For the many years that I have been holidaying in Goa and after exploring almost all corners of this tropical paradise, I always stop at Palolem Beach. It is in the South of the former Portuguese colony at around 50 km from the city of Margao and around 70 km from the Vasco airport. The beach is around 1.5 km long, crescent-shaped and surrounded by palm trees leaning down on the sand and by hundreds of ‘’coco-huts’’. I truly believe that it is the best beach in India.
The trek to Monkey Island
Compared to the rest of Goa, life in Palolem is relaxed and quiet, but it can also be exciting if you are a bit adventurous. For somebody who loves nature I suggest enjoying a trek in Palolem. The first is an easy one, a walk on the small island situated in the north side of the bay, locally called ‘’Monkey Island’’. You have to cross – preferably when there is a low tide – the small river at the end of the beach. The island is only 100 meters from the shore and is inhabited. A small path takes you to the top where there is a stone sculpture created by the American conceptual artist Jacek Tylitski titled “Give if you can – Take if you have to”. It has become a place of pilgrimage for the tourists.
The trek to the Butterfly Beach
The second trek is to the Butterfly Beach, a tiny strip of sand around two km towards the North on the way to Agonda Beach. In the high season there are boats from Palolem taking tourists for a day trip. But it is also possible to go by foot on a one and a half hour walk in the jungle. The trek starts on the road to Agonda at around five kilometers from Palolem. There is a bridge and a bend in the street. After that you will find a small path with a board ‘’Leopard Valley’’, a restaurant and disco club. From this place you have to walk for five minutes until you find a narrow passage between brick walls going to a group of houses. If you are here in December, you will find farmers pressing cashew nuts to make ”feni”, the famous (or infamous!) and potent Goan specialty liquor!
The ‘’secret’’ behind not getting lost in the jungle is to follow the white signs on the rocks and trees. Of course if you have GPS in your phone you can check directions. The path crosses a couple of rice paddies, a thick forest and descends towards the end. Minutes before you get to the beach, you will hear the sound of the sea. It is a wonderful feeling when you alight from the darkness of the woods to see the golden beach and the turquoise colour of the water. It reminds me of the movie ‘’The Beach’’ (2000) when Leonardo di Caprio discovers the secret island in Thailand.