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Goa Beaches

Goa Beach Overview
Goa Beaches
Goa is famous for its beaches—and its beach parties. The state also offers heart-pumping water sports, great diving, and the chance to see humpback dolphins or nesting sea turtles. To escape the beach scene, check out the nearby markets and churches.
By Neha Puntambekar , AFAR Local Expert
Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock
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    Goa Beach Overview
    Goa Beach Overview
    Baga, Anjuna, and Calangute in the north are among the most popular—and therefore busiest—beaches in Goa. They come with a lot of entertainment options, from water sports and food shacks to markets and beach parties. The further south you go, the mellower things get. Candolim Beach occupies the stretch between the Portuguese defensive fort, Aguada, and Calangute Beach; while there are services nearby, the beach itself is fairly undeveloped. Palolem is very quiet, with shacks inhabited by locals and tourists. At Benaulim Beach, there are seasonal bullfights. Visitors can also board a ferry for the short crossing to Divar Island, where nearly empty, single-lane roads are ideal for independent exploration. For waterfront dining, book a table at the laid-back Zeebop by the Sea and try dishes like the stuffed crabs or the catch of the day, often kingfish, mackerel, or red or black snapper. Then, rise and shine for a seaside breakfast at Brittos on Baga Beach, where menu items include masala omelets, bacon, and peanut-butter toast with marmalade jam. A more animated crowd congregates in the evenings for live music and karaoke, often accompanied by the clatter of cocktail glasses and plates filled with chili prawns.
    Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock
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    Beach Shack Snacks
    Beach Shack Snacks
    When the sun is shining and the water is warm, you only need one other thing: a cold beer. Luckily, most Goan beaches feature shacks selling refreshments. Make your first choice a King's beer in its tubby bottle—it's brewed locally and only available in Goa. If that's not on hand, go for the old standby, a Kingfisher. These beach huts usually also dish up snacks like spicy masala peanuts (which come with chopped tomatoes, onions, green chilies, and cilantro), masala papad (toppings served on a crisp cracker), and Goan cashews.
    Photo by Vince Reichardt/age fotostock
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    Explore the Beach Markets
    Explore the Beach Markets
    Many of Goa’s beaches transform into vibrant markets, where vendors sell everything from souvenirs to gadgets, and visitors can eat from outdoor stalls while watching live musical performances. On Saturdays, head to the Arpora market, or to Mackie's Saturday Night Bazaar in Baga to browse for Goan goodies. On Wednesday evenings, go to Anjuna for the flea market. There, you can find everything from Kashmiri crafts to secondhand electronics, and do some first-class people-watching. Calangute Beach also has a bright Tibetan market known for its gold and silver jewelry.
    Photo by Alvaro Leiva/age fotostock
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    Water Sports
    Water Sports
    If you're looking to inject a little adrenaline into your beach day, try the big commercial beaches. At Baga and adjacent Calangute, you'll find rental outfits for Jet Skis, wakeboards, and kitesurfing equipment. If you'd prefer to let someone else do the driving, try parasailing. Dona Paula Beach is best-known for windsurfing, while Bogmalo Beach is popular with divers. There, you'll find Goa Diving, a PADI center offering lessons and local dives. Grand Island, just a few miles west of the Mormugao (or Marmagao) peninsula, is another hot diving spot, with several wrecks and an abundance of large marine animals. At GoBananas on Baina Beach, you can experience India's first and only facility for underwater sea walking. Guests are transported by boat to Piccanye, an uninhabited island boasting tame, clear waters. Upon arrival, they float down three meters and effortlessly stroll on the seabed, exploring coral colonies, schools of fish, and other marine life.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Incredible Sunsets
    Incredible Sunsets
    You can see some incredible sunsets from the shores of Goa. When the heat starts to leave the beach, settle in for a magnificent light show. Vagator Beach offers spectacular sunset viewing from the surrounding red cliffs. Backpackers and residents alike can often be found here in the evening hours, sporting various camera lenses in hopes of capturing the perfect shot. Before sunset, taste the local catch at one of the many seaside eateries, and then take a dip in one of the two natural freshwater springs adjacent to the shore. Palolem Beach doubles as a fishing spot; you may be able to negotiate a boat ride out into the bay with one of the local anglers. For even more privacy, try the beaches at Cavelossim, Mobor, or Varca. In the North Goa district, you'll have a different sunset experience; visit the popular Baga Beach to experience a celebratory end to the day. If you're there on a Saturday, make sure to check out the night market.
    Photo by Neha Puntambekar
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    Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins
    Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins
    The Arabian Sea is home to Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, named for their pronounced dorsal fins and humps. Many operators offer tours that take small groups out onto the water to try and catch up with a school. You can simply go to the beach in the early part of the day, before the sun gets too hot, and negotiate with a boater—Colvá or Benaulim are good options. Alternatively, opt for a larger operator like John's Boat Tours for a full-day experience. If you want to be entirely independent, visit the beach at sunrise or sunset, when the creatures tend to come in close to shore.
    Photo by Centre for Dolphin Studies/age fotostock
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    Sea Turtle Breeding Grounds
    Sea Turtle Breeding Grounds
    The endangered olive ridley sea turtles, so named for the color of their shells, follow a regimented nesting pattern. During breeding season, they visit the coastal region of Odisha, a state in the east of India, and—in smaller numbers—the beaches of Goa. The best places to spot the babies emerging from their nests in the sand are the beaches at Morjim, Mandrem, Galgibag, and Agonda. While the hatching season coincides with the busiest time for tourists in Goa, these areas are regulated to protect the turtles' habitats—the construction of shacks is controlled and beach parties are banned.
    Photo by K. Wothe/age fotostock
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    Party by the Beach
    Party by the Beach
    Goa is known as much for its beach parties as its sandy shores. After dark, many of the region's beaches light up with lanterns and fill with the sounds of music and revelry. There are plenty of options for partiers, whether you prefer your fete in a full-service nightclub, in the open air under the stars, or somewhere in between. Tito’s at Baga Beach has a large dance floor, and Curlies on Anjuna hosts a legendary all-night trance party. At Palolem Beach, organizers have beat the noise curfew with their Silent Noise celebration, which provides wireless headphones to those who want to keep going into the wee hours. For the most spirited nightlife in the South Goa district, try Colvá Beach.
    Photo courtesy of Tito’s at Baga Beach
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    Forts and Churches
    Forts and Churches
    Many of Goa's beaches back onto historic sites, where you can view whitewashed churches or towering forts. Near Calangute Beach, stop in at St. Alex Church; dating back to 1595, it's one of the oldest houses of worship in the state. Almost as ancient, Fort Aguada and its lighthouse, located near Sinquerim Beach, were constructed by the Portuguese in the early 1600s. Adajcent to Vagator Beach, you'll find the Chapora Fort, built in 1717. Although not by a stretch of sand, the magnificent Basilica of Bom Jesus, in Old Goa, is notable as the resting place of Saint Francis Xavier's remains. In the South Goa district, visit the picturesque Our Lady of Mercy church, near Colvá Beach. It contains a statue of Menino Jesus (Baby Jesus) that is thought to have healing powers.
    Photo by age fotostock