It’s high season here in the laid-back, popular tourist destination that is Goa, India. And despite the fact that most locals I’ve met have told me that this is the slowest high season they’ve seen in a while, there is still no shortage of tourists, both foreign and Indian, roaming around the beaches.
I have chosen to spend my time in South Goa, on a two kilometer stretch of sand known as Palolem Beach, with its thousands upon thousands of leaning palm trees (just as there is supposed to be on a tropical beach) and about fifty or so restaurants and beach hut operations scattered in between.
Palolem is touristy for sure and it looks more like an island in Thailand than it does a part of India. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with spending some time in a touristy location, especially when we need some rest and relaxation, which is exactly what I was in need of after two months of traveling around North India.
And so far, I love Palolem Beach. It’s friendly, super-relaxed and enjoys a diverse mix of tourists – independent travelers, couples and families – that helps create a most pleasant atmosphere. It’s certainly not a wild party place but it’s certainly not a boring, nothing-to-do destination either.
Palolem is also relatively inexpensive, something that definitely surprised me, especially considering the time of year and the large number of vacationers who fly straight to Goa for a 7- or 10-day holiday and then fly straight back home.
My friend and I are staying in a basic hut right on the beach. It has an attached bathroom, comfortable mattresses and plenty of room to move around. And when we walk out the door and down a few steps, we are on the sand. From our balcony, and pretty much anywhere inside the hut, there is a clear view of the Arabian Sea, and the soothing sound of the waves is the only sound we hear.
This hut costs 1500 rupees per night, about $30 USD. That’s $15 per person which is a bargain for such a setup during high season here.
However, you could stay in Palolem for much cheaper as well, even during this time of year. I met two female travelers who are staying in a standard hut with shared bathroom for 500 rupees per night ($10 USD) and they are still only a one minute walk to the beach. And then I met another traveler who is staying in a simple, clean room in a small house, with his own bathroom, for only 300 rupees per night ($6 USD) and again, he is about a two minute walk to the beach and one minute walk from the main strip in town.
As for food, I must admit that it took me a few days to find the inexpensive options and at first, I thought that I was going to spend a lot of money on meals. I even checked an online guide to Palolem or two and still couldn’t find any good recommendations. The dozens of restaurants that line the beach are not so cheap by India standards, with meals in the 200 – 750 rupees range ($4 – $15 USD). But it turns out that there are a couple of cheaper places mixed in, such as Royal Touch, Chinatown and Rockit restaurants, all of which offer great food on the beach for about 100 – 300 rupees per main dish.
And then, if you leave the beach and walk one minute into the village itself, while there are still plenty of expensive eateries in this area as well, there are a few standout cheapies too.
My daily routine now involves waking up at 8:00am and walking down the beach in order to grab a double omelet sandwich with vegetables and a chai from a street stall on the main road, a hearty breakfast that costs me 25 rupees (50 US cents). For lunch, I’ll often head to a fruit stall in town, buy a pineapple, a large watermelon and ten bananas for about 125 rupees total, then return to my hut and eat it all on my balcony. And for dinner, I usually alternate between the Calcutta Restaurant, which serves very tasty fish thalis for 100 rupees and the Sai Shiv Restaurant that offers excellent punjabi thalis for 100 rupees, fish thalis for 60 rupees and many other delicious items at very cheap prices. There are also food stands hidden in the main parking lot near the beach that serve up fried rice and chow mein noodles for 50 – 70 rupees a plate.
In the evenings, usually around sunset time, and after my third daily swim in the ocean, I’ll enjoy a drink or two with some other travelers from one of the beach bars near my hut, something that costs me 80 Rps for a large Kingfisher Beer or 70 Rupees for a whiskey with lime soda.
And since I’m in more of a relaxation mood than a party mood right now, I’m typically back at my hut by around 10pm, more than ready to fall asleep to the sound of the waves outside my door.
This is how I’m spending my time in Goa, while getting some work done in between of course, and I couldn’t ask for anything more right now, especially for the price I’m paying. It feels like some kind of end-of-the-year therapy every time I look at the ocean or step foot on the sand, a therapy for both my body and my mind, and the result is an inner excitement and eagerness to discover where life shall lead me once the new year begins.
Video Tour of My Beach Hut
Ready to step inside my beach hut?
Other tips for Palolem Beach:
- many of the restaurants put beach mats and umbrellas in the sand early in the morning and anyone is free to use them…they don’t cost anything
- there is a small island at one end of the beach that is full of monkeys and you can walk here during low tide, otherwise, you can hire a kayak and paddle over
- beware of the coconuts (seriously, beware, something I learned first hand)
- bargain hard for accommodation here as there is an abundance of beach huts and rooms available
Have you been to Palolem or anywhere else in Goa? Are you interested in visiting Goa at all?