Goa - Live the slow yet happening life
Goa is the smallest state in India. It is home to beautiful Portuguese influenced culture, lovely beaches and its laid back lifestyle makes it a preferred destination for a lot of Indian visitors as well as foreign backpackers. The land of sun, sand and beaches is never off my bucket list – there’s always something new to Goa. In this travelogue, we take you through our short trip to South Goa hopping around some of the beaches and having a wonderful time, as always.
In Feb 2016, we left with the intention of travelling South Goa on a bike. The main objective of the trip was to relax and get a break from the very busy life schedules we have in our corporate job profiles. We quickly chose our bike from a rental service after landing in Goa and off we went on the roads that took us towards the South of the state. I kept gazing all around as we drove through the narrow lanes. I admired the empty roads and wondered if Hyderabad roads could be this empty. The long stretches of green fields, the cool breeze playing with my hair, the brick and tile terraced houses, the architecture of huge churches, everything about the place enthralled me. It was obviously not our first visit to Goa but it was our first time meandering through the hinterland of Goa on a 2-wheeler.
Our first stop was the Benaulim beach in South Goa. We chose to stay in a budgeted resort near the beach. There were 8 hut shaped bamboo cottages in the resort. No luxury, no extravagance yet tremendously calm and peaceful. I believe we were the only Indians in the resort. We soon checked-in and were ready to hit the beach after an hour of rest. Benaulim beach was not more than 200 meters from the resort. I cannot describe the feel of the sand, softest of all beaches I have been to. We took off our footwear and started for a long romantic walk along the beach. The beach was lined with small beach hut resorts, outdoor restaurants, souvenir shops and all the other paraphernalia of a tourist trap for beach bums. Most of the people on the beach were deeply tanned foreigners; swimming, playing volleyball, walking along at the edge of the surf or relaxing with beers in the outdoor restaurants. There was a distinct Goan party vibe in the air.
Soon we found a safe place to keep our belongings and ran to soak ourselves in the saltwater. We went deep into the sea letting the waves pass over our heads and it felt amazing- like someone trying to take all the burden of your shoulder. It felt like bliss. After a lot of fun in the water, I sat down on the shore making sandcastles while my spouse was enjoying taking photographs. Soon the sun started setting down the vast horizon into the sea and we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets in Goa with shades of orange, red, purple, yellow, blue… all mixed in one huge sky. In the night, we happened to have a lovely candlelight Mexican dinner in one of the beach shacks with soothing Goan music and a few fire performances by foreign tourists - something they call fire poi. We slept undisturbed to the sound of waves till the birds woke us up with their chirping and chatter early in the morning.
The first thing we did in the morning is hit the Benaulim beach again. Today we were accompanied by our resort manager’s pet – a dog, who was super excited showing us the way to the beach. Soon after we reached, it met its friends and went running after the birds with them. This time we saw many people doing yoga, exercising, jogging or getting sunbathed on the soft sand on the shore. The fishermen were busy collecting all the fishes in their small baskets from the nets they had put in the sea the previous evening. This attracted a lot of crows, a few eagles and a kite whirling around in circles around the area where the nets were spread. The eagles portrayed a marvelous performance where they flew high up in the sky, spotted something and rushed downwards as if they would crash into the ground but as soon as they reached the ground they caught a fish, maneuvered craftily and flapped their wings to fly off again. Seeing a small starfish on the beach was another highlight of this lovely morning. We happened to play Frisbee and after a lot of attempts, I learnt the art of throwing it in a way up in the air that it returns back to you. It was a fun session.
Soon we were back to the resort bidding goodbyes to get back on our trip. Our next destination in South Goa was Patnem beach. We took the Panvel highway to get there. We stopped on the way to have breakfast in a local Deli which we thought served us the best Pita and falafel. We reached our resort after 3 hours driving through the small beautiful Goan villages. This resort was located on a small and quiet road, 2 minutes’ walk from the beautiful beach of Patnem. The cottages were spotlessly clean and decorated in an Indian traditional style but were furnished with equipment of modern convenience. The friendly and supportive staff welcomed us. Rooms were built with tropical wood and modern conveniences to ensure comfort and privacy with traditional charm. We reached here peak afternoon but were so excited to have a look at the beach that we left our room as soon as we entered.
We walked down the Patnem beach and started walking along the shore towards a very narrow stream of river hardly meeting the sea. Patnem beach is a horseshoe-shaped bay with plenty of shacks to eat and drink. There are many massage and yoga places. Despite all of this it's still a very peaceful place. I was surprised to spot a dozen jellyfishes in a small freshwater pond a few feet away from the beach. They moved rapidly expanding and contracting their bell-shaped bodies to push water behind them. They were so close that we were actually scared to step in the water. Unfortunately, we didn't bring our cameras and couldn't capture them. We left them to their state and without any worries of tanning, we again went to soak ourselves in the seawater. Slightly cold water in the hot afternoon felt very comforting. Again we were deep inside the sea letting ourselves float with the waves. Reaching back to the resort we were so tired that we fell into a deep sleep.
In the evening, we drove along the narrow roads of South Goa to see nearby Palolem beach. Palolem has a quaint hippy vibe that makes it one of the finest beaches in the south Goa. It is a stunning crescent-shaped beach with rocky outcroppings at each end, perfect for watching the sun sink into the Arabian Sea. But to our disappointment, the beach was very very crowded by boats, kayaks, endless restaurants and generic shops selling odd things full length of the bay and so full of people that we decided to go back to Rajbagh beach which is very near to Patnem beach to view the sunset. Back to Rajbagh beach, we enjoyed taking a lot of photographs, seeing the sunset and sitting on the sand chit chatting till it got dark. The sound of waves was so soothing we didn’t realize where time flew and it was late at night. We dressed our best to go for a dinner date on one of the famous beach shacks and had the tastiest sizzler in a candlelight setting. This night we sat late on the shore watching lights of restaurants lining up the shore and clicking some photographs. We headed back only when we were too tired and slept with peace.
Next morning, we again woke up early to visit the beach. This time we drove all through the narrow lanes down the South Goa towards Talpon River which met the sea towards the south most end of Rajbagh beach. This is one of the less crowded beaches of Goa, probably because of its location which makes it one of the best beaches for nature lovers. Its crystal clear water and scenic surroundings completely mesmerized us. The landscape and forests around are stunning and it’s secluded like you have the beach just to yourself. Here, we spotted many rare birds and saw the fishermen who were also ferrymen, ferrying the people across the river towards Talpona beach in their small boats. We also saw big motorboats taking people in large groups for dolphin spotting deep into the sea. The beach was so deserted here that we enjoyed clicking ourselves a lot here. We had carried our tripod with us today and hence we had fun taking couple photos. Soon, the sun came up shining brightly hinting us to move to our next destination for the day. We went back to our resort, got ready, had breakfast and departed. We again took the Panvel highway to reach the place we had booked.
The 3rd and the last destination of our 3-night Goan journey is a secret beach. Secret because it is simply too awesome, untouched and unspoiled by the commercialization that tends to kill all awesome places one day or another. So we too wouldn't like to play a minuscule role in killing it by mentioning it here. But in case you find the place interesting and are truly interested in experiencing its beauty first hand, just drop us note and we will reveal it to you. The idea is only to share it with true nature lovers as we are. The last 2 miles of our journey towards this secret beach was on a private dirt track, through the scary jungles and bumpy roads which don’t even exist on the Google maps. It felt as if we were leaving the world behind us with all its crowd, hassles and worries. When we reached, it was like arriving at a hidden paradise. The huts of our resort were scattered through the lovely coconut groves beside a freshwater lagoon overlooking the sea. We would undoubtedly rate this beach the most beautiful of all the beaches in Goa. It offers an escape from reality. It is pretty much common sense that Indians would rarely know such places preferring the usual hullabaloos of Calangutes and Anjunas while foreigners find it easy to uncover such hidden gems.
The huts of our resort are rebuilt from scratch every year after monsoon; the palm walls of the room woven together to provide natural ventilation and the whole setting is spacious and delightfully secluded. Each hut has a cushy bed and an attached open from the top bath. We had paid for a sea view room and had a balcony that opened right on the beach. We could just sit outside our room and keep gazing the endless ocean forever. We had a freshwater lagoon right next to the resort which was separated from the sea by a small strip of sand. The beach is completely cut off from the mainland and doesn’t even support any mobile signals which altogether gave us an exclusive and private feel. We experienced two contrasting water bodies – the steeply sloped beach with bit rough and strong waves that pull you back in the sea and the lagoon which is extremely calm and inviting. Serenity or even heaven is an understatement to describe this piece of setting. We took a swim in the sea and later freshened up with swimming in the freshwater lagoon to get rid of the itchy dry sand and salty water. The tranquility in the atmosphere made us so lazy now that we carried our novels and retired on the sunbeds reading. Without a care in the world and forgetting the existence of time we fell asleep on the beach.
Later in the evening we freshened up, filled our tummy with heavy snacks and set forth walking to explore the places nearby. We had read and knew of watching the sunset atop a hill nearby and hence started a small steep trek up the hill. The view from above was breathtaking. The secret beach is tucked between two hills and we were at the top of one of them. The vast expanse of the sunburned grasslands dried and golden brown on the hilltop was stunning. There isn’t much to do there so the sole purpose was to view the sunset and have our customary photo shoot. Without any doubt, we got some of the best pictures of the trip here, some truly fairytale pictures. We sat down on one of the cliffs and saw the sun slowly setting in the mouth of the sea. We trekked down to our resort before it got dark and continued our photo shoot. This night we ate Indian food and sat in our balcony for hours together feeling the cold sea breeze and the never-ending sound of sea waves crashing on the beach rocks.
Next morning we took a walk towards the end of the beach again enjoying taking couple photos and getting wet in the sea. Soon it was time to bid farewell to this heavenly abode. We checked out of the resort and with heavy heart said our goodbyes to the most amazing beach. Again we were on the road to drive back to the airport as our trip came to an end. And yes, I pleaded my husband to let me collect the soft sand of Benaulim beach in one of the empty bottles we had on our way. And we did! We soon returned our tuk-tuk (two-wheeler) to the bike rental company and took a cab to the airport. Hence ended our 4-day escape; from dusty, crowded and noisy Hyderabad streets to calm, serene and peaceful Goa beaches. But somewhere deep inside, this journey made us realize how pointless is everything, running just because everyone else is running, in search of money to lead a decent life. Someday we will have to take the plunge, live in some unknown street of Goa where money has little value and time is slow, where we neither see a traffic signal nor a mall, where our routines are surrounded by little joys which we currently ignore, where busy is nothing more than a familiar word, where reality is better than fantasy...
Now that would be a Fairytale Life...
Have you been to Goa? What are your favourite beaches in Goa? Do you prefer South or North Goa? We would love to know your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below about this beautiful state of Goa. Would you like to know about even more exotic beaches in India? We have a complete 10 blog series on it. Click here to read about The Andaman Odyssey.