Even though I had been in India for 2 months travelling the North and been to 2 beaches in Goa, it was my third beach in Goa – Palolem that made me truly fall in love with India.
As soon as I drove through the small Village of Palolem in the taxi and as soon as I walked on the beach I had huge flashbacks of being in Thailand and in the Philippines, because it honestly felt like I had been transported out of India and back into South East Asia, back to one of my favourite Thai beaches, but I was indeed, still in India!
Why Palolem is Perfect for Backpackers to India!
Palolem gets people hooked, it’s home for many expats and I can totally understand why you’d want to call Palolem home for a while.
It’s only very small but big enough with one main road full of shops, cafes and restaurants parallel to the beach. The beach is a really good size too in a nice cove with plenty of space to walk and sunbathe and but also to chill on one of the beach bars sunbeds.
The beach has not been commercialised at all which is one of my favourite things about it and it’s lined with palm trees!
There are plenty of accommodation options (more on that below) including hostels and huts right on the beach which will make your stay in Palolem feel like total paradise!
There is nightlife in Palolem if you do want to party but it’s not that big and not a huge part of the atmosphere in Palolem so if you want to leave it like myself and my friends did, you can and it’s fine!
Best of all, and what I think makes certain places in India perfect for backpackers is because there are other travellers there rather than mainly Indian Tourists!
There are definitely Indian Tourists in Palolem but I didn’t have any issues with any in terms of selfies and photos whilst I was on the beach (which was something I was worried about), instead Palolem is popular with Brits, Europeans, Israeli’s and many more Westerners. However it isn’t a major ‘holiday place’. For example I went to Arambol and Candolim before Palolem and this had much more of a holiday vibe with holiday makers from Russia and older Brits in particular. Palolem is for people on a 1 and 2 week holiday from home but much more popular with travellers and expats it seems!
How to Get to Palolem Beach in Goa.
Getting around Goa is a bit of a pain to be honest especially for backpackers on a budget to India! There are buses but they do not run directly between the main tourist beaches so you’ll have to change a lot. There are train stations but again, they’re not direct.
Local buses do arrive into the centre of Palolem though if you are keen to go to the local way or if you’re arriving into Palolem from another nearby beach.
There is a train station very close to Palolem – Canacona. This is a local line rather than a main line station though.
The nearest main line station is Madgaon Junction in Margao 35km away from Palolem which takes one hour and cost me 1400RS in a taxi.
Goa Airport is 2 hours away from Palolem Beach. A taxi is the best way to get to and from the beach and will cost about 2000Rs. To pre-book a taxi in advance for a good price, have a look at this private airport transfer on Viator.
Kiwi.com is a great site to compare prices and routes to get the best deal!
The best way to get around Goa, although the most costly way is by taxi! Generally it’s about 1000Rs per hour of travel along the coast of Goa by taxi!
Note – Be sure to take out cash before you get to Palolem as the nearest ATM is in Canacona which is a 200Rs tuk tuk ride away!
Where to stay in Palolem Beach.
There is so so much accommodation in Palolem Beach and it’s all bungalows and huts on the beach and by the beach or guest houses along the main road. There are no fancy high-rise hotels here which I love but the accommodation on offer is still really good quality!
I stayed at Tent Cressida Cyrus which is just off the beach. I really loved the accommodation as we had privacy in our huts (rather than having a hut that looks over the beach, but also everyone on the beach can see in). It was quiet with swinging chairs and hammocks outside. It was very clean and comfy and my friends and I were really happy with our choice. It wasn’t super cheap but not really pricey either.
For more huts and bungalows in Palolem, have a look on Booking.com. India by Backpack recommends using Booking.com because of the huge range of accommodation and the flexible booking options!
If you want your stay in Palolem Beach to become a Yoga Holiday, Earth Yoga Village is located on Palolem Beach and offers Yoga Holidays from 1 week in duration and it’s absolute heaven there. I’d really recommend it if you’re looking for a yoga retreat in Goa and you can read about my stay here!
Alternatively if you’re the type of backpacker to Goa that is happy to arrive with no accommodation booked, you’ll be happy to hear that you can do this in Palolem! When we got out of the taxi on the beach with our bags quite a few people were around to offer accommodation. It’s the old school approach that in some ways I’m sad is no longer a popular thing, but I’m also pleased as carrying a heavy bag around for hours in the sun looking for accommodation isn’t all fun!
What to do in Palolem Beach.
On the Beach:
Sunbathe– You can take advantage of the many beach bars with sun loungers and lie on them for free as long as you buy something.
Paddleboarding & kayaking – There are a few stalls offering paddle boards and kayaks for hire and going out just before sunset would be a lovely time!
Boat Trip– Plenty of men will ask if you want a boat ride and I’d suggest taking them up on the offer. We went out for about 90 minutes one morning in search of dolphins in the ocean which we saw. We then got off at Butterfly Beach for a bit before heading back to Palolem. The other option is to take a boat trip along the back streams of Palolem which is a good way of seeing another side to the village. Both rides are short but sweet and an inexpensive activity in Palolem, Goa.
Massages– There are so many massage places just off of the beach and a few people will probably come around and ask if you want one. I had a good 45 minute full body massage for just 400Rs which was really good value. You’re on holiday so why not treat yourself!
Shop– Not quite on the beach, but just off the beach on the main road of Palolem are lots of shops and they actually sell pretty good things. Lots of nice clothes and bits and bobs, not great if you’re a backpacker continuing on a trip but good if you are heading home soon and want to take things back!
Sunset– Goa is a sunset paradise thanks to it being West facing. Make sure you stay on Palolem beach for sunset and once the sun has set to see the most beautiful coloured sky! Although you can see the sunset from the middle of the beach, heading to the end of the beach to the rocks at sunset point is also a really good spot and there’s a bar there if you want a sunset drink.
Yoga– If you’re looking for a yoga class in Palolem then head to Earth Yoga Village for a drop in session. It costs 500Rs per class and the classes are on from 8:30-10:00am and 5:00-6:30pm (although check before arriving that it hasn’t changed). The classes are taught by really professional and good teachers in a beautiful yoga shala.
Be sure to take out cash before you get to Palolem as the nearest ATM is in Canacona which is a 200Rs tuk tuk ride away!
Party Scene in Palolem:
There isn’t a huge party scene in Palolem and there’s not something on every night but there are possibilities to party on some nights.
There’s a famous Silent Disco Party every Saturday which is held at Neptune Point and Neptune Nightclub also holds other regular parties but we found they started in the afternoon until early evening rather than going on through the night.
The Full Moon brings a full moon party and flyers will be given out to give you the location!
Due to Christmas and New Year being high season, Palolem also hosts big Christmas and New Year’s Parties!
Plus, there’s plenty of live music every night for a chilled night on the beach. Each day you’ll be given flyers by workers with what’s on that night.
If you want even more of a chilled night, head to Rockit Cafe at the end of the beach to see what film they have on as they have daily cinema nights which are free of charge.
Places Nearby to Palolem:
If you fancy seeing more of Goa from Palolem this is very possible!
Patnem Beach is just around the corner, it’s a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute and 200Rs tuk tuk ride. Patnem Beach is smaller in length than Palolem and a bit quieter with a smaller village but it’s nice to visit to mix it up a bit if you are in Palolem for a few days.
The popular beach of Agonda is only a 20 minute drive from Palolem and there are plenty of taxi drivers around to take you so this is a popular Palolem day trip.
There is a weekly Saturday Market if you’re in Palolem on a Saturday too.
It’s also possible to hire mopeds in Palolem and moped is a popular way to get around the beaches of Goa, just be careful!
There is so much more to Goa than just the beaches too! Inland are historic Portuguese Towns, Spice Plantations, Waterfalls, Lakes and so much more. Palolem Beach does offer a few day tours at the agencies but I found there are way more options online so if you want to do a day trip from Palolem to see more of Goa, have a look at some of these awesome looking day tours!
Best Places to Eat in Palolem.
The food in Palolem is really good! There are plenty of beach bars serving food all day right on the beach and their menus offer a huge mix of Indian food and International food. These places are good if you want to sunbathe on their beds but for the best food in Palolem you need to get off the beach and onto the main road!
The main road of Palolem is full of restaurant and cafe gems, here are my favourites:
Zest– This is probably most people’s favourite place to eat in Palolem, it’s mine anyway! A Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant selling really healthy, yummy and modern dishes like Avocado on Sourbread, Zucchini Fritters, Buddha Bowls, Mezze Boards, Vegan Cakes, Smoothies, Nicecream and Good Coffee! Not only that but the staff are lovely, so is the interior and so is the wifi so it’s a great place to work from in Palolem!
Little World– Another really nice Vegan Cafe with lots of delicious options in a nice setting. A bit cheaper than Zest too.
Sumaya– This is all Indian food with lots of Goan Dishes. I had the Mango and Tofu Curry which was delicious as it sounds!
Safety for Staying in Palolem.
Palolem and Goa in general is very safe for backpackers, travellers and holiday makers but I’m adding this point in at the end as rapes and deaths do occur in Goa to foreigners and they have happened in and close to Palolem recently and in the past few years.
Firstly, especially as a female, although beach wear on the beach is totally fine and you will feel comfortable on the beach in a bikini, don’t go wearing just a bikini into the town. I don’t think this is good to do in any beach place but you need to remember you are still in India, people are very religious and you have to be careful around some men- some that live there and some that are visiting on holiday. Be respectful and put a dress or shorts and top on.
In addition to this, please make sure you do not walk around late at night on your own! Again, you’ll probably feel safe enough to do so, I know I would have but when rapes have occurred in Goa and in Palolem, generally it’s to a women on her own walking in the middle of the night so keep this in mind, especially if you’ve been to a party and want to go home early alone. Get a tuk tuk if you’re by the road or walk in a group.
Now you know what to do in Palolem in Goa, do you need to know about Varkala in Kerala which is another great place for backpackers in South India?
You may need to get some local buses in Goa, here are some tips on how to take local buses in India.
Need to book accommodation in India? We recommend using Booking.com as we love the huge range of accommodation and flexible booking options.
Need to check out Flights to India? Kiwi.com is a great site to compare prices and routes to get the best deal!
Remember that you’ll need travel insurance when you travel to India. There are a lot of companies out there we know, but World Nomad’s is a travel insurance provider designed by travellers, for travellers and includes lots of unique benefits like not needing a return flight home booked, which many providers need proof of if you claim. Whilst you’re thinking about it, get a quote for them here!
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