There’s very little to do in Patnem Beach aside from eating, sipping on fruity drinks, swimming in the sea, reading a book, watching the sunset, or doing yoga if that’s what you’re into. And rinse. And repeat. And that’s exactly what brought me there for the second time in a few years.
Maybe I could have done a little extra research on the best beaches of Goa, but oh well. Goa is famous to some for the party scene, but you’ll find none of that in Patnem Beach. What you’ll find however is a short stretch of clean and soft sand lined with beach huts and shack restaurants that are dismantled at the end of every season. So don’t be surprised if things aren’t aligning quite right with Google Maps – a lot isn’t aligning quite right in India anyway 😉
Patnem Beach is a five-minute scooter ride away from neighbouring town Palolem and the vibe is rather similar in both places. Palolem possibly has more of a nightlife going on. I picked Patnem as it was quieter, but made the trek to Palolem almost daily to visit some of the great vegan-friendly restaurants there. I suggest getting a scooter if you decide to make Patnem your base such as I did. You can get them for as little as $5 per day in many places. It’s also nice to explore the neighbouring area once you get bored of Patnem’s single road.
Here’s a little guide from my experiences in Patnem Beach.
How to get to Patnem
Patnem is in South Goa, 45 kilometres from Marago and 78 kilometres from Panaji, the state capital. The region’s main city, Canacona, is 12 km away. The nearest train stations are Madgaon and Canacona. Goa Airport is about an hour and a half away. Note that there is no public transport. There is a prepaid taxi counter near the exit of the arrivals area where you can book your taxi to Patnem Beach. Try talking to other travellers queuing there, you may luck out on a carpool opportunity. Uber and Ola, unfortunately, do not work in Goa currently.
Cash in Patnem Beach
Beware that there are no ATMs in Patnem Beach. You may notice there appears to be some nearby ATMs according to Google Maps. I spent some time trying to locate them and wound up literally in a roadless bush every single time. They don’t exist. So do pick up some cash at the airport, or at whichever larger town you pass on the way there.
The alternative is to pick up money via one of the two money exchange shops that will charge you an additional commission fee on top of an often inflated exchange rate.
Best time to visit Patnem
The tourist season is from October to April, with the Christmas Holiday being the peak season. Beware that prices are largely inflated during that time and that this attracts a very different, more well off, mature crowd. I visited once in February and once during the Holiday season, and much prefered the crowd, vibe, and obviously lower prices in February. So going during that time would be my recommendation.
Where to stay
If you want to do the beachfront bungalow thing, be aware that the level of comfort and luxury is relatively the same everywhere – which is to say, extremely basic. You’ll find a mattress, fan, and bare-bone cold shower in most cases. While I think it’s really great to experience falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves, waking up to the pre-sunrise sound of the crows rummaging around the beach is less so. The main road has a few accommodations that are a few minutes walk from the beach and offer more comfort and quiet. Here are some more comfortable options too:
A fab, clean, quiet, and comfortable option just a few steps away from the beach.
Various options for various budget, from more simple, to more cosy, with or without A/C. The owner is super friendly with a cute dog. Comfortable beds and just a few minutes walk from the beach.
Nada Brahma Resort
Directly on the beach, with much better amenities than the average beach shack, and at the very quiet end. Some bungalows have open-air bathrooms which are heavenly for a morning shower.
Where to eat in Patnem Beach
Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, steering clear of meat and dairy while visiting India is always a good idea to avoid stomach issues. Patnem has few really great restaurants that offer good options.
Fully vegan restaurant inland up in a quiet jungly terrace, ideal for lazy brunch. The food is very yummy if not very Indian at all – mostly Western dishes are available. I really enjoyed the buddha bowl and the selection of juices. The coffee is also really good, especially when had with coconut milk.
Casa Fiesta is the beach-front sister restaurant of Vegan Casa. The really nice thing is that you can have the Vegan Casa food served here, except with your feet in the sand, facing the beach – so it’s ideal for dinner time and sunset. Not a whole lot is vegan, but the friendly wait staff knows what veganism means and will be able to make recommendations.
Nice little inland bakery with a quiet inner garden serving a huge menu of juices and smoothies, as well as sandwiches, momos, salads, and a few indian options that are also vegan. I really enjoyed the thali. Great coffee too.
The only other fully vegan option in Patnem, which is a little walk away from the beach. Similar option to Vegan Casa. I didn’t actually make it there, so I can’t tell you much, I just know it’s there.
Where to eat in Palolem
Make the trek to Palolem mostly for the food!
Zest was my favourite place! Super nice, chilled, Ubud-style vibe, beautiful decor, and amazing healthy menu. Not everything at Zest is raw like Happy Cow says. You’ll find things like smoothie bowls, nice cream, raw pad thai, breakfast burrito, vegan cheesecake, etc.
Little Ganesha Patnem
An unpretentious vegetarian restaurant where most things can also be made vegan. Rather uninspired decor and location, but the prices are good and the staff is nice. Really worth a visit!
Small vegan menu but none of the Indian food is vegan. The drinks are nice.
Where to do yoga in Patnem Beach
If you’re coming to Patnem to do yoga, it might just be easier to book a fully boarded retreat package. Most of them include accommodation and one to two meals per day.
Bamboo Yoga Retreat
Bamboo Yoga offers three to 14 days long retreats at their lovely beach-front shala. The programs all include three hours of daily yoga and meditation, home-cooked brunch daily, snacks and drinks, accommodation, one-way airport transfer and optional spa treatments. The yoga style here is Vinyasa.
Aayaa Retreat Goa
A super affordable and very relaxing seven days of yoga awaits at Aayaa Retreat. Geared towards the beginners, you will learn the basics of yoga and start to feel very comfortable in your practice. Includes three meals a day and six nights of accommodation.
For the more advanced practitioners, Kranti offers what I think is the best yoga in Patnem, and in the most beautiful setting – right on the beach. Come and perfect your Ashtanga practice surrounded by the jungle at an amazing price – doesn’t get any better.