- May 4, 2017
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Beaches
My favourite place in south Goa for this local delicacy has to be Galgibaga I remember the first time I visited Galgibaga Beach, when it quite literally took my breath away. A rugged, sweeping stretch of unspoilt coastline framed with towering pine trees – a world away from the paradise beaches you expect to see on a Goan postcard. To the north, the pristine beach stretches as far as the eye can see, and to the south there lies a freshwater lagoon, ideal for basking in warm shallows.
There are no guesthouses along the length of the beach, making Galgibaga Beach one of those rare gems – a haven for day-trippers keen to avoid the crowds. The beach is a glorious one and a half kilometres long – perfect for long leisurely walks and for sunbathing on the wide-open expanses of golden sand. The sea can be pretty tempestuous however, and although it’s a great spot for strong swimmers, care should be taken with the powerful undercurrents. The area has managed to remain so wild and unspoilt because of its affectionate nickname – Turtle Beach. It is one of only three beaches in all of Goa that are nesting sites for the endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. These small, migratory turtles are found in tropical waters worldwide and exhibit some seriously interesting nesting habits.
On a moonlit night in November, thousands of female turtles shimmy up the soft sand together to lay their eggs, often to the very same spot where they themselves hatched. A few weeks later, the baby turtles emerge and make their first journey towards the sea. Galgibaga is a conservation area protected by numerous environmental treaties, but, whilst they are the most abundant of the sea turtles, the number of Olive ridleys visiting the shores of Goa each year is declining – all the more reason for us tourists to treat Galgibaga with the utmost care. Noisy parties and litter-strewn picnics are not welcome here and visitors should ensure that all of their rubbish is taken away with them.
The conscientious villagers also ensure that the pristine beach and the surrounding area are kept undisturbed and pollution free. “It is the one beach that everybody respects”, as one young local put it. These days most visitors (like me) are keen to sample the delights of the seafood shacks at the far south of the beach. It was eight years ago that the ever-smiley Santosh set up a table outside his home to offer visitors a cup of chai. The place quickly grew in popularity and under the name of ‘Family Fruits’ became a well-loved establishment. Now you can find three shacks side by side, each promising freshly caught fish, mussels, crab and lobster that can be cooked without frills or spicy Goan-style. That means that these days there is always a table available for a gigantic plate of oysters – lucky old me. To get there, ask a friendly local the way to St Anthony’s Church and then take a left down the narrow village path right to the end.
First time visitors invariably whoop with delight when they see the scrawled endorsements from famous chefs on the menus outside. It is unlikely Gordon ramsay and Jamie Oliver have ever visited this farflung corner of Goa but I love the tongue in cheek rivalry. by May, the shacks have closed down for the monsoon and Galgibaga has become all but blissfully deserted again. Weather permitting, of course, there is still an exhilarating scooter ride to enjoy, and one that will take you through some of south Goa’s finest scenery. The road twists and turns through pretty villages, their houses painted canary yellow and pomegranate red.
Drive on past tiny temples and family guesthouses, with the glittering Talpona river accompanying you all the way. And then suddenly you find yourself at the Talpona bridge – a sun dappled metal structure so narrow that only one scooter can pass at a time. The view of the river winding its way beneath through the thick palm groves is so stunning you have to be careful not to get distracted and fall off. When you reach a long stretch of road flanked by paddy fields and the Mata Shree Ashram comes into view, you know you are driving parallel with that incredible beach. One of the last wild and untouched beaches in all of Goa.
A place to meet friends for a long, leisurely lunch in season time or a secluded oasis steeped in nature if that’s what’s needed. And if you are there in November, tucking into a plate of you know what, imagine those turtles swimming determinedly across the Arabian Sea towards you, dreaming of their big moment…
Text: Joanna Lester – George
Image Credits: Nandhini Gopal