My Favourite Goa Beaches
by Priya Shah
Speckled with quaint beach shacks that serve ice cold beer and spicy cuisine, Goan beaches offer relaxation and a laid-back atmosphere. It is easy to find affordable and cozy accommodation in a beach resort or hotel very close to the scenic shoreline in Goa as well.
Each beach offers its own personality and style, with different crowd of people, attractions, culinary delights and even natural wonders. Avoid the busiest choices and instead visit those more off the beaten path for a unique and wonderful experience.
Candolim is the birth place of Abbe Faria, a Goan Freedom Fighter and the Father of Hypnotism. When staying in Candolim, feel free to reserve one of the rent-back apartments a stone’s throw away from the beach.
Travellers can rent a beach umbrella, sample the tasty food available at the beach shacks that dot the beach, and sun in solitude. This Goa beach is popular with package tourists, but is still not too crowded.
Sinquerim beach has clean, white sand, and is close to the historic Fort Aguada. As an early 17th century fort that was built by the Portuguese, it controlled the entry into River Mandovi and protected old Goa from enemy attack.
You can take a long walk from Sinquerim beach all the way to Candolim beach, which continues north to Baga.
Baga is a small fishing area with a grove of shady palms close to the water’s edge. There are few buses that stop right at the beach’s edge, but none after dark. It’s a long walk to the Calangute taxi stand from the beach, so if you plan to stay after sundown, make sure you have your own transport.
Calangute beach actually has Baga as its kid sibling nearby. But unlike Calangute, which is crowded, steep and marred by dangerous undercurrents, the beach at Baga is flat, safe for swimming, and has clean, white sand. A little creek joins the sea between the beach sands and a hill that is home to the Retreat House.
Baga is very popular with sunbathers sans swimsuits, which sometimes can raise a few eyebrows among the locals. Travellers can catch some action of a different kind if into water sports and fishing. After dark, night owls frequent Tito’s – one of the more lively watering holes of Goa’s pulsing after dark scene. Baga has a Saturday night flea market and you can shop for colourful Kashmiri handlooms and other artifacts all along the road leading to the beach.
Bambolim beach is a small, clean, largely undiscovered beach, in a shaded spot before the mouth of the river Zuari. The entrance to the beach is easily missed and lies along the hill between Goa Medical College and the Goa University.
The road reaches the Bambolim beach resort. From there, travel down to the shore easily. The beach is carpeted with broken mother-of-pearl and other shells, which makes it a haven for shell-collectors. Thick coconut groves line the beach and provide shade and privacy. It’s a beautiful beach for a quiet, cozy picnic.
Enjoy lunch at the Bambolim Beach Resort restaurant, serenaded by one of the local singers or bands. When heading back home, take the road that goes to the beautiful Goa University to Dona Paula.
A little off the road before Dona Paula, just before the National Institute of Oceanography, is a restaurant called White House. It serves excellent seafood and has a wonderful view of the bay.
It’s also one of the few pet-friendly restaurants in Goa, so if travellers have a well-behaved pooch along, they won’t have to tie it outside while you finish your dinner.
Arambol Beach is near the traditional fishing village of Arambol and is an isolated stretch known for its rocky and sandy terrain. Until recently, Arambol was a favorite Goa beach for hippies and its claim to fame was the wild parties it hosted.
The main beach is relatively good for swimming. To the north are quiet bays where you can take long walks with starfish underfoot. There’s a hot spring near the main beach that runs into a freshwater lake. Sporty types can enjoy activities like dolphin watching boat trips and paragliding.
Vagator is one of the more beautiful white sand Goa beaches. There is a cliff to traverse down to reach the beach. The sea, though, is not safe for swimming. But during the tourist season, it has an active nightlife. The south beach is fairly spread out and more secluded. A little further south of the main beach you’ll find the quieter Little Vagator or Ozran beach with a fresh water pool. You can also visit the nearby Chapora Fort. Accommodation is not always easy to find because there are few hotels here.
Benaulim beach is more peaceful and serene than Colva and still rather undiscovered by domestic tourists. According to Hindu mythology, this is the place where the arrow of Lord Parsurama landed when he created the state of Goa. Known in Sanskrit as Banali, it was changed to Benaulim by the Portuguese. The main attractions on this beach are the dolphin cruises.
The church of St. John the Baptist on the hill is a wonderful example of Goan Christian architecture. With the first drops of the Indian monsoon, the village breaks into a celebration of thanksgiving for the Feast of São João.
Palolem beach, situated in the Canacona District, is also known as “Paradise Beach”. Until a few years back, it was among the virgin beaches of Goa. It is a beach popular for its dolphin cruises and fishing trips. At the northern end of the beach is a tiny island in the middle of a fresh water stream that can be reached by swimming across at low tide.
The Gaitonde’s tent resort is one of the more popular places to stay, but be sure to book well in advance. Relax in a hammock and sip beer while enjoying the delicious fresh catch brought in by the fishermen.
Agonda is a virgin stretch of beach twelve kilometres from Palolem, and is undiscovered by tourists. It is sometimes frequented by day picnickers. The waters are crystal clear and it’s easy to see the bottom of the shore while swimming. Watch out for the sharp barnacles if you decide to climb any of the rocks there.
Until recently, there was just a solitary shack on the beach. Accommodation would be hard to find here. You could pitch a tent and stay for the night, but a better option is to stay at Palolem, and drive down to Agonda for the day. The more adventurous can rent a bicycle in the village and cycle cross country to the beach.
Mobor and Cavelossim Beaches
Cavelossim Beach is a small stretch of beach eleven kilometres south of Colva Beach. South of Cavelossim Beach is the Mobor beach that currently boast of five star resorts like the Leela Beach Resort. Both beaches are relatively isolated and there are few beach shacks here. Mobor has a fishing village with a small lagoon near the mouth of a river, and its fun to watch the seagulls that come to feast on the fish drying on the sand.
Goa might be only a small part of India, but that does not mean there isn’t a wide range of diversity when It comes to people and nature. Spend a little time exploring the more hidden Goan beaches and be rewarded with seclusion, beauty and peace.