Having a bright, new outlook on our remaining time in India, Brian and I were eager to see what North Goa had to offer. We knew South Goa was more our scene as it's known to be quieter and more secluded compared to North Goa (32 going on 65 anyone?), which is infamous for its party scene, specifically beach trance parties. Unlike South Goa and more specifically Agonda Beach, we couldn’t find anything close to our beloved beach huts and ended up staying at a guest house a little less than 2km (a twenty minute walk) from the water.
Our options to get to Vagator were taking a two and a half hour private taxi for 2000 rupees ($30) or taking public buses for 130 rupees (less than $2.00) per person. We (Brian), as always, chose the cheaper route. What we didn’t know was that none of the public buses went directly to Vagator beach. We took not one, not two, but FOUR public buses, plus one rickshaw before reaching our hotel, totaling over 10 hours of travel. It ended up being a great adventure, especially since we saved so much money in the process ("so much" is definitely relative here. We saved $26.); however, if you have the funds, definitely take the private taxi. Figuring out the buses wasn’t easy, but if you feel up for the adventure (and have the time), we have included a guide on how to do it below.
How to take the bus from Agonda Beach to Vagator Beach
Here is a short tutorial on how we took the bus from Agonda Beach (South Goa) to Vagator Beach (North Goa) in November 2016. We have included what the prices should be for each segment. I use the word should here because sometimes you have to negotiate. Keep an eye out to see how much others are paying and if you are overcharged, just hand over the correct amount (as long as you are sure) and understand that sometimes when traveling in a foreign country, you have to pay your "tourist tax" as we like to call it. The bus stations can be overwhelming and confusing with crowds of people and a lot of different buses. Even with the language barrier, if you ask someone, whether they are another passenger or a driver where you are headed, they will most likely be able to help you. Like we said before, everyone in India is beyond helpful! We promise, you will find your way!
- Agonda - Chaudi, 10 rupees: There are buses that run every hour from the HDFC bank ATM across from Fatima's Corner to the Canacona Bus Station in Chaudi which should cost 10 rupees. Tell the driver that you are headed to Margao and he will make sure you get on the right bus. (You could skip this step and take a tuk-tuk for 50 rupees as well but where's the fun in that?)
- Chaudi - Margao, 40 rupees: From the Canacona Bus Station you may have to wait around a bit for the bus from Chaudi to Margao. The best thing to do here is make sure you have confirmed with a few people where the bus will be picking up (they also have signs on them, but sometimes they are simple handwritten signs) and maybe tag along with some other people waiting for the same bus. We promise it works! This bus should cost around 40 rupees.
- Margao - Panaji, 40 rupees: From Margao your next stop is the capital of Goa, Panaji. This is a "shuttle bus" that will take you from Margao to Panaji for around 40 rupees but you need to purchase your ticket ahead of time. Again, just ask around for shuttle tickets to Panaji and someone will get you to the right place.
- Panaji - Mapusa, 20 rupees: From Panaji you can get to almost anywhere, but if you are heading to Vagator Beach like we were, you will want to catch the bus to Mapusa which should cost around 20 rupees.
- Mapusa - Vagator, 20 rupees: You are in the homestretch! Your final bus (hopefully) should be from Mapusa to Vagator. We were lucky as we found a bus stop within walking distance to our hotel (The Vagator House). Perhaps it was because of the time of day but this last bus felt more like a school bus versus a city bus, but in any case, it should cost you around 20 rupees.
- Congrats! You made it! Now go and reward yourself with a delicious pizza and a cold beer at Piccola Roma!
Almost instantly, we could see and feel the difference between South Goa and North Goa. It was bigger in every way, more like a proper town vs a beach destination. Vagator beach was nothing to write home about. In fact, it wasn’t even that pretty. Littered with people and trash, rocks and cows, it wasn’t a place I could ever relax; however, we found a great restaurant, Kumars, which offered delicious food and a beautiful view of the sunset every night. And, it had awesome WiFi!
Everyday we would pack up our bags, walk down to Kumars, set up shop, and catch up on work (and we all know we had A LOT of catching up to do. Update: It's now 14 months later and we are just now publishing this post. Damn.). When we needed a break, we would take a walk on the beach, avoiding the solitary dance parties here and there, play frisbee, and enjoy our final days with the most beautiful sunsets Brian and I have ever seen (I'm starting to feel like we say that a lot). One day we walked all the way to Anjuna beach and had the most delicious, and also most expensive gelato in India. After attempting to negotiate with several tuk-tuk drivers, Brian decided they were all ripping us off (we are most likely talking about a $5 cab ride here) and so we decided to take the time to walk all the way back too Vagator (5km on a dirt path). We definitely earned our gelato that day.
If you are visiting Goa, and have the time, we definitely recommend spending some time in both the North and the South, whether you are party people or party poopers like us 😉, there is something for everyone in Goa.
Last stop in India, Bombay!