By Charmaine de Souza Fernandes
If you are looking to escape from the mundane drudgery of daily routine then Agonda could be the perfect solution for a quick weekend getaway or for a holiday. Tucked away in the southernmost point of Canacona, this beach helps you relive the magic of a pristine Goan beach. Relatively untouched and thanks to the distance, it has remained clean and not crowded.
The drive is about two hours if you’re starting out from Panjim and depending on the traffic, it can be a pleasant drive. Once you leave the madding crowds from the main areas the drive is very enjoyable. You will find the roads are emptier as you get closer to your destination. Once you approach Cabo de Rama, you can see parts of the sea stretching all the way out to the horizon; veritable feast for the eyes and the soul indeed. There is nothing better than driving beneath a cloudless sky; the weather, pleasantly warm. Make sure you have your favourite music playing.
The white sands, the azure waters, lush coconut grooves and a long stretch of “hawker-free” beach, awaits you. The best time to visit Agonda is between October and Mid-May. There are lots of accommodation options. Beach huts are available along the stretch. There are a range of hotels to choose from. The beach stretch also boasts of beach shacks that can satisfy any palate serving from Goan to a Multi-Cuisine layout. Beach shacks specialise in Indian cuisine. For Continental food, remember that the Chef’s idea of a western dish may be slightly different than yours in some of the restaurants. It is definitely not five-star quality but it is pretty good.
The place is guaranteed to take your breath away the moment you set foot on the silver sands. The clear blue skies, cerulean waters, fresh air with a hint of “sea”, it’s like stepping into a fairytale. An ideal place for solitude, a romantic getaway with your significant other makes it a perfect weekend escapade with family and friends.
You could visit St. Anne’s Church. St. Anne Church site was bought by some of the local devotees in 1577 and a humble chapel was constructed there by the local priest to convert the villagers. The present day church was reconstructed by Mons Francisco do Rego with his own money, which was completed by Father Antonio Francisco da Cunha in 1695. One outstanding structure is of St. Anne that is the most exquisite surviving monuments in India. It is located in the small village Agonda and surrounded by the beaches. The church is known for its splendid architecture and beautiful façade. It is made in baroque architectural style. Constructed during the Portuguese reign, the architect work of the church is truly magnificent. The Church of St. Anne has a unique line of Indian architecture reinvented with Portuguese style, in the modifications that suite the natives’ tastes. Church’s roofing too is unique and is cylindrical in shape.
While you are at Agonda you could explore the ruins of Cabo de Rama Fort which derives its name from Rama, the protagonist of the epic Ramayana who, along with his wife, Sita, took refuge here during his exile from Ayodhya. This ancient bastion is imbued in mythological legends. Unlike many other forts in the state, the Cabo da Rama fort predates the Portuguese invasion of Goa. Possession of the fort changed hands many a time as dynasties fell and rose during the ages. In 1763 the Portuguese claimed the Cabo de Rama fort after defeating the Raja of Sonda and subsequently renovated it. Within its ramparts, the moated fort houses the church of Santo Antonio which is in excellent condition and is still in use. The western side of the fortress, where the cliffs drop sharply to the sea, provides a panoramic view of the surrounding areas. The view is simply astounding. The dilapidated turrets still house rusted Portuguese cannons.
You could also take a round of the Palolem beach. It is quite crowded compared to Agonda. There are throngs of tourists and hawkers. Take a walk to the Monkey Island. This island is to your right on entering the beach. You can walk along the beach and across some rocks during low tide and reach the island, during high tide, the water covers and makes it impossible to walk across. The island has a network of trails to explore and the more adventurous can cross the rocks on the periphery of the island. Ensure to carry your water bottle and be careful, people have injured themselves walking over these rocks.
Further on to the right is the Butterfly Beach. You will need a boat to get there but worth a trip for a change of scenery. It has a very steep beach, so deep that you can dive in from the water’s edge if you time your dive correctly.
Further on still is Honeymoon Beach, a small strip of beach which generally brings you total seclusion. These islands are usually visited by couples who want get away from the prying eyes of tourists. The best time for a boat ride to these islands is either in the morning at 07:00 or in the evening around 17:00 when you can see the setting sun from the boat. You will also be able to view the swimming dolphins if you get lucky.
Swimming should not be ventured into on the Agonda beach without consulting with the lifeguards on duty. It is advised that the life guards should be notified at all times if you are not a strong swimmer or you do not know how to swim. Only explore into the waters with proper swimming gear.
Safety Tips: –
• Sunscreen is a must. Make sure that SPF no less than 15 is used as it is good enough to prevent sunburn.
• Please stay away from the sun between 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
• Please do not enter the water if you have been drinking alcohol or you have just eaten a heavy meal.
• Always check with the lifeguard on duty about the tides and if the sea is safe to swim in.
• Please do not leave your children unattended to especially if they are in the water. Do not allow them to venture beyond their waists. Supervise them using their floats/ waterbeds/ armbands.
• Wear proper beachwear/ swimwear in the water. Regular clothes tend to become heavy and will weigh you down causing discomfort and restrictions in movements.
• Respect the lifeguard on duty; he is there to protect you.
• If you have not swum in a long time then it is advisable to do a few warm up exercises to prevent cramps in the water.
• If you are asthmatic or suffer from any ailment make sure you carry the required medication.
• Please do not litter the beach. Carry a bag and dispose of your litter responsibly.
• Please do not carry alcohol into the water and do not enter the water if you have been drinking.
Have a lovely holiday and most importantly, have a responsible one.