Idyllic sun of the blue, blue waves.
What a treasure you are!
South Goa is a dream. A secret gem, hidden away right under the commercial North Goa’s nose. Calm seas, soft sands, gentle breeze, sea stretching to infinity and no motor boats and wild screaming crowds to block your view or disturb your peace!
We were there to welcome the new year and do the very indian cliché thing of doing that in Goa. However, having faced the traffic jams (and having less than 5 secs at a time to calm the mind up north), we knew we wanted to go south.
It could be a sign of my growing age, but I would rather have me a cuppa of sea on a shack all day than a wild neon party at night, screaming weird shit and frolicking with strangers like BFFs, while at it.
And thus, we were off and outside to cover 3 mesmerising beaches of
Palolem, Patnem and Agonda
From our goan regular friends, it was recommended that we base ourselves in Palolem because It is the most commercial of the 3 which helps to have easier access to scooty and the like.
And, they were right. The other good things to advantage were – Flea Market leading to the beach, more places to drink and eat, a plethora of Water Sports (Kayaking, Banana rides and the like) and also Boat ride hires that take you to islands off the coast and help you spot dolphins in their natural habitat!
However, a big turn-off (and funnily enough, something we realized once we were in Patnem and Agonda beaches) is that it was the most crowded.
Here is a 360 view of Palolem beach at noon so you get a sense of the place –
We thought we will spend New Year’s Eve here because ‘obviously’ the party scene would be fantabulous and what not! But, if you are like me – please avoid at all costs. We were there at night 11:30 and boy, there wasn’t space to move one arm’s distance without bumping into someone! Unless, you love the attention from the local boys.
Patnem on the other hand, was the quieter sister of Palolem – serene, sparsely crowded and blissful. There were absolutely no water sports or as many local shops like Palolem but the beach had some good shacks.
We found that most of the good ones were located to the left (when you enter the beach). Our absolute favorite is Sea Front for the food and friendly waiters who always served with a smile.
I loved their teenie-tiny library as well and got hooked to this amazing book – Amy Snow by Tracy Rees. We spent the whole of new year’s day just lazing around on Patnem sands, only leaving once the sun set and what a beautiful sight and beautiful time it was!
Having discovered the extreme crowd situation at Palolem on New Year’s Eve night, we had quickly exited to Patnem, just 10 mins away on scooty. Good decision since, not only could we enjoy all the fireworks scene happening at Palolem from afar, we had a great time dancing our heart’s out on the sandy spaces and good music.
To get a more immersive sense of the place, here is a 360 degree view at sunset
Here, is another taken on a different day.
When I had researched Agonda online, I read some reviews where folks said that the waves might be too strong for swimming. But we personally experienced calm waters.
There were fewer resorts to stay at. You must book well in advance to get the best deals and availability.
It is a good 9.4 kms from Palolem and can be easily covered on Scooty. However, I would say – please avoid doing that at night and alone. Not only does it get bone-chilly cold, the roads are dark and empty.
Here is a video for a more immersive experience of Agonda –
and, here is the sun setting here [3 min footage]
Things to do
There is nothing like doing nothing in goa. There are a plethora of shack options during season time in any beach you choose that can aid you do this particularly well.
2. Dolphin Sightings
You can hire a boat from Palolem, go into the ocean and see some Dolphins in their natural habitat. It is a must-do. Here is a 36 sec footage of the boat ride into the ocean
3. Island tour
In the same boat ride as above, you can cover the Honeymoon, Monkey and Butterfly beaches that are inaccessible by land. You would find some surprising terrain out there
4. Leopard Valley
Apparently, this is THE party place in south goa. Falls in the middle of nowhere kinds (between Agonda and Palolem). Check out some reviews here.
5. Scuba Diving
We didn’t try it. But there is an option. Check it out here.
How to get to South Goa
1. Flight – Fly to Goa International Airport (Airasia and Indigo offer affordable rates) From the airport, the best way is to take a cab to Palolem (or whichever destination in South you are staying at). It will be an hour’s drive and the rates would be around Rs.550. There is no direct bus to south – you can take a bus to margao and take a cab from there but the total cost would be almost equal)
2. Bus – If you are travelling from any part of South India, you can easily take a bus. You have options of AC/Non-AC, Sleeper/Semi-Sleeper. There are many overnighters that you can take to save time. Check out your options here
Tip – In case you are travelling from Bangalore or a place south of goa, your bus will take a route that will cross Canacona/Palolem. Make sure you tell the bus driver to stop there. You don’t have to go all the way to the final bus stop (which would be further north)
3. Train – Depending on how much time you have on hand, a train could be your best friend. Canacona station is the closest station. Check out your options here
Where to stay
We found the most affordable rates on Airbnb but that could also be because we were travelling in the peak season time of Dec-Jan (and booking at the last min). Otherwise, tripadvisor is your best friend.
We stayed at Navin’s here. The room was a 7 mins drive away via scooty (not walk-able though) His rooms and shared bathroom were spic and span (cleaned daily) There were fresh towels and clean bed sheets everyday. However, one experience that left a bad taste was that Navin’s caretakers asked us for a lot more money, over and above what we had paid and booked via AirBnB. They stated that apparently, we needed to book the rooms for 5 nights minimum. Was that mentioned on AirBnB or the many conversations I had with Navin and his team before and after booking? No. Thus, we will steer clear of this one and maybe double-triple check before coming over.
We would much rather prefer to stay in Patnem, on one of the many beautiful beach shacks anyway! Pleeease book in advance if possible. You won’t regret it.
2. Other good options
Palolem – Any of the Cuba Resorts
Patnem – Sea Front Beach Huts for the unspoilt ocean views, warm hospitality and delicious food.
Agonda – H2O Agonda
If you can ride a scooter, you are in luck because renting one is really the easiest, most fun and affordable way of going around in goa (no matter which part you are vacationing at). ₹650 per night (high season)
If not, you can explore renting a car or a van. Your hotel can help arrange one for you.
Best time to go
Mid November to Mid February.
However, good season at off-season prices are October and March months!
What to wear
The good news is that you can wear anything you like. This part of India has no rules and no “frowning-upon”. But, just avoid your birthday suit if possible. It might not be cool (unless you like all the attention)
And, that’s a wrap. Have questions about travelling to South Goa? Drop me a note below and I will try my best to answer it.