Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Self Drive Road Trip in South Goa

25th Jan 2017
Photo of Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Self Drive Road Trip in South Goa 1/1 by Shahzad Siddiqui
An elderly couple still in love with each other and the sunset at Palolem Beach

Like me if you’re tired of visiting North Goa and its beaches spoilt by throngs of unruly tourists, don’t fret and give up on Goa yet. For your next trip, try South Goa instead.

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I recommend you stay at Palolem as your base and you can easily access all the beaches and parties of South Goa from here.

Palolem is a 1.6 km long beautiful crescent shaped beach with rocks jutting out into the sea at both ends. You can choose to stay at one of the affordable shacks lined throughout on the beach, most of which have attached restaurants and bars.

Sunset at Palolem Beach

Photo of Palolem Beach, Goa by Shahzad Siddiqui

Agonda Beach:

About 10 kms from Palolem, this strip of fine white sand is one of the most beautiful beaches in South Goa. In 2016 it was ranked on TripAdvisor's "Travelers Choice" as fourth in Asia and first in India.

Agonda Beach

Photo of Agonda Beach, Agonda, Goa by Shahzad Siddiqui

Cola Beach:

Around 8 kms north of Agonda is a little gem of a secret. Getting here is difficult as some of the locals also don’t know about it.

Drive/Ride north from Agonda beach on the main road till you see a big temple and then a lay bye on the left side of the road where buses stop. There you'll find a sand and stone road going through the dried out landscape, just follow the main dirt track for a few km’s and you’ll find yourself looking down on Cola beach (Only experienced riders should attempt riding down this trail). The beach looks beautiful through the trees from the top of the path. The beach is actually three small bays, separated by large rocks. The middle beach has a fresh water lagoon on the left that stretches back into the jungle and the sea on the right separated only by the beach sand.

Cola Beach- fresh water lagoon on the left of the beach while the sea is on the right

Photo of Cola Beach, Cola, Goa, India by Shahzad Siddiqui

Cabo De Rama Fort and Beach

Around 17 kms north of Agonda and 23 kms from palolem is the ruins of the Cabo De Rama fort.

The fort was used as a military stronghold by Portugese till they left after which it was used as a government prison till 1955. It's since been abandoned and the ruins of the fort are worth a visit.

Church near the entrance of Cabo De Rama fort

Photo of Cabo de Rama Fort, Canacona, Goa, India by Shahzad Siddiqui

Leopard Valley

While you're in South Goa, you don't need to miss out on the clubbing experience. Head over to Leopard Valley club- hidden in a valley en route Agonda from Palolem. You wont miss the huge sign board on the side of the road and once you are on the dirt trail off the main road enter through the iron gates into a steep descent towards the valley to the open air club. Set amidst lush natural surroundings with the nearest hubs - both Agonda and Palolem miles away, this is a haven for parties that go on till the morning in seclusion.

Their signature and best parties occur every Fri from 9 pm (although its quite dead till 11 pm) and goes all the way upto 4-5 am.

So go ahead, visit South Goa, you wont regret it. Bon Voyage!

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Avoid taking the highway from Palolem to Galgibagha, choose the inner line road and you will come across the picturesque Sadolxem bridge- a one lane bridge designated a pedestrian bridge only. Locals drive over it in small cars that can only pass one way at a time. Its also known as Dedki Tar (1.5 metre breadth)

The one lane Sadolxem bridge

Photo of Sadolxem Bridge, Major District Road 48, Delem Village, Canacona, Goa, India by Shahzad Siddiqui

‘The green island’ at the north end of the beach formed of rocks and trees jutting out are worth a visit (tours can be organised from Palolem). You can even walk to the island during low tides.

Don't miss ‘The Silent Noise’ party at Neptunes Point (south of the main-beach), a great alternative to the legendary but almost extinct Goa-parties. Every Saturday (9 pm to 4 am) you can get there, grab your headphones, tune into one of three DJ channels and dance the night away to awesome tunes underneath the starry sky.

Palolem Trivia: This is the beach featured as the Goa residence of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in the film The Bourne Supremacy (2004).

This beach is a nesting ground for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles and hence there is no construction on the beach. All the restaurants and bars are on the edge of the beach but still provide a great view.

There are a lot of options for beach facing accommodations on this beach as well however this is a lot more quiet and laid back beach, especially at night.

When you walk down the stairs you’ll walk straight into the ‘Blue Lagoon’, the only option for eating and drinking on Cola beach.

You can walk down either side of the beach to find yourself a secluded corner and have the beach to yourself.

Inside the Cabo de Rama Fort, there is a church of Santo Antonio which is in excellent condition and is still used by devotees. The white church and the black fort provide great photographic opportunities so does the panoramic views of the Arabian sea from the top of the cliffs on the western side. The fort provides breathtaking views of the entire length of Colva beach and the Canacona stretch.

View from the top of Cabo De Rama Fort

Photo of Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Self Drive Road Trip in South Goa by Shahzad Siddiqui

Beyond the fortress and the cliff there is a narrow trail where you can walk down to the rocky shore and the sea below which is completely secluded and if you're lucky, you may end up with the shore all to yourself.

In general the place is quite secluded and you would find only a handful of visitors on any afternoon.

Galgibagha Beach

Galgibaga Beach is one of three Goa beaches (alongside with Agonda and Morjim Beaches) where the state runs nesting programs for Ridley Olive Turtles.

The beautiful and absolutely secluded Galgibagha beach

Photo of Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Self Drive Road Trip in South Goa by Shahzad Siddiqui

Owing to the turtle program and distance from Palolem (Approx 18-20 kms), this beach is completely free of any restaurant, shack or construction of any sort. If you visit on a weekday, you can pretty much have a part of the beach all to yourself (I think I saw a total of 10 people including us, on the 2 km long stretch of sand in either direction). If skinny dipping is on your bucket list, you wont find a better place in India to check it off your list.

Beautiful ride to Galgibagha Beach

Photo of Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Self Drive Road Trip in South Goa by Shahzad Siddiqui

The ride from Palolem to Galgibagha is absolutely stunning as you cross old Goan villages, paddy and rice fields whilst the Talpona river keeps you company on one side of the river before finally meeting the sea at Talpona beach (north end of Galgibagha).

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