THE tourist season has barely begun and already the Indian Reserve Battalion has been dispatched to Anjuna Beach in north Goa to protect travelers from touts.
A plethora of hawkers that routinely roam the sands selling everything from toe rings to time shares have reached proportions requiring official policing.
Such a shame as Goa is a genuine paradise. Don’t despair; just head to the state’s far south where awaits strings of pearly sand without the incessant sales pitch.
An hour south of Agonda, Palolem is a little livelier and you’ll encounter the odd hippie on the main street, but this stunning spot is still relatively serene.
Made famous as the home of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne in ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ Palolem is popular but still relaxed. You might get persuaded into another slice of excellent pizza at Magic Italy (yes, they import the Parmesan) but no one’s hanging off your ankle to tattoo it with henna.
There are lots of upscale beach hut operations at Palolem that swing into action come November but if you’re looking for a quiet night’s sleep with air con, Egyptian cotton, and a pool bar, then stay back from the beach at the comfy Palolem Inn.
The hardest sell here is “another pina colada madame?”. Almost beach bliss cliche, Agonda stretches out in a frond of white sand just forty minutes south of busy Benaulim. It’s perfect for couples.
The feel here is shabby chic, the pick of the upmarket beach huts definitely Agonda White Sands. The cold beers, cool outdoor bathrooms, fantastic fish curries and resident pooch ‘Cookie’, make for a wonderful stay.
No arm twisting, but they’ll also hire you a scooter to cruise the leafy back lanes. Nearby Manveers is great for a sunset drink and Fatimas in the village does a mean fish thali. If you’re feeling energetic, scooter out to nearby Cabo de Rama, the ruins of a Portugese fort, with sweeping panoramic views of the coastline.
Petite Patnem is the best option for families or those looking for a longer stay in South Goa. And it’s yoga central. Ashtanga, hatha, vinyasa, hot, dynamic – it’s all here. Even, bizarrely, “aerial yoga” which involves poses in hammocks for a stronger stretch.
It’s a sleepier alternative to the relatively buzzy Palolem and anecdotally a step back in time of ten years. You might get talked into a downward dog or a few trinkets but there’ll be no one hanging around your beach towel trying to clean out your ears with a rusty pin (it happens).
Its organized beach hut operations such as Cuba that get the rave reviews here, but wander the back streets and you might find somewhere to stay awhile.
Don’t imagine that you won’t get suckered into a sari or have a lady beg to remove your leg hair with thread but it’s really relative. Goa still has one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on earth.