This is a guest post written by Alex Wolfe and all photos are those of Alex Wolfe and Eleanor Daulby.
Some have come to believe that Goa is now only for holiday makers and package holidays; a place ruined by it’s own reputation for great trance parties and beautiful beaches.
When I arrived in Arambol in North Goa, I wasn’t expecting much, and to be honest for the first few days I wasn’t impressed. The bar covered beach with it’s blaring music, the thousands of deck chairs lining the shore. It all reminded me of costs dell somewhere. However due to some unfortunate circumstances, I was forced into staying in Arambol a lot longer than anticipated.
I’m so glad that I was, because had I not I wouldn’t have have fallen in love with the place and discovered these amazing gems.
What to do in Arambol
Just around the corner from the main stretch of beach lays “Sweetlake” as the name suggests it’s a lake and it’s pretty sweeeet. You can swim here and chill out on deck chairs. I people watched a lot here. I watched as Indian families braved the shallow water, usually screaming as most of them didnt have a clue how to swim, and saw lots of Russian tourists having little photoshoots by the lake. Every so often you many be joined in the water by a water snake but I’ve been reassured millions of times that they are not dangerous. One day a monkey came and sat on one of the big rocks and most of the time you can watch herons stalking fish in the water.
TIP:To rent a deck chair costs 50r (50p) and you can spend as long as you like there.
Editor’s note: sweet water is another way of saying fresh water, and there are a few amazing sweet water lakes in Goa so go explore outside the beaches!
Tourist Baba & Mud Bath.
A 15 minute walk away from Sweetlake, through the jungle you come to a giant Bodhi tree. It’s stunning, huge vines fall from it’s branches and natural platforms are made by the tree, perfect for sitting on a chilling out. However what’s not quite as stunning is the drunk and high “holy” baba that lives there during the tourist season. The only way I can describe this “Baba” is as the anti Santa Clause. On the day I arrived he sat, wearing black, his long beard and hair is a dark grey, a rum and coke in one hand, a chillum in the other, trying to impart words of wisdom to the entourage of tourists surrounding him. Instead of handing out toys a Russian doll shrine lays behind him, Rudolf was replaced by a man who was muttering to himself, needles to say I did not want to sit on his knee and tell him what I wanted for Christmas.
He was surrounded by people trying to have an authentic Baba experience but if it’s spiritual enlightenment your after, you’re in the wrong place. I spent all of 15 minutes under the Bodhi tree. I took lots of photos of Simon, a very friendly dog who lives between the tree and the beach and I briefly spoke to Anti Santa Baba. He told me of his many wives and that he would happily have me as his ‘kindergarten bride’, then he creepily kissed my hand. It was weird.
I do recommend going and having a peak at anti Santa though, the tree is beautiful and I never seen a place like it. On the way you can pop into the river that runs through the jungle and have an authentic mud bath, something that hippies have been doing here for years.
TIP: To get to the tree just ask anyone working around Sweet Lake, its a very simple stroll.
Drum Circle & Market.
Drums circles happen every evening at the far end of the beach. Locals, expats and travelers meet here to play drums as the sun goes down and everyone dances together. The atmosphere is amazing, everyone dancing for the sheer love of dancing. There are children running all around. It’s amazing to see people from all over the world coming together each evening to make music. Next to the drumming circle is a small market where expats sell handmade jewelry and Mr. Cookie from Cookie Waller sells cookies!
TIP: If you don’t want to dance, sit on the restaurant behind the circle, order a Vodka Lime Soda and watch the fun!
FOOD in Arambol:
Stick to the food in the village rather than overpriced beachfront places.
Cookie Walla almost deserves a post in itself. The owner, Nepali “Cookie” is a huge character in Armabol. He speaks in a hilarious mock cockney accent shouting “ello” every min or so and insists on making every customer and handmade bracelet for free. He has a giant cookie tattooed on his chest and loves to show it off. The food here is cheap and delicious, especially the momos and fish thali. The atmosphere is great, lots of expats, travelers, and live music.
This little gem is hidden behind a beautiful boutique shop, there’s a giant tree house you can sit on and munch delicious treats. My favorite meal was Eggs Benedict, which includes crispy bacon and lovely bread. It’s not the cheapest place in town but it’s worth the extra hundred rupees for the great food, pleasant staff and beautiful tree house.
Editor’s note: there is one in Mandrem as well.
Although the food isn’t anything to write home about, (apart from the musli, fruit and curd breakfast) the set up is beautiful, hundreds of Indian scarfs shelter you making a giant “Umbrella” to help keep out the roaring sun on the rooftop during the day.
A favorite hangout for the Isreali crowd, the food is amazing. You sit on the floor or directly on the roof. My top pick is the “chef special” a chicken dish with creamy potatoes and salad, and the paneer salad is lovely too. They do amazing deep fried chocolate: a chocolate bar of your choice, wrapped in a chapatti and deep fried, so naughty, but so nice!
A raw food restaurant hidden above a residential building which sells an amazing mix of salads. You sit under lights that look like jellyfish and the attentive staff gives out free basil and lemon water. It’s the perfect place to eat after over doing it at Shiva Moon.
SHOPS in Arambol:
On the way down to the beach you will walk past Alleys crystal shop. If your lucky Alley will give you some free Reiki. He really knows his stuff about crystals and gives a great price. The place has an amazing energy.
Not only good for its food, the boutique is divine. They sell clothes from TOPSHOP as well and other brands.
The guys that own it are really friendly and the hammocks are very comfortable. You can also send packages back home from here.
PS: If you’re coming to India and will spend a week of more in Goa, check out my ebook the Insider’s Guide to Goa. After five years of living here, I’m sure this 170-page book is the most comprehensive guide to Goa on the market. Click here to buy it.
Howdy, I’m Alex (Wolfe) from Brighton in the UK. I love rooftops, tea and anything kitch. My blog is Lone Wolf Journey and is all about my travels in India. I tell my story and share tips about where to go and how to have an adventure in India on a budget. I’m also documenting my cynical road to enlightenment. Currently spending Christmas on Om beach in Gokarna, chilling on the beach with cows, dogs and Baba’s. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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