Nowhere else in peninsular India conforms so obediently to the archetypal image of a paradise beach as Palolem, 35km south of Margao. Lined with a swaying curtain of coconut palms, the bay forms a perfect curve of golden sand, arcing north from a giant pile of boulders to a spur of the Sahyadri Hills, which tapers into the sea draped in thick forest. Palolem, however, has become something of a paradise lost over the past decade. It’s now the most popular resort in Goa among independent foreign travellers, and is deluged from late November. Visitor numbers become positively overwhelming in peak season, when thousands of people spill across a beach backed by an unbroken line of shacks and Thai-style huts camps.
Basically, Palolem in full swing is the kind of place you’ll either love at first sight, or want to get away from as quickly as possible. If you’re in the latter category, try smaller, less frequented Patnem beach, a short walk south around the headland, where the shack scene is more subdued and the sands marginally emptier.