OK, so last time I posted on the blog I was in Vietnam, which was, yikes, a little while ago. But anyway it’s high time to fire it back up again as I’m now on a 4.5 month sabbatical from work (thanks, thanks, thanks to my lovely bosses!) and making my way through South India, stopping off on the way to do my 200-hour yoga teacher training, before heading back to beautiful Vietnam and on to Australia. Eek!
The first stops on the adventure were Palolem and Agonda in South Goa; a soft landing in India and two beach bum’s paradise towns. Goa once had a rep for all night raves and trance parties on the beach, but (as far as I could see) that is all pretty much a distant memory since the government introduced a state-wide ban of live music outside after 10pm. In fact, in Arambol we even saw a very angry looking man (who had nothing to do with the venue we were at) come and unceremoniously pull the plug on the live music – which was more folk than trance anyway – at 9.58pm sharp! For sure there’s still a party to be had here, and this memory lives on more so in the North than the South, but it’s far from what Goa is about. Anyway I digress….
We had it on recommendation from friends to come to the South, as we’d love its clean beaches and laid back vibe, and we were suitably impressed. South Goa is paradise.
Palolem is the main beach destination in South Goa. Tourists and travellers alike flock here to enjoy the warm, tropical waters and a pristinely clean and compact crescent of beach, lined with colourful beach huts and packed with everything in the way of food, drink, yoga and healing that you could possibly wish for. The sea here is the calmest in the whole of Goa, so the only downside is expect crowds and hawkers to match. And don’t expect too much peace on your sun lounger. We went at the beginning of February, which is still high season, so it is likely that the crowds are less out of season.
Palolem has something for everyone – but if, like us, you want healthy and mostly vegetarian food, Palolem is the right place. In our experience, the busy main road that runs parallel behind the beach had the best choice. The breakfasts in Zest and Little World Cafe are incredible, but Little World cafe gets my vote for having the most friendly and welcoming owner, amazing decor, and free masala chai constantly on the boil, not just for customers but for anyone passing by in need of refreshment. Cute.
For dinner, we loved the veggie Thalis at Shiv Sai, and at 130inr (about £1.40) for your whole meal, it’s curry heaven. For delicious fish tandoori, head to the restaurant (I didn’t write the name, bad blogger!) at the far left end of the beach, halfway up the stairway round the rocks over towards Neptune’s. Everyone raves about Magic Italy too.
Fruit platter at Zest… yum
I can’t recommend any of the two places that we stayed at in Palolem! For our budget to mid-range backpacker budget of 1500 inr (roughly £16) a night, pretty much everything on the beach was out of budget – so we ended up in homestays set back from the beach, which were fine but none of which worthy of recommendation. That’s not to say there isn’t lots available, but expect to pay 2000 – 2500 inr for something half decent on the beach.
Go to Anand Yoga Village! Again at the far left end of the beach, this brand new resort is Aussie run and had a beautiful shala, great teachers, great dogs, and great vibe. They have a full programme that changes every week. I loved the morning vinyasa classes, and also did a chakras and subtle energy workshop.
Although it was maybe a little bit busy for us at times, let it never be said that Palolem isn’t beautiful – a must visit for any beach bum in Goa. But definitely make sure you don’t miss our next stop: laid back, blissed-out Agonda… (post coming v soon!)