After the hustle and bustle of Northern India we were ready to head down to the Goan beaches in Southern India. Goa is often called “The Pearl of the Orient” which makes total sense with its golden beaches and laid back life style. With miles of coastline and sounds of the ocean it made you question if you were still in India . With an interesting mix of India, Portugese, and hippie cultures Goa is a remarkable place to visit. Our first night we stayed in the little Portugese town of Panjim, which was inland and just a small fishing village. We stuffed ourselves with delicious crab zu zu (crab in a spicy coconut gravy) and chicken vindaloo (goan specialty spicy curry) and slept. in the morning we decided to take off on a hunt to find the perfect beach in Goa. We went north to Baga beach as our first stop. Baga had an enormous beach with golden sand and little beach hut cafes. There wasn’t anyone really swimming here and barely anyone was even in a swimsuit, we were a little bummed because we were super hot and looking forward to swimming in the ocean. This beach also had a lot of trash piled up on it and shanty little shacks with people living in them along the beach. We knew right away this wasn’t the paradise beach we were looking for. Although this beach let us down a little we still had the best night of our time in Goa in Baga. We were in Goa during the “off season” when there are mostly other Indians on vacation with their friends and families. Baga is the place that the Indians went to party and it was funny to be some of the only whiteys there. One of the nights in Baga our hotel had a live band and our hotel was was going off! The place was packed with Inidans dancing and drinking, which really was a sight to see since we didn’t see any Indians in Northern India drinking, let alone dancing on bars! We danced right along with them, made some friends, and had the best time. Definitely a night we will never forget.
We decided it was time to move on to another beach, next we went to Anjuna beach. In Anjuna we stayed at a nice hotel with a pool and finally got to do some swimming. There were two beaches here, one was rocky and one was absolutely gorgeous… if you don’t mind the occasionally cow cruising the beach. Anjuna was fun, we did some shopping but still didn’t feel comfortable swimming at the beach. We would always see a group of Indians wading into the ocean about up to their waist, in their clothes but never farther. We think maybe most Indians here on vacation didn’t know how to swim.
After being in Goa for awhile we kept hearing about this beach called Palolem way down in Southern Goa that was supposed to be paradise. We decided to give it a shot and drove 3 hours down the coast to Palolem beach. We knew immediately that we had arrived at the beach we were searching for. Palolem was incredible. The beautiful crescent beach was lined with colorful carved fishing boats and palm trees overhead. We walked up and down the beach until we found the perfect little bungalow to stay at. For 7$ a night we stayed in a bungalow directly on the beach with a balcony to sit in and enjoy the view. The beach and town were still very quite as it was off season but the people who were enjoying it were tourists, who were swimming and walking around in bikinis. We automatically threw on our suits and ran baywatch style into the water. To our delight the water was crystal clear and the soft sand gradually ascended into deeper water. It was hard to believe we were in India. The beach was spotless. There were still cows and dogs laying casually on the beach but that gave it some Indian flavor and the dogs were definitely the happiest ones we saw in India. A lot of the beach was closed down because it was still “off season” and it gave the beach a romantic sort of deserted beach vibe. There was only one restaurant open on the beach that served up the tastiest Indian food we had and we ate every meal there, and so did everyone else there so it was always packed with a handful of happy travelers having a drink and reading a book or writing in their journals. One morning we took a little wooden boat out into the middle of the small bay and got to see a pod of dolphins eating and playing in the water. This place really was paradise, we found it. After being lazy on the beach and letting time slip away we decided it was time to keep moving on. It was sad to say goodbye to Palolem beach but we made a promise to come back one day.