Rocky beach with green hills


Mark Stewart Destinations 2 Comments

And to think, of all our plans for this trip, we hadn’t included Goa. Thought about it yes, but thought it would actually happen? Goa is a tiny little state about 12 hours south of Mumbai, and thinking we wouldn’t even have enough time left after traveling the north, even making Mumbai in time was a minor concern.

Long blog short, plans changed, and we hopped our train to Mumbai, and from there, the first one we could down south to Goa.

On the train we meet Annie and Will, two other backpackers sharing our sleeper car. We have a pretty fun evening drinking some rum and a few bottles of beer together before making another attempt at sleep on an uncomfortable train ride.

Arriving, and taking a couple of short and very cheap local buses, our destination has come: Anjuna. Made famous back in the 60’s and 70’s on the hippy trail, and even more so during the mid to late 90’s in the rave scene. An entire genre of trance music is even named after Goa, due to the style played here back in the day.

The party scene still shows its signs, and they do exist, but due to a noise ban after 10pm, the scene has all but died out. A combination of large rocks and sand make up most of the beach in Anjuna, and our plan was to only spend a night or two here before moving up the coast to Arambol.

Palm trees against a blue sky
Palm trees in Goa

We were comfortable, and Anjuna isn’t at all the busy party town we’d heard, and was actually quite relaxing… so we just moved to a place closer to the beach and spent most of the week eating great food, drinking (tax free in Goa!), and swimming in the Arabian sea. Our strenuous routine was broken only when we rented a scooter one day and checked out a few other beaches up north, ending the day having some drinks under a bridge with Annie and Will and watching the incredible sunset.

Another Annie and Will night consisted of a mini party on the beach. A few candles, some drinks, and the four of us just having a good time. At one point, two local cops show up and ask what we’re doing… we tell them the obvious: Drinking on the beach.

We know there’s no law against it, but they try to tell us that we can’t..  we already know where they’re trying to go with this, but just go along answering their questions. “Where are you from?” one asks.  Kylee, just trying to make it simple, says we’re from Canada (Will is American and Annie is from Germany), then they ask to see passports. Bringing nothing to the beach but candles and drinks, we simply say that we didn’t bring them.

From here the cops tell us that in that case, we have to get up and go with them, Now, to the police station. We hadn’t done anything illegal, and they were simply hoping to scare us into bribing them (somewhat common in this place), almost in unison, we simply tell them ‘No.’ Looking at each other half confused and half shot down, they just say OK, and tell us not to swim after drinking because it’s dangerous, and turn to leave, only telling us to have a good night as they walk away.

Colonial church surrounded by palm trees
Remnants of Goa’s Portuguese Colonial Past

Anjuna was a very simple place to spend the week, and could have easily spent more time there, but we were wanting to see more of this great place. Palolem is the ‘non-touristy’ beach in the south, passed all the resort villages in the middle.

After almost five hours, four buses and a rickshaw, we make the 80km journey to south Goa. First impression: Not what we expected. The town of Palolem is much smaller than Anjuna, but many more times as busy and crowded. The beach is the same. Three years ago this place was the hidden, relaxed place in Goa… now, everyone comes here, and it’s party town.

The beach itself is epic, no rocks, just pure white sand for a kilometer. We grab a beach hut and relax. It really isn’t that bad here at all.

After bumping into a couple of German girls we met through Annie back in Anjuna, we head with them along with Andrew the Hawaiian, to ‘Silent Noise’. An awesome party held outdoors at a bar on the end of the beach. Three DJ booths broadcasting on three channels to wireless headphones that everyone wears. Until nearly 4am the five of us have a blast dancing like insane people. A song plays that you don’t like? Change to another channel!

The huge crowd is going off and there are lights in all directions and sweaty people bumping into you, just at any old (I hate using the word) rave back home, but remove the headphones? Silence. Aside from some people talking. Such an awesome party. Keeping the party scene alive in Goa, giving a big middle finger to the noise ban while at the same time complying entirely.

Two days in Palolem was great, but not the relaxed atmosphere we want to spend our last week on the beaches in. So after checking around, we found our next destination, and moved here after three nights.

Silhouette of a boy playing cricket
Cricket on the Beach

It’s inevitable that this place too will become like the rest of the former beach paradises in the world, but I’m doing my part to hopefully help this one last a little longer. Easy to find, and not really a secret, it is one of the best places I’ve been in this country, and definitely will be the hardest to leave. A small, quiet, beautiful stretch of sand with warm salty water splashing onto it’s shore.

The end of our time in this place is near – as is with everything – so my time in the sand is precious. That said, my time spent on a computer is much the opposite, so until next time: Prost!

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About the Author

Mark Stewart

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Mark is the co-founder, photographer, author, and part-time editor of These Foreign Roads. A former chef, he left the professional kitchen in search of interesting experiences and unique cuisines from around the world.

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2 years ago

What an adventure. I would have been terrified with the cops!! The rave with the headphones sounds like a great time too.