The hardest thing about Goa was choosing our beach and beach hut. Once we arrived, life became very, very easy with just one rule to live by: Eat. Sleep. Beach. Repeat. And, to be honest, once we’d finally picked a beach, chosen our beach hut, and collapsed into a hammock, we did very little else.
With so many beaches to choose from, and so many strong opinions about whether it’s best to party in the north or relax in the south, we read endless blogs and travel guides to help make our decision, covering everything from party-central Baga and Calangute, to hippy Anjuna, package-holiday hotspots Colva and Benaulin, and up-and-coming (and less developed) Mandrem.
In the end, Palolem had the right balance between relaxation and fun, plus freedom from hawkers and clubbing teens. Being one of the longest, cleanest beaches, with the safest waters, there is enough going on for those who can bear to leave their hammock for cocktails, paddle boarding, kayaking or the silent disco. After over a month travelling around India, beach life in Goa was suddenly very different. Although sharing the beach with a few sunbathing cows and stray dogs reminded us where we were!
Sandwiched between the 2km curve of almost-white sand and a stretch of thousands of palm trees, are the temporary, wooden beach huts, bars and restaurants. Permanent buildings on the beach are illegal, so every single structure is built from scratch each year then completely dismantled and put into storage for the monsoon season.
Walking past colourful huts set alongside the beach restaurant at Cuba Goa (praying that ours wasn’t one next to the kitchen), we realised we’d hit the jackpot and had one of the rare few on stilts with a sea view, balcony and hammock!
Each morning we woke to the sound of the sea, which was lovely. On the second morning, also to the sound of hammering, which was less lovely. We arrived in November, just before the main season starts in December. This meant we were the first people to stay in our newly-built hut… but the next project, a beach bar, was starting – right in front of our perfect sea view! 6 holes appeared in the ground just in front of our hut, joined soon after by a heap of bamboo poles. Luckily the laid-back Goan pace of life meant nothing happened too fast and we’d moved on to Art Resort before the view was blocked.
Moving from Cuba to Art Resort we exchanged our basic beach hut for one that was more like a (basic) boutique hotel room. We also gave up our direct sea view but gained much, much better music at the bar. Timian was only able to prise Rebecca away from our hammock with the promise of the swinging day bed at Art Resort – where she spent so much time she ended up with motion sickness lying in a normal bed…
Palolem isn’t known for its big partying scene, the biggest night is the weekly silent disco (apparently Goa’s first) out on the southern headland. We made the most of laid-back beach life, moving from hammock to sun lounger to Arabian Sea during the day, and between beach barbecue and sunset cocktails in the evening. Over a week, we left the beach only once: we ventured one block behind to have dinner at Ourem 88 where the appearance of brie, bacon, steak and soufflé on the menu was a pretty big deal!
Other than that, choosing bars was easy; walking up and down the beach just follow your ears to the Bob Marley song you like best from the greatest hits medley merging from each bar’s playlist, or the live band you’d like to hear more of (or much, much less of, in some cases) over a few beers and Goan seafood curry. This became a very easy routine until we had to face the harsh reality of leaving the beach for another sleeper train.