Choosing the perfect Goan beach for your vacation

Wake up early, rush to work, crawl from one meeting to another, follow up on tasks, get stuck in traffic for 2 hours, come home, get tired and doze off: if this sounds like your daily routine, it’s time to take some time off and head straight to GOA!

One of the only places in the world that sports the concept of beach shacks and beach huts, Goa is one of its kind. A candle light dinner just feets away from the roaring waves, a line of towering coconut trees, live music and moonlight on the horizon is just a regular evening here. Just perfect for unwinding after a year of hard work.

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Enjoying a candle light dinner at Palolem.

But hey! everyone has a different definition of “unwinding”: some like to let their hair down and party like there is no tomorrow, for some it is a good relaxation spa or just lazing around in the sun with a nice book and for some it is getting close to nature! Whatever it is that you are looking for: Goan beaches have it all. Choose the beach that best fits your personality and liking and Goa will not disappoint you:

Goan beaches for the party animals:

Baga and Calangute (North Goa): When it comes to beach parties, nothing can beat the atmosphere at Baga and Calangute. The whole street leading up to the beach comes alive in the evening with loud music, people dancing on the streets and a lot of beer!

Web photo of Baga beach (from global vision tours)

Goan beaches for the adventurers:

Palolem (South Goa): Interested in some jet skiing, paragliding, kayaking or even paddle boarding – head to Palolem in South Goa, instead of doing it on a popular beach. Popular beaches like Baga are filled with people swimming and indulging in other sports – as a result of which you may not get enough time to enjoy your activities. Instead choose a beach like Palolem which has lesser number of people, better water sports and where you’d have more space and time to yourself. Better yet, go for it early in the morning, as the rental companies are eager to get their first customers for the day. We went out Kayaking at 8 in the morning and it costed us 100 INR/ hour/person. That’s less than 2$!!

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Fireworks at Palolem

Goan beaches for the peace lovers:

Benaulim (South Goa). Benaulim is a solitary beach. You’d hardly find any people there – there is only one shack and one hotel on that beach. There’s hardly any water sports, any kids playing in the water – only peace. Get a book and a bottle of beer – and you are set to enjoy what Benaulim has to offer. We stayed at beachside hut called Pele’s Woodsong Beach Cottage. Try out their Ayurvedic Massage in the evening. Even in the month of December, it was too hot in the afternoons and an AC room would have helped.

Beautiful Benaulim beach – there is nothing that could potentially spoil your experience here – no dirty sea weeds that you’d find in the Caribbean beaches, no people pollution unlike other Goan beaches and no noise – just peace and serenity. Pick up a Tina Fey or a Robert Ludlum and get ready for a gorgeous tan
our cottage in benolem
Our lodge at the Benolem beach
Picturesque! #enufsaid

Goan beaches for the couples in love:

Ozran (North Goa): Ozran beach sandwiched between Vagator and Anjuna is a cute little rocky beach. Just about 10 minutes from The Chapora Fort, this is a good place to relax and sip some coconut water. To get to the beach, you have to climb down the hill or take the stairs from one of the beach hotels/ bars. Don’t forget to get a picture on the rock with the human face carving.

Anjuna is also a nice place to be, for a romantic evening:

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Anjuna beach shore
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Anjuna flea market – super cheap suff, but quality is questionable!

Goan beaches for family fun:

Colva (South Goa): Colva is one of those places where they sell 10 minutes of paragliding for a 1000 bucks and is full of Goan families visiting for an evening walk. You’ll find people sarees and kurtas – basically anything but swimming costumes. Not very popular with foreigners, it is a local beach.

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Sunset paragliding at Colva
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Absolutely no intention of swimming at this family beach, but it was fun sitting around and watching the chaos of vendors trying to sell their water sports!
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The beach gets empty at sunset, so there was time to take some nice pictures

For the ones bored of water:

Chapora fort: Yes, it is easy to get bored of the beaches if you are here very long. For those times, just head to Chapora fort in the north of Goa. The fort became more popular after it appeared in the Bollywood Blockbuster Dil Chahta Hai! The fort goes back to the time of Akbar and was used extensively by his forces to end the Portugese rule in Goa. The fort is surrounded by steep slopes and beautiful beaches on all sides. At sunset, there is no sight in the world that can beat this one.

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View from Chapora fort
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Aerial view of Vagator from Chapora fort
The walk to/from the parking from/to the fort

Parking at this place may be a little difficult as there is no formal parking sport. People come here on 2 wheelers, as there is a dedicated parking spot for it.

My favourites:

Palolem: Palolem also boasts of two smaller islands – butterfly island and Monkey island. We rented a Kayak early in the morning (Rs 100/person for an hour) and went around the islands to explore the other side of the beach. Even spotted two dolphins swimming crazy close the the shore. All free of cost.

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Striking a yoga pose at sunset

There are multiple dolphin tours and island boat rides that the locals run. But there is no guarantee of finding dolphins. Instead take the kayak out yourself and you’d enjoy is much more. You can also walk to the islands yourself. If the tide is low, walking from the butterfly island to monkey island is easy – as the water is just knee deep.

Rocks on the other side of Palolem beach – the other side being the two islands

It is impossible to miss the silent party that happens on Friday nights on the south side of the beach.

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Silent noise at south side of Palolem – only on Saturday nights
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Souvenir shops on Palolem beach. Another good place to go to is the German bakery at Palolem, just for the ambiance.

The journey: In Goa, the journey is just as beautiful as the destination. The roads and routes are as beautiful as the beaches. Make sure you stop on your way (from the airport or from one beach to another) to appreciate the calm village side beauty:

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Just about any road in Goa
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Another one of snaky roads in Goa
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On our way to/from North Goa from/to South Goa – keep a look out for such stops. Unlike the US, viewing spots are something you have to hunt for, in India. And if successful, the rewards are worth it!

Cheap but good places to stay in Goa:

Goa’s beach huts are a cheap and good place to live in, and you will easily find something in some 1500-2000 Rs/ night. If you are on a budget check out the youth hostels. You may be able to find a bed for <200-300 Rs/night.

Reviews: very honestly, the amount of time we spent at the huts was so little (and so we guessed) that I wouldn’t be able to give you a true picture of how the service is, and I am sure it’ll be the same for everyone.

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Coco Huts at Palolem


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Our cottage at Anjuna – Sea horse huts

Good and bad places to eat in Goa:

Shacks are not the best places to eat, although convenient. We tried to explore some restaurants around the beaches, but the food quality was not the best. Two of the good places that I would like to suggest:

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At Anjuna, near the flea market. Good parathas and good omlet +cheap beer (of course, its Goa, so cheap beer is a given)
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Authentic Goan food – papadam, rice, fried fish, fish curry, white peas curry and salad: right across the Coco huts in Palolem Beach. Order a fresh watermelon juice to top this all -and you are set for a nice afternoon siesta.

What I did not explore, but should have:

The east of Goa, the non-beachy part was something we could not explore due to lack of time. But there is Doodhsagar water falls and spice plantation tours, Bom Jesus Church in old Goa, and Gokarna in the south are a must visit if you have enough time.


One thought on “Choosing the perfect Goan beach for your vacation

  1. Nice pics and you segregated the beaches quite well. Enjoyed going through it 🙂 I went to Goa in December, 2011 and explored the countryside including Dudhsagar falls and Mollem national park through cycling which was fun. Also visited some of the party beaches in North Goa like Calanguate , Candolim and Anjuna. Next time would definitely plan for South Goa. It’s there on my wish list 😛


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