January 22 – 30, 2017
Accommodation: Romance Huts; 1500-1700INR/night; booked through Agoada and then we extended (and extended again when we couldn’t get train tickets); north end of Agonda Beach with the beach in front and the lagoon in back; hut on stilts overlooking roofs of huts in front right on beach; no WiFi; no free breakfast but a very competitive rate for Agonda Beach.
Transportation: bus from Panjim to Margao; auto-rickshaw from Margao to Agonda Beach (900INR). There are at least three booking agents here; one of which got us our train tickets to Kerela (it wasn’t easy with all the internet outages).
Communication: free WiFi available at many of the restaurants: if the internet is working and if the power is on! (frequent outages of both). Iffy Vodaphone mobile coverage.
Food: lots of great restaurants. We frequented the Velvet Sunset next door for breakfasts and dinners; excellent, friendly service and good food. Also ate at Monsoon (I loved their Malai Korta and Nepali Thali); breakfast at Fatima’s was good (yummy cardamon lassi and an espresso machine) as were breakfasts at Duck ‘n’ Chill (great Israeli set breakfast). Madhu had excellent cappuccinos and lattes. Although we’re only eating breakfast and dinner, and they’re not large meals, I don’t think I’m losing much weight despite all the walking and swimming. However, I am thinking I may take a cooking course while we’re in Kerela!
Money: There’s one ATM in town but the booking agents do money exchange (with commission of course, but the bank’s money exchange is a pain). The ATM was frequently out of cash. The demonetization has hit the smaller centres the hardest. Hopefully this will get sorted in the near future, although people are saying the government simply hasn’t printed enough new money to replace that taken out of circulation.
As a fellow traveller said to us: “Agonda Beach is India light.” Although far more crowed than Beach we found Agonda to be very mellow with a nice mix of people: Indians, older folks, families and young people. All of them enjoying the sun and sand. The beach is about 2.5km long with huts and restaurants covering the beachfront back to the small road paralleling the beach. Along the road are more restaurants, accommodations and shops. Cows wander freely everywhere and can be quite comical when trying to get into restaurants and bars. I had one youngster sidle up to me and lean into me. She enjoyed a good rub and then we went our separate ways. The scooters, bikes, auto-rickshaws and cars can be a bit daunting for pedestrians on the narrow road. However, that seems the norm in India.
We didn’t do much other than swim, walk on the beach, eat and yoga (Sue). When it was just too hot outside we took some down time in our hut to sleep or read. Life became very simple and very relaxed.
We did venture off to another beach one day: Cola (Khola). We took a wrong route and ended up at a more northerly part of that beach which was OK. And part way on our longer than expected walk we were rescued by three scooters who gave us a lift and pointed out the small road to the beach. The beach, however, had an uninspiring brown scum on the water surface. It made for an interesting change of scenery but we enjoyed swimming at Agonda Beach far more. Often there’s a bit of a surf break but we just went beyond it and swam and floated to our hearts` content.
Apparently Agonda Beach has developed rapidly in the last few years. I know our several years old guidebook referred to it as very undeveloped and uncrowded. Well, the crowds have found it and fortunately they’re pretty darned mellow.
Another big difference we noticed here was how clean it is. On the ride from Margao we first noticed how clean the roadside is, along with collection points for garbage. Agonda Beach is swept clean daily by roving cleaners who collect all the trash. Plus there are many signs around encouraging proper disposal of garbage and recyclables. I had read a couple of articles about garbage strewn around in Goa, but it seems there’s now an awareness of the problem. Maybe it’s just in the tourist zones but at least it’s a start. We also learned that the lifeguards in conjunction with the local vet spay and feed the unclaimed local dogs. There are many of them and they sometimes sneak people’s sandals or bags off the beach. I rescued a bag left on the beach by a swimmer from two dogs who were having a tug of war with it and dragged it into the water.
On our last day I went for a 2 hour river cruise. Once beyond the bridge the sound of traffic faded and it became very very peaceful. Bird calls, fish splashes.
The guide poled his way up the river.
We stopped at a large rice paddy for a look just before we turned back.
We ended up staying on Agonda Beach longer than we’d planned but we could have happily stayed even longer. ‘India Light’ can be very relaxing and easy.