Our last stop in Goa we planned was Palolem Beach, which is a short ride south of Agonda. We had reserved an oceanfront cottage, which we found was a short trek from the main action (thank goodness). The cottages were nestled among a rocky cove (ours is the one on the left in the photo above) and we were literally steps to the water. The accommodations were as simple as they come. The panoramic photo below makes it look more charming than it really is. However, our view from the terrace was amazing!
We were beginning to miss Agonda and were beginning to feel like we were back in Baga. As we strolled the crowded shore, got hassled just as in the north, we were less impressed with Palolem and both had the same thought at the same time.
Let’s go back to Agonda.
We had already paid for 3 nights upfront and decided we’d spend the duration of the week back in Agonda in our cozy air-conditioned tent. Never thought I’d be itching for a tent, but after a few nights on a hard mattress with our neighbor snoring the night away, club music until 3am, fireworks, cockroach killings, and trying to identify if we had lizard or mouse droppings, the novelty of a bare bones ocean shack started to thin.
Agonda, we miss you.
We enjoyed our view for the 3 nights and kept cocooned in our cove.
Friday we fly to Kerala to continue our journey south.
After countless dinners to the tune or cacophony of bad club music, we were excited to head south where we heard it was quiet and very different than the north. A two-hour drive south took us to Agonda Beach. Days prior to arriving, we had confirmed our accommodation booking only to find out the manager we had been dealing with via email and to whom we had already paid a 40% deposit was now telling us that we owed him an additional 2500 Indian Rupees on top of what we had initially agreed upon. We went back and forth via email only for him to admit his initial agreement was a calculation error on his part, but that he wouldn’t honor the mistake. This place reeked of bad business and we knew we were going to have to face this genius of a manager upon arrival. Well, maybe not upon arrival. The first thing we did was put our stuff in our dingy room (while other nicer rooms next to us were completely empty) and walked down the beach to find other accommodations. We had decided to stay the 3 nights which we had paid for and then to get the hell out of there. The manager, knowing we had checked in, had not bothered to find us the first day and by the time he happened upon us on the 2nd day, we already had one foot out the door. Blessing in disguise? Lesson learned? Never stay at Simrose in Agonda Beach. We ended up at H20 Agonda where we ended up ‘glamping’ in our luxury tent complete with A/C, outdoor-ish bathroom and shower with hot water.
(Picture below taken from their website)
The tents are close enough to the water that we could hear the waves crashing when we’d crawl into the comfy bed. For a nightly rate that was just $3 more than what we would’ve been paying at Simrose, we were happy ‘glampers.’ We’d have our morning coffee in the airy lounge that overlooked the ocean and then find our way to the sun beds that were more cabana style.
Now let’s talk about the beach. Best beach in India thus far. It’s quiet and beautiful with lush green surroundings without the hassle of people constantly trying to sell you things. Unlike the north, this beach is lined with oceanfront huts and it’s clear there is a strong yoga presence. This is what I’m talking about!
It's a bit more rocky and quite photogenic.
We continue south on Friday when we head to Palolem.
If you want atrocious trance and techno beats with your could be romantic, but ruined by people trying to sell you glow in the dark devil horns, or speakers (why?!), while you dine, then Baga Beach is for you. Just north of Candolim and Calangute, we stayed at the very cute Little India Guest House which was just steps from the beach. Baga Beach looks very much like Calangute or Candolim as the beach is lined with food shacks and sun beds.
We also discovered a more secluded beach north of Baga that you can only get to by crossing a river which can be difficult depending on the tide then hiking the side of a mountain. The crossing proved difficult with a camera and our feet got cut up from rocks, but the beach is well worth the trek.
We spent Thanksgiving here and while we were craving mashed potatoes and stuffing, we opted for seafood, found a quiet dinner spot on the beach and our dinner ended with an impromptu fireworks show. Quite a nice last night in Baga.
Next stop? Agonda Beach in the south.
After making miles through Europe, Russia, and Mongolia, we were suffering from severe beach withdrawal. Sure we had a taste of Siberian beach life on Olkhon Island, but frigid lake water wasn’t exactly what us beach bums had in mind. The last we saw a beach day was in December 2012 in Puerto Rico. The ocean was calling and we were way overdue. We weren’t sure what we were going to find in Goa as our India trip has thus far been challenging but we were hoping for a little restorative stint in the sand. We knew Goa was going to be touristy and we wondered if it was going to live up to the hype. We knew it had its’ hippie heyday, complete with full moon raves and probably a fair share of glow sticks, but was all this fame just a thing of the past?
The first lesson we learned was never use hotwire.com’s secret hotel rates. We had tried this twice before where you get a good price for a room but you are only told the hotel after your nonrefundable booking is placed. The first time we used this service was great, the second was eh, and the third was ew. Three strikes and you are out hotwire! We got to our hotel in Candolim in North Goa and we were over India all over again. The hotel was far from the beach, the room was gross, the water was cold, and the ac was a joke. We found ourselves unable to sleep, hot, frustrated, and at 3am, eating a box of cereal on our stained bed.
The following day, we ended up moving to a better room where we got poor to mediocre sleep due to noise-at-dawn factors for our first week in Goa. Thank god for the beach. The shore is lined with food shacks that have sun beds with umbrellas. We spent every day laying out, swimming, eating seafood, drinking beer, and surrendering to the sand. It felt amazing to be reunited with the sea. We found a proper supermarket with all kinds of toiletries. It was like a backpackers dream. I even found the elusive tampons with applicators, which is like finding a needle in a haystack here in India.
We are surprised to find that the major tourist population is Russian. Signs and menus are in Russian and the locals have picked up a fair amount of Russian too to conduct business. There are tons of Indian tourists and plenty of Brits too, but we didn’t hear a lick of an American accent anywhere. Surprisingly, I also heard some Finnish and even saw a shack that flew the Finnish flag. So last we were in Siberia with Russians on a beach and now we are in India with Russians on the beach.
So minus the poor accommodations of week 1, we were starting to relax.
It was about time.