The Tiny Bay
Palolem, 2-km west of Chaudi, pops up more often in glossy holiday brochures than any other beach in Goa; not because the village is a major package tour destination, but because its crescent shaped bay lined with a swaying curtain of coconut palms, is irresistibly photogenic. Hemmed in by a pair of wooded headlands, a perfect curve of white sand arcs north from a pile of hug boulders to the spur of Sahyadri Ghat, which here tapers into the sea.
Until recently foreign tourists were few and far between in Palolem. Over the past five or six years, however, increasing numbers of budget travellers have begun to find their way here, and the village is now far from the undiscovered idyll it used to be, with a string of cafes, Karnatakan hawkers and a tent camp crowding the beachfront.
Souvenir stalls have also sprung up, catering mainly for the mini-van and boat parties of charter tourists on day trips from resorts further north. In spite of these encroachments, Palolem remains a resolutely traditional village, where the easy pace of life is dictated more by the three daily rounds of Todi (also spelt as Toddy) tapping than the exigencies of tourism.
With the beach now lined along its entire length with brightly lit shack cafes, finding somewhere to eat in Palolem is not a problem, although the locals have to buy in most of their fish from Margao and Karwar. The one outstanding place is the Classic Restaurant, where one can tuck into delicious, freshly baked Western wholefood and cakes.
More popular among budget travellers, though, is Sun 'n' Moon, behind the middle of the beach; when it closes, the die-hard drinkers head through the palm trees to nearby Dylan's Bar, which stays open until the last customer has staggered home. For optimum sunset views of the bay, head for the obscurely named Found Things bar and restaurant, at the far southern end of Palolem beach, which faces west. Travellers on tight budgets should also note the row of tiny Bhaji stalls outside the Beach Resort, where one can order tasty and filling breakfasts of Pao Bhaji, fluffy bread rolls, Omlettes and Chai (tea) for next to nothing.
Road: Buses run between Margao and Karwar via Chaudi where one can pick up an auto rickshaw or taxi to Palolem. Alternatively, get off at the Char Rostay crossroads, 1.5-km before Chaudi, and walk the remaining kilometre or so to the village. A couple of buses each day also goes all the way to Palolem from Margao; these stop at the end of the lane leading from the main street to the beachfront. The last bus from Palolem to Chaudi/ Margao leaves at 4.30pm; check with the local for the times, which change seasonally.
With the exception of the beach Resort's tent camp and a handful or recently built guesthouses, most of Palolem's accommodation consists of simple rooms in family homes, with basic washing and toilet facilities shared by visitors and members of the household. The budget places, however are to be found in Colomb, around the headland south of Palolem village, where Hindu fishing families rent rooms, and occasionally small houses, to long- staying foreigners.
Cycles On Rent: Cycles may be rented from a stall
halfway along the main street.
Phone: The village has only a couple of public telephones, but avoid the one in the beach resort, which charges more than double the going rate for international calls, and head for the reasonable ISD/STD booth next to the bus stop.
Exchange: At present, there is nowhere in Palolem or Chaudi to change money; the nearest bank with a foreign exchange facility is in Margao.