I was so looking forward to Goa – a bit of down time from all the sightseeing and maybe a couple of cocktails on the beach (if budget allows)! For me, I was hoping it would feel like a wind down after a hectic few weeks exploring a VERY busy country, and a bit of sunbathing time!
Where to Stay in Anjuna, Goa – Red Door Hostel
We arrived at Goa airport wondering the best way to get to our hostel. We didn’t realise that Anjuna was around 30 miles away! There is no Uber or Ola and prepaid taxis were around 1400 rupees. We ended up speaking to a guard who directed us to a minibus that would take us some of the way there. We paid 150 rupees each to be taken to Porvorim (about two thirds of the way) and a friendly man who was on the same bus helped us flag down a taxi for the rest of the journey. I think you can get a further bus, but by this point is was dark and we had no idea where we were so I would have argued with James to get a taxi anyway. I am still unsure if there is a way you can get to Anjuna by public transport without it being really difficult!
We arrived at the hostel and checked in to our dorm. We had a 4-bed dorm which we actually had to ourselves for the 3 nights we were there! Now, I wont lie, this hostel was not luxurious in any way… it was very basic, the beds were narrow and it wasn’t the cleanest in the world. However, it was a very friendly and social place that had an outside bar, pizza oven, games and seating.
There were travelers/staff always on hand to chat to and get advice from. It seems as though quite a few have stayed and never left! The bar prices were fairly good, and we were immediately offered a ‘gutbuster’ which is a shot/chaser concoction which if you buy and drink, you earn a point for your country on the tally board. We declined on this occasion!
We only actually spent 3 nights here rather than the 6 we booked, as we run out of things to do in Anjuna and heard of better beaches down South. Unfortunately the owner didn’t give us a refund of any sort, which was a bit of a downer.
Anjuna Beach, Goa
We walked the 5-10 minutes to Anjuna beach from out hostel ready for our first beach day of the trip (yay!). We paddled in the sea along the length of the beach until we reached Curlies Bar – we ordered some food, and then took advantage of the free sunbeds on offer! I was able to sunbathe, dip in the sea to cool off and enjoy the music playing in the background. This is my sort of traveling! I will play down that we both got a little sunburnt on our first day in Goa.
Anjuna was a lovely clean beach with numerous beach restaurants/bars offering free sunbeds and they don’t even pressure you to buy food or drink (although for 80p a beer, it would be rude not to!)
Anjuna is usually known more for its party atmosphere and there was dance type music playing lightly in the bars, but due to the season only just starting, it wasn’t as lively as I expect it will get in a few weeks’ time!
Water Sports at Anjuna Beach, Goa
We spent a little time with a couple (Kyle and Mollie) who we recognised from our hostel in Jaipur. We all went to Anjuna Beach for the water sport package they offered. For 1300 rupees each, you had a turn on a jet ski (driven by staff), an inflatable donut, banana boat and parasailing. Each experience was only a few minutes each, but they offer you more time if you pay a little extra. We took advantage of this for parasailing. I paid an extra 300 rupees to go higher, and James paid 500 extra to go higher and to be dunked in the water. We didn’t think we would find it this cheap anywhere else so spent the money and enjoyed it.
There were a couple of less positive experiences including Mollie losing her go pro during the banana boat ride (which we then joked about for the next few days) and an Indian on our parasailing boat who was very (let’s put this nicely…) unwell over the side of the boat following his parasail. All in all, a fun day!
Oasis Café – Great Restaurant in Anjuna, Goa
There were a couple of restaurants a few minutes’ walk from our hostel. We had looked up Oasis café online and it had really good reviews so we decided to try there. The menu was huge – it had multiple cuisines including Indian, Chinese, seafood, Thai, Tandoori, Italian, whatever you fancied really. The portions were huge, freshly cooked and so tasty that we came back a second time! Another bonus is that I was able to get a double vodka and sprite for about 90p – how will I ever go back to UK prices?
Shiva’s Face, Ozran Beach, Goa
On Ozran beach, slightly further north to Anjuna (about 25-minute walk) sits a rock with a pretty face carved into it! It is on google maps, but I doubt you would notice it unless you were looking for it! Worth a look, as it was charming, but our experience was somewhat tarnished by 2 Indian ladies adamant to sell me Henna or a bracelet and they wouldn’t give in! Although, I give them so much credit… not only for their English speaking but their English accent – incredible! Puts me to shame, not even knowing one word in Hindi!
If you are close by – find Shiva’s face and enjoy the character of the beach!
Vagator Beach, Goa
We continued on to Vagator Beach and had snacks and a drink (and a sunbed of course) for a couple of hours. We got chatting to a large family from Birmingham who were staying in Goa on Holiday. They seemed surprised when a group came over to take numerous selfies with them, whilst James and myself looked on smugly after 3 weeks of experiencing this! Vagator Beach was enjoyable and felt fairly busy but there only seemed to be one beach bar/restaurant in comparison to the vast selection on Anjuna – still nice to experience another Goan beach in any case (James kept count).
I was planning to leave James to go and see this alone – very little was going to motivate me to leave my sunbed. Goa was supposed to be relaxing and sunbathing, not climbing and sightseeing!! However, it was getting closer to sunset and I nether fancied waiting for James to get back or finding my way to the hostel alone, so I reluctantly went with.
You have to walk all the way around to access it from Vagator beach, even though you can see it! It took about 20 minutes to find and following that was about 10 minutes of steep climbing on uneven, slippery, pebbly dirt-track (my favourite…) Yet, I did feel like I did a good deed when a father holding his young child slipped down from the fort and I reached out and held the baby until he found his footing (hero of the hour over here!).
The fort itself is not much to look at, a few walls remain, but due to its location you can have a beautiful view of the sunset overlooking the beach. It all sounds very romantic, until I tell you that I had quite a pang of anxiety whilst I was up there. I felt very uncomfortable, nervous and tired all of a sudden. I even cried when James asked me to walk over some of the wall to get to him. I tried to keep calm so James could enjoy the sunset and asked to leave as soon as the sun disappeared (not because it set but because the air quality isn’t great).
Annoyingly James got a few nice romantic pics though…
Flea Market, Anjuna, Goa
This market takes place every Wednesday and you can access it just off Anjuna beach. It wasn’t as big as I expected, but we also went nearer closing time so some may have started to close away. A lot of stalls sold similar items (helpful for bartering) including clothing, jewellery, materials, spices, hammocks bags and trinkets. There was also a bar in the middle with live music which was enjoyable to listen too throughout the market.
I was happy to buy a pair of flowy trousers for 200 rupees (I have mastered the walking away after giving my final price technique!) and James expertly bartered a pretty embroidered halter top down to 150 rupees for me – I don’t think the seller was too happy about the price but was determined to make another sale at the end of the day!
If we had more room, or less time travelling, James definitely would have considered a multi coloured hammock (and if I’m honest, I would have 100% backed that purchase!) Tip – it seems you can get lower prices at the end of the day as vendors are trying to make last minute sales!
Where to Stay in Palolem, Goa
Palolem By Roadhouse Hostels
We decided to travel to south Goa with Kyle and Mollie and share the 2500 taxi fare (2.5hr journey). We booked a private room at roadhouse hostels (about a 10-minute walk to Palolem Beach.
We had a nice spacious room, that had a random kitchen area and a decent sized bathroom. However, in the evening the bathroom tended to become infested with massive ants (picture James with a squeegee mop attacking said ants) and the occasional gecko!
I will point out, I don’t feel the reason for wildlife was because the room was unclean, but the design on the building – it seemed as though an unfitting tin roof was just plonked on top and therefore there were gaps around the top of the walls before the roof. It was something we got used to after the first night where we were woken and scared shitless at 5am with a bird forcing and rustling its way into the kitchen area! At least we have some stories!
The hostel didn’t seem too vibrant or social so we kept ourselves to ourselves and moved on for our last night.
We originally didn’t book anywhere for our last night. We had a 7.30am flight so we were considering staying at the airport. However, guards check your boarding pass and passport on entry and we didn’t want to end up stuck outside the airport for hours so looked for a cheap option and came across Camp Sanfransisco Beach Huts. We paid 800 rupees for one night (this price doubled the following day!). The reviews were fairly average, so I really wasn’t expecting much, but our taxi was at 3.30am so it was only a space to keep our belongings, have a shower and put our head down for a couple of hours.
I was very pleasantly surprised! It was super clean, cool, a really nice size with a private bathroom. It seemed to have been freshly painted too. There was no toilet paper but after asking they went out and bought us a roll! I wish we had stayed here the whole time! It was about a 30 second walk to the beach and a 30 second walk to the main road with plenty of shops and restaurants – perfect!
We stayed in a concrete hut, but a lot of the non-permanent beach huts were being constructed close by on and around the beach as apparently, they are all deconstructed before monsoon season and re-erected for holiday season!
The restaurant out front is also very tasty and offers Wi-Fi (it doesn’t reach the rooms).
Palolem Beach, Goa
Ok, so the expensive taxi and the anxiety (on my part) of changing plans again was worth it! Palolem beach was big, sandy (with really pretty shells), had clearer water and numerous beach bars that seemed more relaxed than previous! There also seemed to be numerous shops just off the beach for food, drink, clothing and a hub of tuk tuks and taxis. Although, we were stopped by other British tourists the second we stepped on the beach telling us to go to Agonda beach instead. We didn’t make this beach in the end due to it being a taxi journey away.
Towards the centre Palolem Beach had it’s very own wave pool, I took advantage of this…
We were asked numerous times about whether we wanted a boat trip to butterfly Island and dolphin viewing. We were tempted, but 500 rupees each was a little much when we were tying to keep the costs down after spending to come down to South Goa.
So perfectly, I set up camp on a sunbed, ordered a Tuborg and enjoyed the relaxing section of India for another day!
James certainly did his duties on the beach, firstly helping some local guys to push their fairly large boat into the sea and secondly helping a local boy catch some fish in the small pools the sea tide had left behind (he had initially gone over to take photos of the dog fishing).
Goa has definitely been one of my favourite places in India because of the laid-back feel and beautiful beaches. Palolem beach was beautiful, but Anjuna was fun too. Perfect holiday destination if you want beach alongside cheap food and drink! Goa was a little more expensive than other areas of India due to it being a tourist/holiday destination but still so cheap in comparison to Western prices!
Our short but fun video on our experience in Goa…
Relaxing, holiday section over… off to Chennai!