South India 2019: Agonda

When planning at home I’d thought two weeks at Agonda would be a relaxing way to end  our tour and a great place to be for Valentine’s Day.  But looking for accommodations on the beach I discovered prices had climbed in the two years since our last visit.  Eventually I found  La Casa de Pedro, an Airbnb, situated on a hilltop overlooking the water.

La Casa de Pedro, Agonda, India
La Casa

We were a 10 minute walk from the beach, uphill in a very quiet neighbourhood, removed from the tourist milieu along the waterfront. We had a living/sleeping room, kitchen, bathroom and large storage area. In the above photo the uppermost roof shelters a rooftop terrace on a bigger building, with several apartments for rent.  From the terrace we could see all around us: the water to the west and thick foliage with a few buildings poking up elsewhere.  We cooked a few breakfasts but often ate beachside, especially after Sue started morning yoga at the Simrose.  We also rented a scooter for 10 days to further explore the coast.  But still, every day we walked to Agonda Beach, at least once and often two or three times.

Path to the Road to Agonda Beach
Path to the Road

We walked past a sprawling, deserted resort project. Clusters of buildings sat abandoned on several acres of land.  One night we saw huge flames back-lighting the buildings as caretakers cleared dry brush.

Abandoned Hotel near Agonda Beach
Abandoned Hotel

The resort’s been sitting empty for about 25 years and has a distinctly spooky quality.  We heard stories and talked to people who’d ventured in, but we only peered over the fence at the faded walls and broken windows.

deserted hotel, Agonda, India
Spookier at Night

Although seaside the heat sapped our energy. Scootering along the local, often shaded, roads created a soothing breeze.  We rode north to Betul Beach, getting a bit lost (my Airtel service worked everywhere we went except Tamil Nadu, Agonda Beach and the neighbouring headlands).  Eventually we made a cell connection and found our route.  I enjoyed how we ride slowly, like many locals (conserving petrol?), and let faster traffic find zoom past.  We followed narrow roads around the coastal inlets, passing farmlands and villages.  Then over a long bridge and onto the peninsula, the southern end of a long beach stretching north to Vasco de Gama.  We rode through miles of beachfront tourist zone, noticeably more upscale than Agonda Beach.  The road went south than we hit a literal wall: The Leela Goa, a huge resort.  We rode along the wall to the beach, past service portals into the resort.  Walking onto the beach we passed a red carpet running from the few beachfront restaurants to a Leela land access point.  Interestingly from the beach it looked almost vacant.  Large resort guests have been hit with high GST taxes in Goa.  Business was down in the high end resorts and up in the mid-range, smaller beachfront places.

The Red Carpet at Betul Beach, Goa, India
The Red Carpet

The beach was busy with a speedboat hauling para-sailors aloft for quick rides and a gaggle of tourists.  We walked south and within minutes were almost alone on the beach.

The quiet side of Betul Beach, Goa, India
The Quiet Side of Betul Beach

The southern tip of the peninsula beach jutted into the mouth of the Sal River.  We decided we didn’t really want to swim there and walked back to one of the restaurants for lime sodas. While sitting, enjoying the refreshing drinks and shade, an egret sauntered in.

egret a restaurant, Betul Beach, Goa, India
Bold Bird

Another day we repeated a previous trip to the north, going just a few kilometres to Cola Beach.  I knew the turnoff we tricky to find and still missed it the first time by it.  The first 100 metres were very rocky and  rough, then it smoothed as we drove over the headland to the clifftop overlooking the beach.  We spent a few hours on Cola, enjoying swimming in both salt and fresh water.  The lagoon water was down since our last visit, making it very shallow.

Cola Beach from the clifftop, looking south
Cola from the Clifftop

We drove south and re-visited places we’d seen in 2017.  We remarked on the progress of the super highway while driving south of Chaudi, going to Galgibaga Beach.

Unfinished Bridge over Galgabag River, Goa, India
New Highway Bridge

We re-visited our favourite little bridge…

Sadolxem Bridge, Goa, India
Sadolxem Bridge

… over the Talpona River, which we paralleled to the ocean, and then turned south to Galgibaga Beach.  I loved driving on the narrow winding road, past colourful homes and beach stays.  We drove to the end of the road, parked, ate seafood at a restaurant, walked on the beach, decided not to swim due to the wind/surf and drove back, stopping at the market in Chaudi where, amongst fruit and veggies, we found frankinscence to add to our collection of aromatic purchases.

We re-visited Palolem Beach briefly but finally found Patnem Beach, just to the south.  The walk over the headland was fun and we figured out the road connection and parking.  Patnem is much quieter than Palolem and Colomb, farthest south, the quietest of all.

Palolem Beach, Goa, India
Palolem Beach
Patnem Beach, Goa, India
Patnem Beach

Most of our evenings we spent dining on Agonda Beach.  Maybe we’re becoming creatures of habit but we ate most of our dinners at Madhu.  The staff treated us really well, the food was great and the view perfect.  Despite all my grousing about sunsets being cliché we tried to be on time for the daily event.  We’d drink lots of fluids: lime sodas, tea (for me), coffee (for Sue), beer and special cocktails on occassions like Valentines.

Madhu, Agonda Beach, Goa, India
Sun Down!
a Fenny Sunrise at Sunset at Madhu, Agonda Beach, Goa, India
Fenny Sunrise at Sunset
Sunset and Camel on Agonda Beach, Goa, India
Just Another Sunset and Camel on the Beach

Due to the heat we did spend some time chilling in our room, with its ceiling fan, or on the rooftop terrace, with its sea breezes.  What a great place to play cribbage and savour a cold bevvie while the sun neared the horizon.  I found a few craft beers at a small liquor store.  The Eight Finger Eddie IPA from Goa Brewing Co. was wonderful.

Indian craft beers
Oh Happy Beer Drinker!
Sunset, Agonda Beach, Goa, India
Another Day at the Beach Slips By

Yeah, the beer was good but really the swimming is what makes Agonda special.  Warm, floaty, water.  Still a pretty chill beach.  It was possible to plop our stuff down on an empty stretch of sand and swim with no one nearby.  Two weeks at the beach.  At times I wondered if I was bored?  But then I’d realize that sitting, wondering what to do was fine – I didn’t have to be ‘busy’.  It was even OK if I didn’t know what day it was.

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