When you say ‘Goa’ what instantly comes to mind is a picture of a wide sunny beach, beautiful blue sky and swaying palm trees. Paradise
indeed, because Goa’s 82 mile coastline has some of the world’s best beaches. Though the beach area is rapidly getting built up, there are still vast areas of beautiful unspoilt beaches to enjoy. Deciding where to go can be difficult but if you are looking for plenty of company, Calangute, Baga & Chapora have it all – a great beach, lots of people, loungers, interesting beach front eating shacks and during the season (November to April) - music and dancing.
Quieter beaches are Anjuna, Chapora, Arambol and Vagator, with Benaulim, a near deserted paradise falling somewhere in between.
Calangute and Baga
A bracing breeze and perhaps the sight of fishermen taking in the morning’s catch will greet early ramblers on Calangute. In the day though it witnesses considerable activity owing to its overwhelming popularity. If you want to be in the thick of things, then head for it. This southern stretch of the Candolim beach has everything from henna artists to bhelpuri stalls, kashmiri handicraft merchants, tribal women selling artefacts, masseurs et al. However their incessant hassling and pressure selling can become tedious. If you are going to buy, bargain very hard and don’t be afraid to offer a price far below the price first quoted.
The entire offshore stretch from Calangute to Baga is dotted with a quaint assortment of hotels and eating-places. The ambience ranges from old-style Portuguese to modern and is part of the unique charm of Goa.
Calangute's heyday as the Mecca of all expatriate hippies has passed and it has undergone a metamorphosis to become the centre of Goa's rapidly expanding package tourist industry. It isn't one of the best Goan beaches, but there's plenty going on and people who find some of the other beaches too quiet may find Calangute more to their liking.
The beach at Baga is for those wanting calm and repose. The landscape is more interesting. The estuary at the end of the Baga beach is particularly beautiful and the river is ideal for inexperienced swimmers.
North of Baga
To the south of Calangute lies peaceful Candolim, one of the lesser known of Goa's beaches. But the traveler who ventures further north of Baga will be rewarded with a series of secluded and serene beaches. The rocky Vagator with its creeks waiting to be explored, is irresistible for many. A canopy of dense coconut plantations sets the backdrop for the ramparts of Chapora Fort, dominating the surroundings from atop a rocky hill. Chapora is a short walk from Vagator beach and is well worth a visit.
Swaying palms, sandy coves, and an unspoilt tranquility mark Anjuna and Vagator. Anjuna, once the haunt of the flower children - fugitives from Western civilisation - still retains memories of those carefree days. Famous throughout Goa for its Wednesday flea market, this is the beach that everyone went to during the flower power era of the hippies. Anjuna is different things to different people. The only way to find out is to go there and find out on your own. Full moon is the time when the parties take place. Unlike Calangute, the place has retained its charm.
Take great care of your possessions in Anjuna, particularly on party nights, as theft is a big problem. The bank has safety deposit boxes, which you can use. You should also take care not to waste water because there's an acute shortage, especially late in the season.
Chapora and Vagator
This is one of the most beautiful and interesting parts of Goa's coastline. Most of the village areas nestle under the shade of the coconut palms. Chapora village is dominated by a rocky hill on top of which sits an Old Portuguese fort, which affords excellent views from its rampart. Secluded sandy coves are found all the way around the northern side of this rocky outcrop. You'll need to have a torch handy as there are no streetlights and finding your way along the paths through the coconut palms is not such a romantic idea.
Little Vagator, the beach to the south, is very popular with tourists and a lot of people from Calangute and Baga come up here for the day..
Varca and Cavellosim
The 10-km strip of pristine beach south of Benaulim has become Goa's resort beach with at least half a dozen hotels of varying degrees of luxury.
The hippie refugees who were ousted from Anjuna in the hey-day of flower power and acid-rock parties, came to Arambol and fell in love with its surroundings. The seashore is beautiful and the village is quiet and friendly, with just a few hundred local fishermen and a couple of hundred westerners during the November-February high season. The main beach is a good place to swim but up north, there are several more attractive bays and a freshwater pool, whose mud is supposed to be good for the skin.
South Goa Beaches
But no matter where you settle, the soft sands of Colva hold out the promise of sheer enchantment.
Benaulim is another beautiful beach of this part of Goa. Then there is Bogmalo beach, a stone's throw from the airport. A short drive from Panjim brings you to the tranquility of Siridao beach, a small, secluded beach that is a haven for shell collectors. Southernmost of Goa's beaches are the beautiful sands of Betul, with its aura of sublime peace.
Many of the beaches now have well-developed beach resorts which enable you to combine the comforts of a furnished cottage with the enjoyment of the outdoors.
Southern Goa boasts a fascinating collection of unspoilt beaches. Of all these, though, the silver sands of Colva are the most beautiful. Few would disagree if Colva were crowned the Queen of Goa's beaches. 40 km of uninterrupted white sand fringed with swaying palms and calm turquoise waters mark the extents of Colva. In the moonlight, the water here is said to take on a magical luminescence adding to the wonder of this loveliest of Goa's beaches. Finding your own isolated stretch of beach is easy, as only parts of Colva have been properly developed.
Twenty years ago, precious little disturbed Colva except the local fishing people who pulled their catch in by hand each morning and a few of the more intrepid hippies who had forsaken the obligatory sex, drugs and rock & roll of Calangute for the soothing tranquility of this paradise. Since there were only two cottages for rent and one restaurant (Vincy's), most people stayed either on the beach itself or in palm-leaf shelters, which they took over from departing travelers or constructed themselves.
Those days are gone forever. Even in days of yore, the property speculators and developers had begun to sniff around in search of a fast buck. Today, you can see the results of their efforts - air-conditioned resort complexes, close-packed ranks of tourist cottages, discos, trinket stalls and cold-drink stands. Between the Bus Park and beach, the small stream now runs black with pollution, unthinkable in the days gone by.
Eight km from Vasco and only four km from the airport is Bogmalo Beach. It's a small, sandy cove dominated by a five-star hotel. There's little here apart from the resort hotel and a couple of smaller places to stay, the reasonably pleasant beach, several expensive beach cafes and the small village of Bogmalo