For Viraj and me, a trip to Goa is almost like a pilgrimage trip. We try to visit once a year and pay our respects to the places we love the most. Actually, the love for Goa and the ‘Goa life‘ resonates more deeply with Viraj. He has been going ever so often since he was in college, whether it be well planned trips or spur of the moment trips… he actually calls himself a ‘Goa slut’. I have to admit, being married to one, has made me one as well. All these trips, however, have always been to North Goa. As a rule, we always stayed somewhere near Candolim, had our dinners at Suza Lobo and Brittos, bummed around in Anjuna and Curlies and partied like there is no tomorrow in and around Cape Town Cafe.
A few months ago Viraj got a message from one of his college buddies inviting us for his wedding… in Goa! Viraj and I did not waste any time in applying for our holidays and planning our trip. Since the wedding was on a weekend, we decided to take a few days off and enjoy the ‘Goa life’ and then attend the wedding.
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, Viraj got stuck with work and I decided to head out to Goa and do a little exploring on my own. Since the wedding was in Velsao, South Goa, it was the perfect opportunity to (finally!) visit the wonderful beaches of South Goa that I had always heard of.
Here are a few of the beaches that I visited and a fort thrown in just for good measure 😛
I got to this beach by accident. When I made my hotel booking, I thought I was staying at Varca. It is only when I got to the cab at the airport that I discovered that the hotel I had booked at, was at a place called Fatrade, which is a little south of Varca.
I had landed in Dabolim airport quite early and reached the hotel by 9 am, while the check in wasn’t until noon. In order to kill time, I head off to the beach which was a five minute walk from my hotel (I booked it that way!) Having been to Goa several times before, you expect the beach to be crowded and lined with beach shacks, but this beach was nothing like it. There were just three shacks in sight with very few people, sand as fine as talcum powder and water as clear as Di Caprio’s eyes! Well.. almost anyway. It is unlike any beach I had ever been to in Goa. The big fat grim did not leave my face for a long long time. I felt like Columbus who had discovered America! A new land full of promises.
This beach soon became ‘my’ beach. It was right next to my hotel and at the end of the day when I was done with exploring other parts of South Goa, I would come back to ‘my’ beach and watch the sunset. I made friends with the shack staff and ended up watching the India-West Indies T-20 Semi Finals there as well. Although a disappointing end to the match, the place is anything but disappointing.
Non-Expert Two Cents : This beach is frequented by people who stay around that area. Since there are a lot of foreigners living in resorts nearby, the beach has very few locals in the morning. In the evening, however, around sunset, is when the crowd comes in. There are a very few shacks and not many dining options in the area. Fatrade is one of those areas where you would stay at if you’re planning to stay in Goa for an extended period of time and enjoy the non-crazy-I-want-to-drink-till-I-drop Goa.
Cavelossim Beach, Mobor Beach, Betul Beach
The first time that I had ever gone to Goa, it was with my parents and my cousins when I was still in school. It was a holiday that my parents had planned before I hit the books hard for my 12th standard. We stayed at a resort in Cavelossim and frequented the neighborhood beach. I was just about fourteen at the time and that was the only time I had been to south Goa before my most recent trip. One of the most distinct memories of that beach we hung out at was that at the end of that beach, there was a place where the fresh water and the sea meet. It was a beautiful sight and I wanted to go back there and see it again.
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I parked my rented bike at Cavelossim and was welcomed by a sight that I did not expect! The quiet beach now had shacks full to the brim with people. I couldn’t help but call my brother and tell him about how the place had changed. Don’t get me wrong, the change was not bad.. but a change is a change. Soon enough, I started my walk to the end of the beach to see the point of confluence. Not too long into the walk I realized that I had made a big mistake! The place where I wanted to get to was far far away. It took me over an hour to get to the point of confluence which can be roughly translated to almost a 5km walk in the hot afternoon sun. Not something that I was prepared for.
From Calevelossim, I had crossed Mobor Beach and then gotten to Betul Beach, which is where the point of confluence is. I wish I had done my research a little better. However, I had three beaches under my belt in an hour, so I guess it was all OK. On my way back, I did not waste anytime in treating myself to Kings beer and officially starting the drinking part of my Goa trip.
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Non-Expert Two Cents : The area around Cavelossim and Mobor is lined with very high end resorts like Radisson, Leela, Holiday Inn and the likes. The beach has lots of families enjoying their holiday and the area around is lined with shops that target the tourists. Mobor is much more quiet and Betul does not have anything at all. For a little bit of life, Cavelossim it is. I went there for dinner one night (a shack called Dom’s Beach Shack) and I had a wonderful time! It was all about entertaining the guests. They had a DJ who played a good mix of current hits, retro classics and Bollywood. Everyone happy! They had a fire dancer, fire works… everything to ensure that the guests had a good time! If you are in the area, do pay this shack a little visit for all the fun.
Post my nice long afternoon walk and the few beers, I was ready to hit the next beach. It was Colva next for which I had to head back north. It was about a is 25 minute bike ride to head to Colva. As I got to the beach front, I realized that this is a very commercial part of the beach that I had gotten to. Almost like the Baga and Calangute that I was trying to avoid. I didn’t even get off my bike and head towards the northern side of Colva beach, which I reached soon enough with the help of a few helpful people on the road who gave me good directions.
I parked my bike and head to another quiet beach with very few shacks and very few people. Just what I was looking for.
Non-Expert Two Cents : The main Colva beach is a place that is frequented by the locals and hence all the excitement in the evenings. Personally, I was looking for something quiet and head to the northern end of the beach strip. Although I did find a place that I liked, I wouldn’t go to Colva unless I was in the neighborhood and wanted to head to the beach. No great shakes really.
I finally made it to Palolem!! Lalalala!! After hearing so much about it! I had initially planned to stay at Palolem, but it is so far away from the Airport that I decided to stay at Varca.. ahem.. Fatrade instead. Irrespective of anything, a trip to Palolem had to be made. I woke up decently in time the following morning and mentally prepared myself for the long ride ahead. It took me an hour’s bike ride to get to Palolem from Fatrade, and trust me, it was all worth it. Not only was the ride worth it because the beach was so nice, but the route itself was really breathtaking. We Bangalorians crave for good roads, and Goa offers you smooth beautiful roads without potholes and speed breakers at the drop of a hat combined with scenic views as you ride up the hills, into the forests, and as you start your decent to sea level, the beautiful blue waters. After a day of sitting on beaches with nothing (as in few people and shacks.. which I was looking for actually), it was great to go to a beach with the right amount of everything. Beautiful clean beach, nice water, just the right amount of people bumming around the beach, good sized shacks with good music… it was just perfect!
The almost white sand, the clean water and coconut palms, this is what picture post cards are made of. As I walked along the beach, I saw a shack called ‘Cafe del Mar’ and without a doubt, that was where I was headed. It reminded me of my trip to Varkala actually where the ‘Cafe del Mar’ shack there was the best one we had visited. (There is something in the name perhaps, what say Mr. Bard? )
I had planned to get a lot of reading done during my trip and carried my book everywhere I went, but as I sat in the shack, with the book in my hand, I couldn’t concentrate on the book. There is nothing as mesmerizing as the the sound of the waves, the beauty of the blue skies and the blue waters, the gentle breeze and the taste of cold beer on your tongue. In that moment you know that life.. well.. life is gooood!
(Haha! A little filmy right?)
Non-Expert Two Cents : Palolem is one the most popular places in South Goa. It’s got a sort of a hippy feel to it. It’s got quite a lazy feeling to it unlike the beaches of North Goa. It is clean and beautiful. You do have a bit of the local rif-raf crowd asking for ‘one selfie madam’, but by this time we all know how to deal with that unwanted attention. There is a good bit of water sports that is on offer here. Have you heard of the Butterfly Beach? It is a secluded beach, apparently super pretty and the only way to get there is by hiring a boat from Palolem. I had wanted to go there, but decided that I should leave some adventures for Viraj and me to share together when we hit his side of Goa next. I hear some of the shacks get quite active in the evening with good parties as well. Not all that quiet on the southern front I see… but you get my drift. Palolem is a good mix of everything in Goa. No wonder it is so popular!
Cabo de Rama Fort
With much reluctance, I left Palolem. I had a few other places I had to get to before I head back to my beach. The next stop was Cabo de Rama fort. I know this post is about beaches, but when you have a pretty fort, you’ve got to put that on your itinerary. Getting to the fort was not that difficult. (Although I did see a few people struggling to find the place along the way.)
I have to say, the roads in Goa make going from one place to another so much easier. All through the ride I was thinking of my Sundari. It has been years since I got her out and I felt so guilty for neglecting her all this time. However, Riding in Goa vs riding in Bangalore, among the traffic, the mountains and gorges (read speed breakers and potholes) are two completely different things.
I get to the fort just before closing time. At first sight, the fort looks quite unimpressive. A shoddy white plaster finish for the entrance does not a good fort make. It does not get any better with the small moat around the fort walls or when you enter and see a new-ish looking church. I felt quite let down when I entered the fort premises. Thankfully, the fort-ish looking fort was just a left turn away. The think high walls, the view of the sea, isn’t this what you picture when you say ‘fort’? The fort actually has a very interesting history. According to some sources, Lord Rama took shelter here with his wife Sita, hence the name ‘Rama’. Who would’ve thunk? Over centuries many occupied the fort and the final occupants of the fort were the Portuguese who abandoned it when they left Goa.
Non-Expert Two Cents: The fort is quite serene without too much activity, or too much to explore. It is covered with trees which will make you believe that Lord Rama did take refuge there for a bit. Also, the church there (which I called the new-ish looking church) is the church of Santo Antonio and has been restored over the years and is still used extensively by the locals. Big Thumbs Up there! This isolated fort offers a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea at one end and the coconut palm lined shore at the other. The crashing of the water on the big boulders and the Cabo de Rama beach at the further end are added bonuses for finding the hidden place. Even from the height that I was at, I could’ve sworn that I could see through the water and the boulders at the sea bed. The water is that clear here. Although there isn’t much to do here, the fort deserves a visit for sure.
Beaches on my itinerary for my next trip
Cola – I saw the signs on the way and had planned to go there, but I found Goa notorious with signs. It said take a left where there was no road and there was no left turn for miles! I guess I missed it somewhere.
Cabo de Rama – The approach to this one, again, was something I could not figure out, and perhaps didn’t try so hard. Will make it a point to go there next time.
Butterfly Beach – A secluded beach just off Palolem, you need a boat to get there. According to what I’ve read, this beach is super pretty and I’ve reserved it for when I travel to South Goa with Viraj.
Agonda – This beach is right next to Palolem. A friend of mine went to this beach the week after I went to Goa and absolutely loved its laid back charm. Needless to say.. the explorer has her radar up!
How much do you love Goa? South or North? Are there some beaches that are not on my list and are an absolute must-visit? Let me know!!!
Linking this post to Lyn’s The Weekly Postcard