India can be one crazy country, but head down to the southern beaches of Goa, and you’ll find a much slower pace of life here. Palolem Beach in particular has been attracting backpackers for years. With it’s gorgeous beach, cheap prices, and stacks of things to do, what’s not to love?
In the 4 years since I visited Goa, it seems prices have rocketed unbelievably. Beachfront bungalows such as Cuba Beach Huts on Palolem Beach, were once £15 pn, are now priced at over £50 pn – blimey! Of course prices will change in line with the influx of tourism, and naturally prices will creep up, but Goa is still a seriously affordable country to visit.
Flights from London can be purchased for around £400 return if you are happy to fly indirect, and accommodation can be found for as low as £20 per night. The cost of eating and drinking out there is next to nothing, so your overall spend should be minimal.
Killer Views – For afternoon cocktails or a sunset dinner, head to The Chaska Beach Restaurant which is perched on the rocks overlooking the bay from the west side of the beach. I remember the toilets having a ridiculously insane view out over the bay too, so pop for a pee before you leave!
Silent Disco – Not to be missed, the silent disco can be found up by Neptune’s Point. Upon entry, you’ll be given a set of earphones that you can tune into one of three different channels to groove along to a beat of your choice. This hilarious not-silent-at-all-disco only runs a few nights a week, so check ahead to ensure you don’t miss out!
Cooking with Rahul – We joined a small group cooking class that we found when we stumbled upon a poster pinned to a palm tree by the beach. No joke! Rahul was a local guy who worked from a restaurant just off the beach front. Classes last around three hours, can be booked the day before, and you’ll be able to choose from a meat or veggie menu to cook
Explore On Two Wheels – Scooter hire is really affordable, however Indian driving isn’t necessarily the safest. Whilst we had a fantastic few days getting lost and exploring the local villages and sights, I would only recommend scooter hire to those who are experienced drivers. Watch out for scams too. We were accused of having an accident in an area we didn’t even visit.
Cotigoa Wildlife Sanctuary – Goa’s second largest sanctuary is only 9 km’s from Palolem and makes for a great day out. We rented a scooter and visited ourselves. Covering 85 sq km, the park boasts several walking trails, watch towers that can be climbed for forest top views, a butterfly park, and of course lots of wildlife, such as spotted deer, crocs, and monkeys. Accommodation within the park can also be booked.
Shopping – I put my bartering skills to the test in some of the small shops that sit just behind the beach and managed to negotiate myself these two lovely elephant embroidered pillowcases for around £1, as well as a stack of silky scarves that Gemma and I took home as gifts for both ourselves and our friends. I can actually remember sitting on the floor sifting through all the different colours until we found exactly what we wanted!
Hit The Waters – This popular beach is perfect to try your hand at kayaking or paddle boarding, both which can be rented from a number of beachfront water sport shops.
Enjoy The Foods – We had some really nice food out in India (especially the dishes we cooked ourselves in our cookery class!), but my favourite place will always be the local bakery, and The Brown Bread Bakery is no exception. Pick up an afternoon treat like this little choco-coconut ball.
Take Time Out – All throughout india we saw people offering yoga classes or actively getting bendy on the beach. Make the most of those peaceful mornings as the rest of the beach huts sleep off their hangovers.
I do want to flag the safety aspect around Goa, and India in general for female travellers. I’d hate to be stereotypical of a certain country and tell someone not to visit, but females do need to be alert to male attention and the safety concerns around that. I travelled with another female friend, and despite us being travel savvy, we still found ourselves in a few situations that made us feel slightly uncomfortable – but never in fear of our safety.