Pristine Palolem Beach, Goa
Goa, tourist hot-spot and the place to be on vacations or the New Year, has numerous beautiful beaches that many see as a getaway from the daily hustle and bustle of city life. Calangute and Baga are probably the best known and the most crowded of the numerous Goa beaches, especially during the tourist season, specifically, from October to May. Palolem beach, Goa, however, is like a breath of fresh air. For a clam, serene, lazy albeit wet day at a ‘Goa beach’, head to Palolem!
Location and Accessibility:
Palolem Beach is situated in South Goa, specifically in Canacona, at an approximately 40-minute drive from Margao depending on the traffic conditions. It is also accessible by rail and the nearest railway station is Canacona. The closest airport is Dabolim which lies at approximately 67kms from Palolem. The road toward the beach past Margao covers a mountainous stretch and is serpentine here with many sharp turns. But the road itself is broad and well paved and so the ride is smooth, although a bit hair-raising, especially at night. The view, however, is picturesque during the day.
Palolem is one of the few beaches in Goa that has still managed to maintain its pristine aspect, on the whole. The beach is clean, you won’t find garbage strewn around, and although there are shacks along the shore, a large expanse of the beach still remains free of these or any other kinds of structures, and is present in all its natural beauty! The green waters are clean too, some of the cleanest in Goa. The beach is beautiful; it is a crescent-shaped bay, with rocky promontories covered in green vegetation at both ends of the crescent. If you look toward land from the sea you will first observe a green belt of trees primarily composed of coconut palms, interspersed with residential and commercial structures alike. As your eyes travel further up toward the horizon, a range of mountains come into view, that provides an amazing backdrop to the beach. During the tourist season, a row of restaurants run in shacks or temporary wooden structures, and residential stand-alone wooden huts that are rented out to tourists, crop up along the beachfront. The owners of these business establishments also live alongside these temporary structures in more permanent buildings made of brick and mortar. The Northern end of the beach, however, had almost no manmade structures when we visited and one got the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature.
The waters at Palolem beach are calm and you won’t see huge waves breaking on the shore which is again probably due to its bay shape. The seabed too slopes away gently, due to which the waters remain shallow and wadeable even up to hundred meters into the sea.
When we visited the beach in December, we waded in at the Northern end (which happened to be the less populated part of the beach when we arrived) during low tide and I probably walked, at the insistence of my five-year-old, up to around 20 meters out from the shore. Yet the water only came up to my chest, the sea undulated calmly below me, and I still had the seabed below my feet. No big breakers! It was bliss; it had been years since I was tempted into taking a sea dip. I was afraid to go any further, being a non-swimmer, but the swimmers and the more daring in our group did explore the waters further out. One can wade through shallow, ankle deep, waters to gain access to the island at the Northern end of the beach, during the low tide. However, high tides cover a major portion of the beach cutting off access to this island on foot.
For food and drink, we sought refuge at one of the shacks along the beach. The food and drink were both good. The food was primarily from the seafood menu and the prices did not burn a hole in our pockets! We also rented out one of the huts for the day to freshen up in after our sea dip with a freshwater shower. We had to bargain a bit, it being the tourist season, but we got the hut at an arguably reasonable price as well. It was a raised wooden structure on stilts, with a small veranda, a bedroom with a double bed and the bathroom. It was clean until we brought the sand in on our feet!
If you plan to spend more than a day at Palolem (you need at least a day to soak in its waters and unwind!), possibly in one of the huts on the beach, there are a few other activities that you could also try out.
The island at the Northern end of the beach, or the raised promontory or hill, is known locally as ‘Monkey Island’. There is a sculpture at the highest point of the island which is known locally as the Monkey Stone. If you have more than a day to spend at Palolem beach then you could attempt a trek through the jungle to the top of the hill at low tide with the help of local guides.
The local fishermen now offer boating trips that probably last about forty-five minutes to an hour that take you dolphin spotting and to the Butterfly and Honeymoon Beaches along small islands further North.
Silent Noise Disco:
Toward the southern end of the beach among the rocky outcropping is a Silent Noise Disco that you can check out if you are ‘in’ to discos. The peculiarity about this disco is that the dancers on the floor wear headphones and sway to the beat leaving the dance floor completely silent!
Get to Palolem beach a bit early in the morning (before 10 a.m. or earlier, if possible) if you are visiting during the tourist season and plan on using your own set of wheels to get there. Finding a parking spot becomes a hassle later on in the day as the beach gets more crowded.
So, that was Palolem Beach for you, a beach that is not as crowded as most Goa beaches. We spent a wonderful, unforgettable day there. Do check out the beach when you’re in Goa and you probably will too!