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Canacona

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Canacona is in South Goa.

Located in the extreme south of Goa, Canacona was outside the Goa boundaries until the eighteenth century.

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Route NH17 from Mumbai to Goa going past Panaji and Margao. Driving straight down takes you to Chaudi, the headquarters town of Canacona. A more scenic route is the coastal road (right after Navelim) going via Chinchinim, Assolna, Betul and Canaguinim.

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Canacona's beach belt, 'discovered' only after the 1990s, is among the most scenic. Palolem is a freaky recreation of an east-meets-west Goan beach, with a rich variety of exotic food and accommodation to cater to the international palate.

But beyond the better-known Palolem and Agonda, there are nearly 20 lesser-known (or even hidden) beaches. So what if you don't find hotels or restaurants there, the idea is fine if you want to escape from it all. In some cases, the road to the beach is nothing but a narrow track.

Canacona and Quepem are rustic areas, with only small towns in the area. These are not the place to go shopping, though Palolem has a growing number of touristy outlets.

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Visits to Anjediva Island are permitted courtesy Station Commander Sea Bird Project. Such requests should be channeled through Fr. Britto D Silva Parish Priest St. Annes Church, Binaga Karwar. Tel No 08382 31132 and email address frbrittodsilva2002@yahoo.co.in Visits in future could be curtailed due to plans by the Navy to step up security.

To visit the Island from Goa one has to proceed by any bus going to Karwar or Mangalore, leaving in the morning. The journey is about 2-1/2 hrs. From the bus stand to Karwar Port, the charge is around Rs 15 for a shared-auto. A trawler takes you to Anjediv. You might need to alight into a small boat before reaching the shore, due to the shallowness of the island waters.

Visits are usually around October or February, during local feasts.

Eat

Goa's emphasis on foreign tourists - all of them are assumed to be higher-spenders by those in business - means that destinations preferred by foreigners are more in the spotlight. Emphasis on the Westerner's food tastes also lends for either an exotic mix of cuisines, or, alternative, a tastelessly watered-down Goan/Indian cuisine.

Some places nonetheless manage to come out of this trap quite effectively.

Dilip Gaitonde's Palolem Beach Resort, bang on Canacona beach, offer a range from different cuisines. Goan dishes are the favourites. Others on Palolem beach itself include Draupadi (Israeli dishes too), German Bakery (health food, German cakes, pies, strudels, six-grain bread, croissants), Sameer Bar and Restaurant (seafood, Indian, Italian), Silver Star (fish tandoor, sizzlers, beef steak), Ciaran's Camp (pre-booked three-course dinner available), Fernandes Restaurant (Goan food, fresh juices), Cool Breeze ("food from around the world" with Jazz), Simba's, Boom Shankar, etc.

Look out for the other 'shacks' that make their appearance on the coastal stretch when the foreign tourist season starts.

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