporty chassis provides optimal maneuverability, whether you’re navigating traffic-clogged city streets or cruising coastal highways with the sea breeze tousling your hair. The S model boasts an 189-horsepower, 2.0-liter, twin-turbo, four-cylinder engine that flings the Mini from zero to 60 in 6.7 seconds. (To maximize your enjoyment, opt for the six-speed manual transmission.) At night, the semicircular LEDs surrounding the headlights add a touch of cool to the coupe’s already classic looks—but we recommend driving during the day, to take advantage of a soft top that folds down in just 18 seconds.
From $38,400, miniusa.com