©Image Joakim Lloyd Raboff – www.raboff.com
Downtime on Agonda Beach
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to get away from it all and spend some time in a place where the main attraction is uninterrupted tranquility. I recently returned from such a place, a small rural village along the coast of southern Goa in India called Agonda Beach.
While the northern region of Goa has long been a popular charter destination with expansive, mostly concrete, all-inclusive resorts and super-crowded beaches, at the bottom end of this former Portuguese enclave, is where I literally found paradise.
Agonda to the rescue
After a six hour flight from Europe, I arrived at my hotel, the Simrose, late in the afternoon. It was warm, but not unbearably hot. As the taxi I’d taken from Goa’s Dabolim Airport pulled into the hotel’s short driveway, a young man dressed in white waived at me from the small reception area. He presented himself as Manice and together with the hotel manager, Dennis, these two individuals made sure I had everything I needed during my stay at the Simrose.
As soon as I exited the taxi, the exhaustion from the trip started to overwhelm me. Instinctively, my first thought was to head straight for bed. But I also knew that if I could just get in the ocean soon enough, even a short swim would at least temporarily refresh me and remedy some of the fatigue. I’d booked one of the Simrose’s two treetop bungalows and was delighted to see that most of the promised 40m²/430ft² was dedicated to a generous parquet terrass overlooking the beach and ocean beyond. In addition to being so close to the water, it turned out that thanks to a more or less constant sea breeze, I wouldn’t need to turn on the AC to cool the air during my 10 night stay.
The Simrose is perfectly located right in the middle of Agonda Beach. At the south end is a break with waves large enough for longboard surfing. On the north side of the beach is a creek that flows gently into the ocean. This is where the village’s fishermen launch their boats from.
There are about two dozen small, mostly two and three star hotels along Agonda, each with a seaside restaurant and a few with bars. Only a handful of hotels and small bungalow resorts have pools and the cheapest places usually only offer a ceiling fan in their accommodations. Like at most places, you get what you pay for.
Eating out is almost ridiculously affordable in India and Agonda is no exception. I was rarely able to spend more than €7 for a really tasty dinner – including a chilled glass of whine or tall bottle of local cold beer. Not only is food cheap, I found it to be consistently well-made. And no, not once did I have any stomach issues during my stay.
As far as the village of Agonda goes, I had reasonable expectation which turned out to line up fairly well with reality. The main road wiggles its way through the heart of the village and runs parallel to the ocean. There’s a plethora of family run shops selling everything and anything along the road and it’s mostly touristy knickknacks, gems, colorful sarongs, skirts and faded t-shirts. I noticed a pharmacy, a dental clinic and a couple of reasonably well-stocked grocery stores during my walks. There were at least three local barbershops and I thoroughly enjoyed being shaved at each of them (€1.5). I also noticed at least three hair salons and a half dozen spa and massage shop. Massages aren’t nearly as good as in say, Thailand, but still offer a relaxing experience for the mere €10 they charge for an hour long massage. However, here, men massage men and women massage women and facilities are far from as fancy or cozy as in other South East Asian countries.
A lush, hilly jungle surrounds most of Agonda and it’s well-worth taking a stroll along the road that leaves the main drag and slowly winds up from the beach into the outskirts of the village. One day, I even hired a motorcycle rickshaw to take me a bit further up and we drove through beautiful landscapes of farmland, grazing buffalo and a few old pastell colored, stone houses, possibly built during the Portuguese colonial era.
There are plenty of excursions available from most hotels in Agonda – and, yes, it’s the usual suspects: crocodile and turtle watching, elephant riding and the obligatory outdoor market (Anjuna) at the north end of Goa. With travel time, most of these “adventures” will take a full day to experience.
Nowadays, I can find wonderful solace in life’s less eventful moments. So I opted to stay put and just hang, lounge and chill around the beach for the duration of my stay. Which in turn gave me an abundance of opportunities to catch up with myself, sleep in, practice yoga, take long morning walks on the beach or just sit on the sand and watch the sun set.
There are actually several similarly laid-back beaches along southern Goa. Though this calm and laid-back atmosphere is certainly not for everyone, for those of us that can appreciate the virtues of tranquility and some well-deserved downtime, I can now vouch for Agonda as being a really great option.