Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Palolem Beach Goa

Palolem is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Goa. It is a natural bay surrounded by lofty headlands on either sides, resulting in a calm, idyllic sea with a gently sloping bed which allows you to walk up to 100 m out from the beach.

Palolem is located in south Goa, 43 kilometers (27 miles) from Marago and 76 kilometers (47 miles) from Panaji, the state's capital.

Unfortunately Palolem has been saturated by travellers, hawkers and over priced sellers: it is sometimes difficult to walk up the beach at high tide due to the restaurants jutting into the cresting waves and you will certainly be asked about your plans for dinner a few times.

In the early 1980's, Palolem was not that well known except for the few hippies who began coming to Palolem Island and staying there for months. Palolem is one of the most beautiful beaches in Goa and as a result, it often becomes overcrowded during the holiday season. Palolem is flooded with a mix of nationalities and has a unique culture of beach cottage accommodation. It is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination. It has gained so much popularity that even people from India have started visiting this place. Many of the cottages are right on the beach, facing the sea.  Besides Palolem Beach, you will find Colom Beach and Patnem which are hardly at a distance of 1 km from each other. The Thai style beach shacks on the beach front are typically taken down during the monsoon season and re-erected when the dry season starts.


Palolem Weather:

The weather at Palolem is warm throughout the year. Temperatures rarely reach more than 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day or drop below 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) at night. Some winter nights can get a bit chilly from December to February though. Palolem receives rain from the southwest monsoon from June to August, and most places on the beach close down during this time (including the beach huts, which get dismantled). The tourist season kicks off in late October, and starts slowing down around March. 

About The Beach

Palolem Beach - is also known as "Paradise Beach" located in South Goa. This beach is about a mile long and it provides seclusion and idyllic scenery. This beach in Goa is not very developed in terms of tourism. So if you are planning to stay over at Palolem Goa, then you may find yourself residing in some huts, enjoying a simple way of living. The best time to visit Palolem Beach is November to March.
Palolem beach is largely unspoiled and is inhabited by both local fishermen and by foreign tourists who live in shacks along the shore or in the main village itself.[1] It is about one mile (approximately 1.61 km) long and is crescent-shaped; one can view the entire beach from either end. Both ends of the beach consist of rocks jutting out into the sea. The depth of the sea increases gradually, being shallowest at the northern end of the beach, making it safe for average swimmers, and the currents are not fast.
The beach is featured as the Goan 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 Green Island - to which tours are run) and beach shacks.
This stretch of white sand dominates the southern coast of Goa. Until a few years back, it was among the virgin beaches of Goa. However, it couldn't escape from the eyes of the tourists. Although a few developments have taken place, the beach still has a soothing aura to it. A large area of the beach now accomodates a lot of small shacks that taper off as you move towards the south. Dolphin cruises and the fishing trips are the other popular attractions. These are offered at quite a reasonable rate.

 At the northern end of the beach is a fresh water stream. Across this stream is a tiny, undeveloped island that can be accessed by just swimming across during low tide. However, it is not very safe to do so during high tide. July, August and September are very rainy months, but this does not stop some travelers from visiting the area.
Palolem is also ideal for young families as the atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and safe. Restaurants in Palolem are varied and due to the amount of tourists, generally of a very high standard.


Things To Do

 Boat Ride and Other Activities

Boat Ride 

You can take a boat ride in the river joining the sea on northern side of the Palolem beach.
Very quiet and more in the 1960s than in the 21st c (thank goodness). No Jet Skis - no rip-offs or touts - very good locals who make this a unique place in India - one that the authorities could learn a lot from - more the sort of place you come to compose music on the beach.

From Palolem you can find some outdoor sport as :
Scuba diving ,Canyoning and trekking tour ,Rent self-paddle sea kayak boat.
Yoga Class
Yoga Classes - In Palolem you can find different yogaclasses around the beach. Arunachala Yoga Centre with the master Swami Dayanand gives classed 3 times a day in kundalini yoga aswell as teacher training. In a colourful Yoga Space Kranti Yoga Ashtanga Vinyasa has Drop In Class every morning & afternoon see signs from the Beach for Kranti Ashtanga Yoga behind Cuba Bar or from Brown Bread Restaurant. Kranti (the teacher)is very knowlegeable and has a charismatic personality his classes are not for the faint hearted but you will be totally exhilerated after it.
 Silent Noise- Parties 
Silent Noise-Party, Neptunes Point (south of the main-beach). The alternative to the legendary but almost extinct goa-parties. Big crowds of party goers gather every saturday for serious partying and dancing to awesome tunes underneath the starry sky. You'll be handed wireless headphones with different channels to chose from.
Moon Night Walk
Palolem is a small beach town but do take long walks (carry a torch/flashlight if walking along the beach at night!). If you happen to be there on a full moon night , its quite an experience stolling on the beach on a full moon night with the islands clearly visible in the moon light,you will find people partying late into the night upto 2 - 03:00 in the morning .Immediately to the south of Palolem, which gets busier every season, is the beautiful Columb Bay where you can stay in a comfortable yet eco friendly complex. Just beyond is Patnem beach which used to be much quieter than Palolem but has a few guest houses and beach shacks.

Sight Seeing

Padolphin spotting or fishing in a boat, or take an inexpensive boat trip along the backwater canals during high tide. Hiring a kayak is also a good way to explore the surroundings. During low tide, it's possible to walk to Butterfly Beach (which becomes an island when the tide is in) where there are hiking trails and striking sunsets to be enjoyed. For those who like to shop, Palolem also has a market just behind the beach that sells jewelry, clothes, and souvenirs. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary makes a pleasant day trip from Palolem.lolem offers both relaxation and adventure. Those who've had enough of lounging on the beach can go .
Money Stone

At the top of the island adjoining Palolem beach there is a stone sculpture created by an American conceptual and land artist Jacek Tylicki called "Give if you can – Take if you have to" also called the "Money stone". It became a pilgrimage destination. At the low tide it is a tough jungle walk and a guide is recommended. People can leave or take money at will at the Money stone.

Cortigo Wild Life Sanctuary
Cotigao wildlife sanctuary is a good day trip from palolem. you can also ride along the narrow but beautiful coastal road northwards to visit agonda beach and still further north cabo da rama(a ruined fort on a cliff)
Monkey Island

Take a walk to Monkey Island... You will spot this island to your right on entering the beach... you can walk along the beach and across some rocks during low tide and reach the island, during high tide water covers and makes it impossible to walk across. The island has a network of trails to explore and the more adventurous can traverse the rocks on the periphery of the island. Make sure you carry your water bottle and be careful, people have injured themselves walking over these rocks.
Further on to the right is Butterfly Beach. You'll need a boat to get there but worth a trip for a change of scenery. It has a very steep beach, so deep that you can dive in from the waters edge if you time your dive correctly.
Further on still is Honeymoon Beach, a small strip of beach which generally brings you total seclusion. These islands are usually visited by couples who want get away from the prying eyes of tourists.
The best time for a boat ride to these islands is either in the morning at 07:00 or in the evening around 17:00 when you can see the setting sun from the boat. You need to bargain really hard with the boatsman to strike a good deal , there are quite a few guys running these boats and it would be best to talk to 3-4 guys before you strike a deal , a good rate would be for a hour long ride.
Other Sightseeing Destination
  • Take a boat trip to see Dolphins, best time is sunset and sunrise, great boat crew near the Church on the right hand side.
  • Day trip to Dudhsagar Falls (Sea of Milk) which are in the top 100 highest falls in the world.
  • Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • A visit to the spice farms.
  • A day trip to Karwar. The drive is nice, though hot during the day. Just before entering Karwar town, the Kali Bridge offers awesome views of the idylic Karwar Beach, especially from a "Fort" in ruins (acually a recreation point, possibly developed by local municipality. This spot is on the north end of the bridge and has flight of stairs going almost 15.2 m.
  • Take a fishing boat ride with local fishermen
Spend a day in Agonda 20 km north of Palolem, very quiet beach. Further north there is an old fort (Cap de Rama) and beautiful views as you drive over the hills.  

On the beach front and inland there are many wonderful little music shops, spice shops and garment shops - some of which are mini bazaars. The hippy influence over the years means that they can let you chill out and choose rather than trying to hard sell you from the second you enter the store. Some of the stores are now onwed by westerners offering western labels at cheap but fixed prices.
There are no ATM's near the beach in Palolem. There is one that is 2 km away from the main stretch of restaurants and shops that the rickshaw drivers will take you to at a heightened charge.The easiest thing to do is bring enough money with you. More shops, a Saturday market and several ATM's are a 10-minute drive away in the local town, Chaudi.
There are great crafts people on the beaches (stone carvers, instrument makers etc). Be very firm but polite if you don't want their wares - they are much more polite and civilised than sellers on other Indian beaches - let's keep it that way! The situation has got worse in recent years though with the result that there are now far too many beach sellers. Your best bet is to compare their prices with what the shops are charging....generally the shops are cheaper. There are also many beggars, some are regulars who follow the tourist season and the tourists around. 10 or 20 rupees are considered as correct if you care to give.  

Palolem Nightlife:

The nightlife at Palolem is as eclectic as the people that the beach attracts. Dance music, live music, reggae, and rock -- it pumps until the early hours of the morning, if not through speakers at least though headphones at the unique Silent Noise Parties. Silent Noise parties are held every Saturday at Neptune Point, the rocky peninsula on the southern side of the beach. Cafe Del Mar and Cocktails & Dreams (yes, it is based on the movie starring Tom Cruise) have 24 hour licenses, so are the places to be for other late night or early morning action.

What To Eat and Drink


Some people are under the mis-apprehension that most of the food in Palolem is quite westernised. Actually most places serve both "international" food and Indian - so you have the choice. There are great curries and rotis/naan/chappathi/rice almost everywhere and these are great and very cheap to live on. Being more sensitive to local needs and choosing local brands is more environmentally sound, means that you help the local economy more - your money doesn't just go on exports, halves the cost of your stay and give you a more Indian experience - so call for a King's, not a Fosters as so many embarrassing "westerners" do! Also remember that the chefs idea of an western dish may be slightly different than yours in some of the restaurants.
Local trade is mainly tourism and fishing - so it can be guaranteed that your fish during dinner is straight from the sea.   
Fernandes - just past the church on the right hand side of the beach, great indian food and tandori plus fairly cheap and fresh fish, a favourite for old regulars.
Palolem Beach Resort - Curries in Palolem tend to be quite lacklustre - but the Palolem Beach Resort does a great paneer butter masala and chana masala with garlic naan and rice. Chicken is great here too. The service is really poor and most of the focus is on foreign tourists, best avoided. The food quality is ok and serving size is quite genorous. One of the few places on the beach where there is a proper restaurant and clean washrooms and a proper kitchen. They also have a large wall mounted tv , which mostly plays football to cater to western tastes.
Cool Breeze - a jazz café that is quite popular with the locals, great food.
Sameer Restaurant - good breakfasts and their fish sizzlers are to die for. It's right on the beach, so fantastic views of the ocean.
 There are other multicuisine bar and restaurant in and around the beach which serves foods which have great taste of our wish.
There are many places along the beach serving alcohol and are usually your best bet if you want to mingle and meet new people. Try the Sameer Restaurant or Café del Mar which are supposed to be quite happening. There are two places on the main road with cable so you can watch football.
Also Cuba bar on the main road just before you take a left towards the beach plays good music, has a pool table and great atmosphere.
The days of partys in Palolem are over now but there a few things happening at night, ask people. For a different experience try the Headphone Party at the Alpha Bar on Wed /Thur, its different!
  • Euphoria Multicuise Veg Restaurant and Juice/Cocktail Bar. Located to the main road to Palolem Beach. Euphoria is a Fresh Fruit Juice and Cocktail Bar. Euphoria also specialises in quality Organic and Authentic Vegeterian Indian/Chinese Food for very cheap rates.  

How To Reach

By Air
The nearest airport is Dabolim Airport which is about 67 km away. Margao railway station is at a distance of 43 km.
By Train
The easiest way to get to Palolem is to take the train or fly to Margao (locally known as Madgaon) and pay for a Government approved fixed-price taxi to Palolem. Fixed-price taxis are available from the train station and from Goa Dabolim Airport(GOI) at Vasco da Gama.
Alternatively, Canacona is Palolem's nearest train station, approximately 5 minutes drive away, but for shorter journeys from other parts of India it is almost always better to arrive by bus due to the remoteness of the train station from Palolem beach.
By Road
Backpackers may also take a State Transport bus from Margao Bus Stand to Canacona or Palolem.There are bus services at a regular interval of 30 mins from the beach to the Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) Bus Depot in Margao. It takes around 90 minutes. If you alight at Canacona bus station, you can take an autorickshaw or taxi to Palolem Beach which is only about 3 km. The journey by bus is comfortable and the route is a scenic one too. However do keep in mind that local buses in Goa are not air-conditioned and at times quite dusty. It is possible to walk from the bus station to Palolem, but might not be the ideal option on a hot sunny day.  The nearest KTC depot is at Canacona
Palolem is quite small, so easy to explore on foot. Mopeds and bicycles are available for hire on the main street.
Taxis and rickshaws are also readily available on the main street or though a travel agency. Day trips can be booked through agencies.


Where To Stay

If you're looking for the better value, try next beaches to the south (Colomb, Patnem) or even Agonda 10 km to the north.
There are plenty of beach shacks along Palolem Beach, not much point in booking as many of them don't answer the phone/take bookings. Usually your best bet is just to turn up and cross your fingers. Bear in mind that a local law prohibits permanent structures on the beach, so from May to October the shacks are supposed to come down (although this does not always happen!).   At Xmas and New Year it can get very busy and room rates are high. The left hand side of the beach tends to be quieter with the right hand side where the bars / nightlife are. Cressida does good live music on Wednesdays. Local people ask you once you hit the parking area , you can take there services , they would show you the shacks ,bargain hard with them, do check before you pay that it has clean bed sheets , and running water and the room has been cleaned up. Most of the shacks would have a mosquito net , however no a/c or hot water would be availbe in the room.
Don't forget to bargain for the prices of the beach huts - the more temporary it looks, the cheaper it's supposed to be.  Camp San Fransisco is known to provide amongst the cheapest huts on the beach. Cirians, located in the middle of Palolem Beach, has well appointed luxury huts in beautiful surroundings. Rooms are also available in guest houses and hotels set back from the beach.San Fransisco is one such place where a good shack above the restaurant can be had, while a shack further inside the San Fransisco . Om Sai Guest House, located at the northern end of Palolem market, is recommended as an inexpensive alternative to the beach huts. 
Palolem Guest House is a nice place to stay if you don't like the beach shack concept. Neat & clean rooms are available .  WARNING: February 2009 - this place had a major BEDBUG problem, which the management of this guesthouse appeared entirely unwilling to address.
Virgin Beach resort which is just opposite the Om Sai guest house is a decent place to stay with budget accommodation available.
Le-Grand residency is opposite the turn to Palolem beach. The rooms are decent however there is some noise as the buses to Margao are parked just outside the hotel (opposite end).
The Palm Trees Patnem is right in the middle of Patnem. 3 minutes walking distance to the white sand beach. The resort is eco friendly and rooms are quite big, clean and decorated very nicely. 

Tips Paloem

Palolem is a very safe place - the main risk you face is not wanting to leave.
One thing to bear in mind is the dog situation - Palolem is home to a multitude of stray and semi-stray dogs which can become very aggressive if you try to cross their territory. They very rarely bite, but can be quite frightening especially in packs. The beach dogs are not generally aggressive and the main problems they present are fleas and mange, but the dogs on the back roads away from the beach can be noisy and peevish. Many dogs in Goa are badly treated by their owners, and some have no owners at all. Please do not harm the dogs of Goa, but be aware that they can be a nuisance. The dogs in Palolem are friendly, it's only in nighttime you should be aware. The reataurants on the beach normally try to keep two dogs each to feed during the season. please don't try to take some dog out of their terrotory, it will be very difficult for the dog to get back because of other packs.
There were also people selling mehndi (similar to henna) carelessly mixed with cheaper chemicals.








1 comment: