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Agonda Beach India… The ultimate digital detox?

Updated: 15th March 2016

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Let me tell you how peaceful, perfect and relaxing Agonda Beach in Goa is. Then I’ll tell you why I hated it.

With a few days to kill in Southern India you might want (read: need) beach. I was thinking coconuts, cows and chillax. Twitter quickly threw up a suggestion by Rachel @ The Department of Wondering and I was sold. Agonda was clearly calling my name and who was I to resist its charms.

Goa, a southern state in India is renowned for its laid back life, tranquil beaches and Kavaalya yoga training centres, and after an intense few weeks travelling around the Golden Triangle of India, that was exactly what I needed.

Agonda Beach Horse Ride

Is Agonda the best beach in Goa?

To be fair – it is the only one I visited. The water is not as clear as Sri Lanka or the Maldives, the sand is slightly mustard and not invitingly white – but the vibe, the vibe is why you come here.

Agonda beach is fairly remote, my driver abandoned me on the road to ask cows for directions. With a lack of conversation skills coming back it took a good thirty minutes to stumble upon the ‘hub’ of the area. Think small, laid back cafes and plenty of rickshaw drivers lazing about in the mid-day sun.

Sipping a cold Kingfisher looking out on the rolling waves you instantly feel any stress you are clinging on to fade away. Drums are beaten at sunset, yoga poses appear for true meditation not the next Instagram shot and cows casually moo their way around you lounging on the sand.

Agonda Beach Yoga

Accommodation ranges from beach front huts at $$$ through to small homestays on the ‘main’ road for five dollars a night. I was in the latter category and back travelling in my element.

There are multiple Yoga retreats here off the dusty streets behind small stores and huts selling hand-made crafts. Many people I met were here for the long-term, weeks or months to find their inner spirit.

The beach is littered with bars and restaurants, vegans and vegetarians are spoilt here. Hours roll into days and you will completely lose track of time.

Sounds perfect right?

Getting to Agonda from Goa airport takes about an hour with a driver (about $20) or you can take a connecting bus through Margoa (about $6). The drive winds through lush countryside and clean air, a stark contrast if you are arriving from Mumbai. There are heaps of resorts and beaches nearer to the airport – but I thought I wanted to get as far away as possible.

And that worked. Day one was blissful. Sipping Chai, strolling along the 2.5km of sands stretched across the bay, snacking on Dosa… on the back of a group tour I felt my inner peace return as I slipped back to introvert lifestyle.

Agonda Beach India Cow

So where did it go wrong?

Agonda is a digital detox. Agonda is the biggest digital detox I have had. The wifi across India has never really won me over, but here it was something else…

I hear what you are saying – why the hell are you worried about Internet with a beach like that?

That is the problem, I asked myself the same question. The thing about turning my life nomadic and as such working digitally means I need the internet. Stupidly, on the back of an assignment and with 964 full size photos to upload I quickly realised this was the worst place to be.

My homestays router was not worth the plastic it had been built with, I had a ‘coconut crawl’ everyday from bar to bar trying to find wifi that would let me upload. I was determined I would make this work and three days of repeating the process later everything was online… and I hated Agonda with a passion.

It raised up a question I had been ignoring – Can I have a global business whilst trying to travel locally?

Travel for me has always been about the people, the random spots in a strangers house you crash and who becomes a friend. Snacking on the floor of street markets and getting a flavour for the local life. But I realised in Agonda that maybe this wasn’t going to be possible any more – and it set alarm bells ringing.

Could the very reason I set off on this journey – to allow me to travel more and be more free in life – be having the complete opposite effect. Was I just changing from the confinement of a work place to the confinement of a fancy resort with wifi that worked?

Agonda was a lesson for me. A lesson in staying true to the very reason we do anything. Switching off has never been more important and I promised myself I would get back to my travel roots, turn off Instagram and not commit to completing work on the road 365 days a year. Since then, I’ve managed to take trips without my laptop, to physically take a pencil and document moments in a notepad. To snap photos, but not review them until I am home – and it feels so damn good!

Travel is about making connections, not always being connected.

I hope I never forget that again…

Agonda Surf Shack
9 replies
  1. Matt says:

    Hi,

    I had stumbled upon your blog by accident and was exciting to see what your experience of India was. I thought (actually hoped ) that you would get away from the western tropes about India but alas, only to be bitterly disappointed. I realize that it was your experience you are narrating but the negativity and tone were uncalled for. I am not sure which homestay you stayed at, but the internet in most Indian cities is good, if not great. And Indian beach towns are not known for super-fast internet as you disovered.

    And pictures of a cow with trash juxtaposed next to it?:-) Really?:-)

    – An Indian

    Reply
    • Daniel James (Dan Flying Solo) says:

      Hi Matt,

      India is, as you will know, a vast and expansive country which I have visited on six occasions and had exceptional experiences in many destinations, some of which are written about on this blog, many others, such as when I go to visit and stay with my friends in Delhi are not. From my involvement in a few different projects in India, including for example this film:https://www.empowermenttourism.com/dehlight/ and the related projects, or visiting the Kumbh Mela, I feel confident that I have got to know the country much deeper than the average tourist, and even during my time staying in what I think you would call ‘slums’ with other friends I made through those projects, that many of my Indian city friends refused to visit or drop me at due to caste beliefs, I ensured I didn’t depict or take photos that would narrate a stereotype – in fact, quite the opposite.

      Goa, however, is billed as tourism heavy beach destination, and with that comes a certain expectation I guess that was sadly not met. I can’t think of any country in the world I’ve spent multiple months in and visited 20+ locations and had only positive experiences, and sadly, Goa for me was my more disappointing one in India amongst many other excellent experiences.

      That said, I’d imagine if I was writing this 6 year old article again today, it would be a bit longer and more insightful for sure. Cheers for your comments, sorry if I have caused offence – but I think it’s fair to say that this article does not depcit my ‘experience of India’ but merely my experience of my time in one particular place.

      Reply
  2. Achyut says:

    Lifetime there are many places which are you mention Agonda(GOA). It really makes a confusion fro me for traveling. But whatever you saw and Mention you Blog I really appreciated it. I hope you had a really good time. Thank you for Nice Blog.

    Reply
  3. Priya Florence Shah says:

    I’m really surprised to hear about your experience, Dan. I thought the Wifi at Agonda was great. But it really depends on where you’re sitting. You can’t really expect it to be super fast so you can upload a bunch of photos. It was my favourite beach in Goa until I found Talpona beach, which is even more remote. Linking to my Agonda blog here :)

    Reply
  4. abhishek soni says:

    I visited Agonda a couple of weeks ago and I guess the internet services have improved a lot over a year. I didn’t face a single issue for the internet.
    Anyways great article :)

    Reply

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