Strung along Goa’s 60-mile
(100km) coastline, like a lace frill on the edge of a colorful, skirt are
some of the most beautiful beaches in the world- dazzling stretches of
golden sand edging the aquamarine expanse of the Arabian Sea. Goan beaches
are magnificent and you will find them extremely difficult to leave. The
only problem is which one to head for. An unbroken four-mile (7km) crescent
of sun-drenched sand marks the twin beaches of Candolin & Calangute,
north of Panjim and the Aguada headland. Calangute became almost a traveler’s
cliché in the '60s and early'70s and tourist literature is fond
of referring to it as the 'Queen' of Goa's beaches’. Baga, a little further
north, is a better beach and a more relaxed place to stay. Despite the
concentration of resorts, hotels, beach huts, bars, restaurants, and souvenir
stalls, there is innocence here, a freshness of childhood mornings. Farther
north, past estuaries of the many streams that gurgle through the land,
are a series of secluded beaches. In South Goa at a distance of mere two
kilometers are the Colva and the Benaulim beaches. The slow paced beaches
are breathtakingly beautiful. The Dona Paula beach, Vagator and Chapora
are other beaches worth visiting
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| Candolim Beach
Dona Paula Beach
Candolim is the birth place
of Abbe Faria, a Goan Freedom Fighter and the Father of Hypnotism. When
we stay at Candolim, we usually book one of the rent-back apartments a
stone's throw away from the beach.
There is little or no shelter
close to the beach, but you can hire out a beach umbrella, sample the good
food available at the beach shacks that dot the beach, and sun yourself
in solitude. This Goa beach is very popular with package tourists, but
is still not too crowded.
Sinquerim beach has clean,
white sand, and is close to the historic Fort Aguada, the early 17th century
Portuguese fort that was built by the Portuguese to control the entry into
River Mandovi and to protect old Goa from enemy attack.
You can take a long walk
from Sinquerim beach all the way up to Candolim beach, which continues
all the way north to Baga
Baga is a small fishing
beach with a grove of shady palms close to the water’s edge. There are
few buses that come all the way to the beach's edge, but none after dark.
Its 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.
Baga is really an extension
of Calangute beach. 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.
Although not among the famous
"nude" beaches of Goa, Baga is very popular with topless sunbathers who
strip off to catch some sun, while the locals gawk. You can catch some
action of a different kind if you like water sports and fishing. After
dark, night-time revellers frequent Tito's - one of the more lively watering
holes of Goa's nightlife. 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 goes all the way
down to the Bambolim beach resort from where you can make your way to the
beach. 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. Its a beautiful beach for a quiet,
You can enjoy lunch at the
Bambolim Beach Resort restaurant, serenaded by one of the local singers
or bands. When you decide to head back home, take the road that goes to
the beautiful Goa University all the way up 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 view of the bay
to die for.
Its also one of the few
pet-friendly restaurants in Goa, so if you have a well-behaved pooch along,
you won't have to tie it outside till you finish your dinner.
Arambol Beach is near the
traditional fishing village of Arambol and is an isolated stretch of beach
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 was
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. To reach the beach, you have to walk
down a steep cliff. The sea here 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 quiter Little Vagator or Ozran beach with a fresh water
pool. You can also visit the nearby Chapora Fort. Accomodation is not always
easy to find because there are few hotels here.
My strongest memory of Benaulim
is that of being bitten by a stray dog. But I also remember all of us -
the entire family - feasting on a delicious meal of shellfish we dug out
in bucket-loads from the sand. 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.
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Palolem beach, situated
in the Canacona distrct, is also known as "Paradise Beach". Until a few
years back, it was among the virgin beaches of Goa. It is a fishing 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. You can laze in a hammock and sip your beer while enjoying the
delicious fresh catch brought in by the fishermen.
There are a lot of little
resorts along the beach with bamboo huts on stilts. The accomodation is
nothing fancy, spartan even, but at less than $10 per day you can't really
Mobor and Cavelossim Beaches
Agonda is a virgin stretch
of beach twelve kilometres from Palolem and, until recently, was undiscovered
by tourists. It is sometimes frequented by day picnickers. The waters are
crystal clear and its 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
Until recently there was
just a solitary shack on the beach, however that may not be the case any
longer. If you find it difficult to get accomodation here, you can 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.
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.