Goa Beaches

Original open uri20160815 3469 711ch4?1471298399?ixlib=rails 0.3
Goa Beaches
Goa is famous for its beaches—and its beach parties. There are also adrenaline-inducing water sports, great diving, and the chance to see humpback dolphins or nesting sea turtles. To escape the beach while at the beach, check out the nearby markets and churches.
By Neha Puntambekar , AFAR Local Expert
Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock
  • 1 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 711ch4?1471298399?ixlib=rails 0.3
    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: water sports, food shacks, beach parties, and markets. The further south you go, the mellower things get. Palolem, also known as Paradise Beach, is very quiet, with shacks inhabited by locals and tourists. Candolim Beach takes up the stretch between the Portuguese defensive fort, Aguada, and Calangute Beach; while there are services nearby, the beach itself is fairly undeveloped. At Benaulim Beach, there are seasonal bullfights. Board a ferry for the short crossing to Divar Island. With single-lane roads that are virtually empty, the island is ideal for independent exploration. For dining by the shore, book a table at Zeebop by the Sea. With the rolling dunes of South Goa as a backdrop, the ambience here is simple and unadorned. Try the stuffed crabs or the catch of the day, often kingfish, mackerel, or red and black snapper. Rise and shine for a seaside breakfast at Brittos on Baga Beach; 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 with the clatter of cocktail glasses and plates filled with chili prawns.
    Photo by José Fuste Raga/age fotostock
  • 2 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 y6yoft?1471298405?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Beach Shack Snacks
    When the sun is shining and the water is warm, you need only one other thing: a cold beer. Luckily, at most Goan beaches there are 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: Spicy masala peanuts (which come with chopped tomatoes, onions, green chilies, and cilantro), masala papad (toppings served on a crisp cracker), or Goan cashews keep your hunger at bay while you enjoy the sunshine.
    Photo by Vince Reichardt/age fotostock
  • 3 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 109emek?1471298413?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Explore the Beach Markets
    Many of Goa’s beaches transform into vibrant markets, where vendors sell everything from souvenirs to gadgets, and where you can eat from outdoor stalls while watching live musical performances. On Saturdays, head to Baga to browse for Goan goodies at Mackie's Saturday Night Bazaar, or to the Arpora market. On Wednesday evenings, go to Anjuna for the flea market, where you can find products ranging from Kashmiri crafts to secondhand electronics, and do some first-class people-watching. Calangute Beach has a bright Tibetan market known for its gold and silver jewelry.
    Photo by Alvaro Leiva/age fotostock
  • 4 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1ay7gzb?1471298419?ixlib=rails 0.3
    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 there are rental outfits for Jet Skis, wakeboards, and kitesurfing equipment. If you'd prefer to let someone else do the driving, try parasailing. Dona Paula Bay is best-known for windsurfing, and Bogmalo Beach is popular with divers. Goa Diving is a PADI dive center that offers lessons and local dives. Grand Island, just a few miles west of the Marmagao peninsula, is a hot diving spot, with several wrecks and an abundance of large marine animals. GoBananas on Baina Beach is India's first and only facility offering underwater sea walking. A boat transports walkers to Piccanye, an uninhabited island boasting tame and clear waters; they are then able to float down three meters and effortlessly stroll on the seabed, exploring coral colonies, schools of fish, and other marine life.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 5 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1vknh7w?1471298424?ixlib=rails 0.3
    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 are both now visible in the evening hours sporting various camera lenses, hoping to capture the perfect shot of the sun’s rays beaming through the dramatic cliffs. Before sunset, taste the local catch at one of the many seaside eateries, and then take a dip at 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
  • 6 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 vgolw?1471298428?ixlib=rails 0.3
    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, go with 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
  • 7 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1e6l46d?1471298434?ixlib=rails 0.3
    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 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. Note that the hatching season coincides with high season for tourists in Goa. These areas are regulated so as to protect these habitats; the construction of shacks is controlled and beach parties are banned.
    Photo by K. Wothe/age fotostock
  • 8 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 14jgpfd?1471298439?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Party by the Beach
    Goa is known for its beaches—and its beach parties. After dark, many of the region's shores light up with lanterns and fill with the sounds of music and revelry. There are plenty of options, 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. For the most spirited nightlife in the South Goa district, try Colvá Beach.
    Photo courtesy of Tito’s at Baga Beach
  • 9 / 9
    Original open uri20160815 3469 15yrpix?1471298445?ixlib=rails 0.3
    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. The sights near Sinquerim Beach are almost as old—Fort Aguada and its lighthouse were built by the Portuguese in the early 1600s. The Chapora Fort (built in 1717) is adjacent to Vagator Beach. Although not by a stretch of sand, the magnificent Basilica of Bom Jesus, in Old Goa, is notable as the resting place of the remains of Saint Francis Xavier. 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