Goa - Beyond Parties and Shacks
In India, ask anyone where they would like to spend their long weekend and the answer would be; GOA. It will always be the first choice of any average Indian. Goa is surrounded by the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka and by Arabian Sea on the west coast. Since 16th century, Portuguese ruled this place and it became a part of India only in the year 1961.
Over the time, this place has evolved as the party capital of India due to its countless beaches, beach shacks, night clubs, bars and casinos. Yes, you heard that right, although casinos are not permitted in India, Goa, along with Sikkim and Daman & Diu are the only states that have legalized casinos. These are the reasons why an average Indian prefer heading to Goa to spend time with friends. Where else in India would you find such a setting; vast sea, beach, beach bed and your beer bottle. But somewhere in between beers, parties and shacks the real Goa has lost its identification and is waiting to be redefined.
After a month long separation from my husband (obviously work reasons), we decided to head to a place where we can spend some time together without much social interference. That started our need to hunt for a place close to Pune, yet unexplored and away from people. We too, like an average Indian thought of Goa. However, the quest to find the perfect place to spend some quality time as a married couple was still on. That is when we stumbled upon Agonda Beach. We had never heard of this place nor had our friends heard about it. We started our research, looked up at some Google links and were surprised to find that Agonda was awarded as India's best beach and fourth best in Asia by TripAdvisor's travelers' choice awards for beaches in 2016. Can you believe that? A beach that was unheard of few days back is one of the recommended beaches by TripAdvisor. (On the contrary that could be the reason why the beach is still clean and unpolluted. :) )
Agonda is situated in the Canacona district of South Goa close to the borders of Karnataka. Also, there is more to this place than just an award. Agonda is one of the beaches that is under Coastal Regulation Zone for turtle nesting. This beach is a designated nesting site for the endangered species of Olive Ridley Turtles.
This knowledge really got us interested and we started looking for accommodations on this beach. To our surprise most of the resorts were on the beach. This is very unlikely in Goa as most of the beaches are dominated by shacks and it barely leaves any space for hotels and resorts. However, in Agonda the moment you step out of your room, you are on the beach. You can wake up to the beach and water right outside the room. Just open the room curtains, and there you are, amidst beautiful white sands and blue sea. At night, the same water waves act as a sweet lullaby and hushing of coconut trees around the rooms become your background score.
Predominantly, decent accommodations in Agonda belong to a hospitality group called VILASAAHUTA. They have as many as 5 properties in close proximity. That was another hurdle that we had to cross, choosing the accommodation, as each one was as beautiful as the previous one. Again, same process - research, read and resolve. We finally settled for Agonda Villas. A beautiful 9 villas/cottages resort with an in-house restaurant, we thought this would give us the perfect getaway that we desired. And true to every word and every picture on their website, it indeed was a heaven on earth.
Things to do around Agonda
Visit some Isolated Beaches
I had heard a lot about Cola Beach from the locals there and was keen on visiting this beauty. We even got lost on the first day trying to locate this beach. We asked some local roadside shop keepers and everyone pointed to a different direction. Google maps were of no use in finding this "isolated" beach. After going in circles for sometime, fortunately we came across a hand written sign that pointed to a non-existent road leading to Cola Beach. We wondered why we never saw this earlier. However, we took it as a sign and turned to the mud road. After 20 minutes of bumpy ride, out of the blue once the trees and bushes cleared, we realized we were on a cliff and the cliff overlooked Cola beach. I think that was the moment that took our breath away and when the arse-hurting ride seemed worth everything. I have never seen such a beautiful and pleasing expanse in the whole of Goa. I never wanted to leave that place.
There are some 100 odd steps that lead you down to the beach. Once on the beach, you will also notice that the beach is adjacent to a lagoon. So, yes, you can swim in both fresh water on one side and salty water on the other. This was again something that I have never seen.
The other beaches that we visited around Agonda are Butterfly beach and Honeymoon beach, both only accessible via boats or a long hike. We obviously chose the easiest option.
South Goa is famous for its narrow winding roads with coconut tree plantations on either sides and beautiful colorful Portuguese style houses. So we took off on our rented scooter and just drove around aimlessly clicking pictures of beautiful houses and the locals busy with daily chores. In all my travels, one thing that I have observed is, the smaller the place the more humble the people. It stands true even for this place.
This was my first experience with a totally opposite side of Goa. I credit some of these different experiences to my growing age as well. I am no longer that teenager who wishes to party or drink all night long. A craving to find a quiet spot to myself with my books and with my thoughts makes me come across these wonders around me. I am in love this place in Goa so much so that I will be visiting this place again very soon. Until then, Happy Tripping! :) Goodbye or Miochay (as they say in Konkani language)