When researching where I wanted to do down South in India, Goa came up time and time again. What I didn’t realize though is that Goa isn’t a city- it is a province. So soon my idea of ‘going to Goa’ turned into a question of ‘where should I go in Goa?”
I decided to go with the flow and leave this decision of where to visit in Goa for when I got to India. Every time that I met someone who had been to Goa I would literally take out my phone and take notes as to which beaches they told me I must visit and which ones I would hate.
I could break it down for you beach by beach- but when you haven’t been to Goa before this can be very confusing. Instead, I will give you the lowdown plain and simple.
What I gathered from all of my professionally gathered qualitative research is that the North is terrible. It is over-run by tourism – and not even in a fun way. You will be bombarded by people all the time for your photograph and there will be a large amount of both foreign and Indian tourists there. As well, the beaches aren’t even as nice.
That being said, North Goa is better for partying so you may want to a stay beach there, such as in Aguna, if your looking for a party.
Now that we got that out of the way let’s get to the good stuff!
You are best off heading straight to Palolem beach. I liked staying here the best because there is a bit more action here than the other beaches around. I was told that this beach was more built up and touristy than the other beaches in the South- which it is- but there was still barely anyone on the beaches! Even though I was there during low season in March, I was expecting a lot more tourists to be around. You would never find a beach this empty in Thailand.
The best part about Palolem beach is that you just rent scooters for 300-500 rupees a day and can drive to any beach that you want along the coast. The roads were empty and it’s a beautiful drive. Each beach that I went to was no longer than 45 minutes away.
This is great because you don’t need to constantly move accommodation to move from beach to beach. You can stay in one place while in Goa while enjoying the beauty of many different beaches and beach towns.
So here are the other beaches that you can enjoy while staying here:
I stayed in Agonda for my first two nights in Goa- not realizing that Palolem Beach was only 20 minutes away. Agonda is a bit more quiet and doesn’t offer any hostels. This area if better if your budget is a bit higher and you are looking for more peace and quiet. The beach here is beautiful and quite empty and there are many restaurants to chose from. The beaches on the beach will always be slightly more expensive- but when you break it down you are still eating for very cheap.
The beach is 2 km long so while it’s not big- it is long. There is also a protected turtle nesting area here Perhaps you may be lucky and get to see some baby turtles!
More quiet than Agonda is Patnem beach. There are some beautiful yoga retreats here and places to practice yoga. As you can imagine by all the yoga happening- it’s not much of a party place. Patnem is a quite beach that is smaller than Palolem and Agonda and is worth checking out- especially since it is so close to Palolem.
This beach is farther to get to and a lot trickier. To get here you will need to drive down a bumpy dirt road that isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea. Having said that- the difficulty to get here makes it that much more secluded.
Once you get on the bumpy dirt road you will come to a fork in the road. Left is Cola Beach and right is Little Cola beach. Take your pick.
I went to Little Cola because I heard that the beach was nicer. I’ll give em that- it was beautiful and we practically had the whole thing to ourselves. There are only a couple of restaurants down there and a few beach huts. The downfall of Little Cola Beach though is that it isn’t great for swimming. There a lots of large rocks petrueding out of the sand that I either kept stepping on or swimming into.
Cola beach is supposed to be better for swimming and is still remote so this may be your best option.
How to Get to South Goa:
To get to the beach from Goa Airport you need to exit the airport and take a right down to the very end. From here you will cross the road and wait on the ‘corner’ on the opposite side for a bus to Magoa. (It is hard to explain the ‘bus stop’ because there is no actual bus stop).
From Magoa you will arrive at a bus stop. From this bus stop take a bus to Canacona Bus terminal.From Canacona you can take the bus to Palolem.
This can take some time since they are local buses but it will only cost you around 100 rupees in total. Your other option would be to take a taxi straight there for about 1, 000 rupees.