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Explore Palolem Beach in Goa, India: Meet the ultimate spirit of Canacona

Enveloped in blue ocean and natural green, Palolem beach is one of the most popular beaches in South Goa. This ever enchanting destination is overwhelmed by the heavenly beauty of the Canacona Island, serenity of butterfly and honeymoon beach, a charming backwater, and of course, the ever-demanding sight of sunset behind the Canacona hills! Indeed, I believe, a trip to the Marine Kingdom (Goa) remains incomplete without feeling the spirit of Palolem Beach in Goa.

With my 3 times touring experience at Palolem, I’m introducing here the most detailed information about this wonderful place that you hardly find elsewhere on the internet. The complete details include the best things to do around Palolem Beach, best places to visit around, when and how to visit Palolem, the most delicious dishes to try, links to the best accommodations in Palolem, and more.

So, be patient and read thoroughly, especially if you are looking to plan the best Palolem trip ever. Definitely, I’ll help you further if you have any more queries.

A Brief Introduction of Palolem Beach in Goa

Situating in the southern part of Goa, Palolem Beach came into the limelight in 2009-2010, when the peace lover tourists were in search of an escape from overcrowded central Goa, especially the Calangute area.

Back in 2013, when I first visited Palolem, the beautiful beach was still pretty empty, mostly occupied by foreign tourists. But with time the queen of Indian Beaches became very famous as well as populated. On my last Palolem trip in 2019 (just before COVID-19 pandemic), I found Palolem was no more a virgin beach, but neither overcrowded like Calangute or Colva. To my delight, the spirit of Palolem remains still alive, same as the past, just the commercialized part became a bit crowded.

A serene morning at Palolem Beach in Goa
A serene morning at Palolem Beach

Central and southern part of Palolem beach is mostly commercialized, hence also overcrowded by the youngers who prefer to hang out in the beach shacks and enjoying water sports. However, the prime beauty of Palolem rests at the northern part of the beach, near Canacona Island, which remains very less crowded.

Things to do in Palolem

Apart from enjoying the rhythmic waves, gasping to sunset view, or hanging out to the beach side bars, Palolem offers a lot of added excitements, keeping your Goa trip an unforgettable one. Boat-riding, watching dolphins, hopping through the nearby virgin beaches, kayaking, birding, or even relaxing on the golden sand, Palolem has almost every spice to host you one week long.

Let’s explore the complete list of things to do around Palolem Beach in Goa.

Head for Dolphin Watching Trip

Morning session is the best time to head for the dolphin watch trip. Stating from the bay of Palolem you’ll be sailed through the Arabian Sea towards the Neighbour beach, Agonda. On the way, boatman halts at a certain point and help you sporting the dolphins.

Dolphin trip fromPalolem Beach in Goa
One day we went for an evening trip to cover both dolphins and sunset together

If you can reach the spot early in the morning, you can see plenty of dolphins playing and jumping around you; with increasing sunlight, the dolphins start disappearing from the upper level. Again in the evening session, you can spot dolphins at the same point but the frequency of the appearance decreases compare to the morning session.

If the boatmen or brokers see you around the row of boats at Palolem Beach, they will run after you; the brokers generally ask for different rents to the Indian and foreign tourists, you must bargain with them before book.

Explore the virgin beaches around Palolem

The same dolphin trip includes several other activities and sightseeing. After leaving Palolem Beach the boatman sails boat slowly beside the rocky islands around Canacona and Palolem, offering you some picture perfect landscapes. Further they help you spotting the dolphins and drop you to Agonda Beach.

Palolem Beach in Goa - exploring virgin beaches
PIcturesque landscapes during dolphin trip

On the return trip the boatmen show you some beautiful virgin islands, and also halts at some of those.

The best Islands you’ll spot on the way are known as, Honeymoon Island, Butterfly Island, and Monkey Island. They generally halt at Honeymoon Island and Butterfly Island, offering you chances to explore those and have some memorable snaps. At the end the boatmen get back to Palolem Beach through the narrow canal beside Canacona Island.

You also have the options to spend a full day at Butterfly Beach or Honeymoon Beach, gasping the undefined serenity of the beautiful Islands. You have to contact your boatman accordingly; he’ll drop you to the shore of any of those beaches during low tide, and take you back before the appearance of high tide.

Note: During high tide, most portions of Butterfly Beach or Honeymoon Beach sinks below water.

Spend Unforgettable Moments at Canacona Island

Situating at the northern end of Palolem Beach, Canacona Island is the ultimate place to hang out in the pure nature on your Palolem trip. On a fine afternoon, you can fairly spend a peaceful hours with your loved ones, feeling the absolute serenity and breathtaking beauty of Canacona Island. Also, there is one beach shack to chill out your Canacona afternoon!

Although being a part of Palolem, white sanded Canacona Island is separated from Palolem by a wide natural canal that connects the backwater to the ocean. During high tide, sea water forcefully meets the Backwater and the canal gets fulfilled, reaching up to your waste level or more; with your dare devil mind you can try crossing the water line to reach Canacona.

Otherwise, for a hassle-free experience, you should attempt your Canacona trip during low tide, when a safe and sandy path connects Canacona Island to Palolem Beach, erasing the canal water.

Go for a boating trip at Palolem backwater (+ Birding)

After reaching the junction of Palolem beach and Canacona, if you start walking opposite to the sea, you’ll reach the bank of a backwater, surrounded by deep and dense forest. Boatmen wait there with their shikhara boats to entertain you with a backwater trip.

The backwater is enveloped in lush green forest and rows of palm trees; a big balancing rock at the bank significantly attracts your sight just after initiating the boat trip.

Lazy and silent sailing experience gets a certain charm when plenty of eagles appear to be flying over the boat! It’s a spot in the middle where the boatmen stop the boat and start throwing pieces of meats in water; flocks of eagles comes down an grab those in a lightning speed. Indeed, it’s an ever-exciting sight that you’ll experience on your boat trip to Palolem Backwater.

Next, the boatmen enter deep into the backwater, offering you a thrilling fill of mangrove forest. In this area, you can spot several unknown birds, few wait for their catch, few are hiding behind the woods.

I’d say, must experience this exciting boat ride. On our first Palolem trip, we skipped the thrill of Palolem backwater, but never made the same mistake again when we returned Palolem in the next few times.

Enjoy Kayaking at Palolem

Kayaking is common and very popular water sports that is available in many sea beaches around the world, but not much in India; because most of the Indian beaches are equipped with rough sea that aren’t suitable for kayaking.

Palolem is different in this sense; waves are calm and rhythmic at Palolem Beach. That’s why Palolem is considered as the safest beach for kayaking in Goa. Kayaks are available for rent at some beach side water sports corners; but you can’t sail the kayak alone in the sea, they provides trained guide with you.

Kayaking at Palolem Beach in Goa

Kayaking options are also available at nearby Cola Beach, but allowed only for backwater drive; Rough sea of Cola Beach is absolutely not safe for Kayaking.

Watch Sunset from Palolem Beach or Canacona Island

At the end of day Palolem Beach hosts an extra crowd when all the visitors come out on the beach to enjoy the sunset party. In Palolem, you can experience 3 different tastes of the sunset view;

(1) Standing on Palolem Beach: it’s an ever beautiful sight to watch sun disappearing behind the Canacona hills.

(2) From Canacona Island: You can have a different sunset view when you are enjoying romantic moments at Canacona Island.

(3) From the middle of the sea: This is the extra benefit of evening time dolphin trip! You can experience the undefined beauty of sunset right from the middle of sea, sitting on wavering boat.

If you are on a longer trip to Palolem, I suggest, try all the tastes of sunset view in different days.

Enjoy Bike trip – Explore nearby places

There are several places to visit around Palolem, including Cola Beach, Agonda, Kakolem, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, etc. I have introduced them in details below.

However, for hopping around, you don’t need to hire a rented car; this will cost a lot to explore everything, and also you can’t travel freely. Better, you should rent a bike to explore nearby attractions.

Bike trip around Palolem Beach in Goa
Near Galgibaga beach with a rented bike

In Palolem you’ll not get plenty of bike corners, as available in Calangute; hence, don’t expect your favourite brand of bike at Palolem, but any bike with good condition can serve your purpose.

Near the auto stand beside Palolem Beach you’ll get bikes for rent. Alternatively you can request your resort manager or Homestay owner to arrange a two-wheeler for you. Photo copy of your bike licence and Identity card are required for renting a bike; don’t handover the originals to them.

Practice Yoga

Absolute serenity of Palolem Beach, makes it perfect for practicing Yoga. You can discover, in early morning, several tourists are jogging over the sandy beach, some are practicing yoga, mostly foreigners.

Also, in Palolem there are several yoga centre equipped with practicing facilities and trainers; you can contact there if you are interested.

Cheer up in the Beach Shacks

Nothing special, but so special!

After a busy day, hopping around the every corner of Palolem, get refreshed and spend a beautiful evening at nearby beach shack or wine bar. Enlightened by yellow beach lights, the beach sand converts to gold dust, reminding you the roads of El dorado. The beautiful ambiance of Palolem nights can be perfectly flavoured with a glass of Irish wine and delicious dishes of sea foods.

Other Tourist Attractions around Palolem Beach in Goa

As I mentioned above, you can visit several places around Palolem just by renting a bike. Let’s explore the brief list of worthy places where you can plan you bike trip.

Agonda Beach

Agonda near Palolem Beach in Goa
Agonda Beach

Situating at the north of Palolem, Agonda is a peaceful coastal destination where you can reach both by boat or riding a bike (9 km).

Agonda beach is well organized with rows of colourful cottages, beach huts, and tree houses, relatively less expensive and much less crowded compared to Palolem. Hence, Agonda becomes more popular to the foreign tourist, especially the long term tourists in Goa.

Agonda Church is a remarkable landmark nearby, that may help you to located the Beach during a bike trip.

Cola Beach

Surrounded by lush green forest, rows of palm trees, and, billowy Arabian sea, Cola Beach is one of the most exciting places to visit around Palolem. The blue lagoon at the backdrop is the special attraction of Cola beach.

It’s a bit away from Palolem; you have to drive about 18 km to reach Cola Beach. Most tourists (especially foreigners) who book their stay at nearby destinations (Palolem, Agonda, Colva, etc.), generally reach Cola beach early in the morning, spend a full day enjoying the beach activities, and return to their homestays/hotels before evening. If you are willing to visit Cola from Palolem, I suggest follow the same plan.

Alternatively, you can stay at Cola for 1-2 nights, which is a much better decision for exploring and enjoying Cola Beach completely. There are a few beachfront and Lagoon front resorts at Cola, offering superior facilities; you may pre-book one of those.

Explore More about Cola Beach

Kakolem Beach

Situating just beside Cola, Kakolem is another virgin beach, offering picture perfect sights all around. It’s even more peaceful; you’ll barely find a few guests upon reaching there.

Perfect blending of widespread deep forest, steep hills, rocky sea, and a picturesque waterfall at the backdrop creates a heavenly atmosphere around Kakolem Beach. Till date, only a few people know about this magical place; so must become a lucky one to explore the exotic beauty of Kakolem Beach.

To reach this destination from Palolem, you have to ride your bike for around 30 min (16 km), and then you need the hike below 200 stair steps (approx.) to step on to the Kakolem beach.

Explore More about Kalokem Beach

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

most Goa tourists prefer lazing around beautiful beaches, but skip the beauty of Goan forests. Although some tourist visit Doodhsagar Waterfalls and corresponding forest, the evergreen wildlife sanctuaries most remain untouched.

However, the evergreen hilly sanctuaries of Goa host plenty of wilds. If you visit Palolem, I suggest must visit Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary that 12 km away from Palolem, situating at Goa-Karnataka Border.You can experience there flying squirrel, slender loris, Indian pangolin, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, Malabar pit viper, hump-nosed pit viper, white-bellied woodpecker, Malabar trogon, velvet-fronted nuthatch, heart-spotted woodpecker, speckled piculet, Malayan bittern, draco or flying lizard, golden-back gliding snake, and Malabar tree toad. If you are lucky enough, you can see  Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas.

Timing: 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Entry fee: Rs. 5/per person   some of those

Camera: Rs. 25 per person

Patnem Beach

Patnem Beach near Palolem Beach in Goa
Patnem Beach

Just behind Palolem hills at the southern end, a serine and silent beach becomes popular to the foreign deligates, known at Patnem Beach. It’s only 3 km away from Palolem, so you can visit anytime there to spend some peaceful hours.

During peak season when Palolem becomes overcrowded, you can choose to stay at Patnem to find relative peace. You can spot there several beach front cottages surrounded by lush green, offering you a far calm ambiance compared to Palolem.

Galgibaga Beach or Turtle Beach

Galgibaga Beach to not far away from Palolem Beach in Goa
Galgibaga Beach

Except Tolivia and Polem, Galgibaga can be considered as the southernmost Beach in Goa, well known as the nesting ground of Olive Ridley Turtles. Having widespread shadows of tamarisk trees at the backdrop and green carpet of creepers on the beach sand, Galgibaga Beach offers an undefined beauty that lacks in most other beaches in Goa.

Due to shortfall of tourist activities, Galgigaba beach remains almost silent throughout the year; on your visit, you can rarely find a couple of tourists around this place. Indeed, it’s a perfect gateway to spend solitary hours at Galgibaga, enjoying calm and quiet environment and watching the lovely view of Arabian sea.

The road to Galgibaga is beautiful itself; you can enjoy a joyful bike ride on the way. The confluence of Talpona River is another beautiful sight to watch nearby.

How to Visit Palolem Beach in Goa

To reach Palolem Beach front you have to rent a car from airport or the nearest railway station. In case you are in Northern part or central part before visiting Palolem, still you have to book a car.

Dabolim Airport is the only international airport in Goa. You can reach Dabolim directly from another international destination, or you can afford a break journey via Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, or any other Indian Airport.

Dabolim airport is 60 km away from Palolem Beach; it’s takes around 2 hours to reach Palolem from the airport (including traffic jam). So you should plan accordingly (especially the return journey).

Railway stations

Canacona Railway station: this is the nearest railway station to Palolem (3 km). From Mumbai, you’ll get only a few trains that stops at Canacona Railway station

Netravati Express (from Mumbai)

Matsyaganda Express (from Mumbai)

Madgaon Express (from Mangalore Jn.)

Maq Intercity E (from Mangalore)

Gandhidham Express (Nagercoil Jn/Trivandrum Central)

Other nearest Rail station is Madgaon (36 km), where most trains stops. It’s the safest choice, especially if you travelling to Goa from an away destination.

When to Visit Palolem Beach

You can visit Palolem anytime in the year except monsoon season. September-November and February-March are two peaceful seasons when rush of tourists remains relatively low. The month of October remains a bit crowded because it’s the festival season in India.

Considering the seasonal comfort, November-February is the best time to visit Palolem beach; but from mid-December to mid-January Palolem as well as the whole of Goa remains overcrowded by the foreign tourist. This is the peak season at Goa, hence hotels are also very expensive in these months. So, plan accordingly.

Where to stay at Palolem

Palolem is rich with all sort of accommodations, including premium resorts, beach huts, hotels and homestays. Tourists who are on a sort trip to Palolem, they generally prefer beachfront resorts and hotels. But for a longer trip beachside hotels might be very expensive.

I noticed, many foreign delegates avoid beachfront ones and book a money saving homestay at an interior location. They happily spend weeks, even months on the same homestay until their trips are over.

By the way, among so many properties, it’s a bit difficult to pick the best ones. Based on our own survey we picked up 10 best hotels/ resorts in Palolem where you can have the best holiday experience. The review article is upcoming shortly just after some basic rivisions.

Best dishes to try at Palolem

At Palolem you can try several Goanese dishes as well delicious sea foods; you can try sea foods here and there because most local restaurants offer fresh sea foods. But if you are specially interested in Goanese dishes, must visit a reputed restaurant.

Best foods to try at Palolem Beach in Goa
Would you like to taste this delicious Kingfish fry?

For your information, Thalassa, Martin corner, Shawarma, Chef Peter’s Kitchen, Artjuna, Caravela Café, Las Olas, Brittos, Souza lobo, Fat Fish, Shining star (for crab sukha), Ritz Classic, etc. are some of the best restaurants at Goa, spread from north to south. On your Palolem trip you may not access all of those, but you can attend some of those if you are staying at another spot before or after Palolem trip.

Below I’m introducing a list of best foods that you can try at Palolem as well as Goa.

Sea foods

Kingfish fry, pomfret tandoor, Jumbo Crab mashala, tiger prawn rawa fry, lobster, Crab sukha, Squid golden fry, octopus, red snapper, fried calamari, bangra fry, Tuna fish, surmai rawa fry

Vindaloo (Chicken/pork/mutton), Bibinka, goan prawn kari, chicken cafreal, Goan fish curry, chicken xacuti, Raas omelette, Goan Red rice

shakes, Shakshuka, caramel pudding, kokum fizz

If you love hard drinks, goa is a heaven for you, because in Goa you’ll get almost all brands around the world. On experiment basis you can try Local Port wine and Feni with coconut water, though I personally don’t recommend these.

Palolem Beach in Goa: A summary

Place to reach Place to reach; Palolem Beach
Nearest Airport Dabolim airport (60 km)
Nearest Railway stations Canacona (3 km); Madgaon (36 km)
Attractions & Activities

Lazing at Palolem beach
Boat ride for Dolphine trip
Relaxing at Honeymoon Beach
Visiting Monkey Butterfly beach
Boating to Palolem Backwater
Canacona Island
Trekking to Canacona hill
Nearby beaches to visit

Cola Beach
Agonda Beach
Kakolem Beach
Galgibaga Beach;
Patnem beach
Meeting to WildAt Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Delicious dishes to try:

Try seafood preferably;
Pomfret tandoor
Kingfish fry
Jumbo Crab masala
Tiger prawn fry
DrinksYou’ll get almost all types of hard drinks near Palolem Beach.
Best time to visit

September – April
*Dec-Jan remains crowded by Foreign delegates
*October remains a little crowded by Bengali people (festival holidays)

Wrapping up

Hi Readers, I shared my 3 times experience in Palolem and nearby destinations. I hope, this will help you to plan the best trip to south Goa including Palolem. Still, if you have any further queries, feel free to post your questions in the comment box below. I’ll be more than happy to help you out further.

Happy Travel!

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