An Insider’s Guide to Goa’s Most Unmissable Beaches
Featured destinations: Southern India, Goa
Published 14 August 2017
Calangute image: Sandy DhaliwalNorth GoaCalangute and BagaBest for: Markets, nightlife and watersportsCalangute and Baga are the region’s most popular beaches, and for this reason tend to be the most crowded. However, it makes sense to be based here, as much is easily accessible and available in the area. Lining the sand, you will find your pick of the beachside shacks serving up an array of local dishes as well as western favourites, meaning you shouldn’t have a problem finding somewhere that suits you.
Bottle Bay, Baga image: Sandy DhaliwalOn Calangute you’ll be able to wander through endless colourful markets, including the exquisite Tibetan Market, which specialises in jewellery, while Baga is the place for water sports and cocktails, though not at the same time! By day, enjoy parasailing, jet skiing and banana boat rides; and by night, sit under the harem tents of the beach bars while enjoying a fresh seafood barbecue, plus the tipple of your choice.
Candolim Beach image: Sandy DhaliwalCandolim and SinquerimBest for: Resorts, watersports and avoiding the crowdsLocated south of Calangute, Candolim provides the perfect departure from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and nightlife of the busier beaches. With an array of sophisticated resorts and eateries, this area is perfect for couples or families seeking a quieter, more relaxing break. If you’re keen on watersports, you don’t need to stray from here either as there are opportunities for snorkeling, banana boat rides, parasailing and more.
Fishing boats in Sinquerim image: Sandy DhaliwalLocated south of Candolim is Sinquerim, an even more secluded spot that overlooks Fort Aguada, one of the state’s most famous landmarks. You can walk along the stone walls of this 16th-century sight and enjoy spectacular views of the Arabian Sea and surrounding coastline. Watersports activities and fishing trips can be taken from here too.
Anjuna Beach image: Sandy DhaliwalAnjunaBest for: Nightlife and marketsThe original stomping ground of Goa’s hippies, Anjuna embodies their legacy with its atmospheric stretch of bohemian beach bars and neon-entrenched nightspots pumping bass-tastic DJ sets. It really is a charismatic part of the coast, teeming with charm and picturesque views to match. And don’t be surprised by the fact that cows will be grazing on the beach alongside you.
Along the hills of Vagator image: Sandy DhaliwalVagatorBest for: Jaw-droppingly beautiful viewsLocated north of Anjuna is Vagator, the former centre of Goa’s hedonistic psytrance party scene, though it’s more the beach’s sweeping red cliffs, striking rock formations and overall natural beauty that tends to draw the revellers these days. Additionally, as it’s close to some of the nearby party hotspots, the serenity and calmness of this stunning stretch provides the perfect refuge for those seeking a little downtime or walk to clear their head.Arambol and QuerimBest for: Budget travelers, families, getting spiritual and watersportsMaking up one of the furthest northern stretches of Goan coastline is another hippy haven, Arambol. Popular with budget travelers and families alike, there is a wonderfully relaxed vibe here, where you’ll find musicians jamming on the sand as well as travelers indulging in therapies including meditation, yoga, tai chi and reiki. If you’re keen on watersports, you will not miss out either, as there are a range of options, as well as dolphin sightseeing trips to choose from.
Views of Querim from Fort Terekhol image: Sandy DhaliwalNot too far from here is Querim, a deserted spot that is as wild as it is beautiful. Here you’ll see fishing boats lining the shores and the charming 17th- century Fort Terekhol towering above in the background. I highly recommend heading here for a spot of lunch at its adjoining restaurant, as well as the panoramic views of the ocean and desolate surroundings are awe-inspiring.
Morjim image: Sandy DhaliwalMandrem, Morjim and AshwemBest for: Nightlife, resorts and retreats Just before you hit Arambol is this livelier stretch, made up of Mandrem, Morjim and Ashwem. With trendy resorts, chic bars and a host of serene yoga retreats and spas to keep you occupied, this is the perfect place for couples with a high-end budget looking to enjoy a night out, as well as a detox. This stunning area of natural beauty is also renowned for its large variety of birdlife and protected Olive Ridley turtle population.Sandy in Patnem image: Sandy DhaliwalSouth GoaPalolem and PatnemBest for: Beachside accommodationFor me, Palolem and Patnem embody what I believe to be beach heaven. With their plush white sand, palm tree-fringed coastline and scenic cliffs connecting the two areas, this idyllic setting is perfect for long walks or just sitting back and admiring the views. Here you can hire a bohemian bungalow, or even a tree house, and sleep right by the ocean – a true highlight of my time in India.And if you’re peckish, the colourful food shacks will have everything from local dishes to international cuisine to keep you well-nourished too. My personal favourite was dishes baked in the tandoor ovens, including paneer skewers and freshly caught seafood – I still dream about my meals and long to get back for them one day!
Sandy in Agonda image: Sandy DhaliwalAgondaBest for: SeclusionSituated north of Palolem is this secluded gem of a beach, Agonda. With its calm waters and relative anonymity, don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re on a deserted island here. Personally, I feel like Agonda is a wonderful departure from the packed crowds of the north and livelier shores further south. Plus, the small and traditional fishing village nearby makes it one of the most culturally engaging seaside parts of Goa.
Colva Beach image: Sandy DhaliwalColva and BenaulimBest for: Beach bummingPopular with domestic tourists, Colva is one of the area’s busiest beaches, and sees many Portuguese Goan pilgrims who come to visit the sacred Our Lady of Merces Church. For this reason, nightlife is not a driving factor in the area, allowing you to really get a feel for what it’s like to be amongst the locals and enjoy the colonial feel of the place.Benaulim on the other hand is the place to get away from the crowds. This quaint and quiet setting is perfect if you’re after that authentic feel. You can also try out an array of watersports and trips such as dolphin spotting.Go to Goa with one of Round the World Experts' Goa Holidays.You might also like:10 Things to Do in GoaWhat to Expect from Goa