Imagine a long stretch of beach in Goa devoid of any development apart from a few shacks. Although it may seem like a dream these days, it does still exist! Galgibag (also known as Galjibag) beach in far south Goa is a protected Olive Ridley turtle breeding site, ensuring that it remains delightfully untouched and free of any permanent structures.
The setting is spectacular. There's hardly a soul on this long stretch of pristine beach, thickly lined with Casuarina trees. You'll find most of the people lounging around the handful of simple shacks at the southern end of the beach (the northern end is where the turtles breed and is restricted), gorging on seafood and drinking chilled beer.
Apart from the Indian names of the shacks and friendly Indian staff, you could be forgiven for wondering if you're in fact in India, as the shacks are full of foreigners who are attracted to the laid back and peaceful atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the area isn't going to remain secluded for long through, as a new highway bypass road is being constructed through Galgibag village and close to the shore. Hence, it's best to visit sooner, rather than later!
Galgibag beach is about 20 minutes drive south of Patnem beach and Chaudi (Canacona). Ideally, it's best to hire a motorbike (about 300 rupees for the day) to go there. However, buses do run from Chaudi. Taking an auto rickshaw is another option.
The specialty is fresh seafood, particularly oysters, collected from the nearby Galgibag River. Even if you're not game to eat the oysters (although they're fresh and I felt no ill effects from them), there are plenty of other delicacies including lobster, crab, prawns, calamari, and authentic Goan fish curry.
The best bit is the price -- generally half the price of what's being charged at nearby Patnem and Palolem beaches, and this applies to the cost of alcohol too. The oysters come cheap at only five for around 100 rupees. Although, it was previously possible to get twice as many for the same price.
Santosh seems to have the most popular shack. He claims it's been recommended by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. However, you can't help wondering how true it is, when Surya's next door has supposedly been recommended by Gordon Ramsay!
It's possible to stay right on Galgibag beach. Many of the shacks offer basic rooms starting from 500 rupees a night. It's a good idea to initially book accommodations at nearby Patnem beach, or the elegantly restored Turiya Villa in Chaudi, then head over to Galgibag beach and see what's available.
If you'd prefer something a bit more comfortable, Surya Beach Cafe has new rooms and two very stylish wooden luxury huts with slate floors on the beach. Rates for the huts start from 4,000 rupees per night. They can be booked online here. Otherwise, contact the owner directly by email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 09923155396 or 09673486849. The season runs from November 1 to April 25.
Alternatively, La Mangrove is a lovely boutique place not far away by the river, with chic tipi accommodations.