Friday, August 13, 2010

South Goa – Palolem, Patnem and Agonda (the beach shacks have come of age)

Palolem, Patnem and Agonda are beautiful beaches in South Goa. There aren’t any big hotels here (apart from the 5 star Lalit Intercontinental in Rajbag), so the beaches are comparatively less crowded and have a lot of scenic beauty. Every year the beach shacks are setup from scratch and dismantled during the monsoons! That probably explains why Palolem is often rated the most beautiful beach in India.


We had shortlisted a few places from Outlook Traveler, and Lonely Planet in south Goa – Cuba, Allessandra, Village Guest House, Sandy Feet, Ordo Sounsar, Bhakti Kutir, Dream Catcher, Ciaran’s Camp, White Sand, Sand and Waves and Agonda Paradise.


Agonda is supposedly less crowded compared to Palolem, so we went here first. We debated going to Agonda via the coastal road from Assolna (which Lonely Planet said was one of the most beautiful roads in Goa). However, considering our already long route from central Goa, we decided to go on the highway (NH17). The asses were definitely grateful the next morning that another couple of hours riding were avoided, and the ride on NH17 was delightful.

Agonda had a nice beach, with a lot of beach shacks but nothing stood out. Cuba was nice, and H20 looked nice as well. We highlighted these two on our list and proceeded to Palolem.

In hindsight, if all you are looking for is some peace by the beach, it can’t get any better than Agonda. If you want a little action – Palolem is better.



Palolem is a beautiful beach, we thought it was the prettiest beach in Goa. It has an island and a stream on one side, and a rocky bay on the other. It is crescent shaped with beautiful clear water and looked like a place right out of a dream. This is where the first 15 minutes of Bourne Supremacy were shot. It was a little crowded even though it was just about the end of season. The locals told us that there is hardly any place to step on the beach in December and January. Here in the end of March, it didn’t seem overwhelming.

There were two places here that were on the top of my list - Dreamcatcher, which is about 100 metres off from the beach, and on the side of a stream, and Ciaran’s camp.

Ciaran’s camp has the best reviews on TripAdvisor, and looked pretty good. We fell in love with Dreamcatcher though - it had something for everybody. Its laid back from the beach so you have your privacy, and the stream and the view of the island makes up for it. We stayed at the Honeymoon Suite, which has two floors including a balcony which overlooks the stream. The off season rate was just around Rs. 3500 per night, which is still expensive compared to the other beach shacks in Palolem which vary between 700 and 3000.

It was definitely one of the most romantic places I have ever seen. The only downside is that there is one huge bathroom, with a bathtub, on the ground floor, and the bedroom is on the first floor, so I burnt a lot of calories running up and down in the three days we stayed here. The stunning thing about this place is that it is dismantled every year and built up from scratch. I think they should make it a national heritage site based on that fact alone!

The restaurant is by the stream, overlooking the small hill and though I had a lot of restaurants on my list for Palolem, we were drawn back to it every day for its stunning views.



This is the honeymoon suite – this fantastic structure is built from scratch every year!



About Palolem From Wikipedia -

“The beach is featured as the Indian residence of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in the film The Bourne Supremacy (2004). The initial footage in the movie gives a good idea of the natural beauty of the beach - the distinctive tree covered rocks at one end (known locally as Monkey Island - to which tours are run) and beach shacks.”







A nice walk down from Palolem and passing Colomb on the way is the Patnem beach. It is less crowded than Palolem and people seeking more privacy throng here. Its a beautiful beach too and looked great for surfing.

The interesting thing about this beach is that there are hardly any Indians here. I guess Indians like staying in nice hotels, and I guess the heat wouldn’t be as inviting to most of us as it is to the Europeans.

The photograph below is from the beautiful Patnem beach


Here is a fantastic reference from Outlook Traveler about the beach shacks all over Goa – Small Vagator, Aswem, Morjim (All North Goa), Palolem, Agonda and Patnem. It has the rates and tariffs for each, though you will be able to negotiate your way a lot, from the website rates, during the off season.

Goa’s beach shacks come of age. Here are some - both posh and not - that made the grade this season.