South Goa….the perfect beginning to our Indian adventure. We came in search of sunshine, golden sandy bays, sunset beers and eating opportunities galore.

Patnem was our home for a fortnight, with a relaxed beachy vibe and surrounding natural beauty we loved what we found here. A month later South Goa is still our favourite corner of this enchanting country.

Here’s our favourite finds and happiest memories:

A picturesque palm-fringed crescent of white sand Palolem frequently tops the list as Goa's most stunning beach. With shallow calm water it’s perfect for swimming and at low tide the sands stretch far out so you can wade across the sandbars to secret islands. You can even sunbathe amongst the cows! The North end of the beach is more peaceful with calmer waters and a relaxing vibe. Cosy Nook, a low-key family-friendly resort, was our favourite spot to grab and lounger and while away the day sipping coconuts and dining on delicious food in between dips in the ocean.

There really is nothing better than having your feet in the sand and a frosty Kingfisher in your hand as the sun sets on the horizon. Palolem beach is backed with shacks and lively beach hut cafes so there’s no shortage of spots to settle in and enjoy the view. It’s also the time all the locals come out to play and the beach is packed with lively games of volleyball, frisbee and family cricket!

We got our family of four back on two wheels and headed out and about on a hired scooter. There were more cows on the roads than traffic and we loved getting out and about and exploring the idyllic South Goa coast. Windy, hilly roads weave past temples, dense forests, fishing villages and a host of hidden beaches. Our rides were teeming with wildlife and we spotted monkeys, snakes, huge lizards, butterflies and of course many, many cows along the way.

Galgibag and Talpona are two of South Goa’s hidden gem beaches. A broad stretch of barely untouched sand backed by swaying pines and palms. With your own transport, getting to Talpona and Galgibag is half the fun. From Palolem or Patnem, a wonderfully scenic back road follows the Talpona River then skirts behind the beach to Galgibag. Once you get there meander through the pines and head for the south end of the beach for plentiful shell collecting and peaceful lagoon swimming.

Despite its isolated location Galgibag is famous for its two beachside shacks and those in the know head there to enjoy long, leisurely lunches. Santosh Family Restaurant nestled at Galgibaga southern end in the pine trees, specialises in fresh oysters, clams, mussels and crabs. All prepared Goan-style the calamari is the best we’ve ever tasted - simply delicious. It’s also incredibly good value - at less than a pound for half a dozen freshly shucked Oysters we could have stayed here all day... It’s a simple place with plastic chairs on the sand, but they make much of the claim that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has dined here and recommended it. Surya Beach Café, next door, does much the same thing but claims to have been recommended by Gordon Ramsay!

If you are ever in Palolem do not miss the chance to dine at Ourem 88. Serving a variety of modern European dishes this little gem is quite simply the best meal we have had in all our travels. Brett is a charming host & Jodie is an extraordinary chef creating incredible food from locally sourced ingredients. We plumped for a starter of chorizo stuffed calamari followed by melt in the mouth steak bearnaise served with the crunchiest chips all washed down with a large glass of Big Banyan Red. Portions are generous so go hungry and be sure to book ahead as they only have a handful of tables.

Agonda beachside bliss - Agonda beach is simply divine, a wide, quiet and picturesque stretch of golden sand and sleepier than neighbouring Palolem. Given the chance I’d love to have had a few long lazy days in a beachside hut here. A perfect place for a long morning stroll and plenty of rustic shacks for a lassi and a juice. Head to the rocky end of the bay to discover a secret lagoon - you may even be lucky enough to spot dolphins.

We’re so happy we discovered The Space...seriously the Chocolate Brownie is the best we’ve ever tasted. With raw and gluten free food, fresh juices, morning coffee and healthy cakes... The Space is our favourite place for a cake break they also have delicious, healthy takeaway treats; freshly baked bread, hummus and pesto - perfect for self-catering.

Smaller and less busy than Palolem this lovely curved bay is quiet and friendly making it popular with families visiting South Goa. Resorts were just setting up for the season when we visited in November but I can imagine in peak times it would make a peaceful alternative to livelier Palolem. We loved our chilled afternoons here making ‘fishy dens” and poking about amongst the rockpools.

Every imaginable alternative therapy can be found in South Goa as well as ayurveda, the ancient science of South Indian herbal medicine and healing. When a bout of “Delhi Belly” struck we went in search of natural remedies courtesy of the local Ayurveda doctor which happily cured us in 24 hours - I’m a believer...

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