Goa Series- Arambol beach
I wonder why has it taken me so long to write about one of my favourite places in India. Really! I kept looking for reasons to visit Goa. Food, pristine beaches, hammocks, suntan, water sports, nightlife- all the reasons have been used and abused to take the next bus, train, flight to Goa! But one insight moment I have had over the years has been that I actually don’t need a reason to go there. It feels like a natural progression after few months in Mumbai, to just head there. It has become a part of life and I am loving it!
So in this Goa series, I plan to trace the beaches I have visited and loved over the years! I have grown to understand and love Goa ever since I first visited it in 2003. As most would be aware- colloquially (in travellers language) Goa is known to be divided in north and south Goa. As we move from Sawantwadi in Maharashtra to Goa state border, one of the first beaches you come to is Arambol. Arambol is also known as Harmal in the local language.
Once known for its rave parties and hippie hangout, Arambol has been a popular place in the ‘circuits’ over the years. However, it is rarely mentioned in the popular itineraries. Now again ,Goa enthusiasts have rediscovered its charm and Arambol is coming back in the limelight. This beach is roughly 32-33 kms away if one is travelling from Panjim. The route from Panjim to Arambol is quintessentially Goan. Charming narrow streets, soul soothing greenery all around and a game of peek-a-boo with the beaches as you ride along. En route lies Morjim. Morjim beach is also a pretty stretch and untouched by commercialization. Morjim is known to have turtles calling it their home in the nesting season, but we didn’t see any. Maybe it wasnt the season then…!
So what is it that one can really expect in Arambol? Well to begin with- sun and sand, sun and sand and some more sun and sand! The beach is long, wide, clean and inviting; fringed with coconut trees. The beach does not offer any water sports, so no hagglers. I have heard that very recently they have started some- though take this information with a pinch of salt. You will have to keep yourself entertained for most part of your stay. It is really a place for nature lovers, solitude seekers and some plain pondering. Arambol still attracts many firang backpackers (read hippies). And as avid travellers would know- hippies were known to be real “modern day discoverers” .Some of the most beautiful places in the world were discovered and brought into limelight by them- be in Goa, Manali, Thailand, Bali,Amsterdam and so on. Their ability to explore places was nothing short of genius. So you can be rest assured of this place as far as its natural appeal is concerned!
The beach is way, WAY better than its better known cousins in north goa like Baga and Calangute. There are few shacks on the beach and even fewer beach huts making this place kind of exclusive and even rustic at times. These shacks do host some groovy parties in the night- although its mostly limited to the tourist season. Cocks town offers some decent beach huts and has a lovely shack. So does Mango tree, but I believe their rooms are not on the beach. It’s a ‘wavy’ beach and during high tide and you will find an occassional surfer trying to pull off some stunts. You can indulge in or watch the antics over some great food at the shacks that line up at one end of the beach stretch. We tried the schnitzels and grilled fish at Mango tree, apart from the regular Goan fare, and they were pretty darn good.
One can spend 2-3 days at Arambol very smoothly. Beyond that most city slickers may get bored. But for true nature lovers, 2-3 days may just be the beginning. The nearby beaches of Morjim and Mandrem are also as beautiful. Though I haven’t much spent time at these beaches, I can guess as they lie not very far from Arambol.
Some things to be prepared for- There are very few shops around so make sure you have the necessary things for a comfortable stay. Also, since its a relatively remote location, it would help to have personal transportation like a bike, scooty etc. The beach huts are mostly extremely basic; but clean. Some have common bathrooms and some attached- so do make all your enquiries before booking.
So the next time you are in North Goa and are pretty bored of what the Baga types have to offer, hop on to Arambol. It is definitely worth the visit- even if just for a few hours!
P.S: Pics from my Arambol trip are lying in a virus infected hard disk! Will upload them asap!