If there is one maverick joint in India
where 'fun' is the buzzword - it is Goa! And with a 50 mile beachfront
breezing with the pleasantest of weather, needless to say, you will find it
swarming with humanity - multi-colored, jovial, nocturnal, and what not.
Goa's reputation as one of the most-haunted beach destinations is
well-deserved and the palm-fringed acres of golden sands bustling with
sports, fisher-women, vendors, sun-basking vacationers, and the arresting
aroma of sea-food and feni (local beverage) - all make it a brand per
eccellenza (par excellence). All located at few miles distance from the
Capital Panaji (or Panjim), the legion of luxurious Beach Resorts are just
another slice of spice to the already simmering toast - Goa!
North Goa Beaches
Two majestic Forts stand as the guarding sentinels at Goa's
northern beach stretch - Tiracol and Agauda - from where the best
sweep-of-vision can be had. The quaint seaside hamlets and their quainter
rituals made this stretch more than a sunbathing lounge.
(60 km from Airport): The northernmost beachfront of
Goa after Keri, Arambol is both rocky and sandy and for the best views you
will have to climb up the Waghcolomb Hill, which again has the tiny Paliem
beach at its foothill. Go dolphin-spotting, paragliding and kite-surfing
during the day and let your hair down for the wacky jam sessions at night at
one of the many ravers out here.
(50 km from Airport): The mammoth Fort and stark red
cliffs are the landmarks to look out for. Vagator, with the fresh water
springs on the north, small hamlets with pleasant bars and cafes, low budget
accommodation, the 18th century Chapora Fort (shooting site for the
Bollywood flick 'Dil Chahta Hai'), is the kind to head for a languid
from Airport): The Anjuna - Baga - Calangute beach-belt north of Panaji is
most populous and developed. Ask any Goan and hew will load you with galores
about Anjuna's Wednesday Flea Market where everything from lovely trinkets
and seashells to yak cheese and sarongs can be sampled. This one is rocky
and not a good bet for watersports. But for nocturnals there are trance bars
and rave parties that rock the beach almost everynight.
(15 km from
Panaji): The crescent-shaped Baga with its soft white sands is a popular
joint for water-sports activities like para sailing, jet skiing, body
boarding and surfing. The dolphin cruises in the sea is a rage with
tourists. Nocturnals stay back for the late-night parties here.
(16 km from Panaji, 48 km from Airport): The massive
white dome of the Church of St. Alex announces that you have reached Goa's
busiest of beaches. Right from hippies, roadside trinket sellers, Chapels,
seafood eateries, to swanky Malini Ramani boutiques and exotic resorts, this
is the hippest place to be. Its nickname, the Queen of Goan beaches,
explains it all.
(45 km from Airport, 13 from Panjim): The sequestered
Portuguese Fort Aguada, the Chapel of St. Lawrence, Candolim Church - all
conspire to give this beach its reclusive look. The crocodile and
dolphin-spotting trips, fishing expeditions, river cruises and some exotic
buys make it one of the noted names amongst the tourists.
Dona Paula Beach
(32 km from Airport, 37 km from Margao): As pretty
as its name is to the ears, Dona Paula is comparatively peaceful. The
variegated water sports facilities like water scootering, angling create all
the stir. Besides, it is a very picturesque locale commanding a grand view
of the Zuari river and Mormugao Harbour, and an idyllic spot to relax and
sunbathe. The legend of the Portuguese Governor's daughter Dona Paula and
the local fisherman's son Gaspar's love story lend the place its romantic
South Goa Beaches
It is an uninterrupted coastline, yet the beaches take on a
different name each as you trail through, which is because the Goan beaches
are named after the village in its vicinity. Tidbit apart, welcome to
quieter stretch - a 26 km frill of grainy, white sand, that is best called
(26 km from Airport, 36 km from Panaji): Though agog
with vacationers, this is one place where you can slice your own space
amidst parasailing enthusiasts, swimmers, devotees (that swarm the place in
October on their way to the church of Infant Jesus), crowded shacks,
fishermen and what not. It's silver-gray, powder-fine sand has served a good
bait inspiring a number of folk songs and some branded resorts to set up
their abodes here.
(28 km from Airport): South of Colva is this
legendary place, where according to Hindu mythology, the arrow of Lord
Parsurama landed when he created the state of Goa. 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.
The crocodile and dolphin-spotting cruises are a favorite at this pristine
(67 km from Airport, 43 km from Margoa): It is rated
amongst the most beautiful beaches in the world, with the backdrop of the
Western Ghats, where one visit only whets your appetite for more. The large
InterContinental Grand resort, Pandava's Drum - a cup-shaped rock which
produces echoes if pelted on particular spots, a little island across the
stream, the dolphin-spotting trips, a strange balming aura, make Palolem a
must-go beach down south in Goa.
(10 km north of Palolem): This one is just perfect for
back-packers who are looking for some solitude. The waters are crystal clear
and one can actually see the bottom of the shore while swimming. Just watch
out for the sharp barnacles if you decide to climb the cliffs there. The
more adventurous can rent a bicycle in the village and cycle cross country
to the beach.
How to Reach
Goa's international-cum-domestic airport, Dabolim, is 29 km from
Panaji, on the coast near Vasco da Gama. You can fly in from Mumbai or opt
for the eight-hour trip to Goa by Konkan railway or a sixteen-hour bus
journey from Mumbai.
Snore by the Shore
Wake up with the fishermen's call and clear your curtains to let in
the tranquil rays of a benign sun that has just buoyed itself out from a
turquoise sea. This and a plethora of active pursuits on and off the beach
awaits you at the luxuriant beach Resorts. Check out our Resort section for
details. Budget accommodations and shacks also available around the beaches.