At every twist and turn of the undulating Goan coast there are alluring little coves and bays each completely different and each with its own special charm. Along the coast are picturesque villages with tall white washed churches and red tiled shouses that nestle into the lush green of the Goan countryside. Do visit the northern part of Goa, which has got some of the finest beaches are edged by tall leterite cliffs including Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora with an old fort overlooking the beach. The Arambol Beach has a delightful fresh water pond at the base of a verdant slope. The southern beaches with their expanses of sparkling white sand and calm sea comprise of Bogmolo, Colva, Benaulim, Cavelossim And Mabor. The Tiny bay at Palolem is quite breathtaking and definitely merits a visit. We have selected some of the best beaches of Goa, out of many.
- Anjuna Beach, Goa
With its fluorescent painted palm trees and infamous full moon parties, ANJUNA, 8-km west of Mapusa, is Goa at its most “alternative”. Designer leather and lycra may have superseded cotton Kaftans, but most people’s reasons for coming are the same as they were in the 1970s: dancing and lying on the beach slurping tropical fruit. While browsing in the area have a day trip to the famous flea market.
2. Baga Beach, Goa
Baga, 10-km west of Mapusa, is basically an extension of Calangute; even the locals are unable to decide where ends and the other begin. Lying in the lee of a rocky, wooded headland, the only difference between this far northern end of the beach and its more congested centre is that the scenery here is marginally more varied and picturesque.
A small river flows into the sea at the top of the village, below a broad spur of soft white sand, from where a dirt track strikes across an expanse of paddy fields towards Anjuna. The old red tiled fishers houses behind the dunes have long been swamped by gaudily lit bars, Tandoori terrace restaurants and handicraft shops, but one doesn’t feel quite so hemmed in as at Calangute.
3. Calangute Beach, Goa
A mere 45 minute bus ride up the coast from the capital, Calangute is Goa’s busiest and most commercialized beach, and the flagship of the state government’s bid for a bigger slice of India’s package-tourist pie. In the 1970s and early 1980s, this once peaceful fishing Village epitomized Goa’s reputation as a haven for hedonistic hippies.
4. Candolim Beach, Goa
Four or five years ago, Candolim, at the far southern end of Calangute beach, was a surprisingly sedate resort, appealing to an odd mixture of middle-class Bombayites, and Burgundy-clad Sannyasins taking a break from the Rajneesh Ashram at Pune. Times, however, have changed.
Now, large-scale package holiday complexes jostle for space behind the dunes and the increasingly crowded beach has sprouted ranks of sun beds. On the plus side, Candolim has plenty of pleasant places to stay, many of them tucked away down quiet sandy lanes and better value than comparable guesthouses in nearby Calangute, making this a good first stop if one has just arrived in Goa and are planning to head further north after finding one’s feet.
5. Chapora Beach, Goa
Crouched in the shadow of a Portuguese fort on the opposite, northern side of the headland from Vagator, Chapora, 10-km from Mapusa, is a lat busier than most north coast villages. Dependent on fishing and boat building, it has, to a great extent, retained a life of its own independent of tourism. The workaday indifference to the annual invasion of Westerners is most evident on the main street, lined with as many regular stores as travellers cafes and restaurants.
It’s unlikely that Chapora will ever develop into a major resort, either. Tucked away under a dense canopy of trees on the muddy southern shore of a river estuary, it lacks both the space and the white sand that have pulled crowds to Calangute and Colva.
6. Dona Paula Beach, Goa
At the place where two of Goa’s famous rivers meet the Arabian Sea is the secluded bay of Dona Paula with a fine view of the Marmagao Harbour. 7-km from Panjim, nestled on the south side of the rocky, hammer-shaped headland that divides the Zuari and Mandovi estuaries, this former fishing village is nowadays a commercialized resort. This is an idyllic spot to relax and sunbathe. Water scootering facilities are also available over here.
The official residence of the Governor of Goa, Known as Cabo Raj Bhavan is situated on the westernmost tip of Dona Paula. Along the road leading to this place lies the ruins of the small military cemetery the British built at their brief occupation of the Cabo, to deter the French from invading Goa.
7. Miramar Beach, Goa
On the way to Dona Paula, 1-km ahead of the confluence of the Arabian Sea and Mandvi River, under the palm shade, is “Gasper Dias” or Miramar Beach and is just 3-km away from the capital city of Panjim.
In Portuguese language ‘Miramar’ stand for viewing the sea. Situated on a good location for evening walks, the coast is spread upto 2-km, having a fine silvery sand bed. From here one has an excellent view of the Aguada fort just across the Mandovi River.
8. Vagator Beach, Goa
Barely a couple of kilometres of cliff tops and parched grassland separate Anjuna from the southern fringes of its nearest neighbour, Vagator. A desultory collection of ramshackle farmhouses and picturesque old Portuguese bungalows scattered around a network of leafy lanes, the village is entered at the east via a branch off the Mapusa Road, which passes a few small guesthouses and restaurants before running down to the sea.
Dominated by the red ramparts of Chapora Fort, Vagator’s broad white sandy beach – Big Vagator Beach also known, as “Little Vagator” is undeniably beautiful, just like a picture postcard.
9. Varca Beach, Goa
If one staying in Benaulim, one is bound at some point to visit Varca: the row of beached wooden fishing boats 2-km south of Benaulim belong to its community of Christian fisher folk, whose palm thatched long houses line the foot of the grassy dunes.
10. Colva Beach, Goa
A hot season retreat for Margao’s moneyed middle classes since long before Independence, Colva is the oldest and largest of South Goa’s resorts. Its leafy outlying ‘Vaddos’, or wards are pleasant enough, dotted with colonial style villas and ramshackle fishing huts. The beachfront is a collection of concrete hotels, souvenir stalls and fly blown snack bars strewn around a central roundabout.
Each afternoon, busloads of visitors from out of state mill around here after a paddle on the crowded foreshore, pestered by postcard wallahs and the little urchins whose families camp on the outskirts. If, however, one wants to steer clear of this central market area, and stick to the cleaner, greener outskirts, Colva can be a pleasant and convenient place to stay for a while. Swimming is relatively safe while the sand, at least away from the beachfront, is spotless and scattered with beautiful shells.