Colva Beach South Goa. Problems and Great Experiences

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I adore India, this is probably the 7th month we’ve spent here all up, and I knew before we came that it could be challenging, but Colva Goa, one of the beaches in South Goa, was where we hit some big problems.

Part 4 of our family India travel blog ( journal) series. Does it seem to you that we have more problems than any other travellers? I’m pretty certain we don’t, I think everyone has problems on the road, they just don’t tell the world about it. By the end of the trip the hurdles have been jumped and the good times outweigh the bad so travellers return to their friends and families raving about their fantastic experiences. You’re getting it uncensored and as it happens.

Colva Goa

Fishing boat colva beach south goa
A working fishing boat south of Colva beach, Benaulim, South Goa.

Colva is the nearest beach to Madgaon train station, just 10Km away and 200Rps ( 2 pounds) in a rickshaw, that’s why we ended up there.

We hadn’t been able to do any reasearch in Hampi the night before, no internet, if we had, we probably would have known to head to a quieter, less touristy spot.

I have to confess, I’ve never had any desire to visit South Goa at all. I’m in love with the crazy anjuna and north goa scene and have been for 20 years. It always looked to me that the south was for package tourists and sun worshippers, even 17 years ago when I took my last package holiay.

Recently many people who travel blog have been staying long-term in Palolem, 42Km south of Colva, and raving about it, so we thought we should check it out. ( Including my dear friend Gabi of The Nomadic Family and travel hero, Wandering Earl)

Before heading to remote Palolem, we needed to sort out train tickets to the North of India and thought we’d be better placed to do that from Colva, so we settled in for a few days.

We found a beach-front room for 800 Rps ( 8 pounds) it was small, but clean enough and cool, the sea breezes have kept us comfortable without any need for air-con, even at this pre-monsoon time.  

Our room, more of a small bungalow with a little veranda, had the bonus of a sofa bed giving us plenty of room for the 4 of us. Indian hotels really don’t seem to care how many people you cram into one room, the price remains the same.

colva hotel pool
A little bungalow by the beach, but the pool was usually more crowded than this, with rowdy, drinking men. We rarely saw ladies.

Colva beach is beautiful, it runs for miles. In places it is crowded with Indian tourists, in others deserted but for a few locals and fishermen. At the top of the beach the sand is so soft and powdery it crunches like snow underfoot. Washed by the sea it becomes a smooth firm surface, ideal for walking and running. Chef ran miles here, every morning.

There is plenty of wildlife to keep small boys amused, big burrowing sand crabs to chase and smaller ones to find in the shallows.

Wildlife Colva beach Goa

If you find a fishing net recently pulled up you’ll find their by-catch in the sand, jellyfish, small crabs, starfish and, surprisingly, sea snakes, dozens of them. As they are still alive and trying to make their way back to the sea you really need to watch where you walk.

Of course, they delighted 2 small boys and their zoologist mother, I’ve never seen a sea snake on a beach before.

Sea snake Colva beach, south Goa
You will find dozens of sea snakes on Colva Beach, South Goa. Up to 1m long.

Behind the long beach are picture perfect villages, rice fields and water buffalo. But not at Colva, Colva town itself is quite frankly yuk, a nasty little tourist hole with too many people and tacky shops.

We were visiting at what we thought would be the quiet time, it’s getting hot now in the build up to the monsoon and western travellers are thin on the ground. There were a handful of Russians at Colva and thousands of Indian tourists. The town reflects the needs of its users, it wasn’t our scene.

The Best Beach Shacks on Colva Beach

The local Goan boys running the beach shacks were so nice, we particularly recommend Bob’s Shack, to the right of the bridges onto Colva beach. Santos was an absolute gent and the wifi worked, sort of.

Domnick’s shack also had intermittently working wifi. Food was great everywhere and there was a stand selling good, Americano coffee near the beach entrance.

Beer was the cheapest we’ve seen here at 100Rps fr a large Kingfisher.

Beach Shack Colva good food
Great food, lovely people and internet that almost worked at Bob’s Shack, Colva beach, Goa

A Goan Cooking Class, Colva Beach

Early one morning, while we were walking on the beach, a local guy approached us and invited us to his home for a cooking class. How could we say no?

Cooking classes are most certainly our thing after a brilliant lesson in Khmer food in Cambodia and many days of Thai cookery courses.

We spent a whole morning in his home, chatting to him and his 3 children. He was a remarkable guy who spotted straight away that my son was named after Dylan Thomas and could speak a few words of Welsh. This cookery class will have its own post in time. ( his contact details are in the comments)

cooking class colva south goaA
An Indian cooking class in a family home in South Goa. A beautifiul experience with beautiful people. We got a backie home on Blue’s bike.

Playing in the crashing waves was wonderful, my boys, used to the calm waters of the Coral Sea, love a bit of action when they take a dip.

Despite the problems, we really did enjoy our time here overall, just a few times I wanted to scream ( and did). The boys read Kindle books endlessly, curled up in chairs in beach shacks between swims, the lack of internet did them good I think. I love that Boo has now really caught to reading bug, same as his brother.

Problems we Encountered at Colva Beach

Boo dropped my phone and smashed it on a concrete floor, no Instagram. Not that I’d been finding the time to post to that platform.

My camera lens stopped working ( the Olympus PEN, 2nd time this has happened, a design fault). I now only have the big zoom lens, a massive disaster.

Mostly, no internet, which drove us all insane as we were trying to make onward travel plans and arrangements.

The guests at our hotel were all Indian, mostly men. They started drinking at 7.30am, beers and spirits. You’d see the same on the beach, men having whisky for breakfast. There was lots of noise in and around the pool area, it’s not nice to be around. It seems to be a cultural difference, drinking in the morning is quite normal, could somebody fill me in on this if you know?

We were constantly being approached for photos of the kids. Once or twice a day is OK, it’s a thing that always happens in India, but it never stopped in Colva and wore us and the kids down.

Some pathetic excuse for a man decided to grope me in the sea. I gave him both barrels in true Welsh-girl style as he slunk off like a kicked dog. ( Eve teasing, they call it here, it’s common, but I thought at 48, with my kids, I would no longer be a target. Indian girls endure this constantly from some, not all, types of males.)

No laundry. We smell bad! I did some hand washing in Mamallapuram where we had a washing line, but the per Kg laundry services of SE Asia just don’t seem to exist here. Bigger Indian hotels offer a per piece service, but it would work out extremely expensive at 50Rps for one pair of trousers. We had nowhere to dry hand washing where it would be safe.

No trains. Every train north was fully booked for a month at least. Our bad, we didn’t realise it was Indian holiday time. Booking trains here is not a simple process.

Indian train guide
Hours pouring over the Indian Train Guide ( you WILL need one! ) did us no good. Every train North was full.

So with only 3 weeks of visa left we were a little concerned. On the 4th day after 2 days at Madgaon station, we decided to head north to the main train station at Vasco da Gama ( two easy and comfortable bus rides), maybe we could access the tourist quota from there. No joy, there were only 2 tourist quota seats on each train. We were stuffed.

Luckily, we wandered into a really nice restaurant ( Cafe Karma , near the station) which had excellent, fast wifi. Finally we could do some research. At this point we were just looking for flights out of India, we’d had enough. We quickly discovered that flights out of Cochin, Kerala were way cheaper than out of Goa ( thanks to the miracle of Skyscanner) so Chef went back to the ticket queue crush to see if we could book a train south.

Success! We have tickets to Cochin about a week from today, so we’re sorted, from there we’ll fly out.

For now we’re settled in North Goa, happily enjoying Anjuna, one of our old haunts. Things have changed a lot over the last 20 years but it still feels right, we like it here.  The kids are in the beautiful pool, I have internet and coffee, all is right with the world.  But still no laundry, I’m off to do a mammoth hand wash.

Did you miss parts 1-3 of this random, unplanned, independent family travel adventure around India? If so, find them here. 1. Arriving and adjusting to India travel. 2. Getting to Magical Mamallapuram from Chennai, with a few hiccups. 3. Getting to the ancient city of Hampi and on to Goa. For more on travel in India, visit our  India Travel Blog page.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

20 thoughts on “Colva Beach South Goa. Problems and Great Experiences”

  1. Please email the blog about the cooking class at our house please. . yes I remember he is a Chef. And I remember and miss the fun my family and me had with you. You are very kind. Australia it’s great mate. All the best regards from Shiva and family in Benaulim Goa

  2. Nice Post!! I really appreciated with you, Thank you for sharing your info with us. Bharat Taxi is a well known for their Taxi on rent all over Goa with well maintain Taxi’sand 24hrs of service. There is a reasonable price and quick assistance so for booking Taxi rental service in Goa call us at our booking number

  3. Nice post, But I would like to give a perspective why indian tourist drink in morning, they dont in their home, they only almost do it goa, because these 2 or 3 days are only time when they can have as much spirit they can so they dont drink water but do alcohol at all times, And if you think Indian men can think of drinking alcohol in the morning be assured they will get bump on head and will have to search for stay out of home for a week or so.. Cause non Mother, or wife or sister will allow drinking in the morning or during noon,
    Groping is vey nasty thing and what can i say, its pretty terrible thing, Its a very long story or psychological thing why people grope here, many thibgs add up, and leads to groping which is really nasty thing. Its saddening to see how it harms the view of our culture and dignity of state.
    Anyway I ll talk about it soon.

    • Thank you Dheeraj. It is very sad the way women can be treated in India by some, only some, men. And you’re right, the monthers and wives are great !

  4. Hey Alyson, enjoyed reading your posts on your Indian travel experiences. These are the most honest and vivid reviews. India is as you’ve described and shying away from gut-wrenching scenarios doesn’t change anything. Hope you still travel and write blogs. Cheers!

    • Thanks Swaleha. These are a very different stlye of post, I was in a diary kind of mood and the internet sucked. We don’t do this sort of post much these days because – they aren’t a money maker and this website is our business. But I’ll never delete them. Cheers!

  5. Thank you for my son Blue’ s photo. I remember your lovely children. And their singing. Thank God I found you because I missed you very much. Please get in touch my WhatsApp number is 00919049152568. Please also recommend to your friends and family coming India. As you know it we do Indian cooking class and I do Bird watching trip and rent bicycles and guitars. Thank you

    • Hello Shiva! I remember you , of course. I will do my very best for you. I haven’t looked at these old posts in a long time. My husband created a full post on your cooking class on his site ( He’s a Chef if you remember). I’ll just check. We’re finally ” home” after almost 6 years away, back in Australia. I have time to work now.

    • Did your daughter make it to medical school Shiva? I remember her showing me school books. I think she wanted to be a doctor. Your whatsap number is now on here and I’ll work on this post to make it more search-engine friendly for you.

      • My daughter is studying 11 th standard science. Physics chemistry biology mathematics. . My son Blue is living in Bangalore. My another son Massimo is studies diploma in Electronics and telecommunications. My WhatsApp number is 0091 9049152568. Please be in touch with WhatsApp. Thank you and all the best regards to you and your wonderful family.

  6. This is Shiva from Colva Benaulim. Thank you for doing the cooking class in our house. Please email your blog about the cooking class you wrote about please. Also please recommend my services like Indian cooking class and Bird watching trip and rental of bicycles and guitars. Thank you

  7. I’m so sorry you had an unpleasant time in South Goa! I’m Goan and have lived in both North and South Goa. Obviously the Goa that I see is very different to the Goa that you visit. But I promise you that drinking starting 7 am and groping women and randomly approaching strangers for pictures is considered very, very, very bad behavior by all reasonable Indians!

    There’s very much a “type” of tourist that visits Goa unlike the type of tourist that visits Kerala. Both Goa and Kerala have similar climate, topography and beaches (as you probably already know). Yet Kerala attracts a tourist looking for a more “refined” experience in general. And sadly enough, Goa attracts the type of tourist that is there for the “party”.

    Alcohol has historically been cheaper and easier accessed in Goa than anywhere else in India and that is by design. And because of this Goa has a certain alcohol related party reputation. While growing up both I (and my mother decades before me) would be frustrated at randomly being approached by strange men from other parts of India that were under the impression that Goa is full of “loose women”. Even now, most people outside of Goa keep asking me about “kaju feni” and are always beyond shocked when they hear that neither I, nor anyone in my extended family, drinks alcohol.

    Additionally, many of the “staff” around all the tourist areas are no longer Goan and are generally come from other parts of India in the hopes of making a living selling things to tourists. It’s always disconcerting to speak to someone in Konkani in these areas only for them to look at you blankly and respond only when you switch to Hindi!

    It is also disconcerting how most of the prime real estate around the tourist areas, including Dona Paula, are owned by citizens of Israel or Russia or some other nation west of India. All of which means native Goans are priced out of the market in these areas!

    And honestly, I do wish for the sake of the ecosystem and the damage being done by uncontrolled tourism in the area, that the government would restrict access somewhat until the ecosystem could recover. Unfortunately they would never happen in Goa since there’s too much money involved.

    It’s all very interesting, but I’m sure you don’t want to hear me keep talking about it!! I hope your experience improved and that the next time you visit Goa you will visit the deeper interior portions of South Goa! There’s a lot to see there too!!

    These were my views as a Goan but you may have experienced differently and I realize that! 🙂

    • Don’t worry, we still love Goa. What you describe is exactly what we saw. Large groups of Indian men ( with their wives and kids, but the parties were very much divided) there purely to drink all day. Maybe from parts of India where this wasn’t possible. We see it also on cruise ships in Indian waters. They love their Johnny Walker!

  8. Great post. Loved hearing how you persevered and managed to find a way to work through the transport problems. Skyscanner rocks! Where there is a will, there’s a way. Traveling is often about compromise and flexibility, and if you don’t like where you have ended up, look around and find something better. And it was positive to hear that you didn’t allow the assault (as revolting and upsetting as it was) to define or conclude your trip. Safe travels and bring on Nepal!

  9. I love reading your blog and it’s my first time commenting. We would love to explore India one day but I’m going to wait until my kids are a bit older. I still remember the culture shock and attention going to SriLanka when I was 13 with blonde hair. Travel safe x Bron

  10. Oh my! I think I need a map of India! Glad it is (starting) to work out for you.


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