Palolem Beach, Goa, India

Whether South Goa is a filthy dump or an epic beach destination depends entirely on your perspective. There are no nice resorts, fancy shops, white sand, or turquoise water here. Instead South Goa has shack-like huts, dirt, a long string of cheap bars and restaurants, roaming animals, and general chaos. So it’s no surprise that Goa doesn’t attract the higher end “comfort seekers” like it does the more easy going and far less boring “experience seekers”. The crowd here is a mixed bag of hippies, partiers, backpackers, adventurers, and dropouts from pretty much every corner of the Earth – the most diverse and interesting group of people imaginable that defines what Goa is all about.

Our good friend, Swifty, who sailed with us on Tamarisk from Miami to Jamaica last year, lives here and convinced us this was a place we should visit for the New Year break. Anyone who knows Swifty knows he always finds the most exotic ways to have fun, so our chances of having a good time were pretty good going in… the scooter rides, exploring down random dirt roads, finding the blue lagoon, hitting the best New Years parties…. all of it was baked into the cake before we even arrived. And for all this we owe a big thanks to Swifty.

But as so often is the case when it comes to travel, luck also played a huge role in making our Goa experience into something truly unforgettable. So we leave Goa with new friends, a few stories that shouldn’t be retold, and a strange sense that returning to Goa would be pointless because there’s no possibility another visit could ever beat our past week there. If things go to plan, we’ll be sailing through here next year on our way to the Red Sea, so we might need to put that theory to the test.

It’s time now for Eli and I to pack our bags and move into India’s interior where social problems exist and where NGOs are more active. Travel in this country is challenging because the distances are big and the numbers of people can be overwhelming – jammed roads, delayed flights, and full trains are the norm. Bangalore is first on our list and our travel schedule is intense, so our goal of catching up on sleep missed in Goa might need to wait another few weeks.