Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My summer 2018 beach vacation | Beach cottage, bioluminescent waves and midnight beach walks

Blue waters, warm sun rays, golden sands…yes summer! Living on one of those pristine beaches nestled between lush hills has always been my idea of a perfect summer vacations. We found ourselves chilling in the cozy comfortable beach cottage we got to call home for three days, taking a dip in the bioluminescent sea at midnight and sipping on chilled beers as we watched the sun go down, all while basking in the summer sun and getting the tan that will remind us of the good time for days to come.

It was one of those long weekends, when Anjali and I decided to ride towards the pristine beaches of South Goa. Since it was almost end of the season in Goa, we weren’t very sure what to expect. The bustling Palolem and Agonda could just be dead, but nope, we were in for a sweet surprise. Read on to know about how we spent this wonderful weekend in a beach cottage (wooden beach hut) right ON the Palolem beach.

We got delayed and reached there only post sunset on Saturday evening, thus brushing off the chances of catching the sunset. But it did not disappoint us, considering our cottage was just the best thing! The balcony, which had a hammock and a couple of easy beach chairs was something I decided to spend my mornings at! But before that, it was time for some beer and chill time!

So off we went to unwind at the most happening place around – Ciaran’s – which was playing live music and had the nicest crowd, which also included a bunch of dogs. That’s the thing about places like these – pets and animals coexist and no one bets an eyelid. After a couple of chilled beers, we asked for a plate of chicken tikka which was so delicious with the chutney, that we asked for a repeat.

The night was spent taking walks on the beach, rolling on the warm sands and taking dips in the water. And that’s when we surprisingly saw the first bioluminescent wave of the night! For a moment we thought we were hallucinating, but within no time, we saw another one and we were sure that the WAVES WERE GLOWING! Yes, the most whimsical thing I saw that night. Though I’ve always wished to spend the night by the sea waiting for turtle eggs to hatch, this wasn’t on the bucketlist, but I’m glad I witnessed it.

I slept like a baby that night after the long ride and woke up early to sit in the balcony and enjoy the empty beach. It truly was spectacular, because the slight warmth of the sun enveloped me and the wind made it a very pleasant time. We headed for a walk on the beach when Anjali was awake before heading out for breakfast.

Breakfast happened at the spectacular Little Earth Café, a short walk from where we were staying. Again a cozy and arty little space that attracted the best crowd, of course, because of the vegan and healthy food they served. Their menu was so interesting and what was surprising was it was made from the freshest ingredients. For example, they did not have strawberries in stock and were quick to inform when I placed an order for a Strawberry smoothie.

We gorged on the omelette served with a homemade brown bread toast and butter, and the most delicious salad I’ve ever eaten. And washed it down with some a delicious mango smoothie and passion fruit cooler. We ended our breakfast on a sweet note with a perfectly made vanilla waffles served with ice cream, pomegranate (instead of strawberries) and maple syrup.

Then we spent some time shopping around the little shops across the street and headed to Cabo de Rama fort to soak in the magnificent view from the cliff. I also saw the recently renovated church (it was under renovation the last time I was there). After spending some time there, we headed to the pristine Cobo de Rama beach which has a lagoon as well. This is by far one of the prettiest beach tucked away in a valley among the hills.

Post that, we got lost trying to find our way to Cola beach and in the bargain, missed out on lunch. The problem with little villages is, it’s pretty tough to be able to find restaurants to eat at. So we decided to have a late lunch along with our sundowner session after freshening up! After a quick shower, we went to Café Del Mar, to watch the sunset, grab some beer and food!

The food took forever to come (or we were just too hungry), but it was well worth the wait. The beef steak sizzler was delicious and filling with a large chunk of beef smeared with sauce, potato chips, buttered veggies and rice. The chicken pizza wasn’t the best I’ve had, but pretty good (yes, thin crust!) They had an offer on beers running, and we got the tub, which was a great decision!

The night again was spent by the beach. I even took a dip this time, because there was hardly anyone around and the weather was pleasant. That was supposed to be our last night here, and we saw stars that night. I rolled on the sands and fell asleep there, to wake up a few minutes later and head home. I wish I could sleep there – it was so soothing and relaxing!

The next morning was again spent just chilling in the balcony and soaking in the wonderful view, before we headed for brunch. We had a few people recommend a couple of nice places, but we couldn’t find any of those. So we just entered the restaurant Sabina’s Inn at the far end of the beach and asked for food.

The view here was different, with the hills in close proximity. Kayaking was going on and come adventurous souls tried to battle the waves and maintain their balance. Our food arrived soon and I couldn’t help but dig into our breakfast platter, crispy chicken and fries, and washed it down with juice. Post chilling for a while, we rode back the winding roads with the most magnificent views!

How to get there?

Palolem is approximately 60 kms from Panaji and a drive/ride down there is recommended. Taking a cab can be a pricey affair and public transport is really poor. It can be a day’s trip as well, but staying over for the night (or two nights, like we did) is a great idea.

Where to stay in Palolem?

The beaches of Palolem and Agonda has ample beach cottages (also called as beach cottages or beach bungalows). Do not mistake them for beach resorts. These are more basic, yet very comfy and offers a great view of the beach and are located on the beach. They are quite higher as compared to the beach shacks and are constructed on pillars, which feels like staying in wooden tree houses. The tariffs are higher during season time, but since it was off season, we got a night’s stay for INR 1,500 at Cuba Beach Huts. The rooms are basic, with a comfortable bed, fully functional bathroom, cupboard, dressing table and the loveliest balcony which has a hammock and table/chairs.

What’s the ideal budget for a weekend getaway to Palolem?

It definitely varies depending on the season you wish to go, places you chose to stay, where you chose to eat and whether you chose to drink. Ours was approximately INR 8,000 for two people (for everything I mentioned above).

What to do in Palolem?

Chill by the beaches, meet travellers, swim at the beaches or lagoons around, trek in the hills, go kayaking, practice yoga, attend an art class and indulge in some healthy food.

What are the near-by places to visit from Palolem?

Since Palolem is along the western-most coast of Goa, a quick ride to the pristine Agonda, Patnem, Cola, Galgibaga or Cabo de Rama beaches is recommended, if you are there for a longer time. A visit to the Cabo de Rama fort is also a great choice. Or else just chill around the beach or cafes on the main Palolem road.

Hope you liked this post. Comment below your thoughts!

Photos: Anjali Sonawale & Flexcia D'souza

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