The Tiny Bay
Palolem, 2-km west of Chaudi, pops up more often in glossy
holiday brochures than any other beach in Goa; not because the
village is a major package tour destination, but because its
crescent shaped bay lined with a swaying curtain of coconut
palms, is irresistibly photogenic.
Until recently foreign tourists were few and far between in
Palolem. Over the past five or six years, however, increasing
numbers of budget travellers have begun to find their way here,
and the village is now far from the undiscovered idyll it used to
be, with a string of cafes, Karnatakan hawkers and a tent camp
crowding the beachfront.
Souvenir stalls have also sprung up, catering mainly for the
mini-van and boat parties of charter tourists on day trips from
resorts further north. In spite of these encroachments, Palolem
remains a resolutely traditional village, where the easy pace of
life is dictated more by the three daily rounds of Todi (also
spelt as Toddy) tapping than the exigencies of tourism.
Barely a couple
of kilometres of cliff tops and parched grassland separate Anjuna
from the southern fringes of its nearest neighbour, Vagator. A
desultory collection of ramshackle farmhouses and picturesque old
Portuguese bungalows scattered around a network of leafy lanes,
the village is entered at the east via a branch off the Mapusa
Road, which passes a few small guesthouses and restaurants before
running down to the sea.
Big Vagator Beach also known, as "Little Vagator" is undeniably
beautiful, just like a picture postcard.
For better, then, to head to the next cove south. Backed by a
steep wall of crumbling palm-fringed laterite, Ozran Vagator
beach is more secluded and much less accessible than either of
its neighbours. To get there, walk ten minutes from Big Vagator,
or drive to the end of the lane off the main Chapora-Anjuna Road,
from where a footpath drops sharply down to a wide stretch of
level white sand.
Like Anjuna, Vagator is a relaxed, comparatively undeveloped
resort that appeals, in the main, to budget travellers with time
on their hands. Accommodation is limited, however, and visitors
frequently find themselves travelling to and from Baga every day
to find a suitable place to stay.
If one staying in Benaulim, one is bound at some point to visit
Varca: the row of beached wooden fishing boats 2-km south of
Benaulim belong to its community of Christian fisher folk, whose
palm thatched long houses line the foot of the grassy dunes.