This is the third and final installment of the Goa series. A general introduction and details on North Goa can be found here and here.
The golden sands of South Goa beaches stretch from Majorda all the way up to the ramparts of the Cabo de Rama fort. This part of Goa is more serene and quiet, bereft of the crowds that throng the beaches of the North, as this part is not considered to be party central! The beaches here are lovely and unspoilt and you can see some of the grand old colonial architecture further inlands.
Where to go in South Goa
Just like the North, the options are endless in the South. A lot of the big hotel chains have luxurious five star properties in this region – mostly concentrated between Miramar in Central Goa and Mobor in the South. So if its a resort holiday you are looking for, choose someplace here.
Colva: in the South, although Colva happens to be the most popular beach, it is no where as crowded as Calangute or Baga! It is, however, the most developed of the lot with a wide variety of accommodation to choose from, a large number of eateries and a busy night life. The beach is lined with refreshment shacks and shops selling colorful ‘Goan’ clothes and trinkets.
Agonda: Driving along the coast, further south, leaving the hustle-bustle of Cavelossim, Mobor and Betul, is the beach of Agonda. If you want to be totally on your own, this is the beach for you. Even in the peak tourist season, you may be the only one on this beach! This long, lonely beach, fringed with palm trees and causarinas, has very little facilities available. There were no shacks or food stalls when I visited in 2011. People come to this beach from Colva or Palolem for a quiet day out. The ruins of the Cabo de Rama fort is not far from the beach and is a good place to walk around and explore.
Palolem: Tourists who have discovered the serenity of South Goa and like to stay a little further away from the crowds of Colva, choose to stay in Palolem. This crescent-shaped beach is surrounded by lofty headlands on either side and the entire beach can be seen from either end. Palolem is very popular as a beach hut destination. Every year, these temporary beach huts are pulled down before the monsoons (as per environmental regulations), and re-built before the start of the season in October/November. There are a variety of different huts to choose from, offering different levels of comfort and luxury.
One of the main attractions of Palolem is the Silent Noise-Party. Party goers gather every Saturday for serious partying and dancing to awesome tunes that can be heard only through wireless headphones!
Patnem: right next-door to Palolem, Patnem is smaller and quieter and offers its own share of beach huts and food shacks. The beach is lovely and clean and the white sands lined with palm trees look ever inviting.
Galgibaga: The southern most beach of Galgibaga, like Morjim in the North, is a nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles. As a result, the entire area comes under the purview of the forest department and any development on the beach is strictly restricted and tourist activity monitored. Consequently, this beach is not only quiet but is spotlessly clean as well. There are a few eateries on the beach to choose from but little else.
How to reach Goa
Goa is well connected to the rest of the country and can be easily reached by air, rail or roads. The Dabolim international airport is about 30km from the capital city of Panaji and caters to flights from all over India as well as abroad. It takes roughly 2.5hrs to drive from here to any of the beaches in North Goa. The beaches in the South are closer and travel times depend on the location of the beach. Most hotels and resorts across Goa offer complimentary pickups from the airport or charge a nominal sum. It is advisable to enquire. Outside the airport, local taxis are also available for hire.
A more scenic and cheaper way of reaching Goa is via rail. Although the travel time is much longer, the journey itself is comfortable and pretty as the trains chug their way along the Western Ghats (mountain ranges), through small village and lush green vegetation. The two main stations in Goa are Margao and Vasco-da-Gama, both located closer to the South.
If travelling from Mumbai or Pune or Karanataka, comfortable Volvo buses are another way of reaching Goa. Panaji is the main bus stop, with taxis easily available to ferry passengers to their hotel or resort.
Best way to move around in Goa
Motorbikes or two-wheeler mopeds are available for hire all across the state. This is the cheapest and easiest form of transportation within Goa. Given the narrow roads, they are also the quickest way to get from one place to another. They can be hired from outside most popular hotels. You can also enquire at your hotel reception as most of them have tie-ups with these private operators. Self driven cars are also available for hire and more recently, taxis can be spotted outside popular bars and eateries.