We spent a couple of days wandering around Panjim (Panaji) and Old Goa - for a bit of culture to break up the days soaking up the sun on the beach. The streets of Panjim were full of character without being hectic like other Indian towns. The brightly painted churches, empty streets and perfectly mowed green lawns of Old Goa seemed like another world from the tie-dyed-tourist traps on the coast, and helped explain Goa's distinct character within India.
Up in the mountains about two hours from the ocean, the wooden lodges are perched on the edge of a 500 foot plus drop. Absolutely stunning and the pool is the best I've ever seen.
We stayed a night at Elsewhere, Otter Creek Tents on the beach at Asvem in north Goa. There's a bamboo jetty over the river and four luxury tents between the river and the sea - with double beds and en-suites. They bring you breakfast to your little terrace (delicious pancakes) and serve dinner under the stars. It’s all very eco-friendly and peaceful - unlike much of north Goa. There's a small house you can rent too.
Palolem in south Goa is a fantastic laid back beach. You can check out how beautiful it is by watching Matt Damon run along it during the opening 10 minutes of the Bourne Supremacy.
There are some great beach huts to rent (average price £7 per day). My favourite has to be Dreamcatcher at the north end run by Jacky and Walter. Jacky is from Liverpool via the asteroid belt while Walter is an ex Kerelan wrestling champion. They make you feel so welcome it feels like home after about 10 minutes.
The food the cook serves up is fresh and tasty (prawns the size of bananas and curries that are far tastier than anything you've had in the UK) while the bar will serve you anything from a lasi to a Kingfisher.
If yoga is your thing, Wayne (yes I know not the most mystical sounding name) does a sunrise (well 9am) class and a sunset one. There's also a variety of massage too.
The place is magical at night as it is lit by candles. You can either sit around the campfire or relax on a daybed by the bar.
If you're going to Goa and want a place that's not commercial, Palolem and Dreamcatcher is where you should head to.
The guidebooks say that the most idyllic beaches are to the south of Goa. This is not necessarily true. We went up to north Goa for a few days and stayed at Aswem beach which is a couple of miles away from Arambol.
Aswem was gorgeously peaceful with hardly anyone on it apart from a few beach huts. After staying in Anjuna is was a complete retreat. This was a few years ago and hopefully it is still the same. Arambol had a very chilled out vibe and not full of hedonist party goers but a lovely atmosphere. There is also a fresh water lake there.
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